One of the most under-recognized church leadership roles is the communications director. One reason is that people don’t quite understand what a church communications person does. Many in your church might not realize that this role is anything more than doing the church bulletin. In reality, your communications person usually has primary responsibility for in service announcements, the church’s social media accounts, the website, crafting messaging for events, all email blasts, all printed materials, various special projects, sermon bumpers, and yes, the weekly bulletin.
Doing the things on that list well can make a significant difference in how effective your church is at connecting with people. That is one of the reasons that this role is so important. In fact, many midsized and larger businesses call this role the ‘CMO’ or Chief Marketing Officer. This is the corporate executive that is responsible for the company’s branding, messaging, advertising, channels of engagement, customer outreach, and all other communication and marketing efforts. To be successful at such an important role there are a few things you need to know.
Know your narrative
Your church is unique and it has its own history and calling. A marketing executive begins by creating a brand narrative. This is a statement that shows why the company exists, how it began and what it will be. It highlights what makes them unique and the value that only they can give. Knowing your church’s story and being able to communicate it to others helps people know what they are connecting to when they make it their church home. If you can’t answer what makes you different from the church down the road or where you are headed, then neither can your people.
Know your audience
The core of communication is tailoring the right message to the right person at the right time. This begins by knowing who your audience is. Marketers segment their audience into groups that share common characteristics, also known as personas. What are the personas of your church? Is your church made up of members of the military, hard working blue collar workers, or a significant number of people new to Christianity? Knowing who you are talking to will make a significant impact on how you communicate your message.
Know your goal
Usually, when you have a message, you are communicating it for a specific reason. Knowing what you want people to do with the information is important. Marketers call this a macro conversion. Do you want them to sign up for summer camp? Are you wanting to frame an upcoming sermon with context? Are you inviting them to participate in a capital campaign for the new building? A great question to ask yourself before you communicate something is “what do I want them to do with this information?’ If you can’t answer that question, hold off on communicating it until you can.
Know your Schedule
Remember, the right message, the right person, and THE
RIGHT TIME. At a church, there are many different areas that need to communicate. If you let everyone have an announcement in Sunday service there wouldn’t be time for worship or a sermon. With so many stakeholders to keep happy, the communications person is a gatekeeper of which channels of communication are used by who and when. To do this well, you need a clear schedule. There are many communications schedule tools available. Here is a great resource for church communication planning
Know your impact
Now that you have identified what you are hoping to happen when you communicate, you need to evaluate if it happened. Some goals are easier to measure than others. Whenever possible measure your impact numerically. How many sign ups did the event get? This isn’t so that the youth pastor can blame you for an unsuccessful summer camp, but because it can help you revise and refine how you communicate in the future. The best communication leaders are students of their audience and impact. Only by measuring what you are doing today, can you be better tomorrow.
Bonus: Know how to tell a story!
As an extra tip, the best marketers, leaders, and communicators are fantastic storytellers. As a church communication leader, find ways to weave story into everything you communicate. How are people’s lives different based on your financial education ministry? When people gave to the school supply drive for at-risk youth, tell the story of a specific child. We love stories. It engages our hearts and calls us to action.
Great communication begins by knowing your story, having clarity on who you are talking to, what you want them to do with the information, having a timeline for sharing it, and then measuring the impact.
How are you using technology to be a more effective communicator?