The following is a guest blog by Cynthia Ware, Executive Director of the Center for Church Communications
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. – Albert Einstein
This past week concludes one of the busiest weeks of the year for many of us who are church staff members. It takes work to pull it off all the things associated with Good Friday and Easter. When you put a lot of effort into something, it helps to define how you’ll measure your success right? It’s foolish, for example, to go to all the trouble of going on a diet but never weigh in and see what your progress has been! I read that in a book. So, does your church put effort into whatever they communicate during Easter?
Great communicators want results. So, great communicators measure. They are constantly re-calibrating their message so they can connect with their intended audience and produce a result. This doesn’t mean the message changes; this means the message is specifically tailored for a particular audience. And then, the astute communicator will consider whether the message accomplished its intended purpose. Think of all the letters the Apostle Paul wrote to different audiences based on unique circumstances and particular needs.
As a person who helps churches communicate as effectively as possible, I’ve got a vested interest in understanding what tools help us communicate effectively. And these days churches are beginning to embrace a somewhat holistic approach to communication involving many channels and many tools. By evaluating both their online and offline communication resources, churches are ensuring a consistency of message and the possible complementary use of multiple communication platforms to accomplish the task of addressing those who have ears to hear.
We know that offline communication resources have been used by churches for years. These channels include word-of-mouth, traditional print (newspaper articles & ads, Yellow Pages ads) media, billboards, flyers, posters, banners, postcards, bumper stickers, radio, tv, etc. Newly popular online communication channels would include e-mail campaigns, websites (with SEO positioning), webinars, blogs, micro-blogging, RSS feeds, podcasts, livestreaming and Internet Campuses.
When a church is using (and measuring) both off and online communication, it’s known as an integrated communication program. The goal of selecting certain elements of a proposed integrated communications program is to communicate effectively and consistently across media platforms.
There are several macro-trends your church leadership could be aware of in order to communicate more effectively via an integrated communication program. Note these shifts:
- From “traditional media” to multiple forms of communication (everything from webinars & podcasts to micro-blogging & vidcasting).
- From limited internet access to 24/7 internet availability and access to messages and services across any mobile platform.
- From a big business dominated culture to a user-generated content & consumer-influenced culture.
- From a “we take care of our own” mentality to a refocusing on benefits for the common good (community).
- From broadcast-style media to more specialized narrow-casting or niche media, often centered around specific target or need-defined groups.
Following last weekend’s Easter services, I recommend debriefing with all those who helped your church communicate over Easter. Did you use an integrated communication program? Whose attention were you trying to attract? Was your communication directed towards those who attend your church services or towards those who don’t? Was your message tailored to fit a particular group or was it generic? Did you see results from what you communicated and how? Did you measure your success? Will you do the same thing for the next church event or will you make changes?
And most importantly, if your church excels in communicating with excellence, please speak up. The Center for Church Communication is searching for great church communicators to showcase.