(The Juicys are a way to recognize and reward those churches who’ve worked to improve their church communications during the last year. It includes giving them a grant to jump start their next project. To see past winners, click here.)
The Project: Illumination Magazine
The monthly newsletter at Memorial Presbyterian Church was dying. It was basically a recap of the month’s Sunday bulletins, with a few other announcements, that become less and less engaging. While it eventually went away, the church leadership knew they still needed a way to communicate with the congregation of 275 and the surrounding Midland, Michigan, community.
In the search for finding the right communications tool, MPC’s communication committee started out by surveying the congregation about how they received information from the church in the past and how they like to stay connected in the future.
That survey showed they really wanted two different things,” says Creative Communication Director Katie Horning. “The first was a monthly calendar and the second was a publication informing them of what we as a church were up too. Thus Illumination was born.”
Illumination started out as bi-yearly publication written by church members and people in the community. (Thanks to its popularity, it will soon become a quarterly publication.) The goal was to not only inform the congregation about church life, but also to let the community learn more about what MPC was doing.
“[We wanted] to create a publication that allowed the community a deeper understanding to who we are as a church and offer an opportunity for visitors to stop by and worship or participate in an event,” explains Katie.
Creating a publication like this takes a dedicated committee with the right people involved. MPC made sure they had a writer, editor and someone with a design eye in the group.
Katie says, “We would warn other churches that producing a 16 - 20 page publication is a huge job. It takes lots of planning and cannot be pulled together at the last minute. It is also something that needs to make sense in your communications strategy and be well thought out.”
What We Liked
The transformation in quality from the old newsletter to Illumination was amazing. It’s a beautiful publication. The process for developing the new magazine was good, too. It would have been easy to ignore print, but a survey of the congregation showed that’s how they preferred to stay connected. A key piece of good communication strategy is understanding your audiences needs.
While the print publication is working, MPC also realizes it takes multiple communication tools to keep folks connected. Their next project is installing two interactive kiosks to engage younger church members as well as streamlining other church processes.
Katie says, “We are hoping that having interactive kiosks and an app that will help everyone sign their children into Sunday school, print name tags, sign up to volunteer and know what events are coming up.”