By Jonathan Howe
In a post last month here at ThomRainer.com, I wrote about the four reasons your church needs a communications plan. I also promised to follow up this month with a post on the components of a church communications plan.
While this paradigm may not fit every church, you can use it as you develop your plans for informing your congregants and promoting events or initiatives in your church. These six components, if identified and executed well, can dramatically improve the effectiveness of your church’s communication.
- Identify Your Audience. Knowing who you are trying to reach with your information is critical. Before you can determine what channel to use, what words to say, or what your goal might be, you must first know to whom you are communicating. If you don’t get your audience right, you won’t have much success.
- Identify Your Channel. Once you determine to whom you are speaking, you need to identify how best to reach them. And with the rise of online communication, texting, and social media, this component has gotten more and more complex. Churches have more communications tools at their disposal than ever before. But so does everyone else. So competition for attention and retention is also at an all-time high.
- Determine Your End Goal. All communication from your church needs to have a purpose. And that purpose needs to be as specific as possible. Knowing why you are communicating helps you stay focused on the message.
- Craft Your Message. Now that you know the who, the how, and the why, it’s time to work on the what. It might seem strange for the message crafting to be so far down in the order, but once you have worked your way to this point, the message becomes easier to craft and fewer errors are made with the content. When you have the who, why, and how, the what almost writes itself.
- Execute the Plan. This might be the area in which churches struggle the most when it comes to communicating. They plan and plan, but never get around to executing the plan. It’s the communications equivalent of analysis paralysis. Whether this failure to execute is driven by fear of upsetting members or because it’s never been done that way before, it must be overcome for a church to communicate effectively. Be wise in your communications, but don’t be afraid to try new things.
- Analyze the Results. This is the missing piece in many communications plans. Because we often work on the urgent or the upcoming, we miss evaluating what we have done to see if it actually worked. This step also informs future communications because you can test new ideas and compare them to previous results to find what works best.
While there may be more that goes into specific planning at your church, these six elements can help shape your communications strategy.
Do you have anything you would add to these? Have you used these components in the communications strategy at your church?