An All-Star PRM Team

By Izza Masud

COVID flipped us all upside down! This year was all about change, and it forced us to look at things in a completely different way to cope with this tragedy. As COVID hit, I was newly elected as the Public Relations Manager (PRM), and I had to find a team that could help us get through a very tough year. By the time it was my turn to start in July, a new reality had already set in. Everything was Zoom, and Zoom was tiring! Everyone hated the new platform. There were other questions, too, like how do you create a team? How do you motivate them? How do you build relationships? How do you get them to stay?

I had to put my marketer’s hat on! I sent word out and outstanding District members responded. What was the pitch? I will train folks in “hard skills” and applications used in PR and marketing, in exchange for volunteer time for the District. We all started to meet virtually, and Zoom became an opportunity. For the first time, it was effortless to coordinate folks from around the District and really get a good grip on understanding the “needs of the District.” We all slowly started to understand the tools at our disposal, the creative juices began to flow, and we all found a great working rhythm. The key lesson I learned was that I needed to personally invest in my team to build a long-term relationship.

I understood that learning is a process and that for everyone to flourish, I need to move out of the way and give them room. I encouraged them to finish their Pathways projects in our PRM meetings and find projects to improve their Pathways. We were able to tackle projects like creating an online Newsletter, promoting all the District workshops, presenting a specialized marketing and all-day promotional event – and finally, the upcoming upgrade to the District 61 website to be unveiled in June.

How did this team come together? It was a combination of the stars aligning in my favour, my training as a marketer, and a fantastic array of brilliant volunteers from far corners of the District. This story really doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to them. These dedicated souls exchanged their time for marketing knowledge, and the whole District won in the end. In the end, not only did we find a fantastic new PRM, Daniel Jibouleau, but we found a team that would continue on to help. I am thankful for the opportunity to be your PRM this year and being the District’s voice. This has been an experience I will never forget.

Now, let me introduce to you the all-star first official PRM Team of District 61, who are behind the amazing emails, posts, and communication for District 61 2020-2021:

Daniel Jibouleau (Next PRM)

“Is Marketing boring? Not with Izza and the district PR team! I joined the team not really knowing what I was doing. Quickly we had work to do and we got organized. We saw the skills everyone had; some more creative, some more technical. We learned the tools and how to use them, but most importantly, I gained more confidence and leadership skills.”

Fran Watson

“Joining the PRM team this year was definitely a growth year for me as I learned how to set up Eventbrite, how to create an event, and how to use design banners and posts in Canva. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to learn more about promoting your club.” 

Robert Leitch

“I enjoyed my time on the District PR Team this year.  Learning new skills and remembering that I love to create images; something I did many years ago in CorelDraw.  It is so good to learn the new tools. Thanks, Izza for letting us play and learn.” 

Cathleen Fisher

Cathleen Fisher is a proud member of both Stittsville Toastmasters and the District 61 Public Relations Team. As a member of the PR team, Cathleen has learned several new skills that have stretched her imagination and abilities in many ways; these skills will also help her in her own entrepreneurial adventures. The highlight of Cathleen’s PR year is leading the team to present the Learn to Promote full day workshop with the help of the PR team. This culminated in earning her HPL! Most importantly; however, Cathleen has made wonderful friends while having fun, despite challenges of ‘the stretch’, and she looks forward to meeting them in-person one day soon!

Claude Racine

Claude was VP PR of Tunney’s Toastmasters when he saw a social media post recruiting members for the 2020-2021 District Public Relations team. “I saw the opportunity and reached out to the Public Relations Manager’s call. From the very first meeting, I found Izza  to be a most welcoming individual and inspiring leader. The opportunity to learn while having fun with a great group of helpful and enthusiastic teammates made the journey incredibly interesting. I cannot believe how much I have learned with this group from a public relations perspective. Learning to use promotional and marketing tools such as Eventbrite, Google My Business, Canva, and Mailchimp has been so helpful for both my home club and at work. I am very grateful for what I have learned and the people I met along the way and I encourage everyone to consider joining the 2021-2022 team. You will not regret it.”

Nancy McWatters

I have enjoyed my year on the PR Team for the District. I have learned a great deal this past year and look forward to learning more in the future especially using Canva and Eventbrite. It is challenging but I am up for the challenge. I am active in the various Toastmasters Clubs that I am involved with.”

Charmaine Ralph

Ms. Charmaine E. Ralph is an author, public servant and an active member of her Toastmasters Club.  As a member of the District 61 PR Team, she is instrumental in publicising events by creating social media posts with graphics.  She also edited articles for four newsletters, using bilingual skills. Learning how to use Eventbrite and Canva was challenging, but eventually enjoyable.

Eric Idjidina

Eric Idjidina is a civil engineer. He joined Toastmasters in October 2019. He is a member of two Toastmasters clubs: Le club Toastmasters de Charlesbourg and the advanced club, Les passionnés. He is currently the President-elect of Le Club Toastmasters de Charlesbourg. He is also a member of the District 61 Public Relations team where he discovered a new passion: marketing and promotion. As a member of the District 61 Public Relations team, he helps promote events using tools such as Eventbrite, Canva and Mailchimp. He was the editor of the February 2021 Toastmasters District 61 newspaper publication. He also provided training on the use of Canva at workshops organized by District 61.

Michael Lifshitz

Michael joined Ottawa Collab Toastmasters in December 2019 and is currently serving as Club Treasurer. A CPA by training, Michael is a serial entrepreneur having built and sold his own accounting and financial planning businesses and currently running two businesses. Always looking to hone his marketing and PR skills, Michael answered the call for volunteers for the District 61 PR team. “I would highly recommend the experience for any entrepreneur, because the skills you learn (e.g. Canva, LinkedIn, Facebook marketing) are easily transferable to your own businesses.”

Minnie Chan

Minnie Yujia Chen is a student in her last year at the University of Ottawa studying a major in Political Science and a minor in Public Administration. She served as the VP of Public Relations in Le Club Bilingue Toastmasters. Minnie joined the PRM team this past January. During her journey as a member of the PRM team, she learned many valuable skills that are useful in her current job. Minnie recently got hired by National Campus Life Network as the Ontario Regional Coordinator. In her role, she needs to make lots of graphics for the Ontario NCLN Instagram page. She thanks being part of the PRM team this year because this helped her to grow her graphic design skills a lot.

Craig Senior (District CIO)

Craig has served in a number of roles at his clubs and in the District team. He seems to gravitate to technology, because he works with a software company by day and as our chief information officer (CIO) by night, when he isn’t working on his own paths in Pathways. He also serves as webmaster, video curator, video editor, Zoom team, provides random support for questions related to the technology used by District 61.

While Information technology does not directly create new clubs and support clubs in achieving excellence, it is an integral part of informing, perhaps even entertaining, and keeping records in a modern world. It’s been fun to provide the platform on which to present the creativity and hard work of the highly collaborative PRM Team, with tight deadlines.

Kanika Grover


Kevin Chao