Christmas in July!

Christmas in July!

Christmas seems to be getting earlier every year, right…? What about Christmas publicity?

Our church had a Christmas meeting yesterday.

In July – the first week of July, no less.

Are we crazy?

(Well, probably, yes.)

Christmas isn’t for another 6 months! We have so many other events between now and then – we’ve got a summer festival of mission events in August, back to school and student welcome in September, a Light Party in October and a visit of Baronness Cox after that!

What were we thinking?

Well, one thing that prompted this meeting is listening to our own advice. I wrote back in January about the importance of reflecting on your church Christmas publicity. One of the key points here is to learn from your experience.

Our ‘Summer Christmas meeting’ may have been early, but it wasn’t the first thought we’d given to the Winter’s events. It’s important to act on the feedback from last December; there were elements of last year’s Christmas promotion that left room for improvement. So, we met to discuss how we could nudge things in the right direction.

Of course, this discussion could take place a few months later. But this has the potential to cause problems; delaying by even a couple of months would bring the deadline much closer, and time-pressured decisions are often rushed. This is how mistakes creep in.

By meeting as early as possible, we give ourselves the chance to make less-pressured decisions, and the breathing space to change our minds later if necessary.

Convergence

Christmas in churches tends to be a busy time.

Understatement, perhaps?

Lots of different elements come together, with many different people doing their bit. As a result, it is vital to have a plan in place as early as possible. Of course, the initial plan will be fairly ‘big picture’ and won’t contain all of the details, but this bird’s-eye view is critical to getting buy-in from all of the different parties involved.

By agreeing provisional dates, themes etc. in July, we have – hopefully – removed some barriers for those who are due to plan events, to organise choirs, to lead services or to preach over the festive period.

As an example, we have worked with the church leadership to decide on a theme, which applies to the messages that will be preached during the Christmas services. With this decided so early on, we can design our publicity to go hand-in-hand with this, which will hopefully mean a much more effective set of promotional materials, and services which deliver on the themes the posters promise!

It Is Decided

I thought it might be helpful to give a brief breakdown of what we decided at this early stage, as a little insight into our planning.

Dates

We spent a bit of time going over the dates for each event – it’s very important to have clarity on this from the start!

Event Strategy

For each Christmas event, we considered what publicity elements would be required. For example, we will produce a double-sided flyer that promotes our main all-age services and carols by candlelight, with the Christmas Day services on the reverse. Other events will have their own dedicated flyer or poster, while some events won’t require any such publicity.

To avoid oversaturating the print material with too much information, we will emphasise the Christmas landing page on our website, which will have full details of all events.

We also decided to produce a standalone handout containing an overview of all our events over the Christmas period. This will benefit current attendees as much as those outside of the church, and will act more as a source of information than as a ‘come to this event’ promotion.

It’s important to consider our online promotion here, too, but given this relies on the same content, and can be turned around fairly quickly, we will discuss this a little closer to the time.

Theme

As previously mentioned, we decided on an overall theme for our Christmas events, as well as a tagline. Sorry, no spoilers yet!

Next steps and deadlines

Critically, we discussed the actions that need to happen next, and who is responsible for their completion! At this stage, we’ve set another meeting for mid-September, when more of the details will become clear.

By this point, we will have already approved some initial visuals. Therefore we’ll be well on our way to producing all of the required creative elements!

We also set a mid-October deadline for the Christmas publicity. This gives us a little wiggle-room, but also ensures that publicity is ready for distribution at big events happening later that month.

Christmas Publicity – Overwhelmed?

Christmas is a busy time at church. It’s bound to bring on a bit of a headache to anyone involved with its planning, no matter how prepared you are.

We’re a reasonably large church; don’t feel overwhelmed if you haven’t got the capacity to think about Christmas just yet – we’re still learning too.

Still, a little conversation is better than none; if you can get the ball rolling just a little earlier, you may find it saves a lot of stressful decision-making closer to the time.

And of course, we do all of this seeking excellence in our communications, as we publicise the efforts of our churches to bring people into His Kingdom, for His glory.

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