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Where do you begin

Where do you begin?

Get organized.

You need to stop and ask your organization:

  • OrganizedWhat have you already been doing to communicate with your congregation and community (not just online, but all aspects)?
  • What works (be able to name it – no reason to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” – if email is working, don’t replace it with Facebook)?
  • What do you get a lot of questions about – do you take time to talk to those who deal with questions?
  • What is not working or has not worked and you quit doing?

 


Why Are You Trying to Communicate?

Then stop and ask these questions for each communication message – whether it’s for a specific event, or why you are logging onto Facebook as a minister:

  • Why? Name the purpose – of the event, a given web page, your weekly email newsletter, your Facebook status update. Why do you want them to come?
  • What? What is the message you are trying to say? Can you use brevity, say it in 140 characters? What is important for the user? You need to be able to break the message down to one to two sentences.
  • Who? Who is the audience? If it’s teenagers, they aren’t on Facebook. You are more likely to reach those over 55 on Facebook. Is it the entire church population? Then you will probably have to use many, if not all, platforms available to you. Know your audience. Picture them when you are writing.
  • When and Where? When and where do you share the message? For example, how do you determine what is said from the pulpit – possibly the most sacred communication place for the life of the congregation? If the messages you share from the pulpit have not been carefully thought out, you risk losing the significance of the messages you DO want to share, like the sermon! Also think of when and where your audience will be when they read your communication. Are they are work? Is it the end of a long day? On their cell phones?

 


When you are ready to send out a message…

Here’s a quick checklist to run through before you send out that next email, postcard, or Facebook event message:

  1. Who is my audience?
  2. How are they going to respond? (i.e. Do they need to register on a website, just show up, share their thoughts?)
  3. What’s my budget?
  4. What kind of timeline do I need to use this tool? (i.e. Do you have a few weeks to share the message or does it need to go out immediately?)
  5. Which of these is easiest for me to use at this moment?

Answer in this order, letting the answer to #1 carry more weight than the answer to #5. Unfortunately, we usually answer the last one first and sometimes only.

 

 


A few other tips

 

  • Never forget that content is king. What you have to say is always more important than how you display or share it.
  • But you need to say it in the least amount of words possible.
  • Use the correct platforms to get the most amount of impact (which means you need to know what they all are, who uses them, and when you need each one).
  • This doesn’t mean that you have to use every communication tool available to you for every thing you need to communicate, in fact, you shouldn’t use them all.
  • In other words, you need to know what tools there are and which ones to pull out when.

 


Two Types of Interactive Communication

As you learn about the various platforms available to you, I want to distinguish what I would consider two types of interactive (online) communication:

  • You reaching out to the community. These are platforms where the instigation begins with you. You are the one trying to share a message with the masses. I consider social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc) and blogs to fall in this category.
  • The community reaching out to you. This is when the community is trying to find you. Primarily this is your website. When you read about websites, it’s important you recognize that a website is for those who are trying to find you and your messages.

We will discuss this in more detail on the “tips” pages.

 

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