Yes, we’re already a week into 2013, but it’s still not too late to look at your church communications strategy and set some goals for the upcoming year. As you think about the upcoming year, here are five issues I think are good for you to consider.
Be visual. It was a major point of mine last year and it’s going to be a talking point many more times in 2013. In every piece of communication material you have, whether it’s online or on paper, find a way to add images. Put a face to the story. Add a graphic. This isn’t randomly picking something from your 1990s clip art collection. It’s finding relevant art to advance your story. Rely on more visuals and less on words in everything you do.
Simplify what you’re doing. We tend to complicate communication. But the more cluttered we are, the less effective we’ll be. There are two great ways to simplify your communication streams. First, look at everything you’re doing. Do you really need it all? If there are ineffective things you do just because that’s the way it’s always been done – get rid of them. The second way to simplify is to say more with less. Condense your writing. Reduce the number of announcements you make Sunday mornings. Chop the number of items in the weekly email. It’s not easy to be simple, but it’s a lot more effective in reaching people.
Commit to consistency. While you may have multiple communication avenues, they don’t act independently. They need have the same look, feel and language. If you put everything next to each other, would it look like it’s coming from the same organization? Anytime we do something that’s a distraction, it causes people to focus on something other than the message. Consistency can be one of the toughest things to achieve in a church, but reeling in rogue communications pieces and giving everything a consistent feel will make your church a better communicator.
Have realistic expectations of the platforms you use. No single platform or tool will save the day or reach everyone. We all know that, yet we’ll build up something, like launching a Facebook page or adding a feature to a website, to the point we think it will solve all our problems. Be realistic going in to anything. Facebook won’t reach everyone. A new feature or content stream isn’t going to make 100 percent of your congregation automatically plugged in to what you’re doing. Look at how everything you do works together and don’t put all your hope into one thing.
Mobile is a must. Smartphones are less of a luxury and more of a mainstream item. More than half of Americans and Canadians have a smartphone. People want information on their terms while they’re on the move. Commit to making sure your website functions on mobile devices. Beyond that, think of what you can be doing through mobile technology to stay connected with your congregation through the week.
Friends, this list may look insurmountable for you. I understand that feeling. But 2013 can be the year where you make the communications changes you know your church needs. Whether you take on doing something on this list or something completely different, commit to following it through to implementation. We can talk strategy all day, but real change comes when we put those ideas into practice. I believe in the work you’re doing and I know God has created you to do great things in 2013.