Assistant Governor Public Image - PP Pauline Stewart (Highton)


Public relations

Promoting Rotary to the general public can be as simple as wearing your Rotary pin or as elaborate as organizing an integrated marketing campaign. By increasing the public's understanding of Rotary, we're strengthening our ability to make an impact in communities around the world.

Whether you’re new to PR or a professional, we can help. We encourage you to visit the Rotary Brand Center, where you will find a variety of media-ready materials that can be adapted to your needs.

How do I promote my club’s project?

Including a public relations component in your project plan will help ensure your club’s projects and events get the attention and support they deserve. The following ideas can help you create a successful campaign.

Know your local media

Before sending stories to a journalist, get to know your audience. Read your local newspaper, listen to the evening news, and follow Facebook and Twitter to identify where a Rotary story might fit. Consider inviting a local journalist to speak to your club about how to work with the media or invite them to join a service project so they can see firsthand how your club is improving your community. You could also:

  • Develop a media list and keep it current.
  • Get to know local journalists by inviting them to learn more about Rotary, your club, or a specific project.
  • Contact the media with newsworthy story ideas, being sure to:
    • Know your story and anticipate questions.
    • Send background materials immediately following contact.
    • Be persuasive, persistent, and friendly, but not aggressive.

Write a press release that journalists want to read

Once you've developed a relationship with your local reporter, help them remember you through regular contact. Share news about your club projects, fundraising events, or the arrival of Youth Exchange students with a press release. You should:

  • Develop your “news hook,” a persuasive reason for the news media to pursue a story
  • Include the five Ws in the opening paragraph of your press release: who, what, where, when, and why
  • Keep it concise; limit the press release to one page and paste into the body of your email rather than sending it as an attachment
  • Decide who will respond to media inquiries and include their contact information
  • Include visuals when you send to TV stations

More ideas for promoting Rotary

There are many ways to promote Rotary. You can hold a special event, start a Facebook page, or place a billboard ad.

You could also:

  • Advertise on TV
  • Create a public service announcement
  • Write op-eds and letters to the editor
  • Distribute club brochures, media kits, and fact sheets
  • Post on your club website and social media outlets, including blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more

What do I do next?

It is exciting to see your club mentioned in the newspaper or see Rotary featured on a billboard. Keep track of your public relations efforts by watching for Rotary-related news clippings in the papers you have contacted. Remember to send a thank you note to those who helped you along the way.

How can I promote polio eradication?

Illuminating buildings with our End Polio Now message can generate a lot of public and media attention, and, in turn, drive us even closer to eradicating polio forever. Many famous landmarks have already done it -- Sydney Opera House, London’s House of Parliament, even the Great Pyramid of Khafre. You can spread the message in your community by illuminating a local building or monument. To do this, follow these steps and submit a customized ask letter to building owners, using our sample ask letter as a template.

Once you receive approval, alert the media with a sample press release, post messages on your Facebook or Twitter pages, upload a video of the event to YouTube, and post photos to Rotary's Facebook and Flickr pages.

In addition to illuminating buildings to spread the word about our polio eradication efforts, you can:

How do I handle a media crisis?

Despite our best efforts, problems can arise that are sensitive in nature. Be honest and forthcoming if a reporter calls. Do not speculate. Try to shift the conversation to a more neutral or positive message. You can find more ideas for handling crisis communications in our Media Crisis Handbook.


Resources & reference