You’re a church that’s got it going on (activities and events, that is) and you need to communicate those to the people that you’d like to have show up. But how do you know if you’re getting the word out effectively?
A Communication Strategy
Churches need to develop a communication strategy so there’s direction and a method between how, why, where and when things get announced. Here are some things you should consider:
- Use multiple vehicles. Announcements don’t just live in the Sunday bulletin or only come from the platform Sunday mornings. Our announcements can be found in both of those places AND on Facebook, Twitter, our website, our weekly eNews. You can’t relegate them to just one of those places; they need to be in all of them.
- Keep is visual. We replaced our Sunday morning platform announcements with recorded video announcements. We have volunteers come in during the week and film them and play them during worship instead of having someone speak them. It keeps it visual because we can add graphics and video of events, which helps catch and hold attention. On Facebook, post a picture relating to the event and tie it into the announcement. The visual will grab attention more than just the text.
- Keep it brief. With the flood of information that most people have coming at them in the course of the week, they don’t have time to digest a whole dissertation on your announcement. Our video announcements are generally less than 1 minute per item. In the eNews or on the web, keep it to a paragraph or two tops. In the bulletin, 1 paragraph and the date/time/place.
- Announce early and often. As a general rule of thumb, we announce everything at least two weeks before the date of the event (usually it’s a minimum of three). More if we can or if it’s a big deal. I keep a small dry erase board by my desk and keep it updated with the upcoming events and announcements. I have it laid out so I can fit five weeks on the board and it has saved me many times from forgetting an important announcement.
- Target your audience when possible. There are some things that need to be targeted instead of broadcast to the entire population. Items that are of interest to a small segment of your congregation should stay out of the Sunday morning platform announcements if possible. If it doesn’t apply to at least half of the congregation, consider whether there’s a better way to get it to the right people.
The human factor
At Journey, we have a pretty good communication strategy. We’re constantly tweaking and refining our channels of communication and trying to improve them. We’re consistent about getting the word out well in advance of events. Our website is updated regularly and people can find all the information they want about what’s coming up. Facebook and Twitter are pumping out information consistently to followers and our bulletin announcements are streamlined and timely.
But there’s something important to remember about announcements: just because you announce it doesn’t mean people hear it. I’m always surprised when someone mentions to me that they had no idea an event was happening because we have information about what’s going on all over the place!
We need to regularly check our communication strategy and make sure that it’s meeting the needs of the people we serve. If there are many people who consistently don’t know what’s coming up, it might mean that we’re missing something. Sometimes it’s as easy as reminding people that we announce everything in our eNews and our website, so even if they’re not in church they can get the information.
Maintaining a consistent communication strategy means that the message we’re trying to communicate is present and easy for people to find and receive. It doesn’t, unfortunately, mean that they always will.