Eleven. That’s the number of years I’ve been professionally working in marketing and communications. It may not seem like much time to some of you, but it’s snuck up on me as I realize I’m far closer to a mid-life crisis than my years in college.
Looking back over the past decade of work, I realize there have been a few constants in communications. These are strategies that are tried and true. They work as well now as they did then.
Stories are compelling. Your communications will always be filled with more emotion, and therefore have a greater impact, when there is a face to it. A personal touch makes you more believable and shows the real impact your church is having. No list of facts can top a personal story.
Clear, simple communication wins. One of the hardest tasks in communications is taking a complex issue and making it easy for someone to understand. I spent the first five years of my career as a journalist doing this daily. If something is too complex for you to understand, do you think just passing it along without editing will lead to lots of people finding it valuable? Are people really going to sift through large chunks of text? Your communication will never be as successful as you want it to be if it’s bloated.
Visual design matters. Words can only take you so far. If they’re part of a cluttered design, they’ll never get read or heard. Likewise, if your look is outdated people will not take your message as seriously. The visual plays a role in how someone forms their opinion about who you are and if you’re for them. Know what current design looks like and commit to having a consistent look for all the materials that come from your church.
Knowing your audience is key. If you don’t know who you’re communicating with, how will you know how to do it well? Providing useful information requires understanding the needs of your end user. Spend time listening to them and fill the needs they have.
You can’t fake who you are. You can’t get away with having a website that presents a different church than what people get when they visit in person. Likewise you can’t preach in one way and act out in another. Action and words go together and in a digital world you can’t be something you’re not. People will see through it.