How do you communicate with your church members, visitors, and community? How do you make sure your message connects with your audience AND creates engagement across multiple groups?
We are bombarded by information. Providing useful information that stands out from all the noise is the real challenge. Does your church have an effective communication strategy or are you simply operating on auto pilot week after week? In order for your church communications to be effective, you must:
- Reach your intended audience
- Create a message that resonates with your audience
- Drive engagement
LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT 8 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR CHURCH COMMUNICATIONS.
1. Understand your audience. Respect your segments.
Who are you trying to reach? How well do you know your current membership? How well do you know your potential audience? What are their preferences when it comes to receiving and accessing information?
It is true that you can’t be all things to all people. Conversely, you shouldn’t be all things to one group at the exclusion of everyone else. You need to have an effective communications strategy for each segment you are trying to reach. Respect their differences. Reach them where they are.
2. Target your segments. Everyone is not interested in everything.
A good database should be more than a place to store information. It should be an essential part of crafting your communications strategy. Use demographic information and information about interests and involvement to create targeted communications via email, texts, social networks, and mail. Too much information sent to everyone will result in too many opt-outs.
3. Know your options. Create the right media mix.
We have an overwhelming number of choices today when it comes to accessing and sharing information: traditional/print, online, social media, email, texts, mobile apps, etc. Which one of these should you employ as part of your communications mix? It depends. What does your audience use?
Each congregation is different. Is yours older, younger, middle aged or all of the above? If your congregation is older, they might prefer print over digital. However, in order to remain healthy your church needs to grow and attract younger generations as well. In this case you might need to create a balance between print, an online presence (a modern, professional website), email, and social media matched to your audience. If your service is contemporary and technology oriented, then your mix might be exclusively digital media with an emphasis on mobile apps and the social media your audience connects with most. Know what they are using and connect with them where they hang out.
You also need to have a communications strategy to transition people from your current media mix to a more relevant one. Nobody enjoys abrupt change without warning. Take an honest assessment of what you are currently using, identify elements to add to/subtract from the mix, and put together a communications plan implemented over a reasonable amount of time.
4. It’s not about you. It’s about them.
Are you providing information people care about? REALLY care about? How do you know?
It is important to look at this from two perspectives: the regular attendee and the visitor. Regular attendees can grow complacent about information. They are insiders. They get it. They usually know where to find information. It doesn’t mean they particularly care about it.
Does your message engage them? Is it compelling them to take action? Think like a marketer. What problem are you solving? What passion are you sparking?
How do visitors perceive you? Are you speaking to them? Are you making them feel welcome or like an outsider? They are checking you out. Try to connect with them at a more personal level by avoiding insider jargon. Think about an experience you have had walking into an unfamiliar place, travelling to a foreign country, or starting a job in a different industry where everyone speaks in acronyms. What made you uncomfortable? What made you feel like you wanted to belong?
5. Make it relevant.
Does your faith message speak to the issues your community faces? Nearly 80% of practicing Christians and 56% of all adults say they want to know how faith addresses current challenges. Tell them.
6. Make it two-way. Drive engagement.
Does your communication engage people in conversation? Do you give them an opportunity to comment, ask questions, or provide input? Do you respond? Social media is a great tool for two-way conversation. Use it to ask questions, listen, and respond. Keep it conversational and keep it moving.
7. Write to be scanned.
People have short attention spans. Very few people read an entire article. They scan. Write your articles/web pages/emails/social media postings with this in mind. Use clean layouts that quickly guide readers to the most relevant information. Use good headings, sub-heads, and graphics to keep readers engaged.
8. Keep it professional
Yes, some churches are blessed with bigger budgets than others. That really is no excuse. Does your church website/email/e-newsletter/social media look professional? Is it well written? Is it attractive and easy to navigate? Does your church bulletin (yikes!) look like it was put together by your 99-year old grandmother (sorry grandma!) or 4-year-old child? (We’ll save the church bulletin debate for another time).
To stand out in a noisy, hyper-linked world, your communications needs to reach your intended audience, be relevant and resonate with them, and drive engagement.
Interested in learning how church software can you connect with and engage your community? Contact us.
Image Credits: istockphoto