Posted on Jan 13, 2021
Lots has changed and changed radically over the last twenty years or so...and every year, things have the potential to change even more and at a faster rate.
Here's a quick example of this...
Traditionally, District P.E.T.S. and Assembly was a multi-day program for all incoming club office-bearers in the district – with well over a few hundred persons in attendance. The agenda over several days allowed for in-depth coverage of many aspects of the various portfolios and enabled presentations, sharing of ideas and stories, and the ability for clubs and members to get-together to develop joint projects.

Although the world wide web has been in existence for some time, its usage twenty, ten or even five years ago, was no-where like it is today. Support materials at training sessions were in folders and handed out for future reference.

Fast forward and the situation today is vastly different!

Disregarding the fact that COVID-19 forced many districts to conduct on-line (virtual) P.E.T.S., assemblies and conferences this year, the trend over the past few years (at least in several districts) has been for shorter training days and overall training time frames. With compulsory inclusion of mandatory topics, along with the various addresses by outgoing and incoming district leaders, including the incoming governor outlining the plans for the year and giving an overview of the RI President’s theme and expectations, the amount of time allocated to training club portfolio chairs has been reduced significantly and the result is often an overly compressed training agenda which attempts to cover as many topics as possible in as short a time as possible.
This does not bode well for nor yield an effective training environment nor the desired results.

How can you possibly train a club's incoming Public Image Chair (for example) on the intricacies of branding, telling your Rotary stories, writing publishable press articles, using social media effectively, etc. etc. in a short 1-hour session? It's impossible!

There is no argument that all the information that club members need in order to carry out their portfolio is available on ‘The Web’ and is accessible to anyone who wants to find it. The issue is, there is probably too much information available and working out what is accurate and up to date is not always very easy. Nor is finding it!

Often at times, it is too easy for our leaders to say ‘it’s on the web’ and to expect the members to firstly locate it, and secondly read and absorb the information.

The next issue is how well does the Portfolio Chair train his or her team (and, of course, the rest of the club members) on what was learnt during the district training?
How many clubs devote meeting time to allow their Service chairs to present to the club on their plans for the year ahead?
Unfortunately and more often than not, the appropriate information often doesn’t filter down to the person who needs it!
This is definitely the case with Public Image...
For example, whilst the Club President may be aware of the need for Rotary to raise its public image and understand the importance of being diligent about using the RI compliant branding, this information is not always explained clearly to the ‘ordinary Rotarian'. Thus, the importance of compliance – and it’s vital role in our public image – is not widely or properly understood.

So, what is the answer?

While circumstances, resources, expertise and experience may vary from club to club, in general we need to: 
  • Define and set aside more time to training both portfolio chairs and members in general.
  • Have a dedicated trainer in each club who can oversee, schedule and manage an effective and comprehensive training agenda, as well as, source the necessary speakers or facilitators whether from the club itself, from another club or from the district. 
  • Have training sessions in the club on locating and using the resources available online; for example, on the RI website – particularly the Learning Centre and the Brand Centre – there are a number of excellent on-line courses (such as the Building Rotary’s Public Image), and encourage all members to take the course.
  • Invite the District Public Image Chair to address the club – preferably in a workshop situation.
  • Ensure that all members attend all appropriate in-person and virtual training sessions organized by the District.
Only then will Rotarians’ knowledge approach an effective level that allows them to reach their true potentials!
For more information on Public Image training for your club and members, please contact the District Public Image Team.