People first – keeping focus in communications

People first – keeping focus in communications

It’s easy to let even good ideas cloud your thinking, what is the focus for church communications and how do we, as communicators, keep ‘first things first’?

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – being a church communicator is no simple feat. The role requires multiple hats to be juggled, to mix metaphors, as it is necessary to maintain oversight of many complex tasks. The ‘church communicator’ role can easily become a synonym for social media manager, content writer, editor, graphic designer, moderator, project manager: not to mention team leader.

Keeping focus on the main thing, with all of this going on, is never going to be easy, but as with everything, fail to plan and you plan to fail; how can one possibly keep focus if we don’t occasionally take time out to assess, or re-assess, what that main thing is?

How can we focus on the main thing if we don’t take time to assess what the main thing is?

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Despite my record of overwhelmingly fantastic advice (you can thank me later), I can’t decide this for you. The main focus of your church’s communications ministry is going to be directed by your church vision (something I’ve blogged about before), as well as the current digital landscape.

An Ever-changing Landscape

What do I mean by this? Put it this way – just a few years ago, no church featured Instagram as a key part of their strategy for reaching out to students; no one had even heard of Snapchat. The online world moves – quickly and constantly. Are we ever going to be able to get ahead of it, or even keep up? Probably not. But we do need to move with the times: check out ChurchMag’s recent blog post that shows even the big boys (think Google, Facebook etc.) have to evolve continually.

I can hear the objections already, but I have no time for them – the online landscape changes, as does the way people use it. If we want to reach people, we have to adapt too.

People

This brings me neatly to my second point – almost as if it was planned…

Lots of church people eating

Remember people? They should be the focus!

Thinking back to the multi-tasking, discipline-juggling role of the communicator, it’s not hard to see how any one of these tasks can demand time, resources and attention – I’ll let you in on one of my personal hangups – quality.

I spend a lot of time thinking about how we can improve the ‘quality’ of our creative output, as a church. One of the key factors I consider here is brand consistency – the pursuit of a consistent application of the organisation’s brand across all output. Of course, I’m biased here, but I think this is a noble aim! I can spend a long time listing off the positives of a strong, branded message in a world of confusing pseudo-brands, but I won’t, because I’d fall foul of losing focus. However well the brand is applied, if people are forgotten, it’s been for nothing.

However well the brand is applied, if people are forgotten, it’s been for nothing.

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In a guest post from Peter Baker, way back in February, we considered this:

[This] effectively summarises a primary purpose of the Church; we’re here to get a message across – God’s message – the most important message ever. For the God of Christian faith is in the communications business. And that means we have to communicate His truth with clarity, creativity and conviction.

We ‘do’ communications because we believe God does, and would have us do it for Him, and who are we communicating to if not the people to whom He calls us to go? To communicate with “clarity” (using our wisdom for the best message), “creativity” (wisely choosing the best method) and “conviction” (being committed to the message and our methods) is essential, but if we lose the underlying motivation, not only will our output grow stale, but we will grow bitter.

The Great Commission

Moreover, to forget the reason behind our communications output in favour of overly focusing on proper management of our social media channels, or maintaining tip-top brand consistency, we are putting the cart in front of the horse. To put it bluntly, our communications could be of the highest excellence, but if we don’t put people first, what’s the point?

I want to end with some thoughts on branding from Bruce Duckworth, that highlight to me that the areas of ‘people focused communications ministry’ and ‘quality/doing things well/getting caught up in the details’ are not in conflict, but are in fact part of an ongoing conversation:

As the immediate reaction from any piece of branding design that we do, we want people to understand what the point of the purchase is – what the brand message is. And then after that, we want them to discover a little bit more, and a little bit more, and a little bit more…

…The process of discovery is such a great way of engaging your audience, and your customers will figure out the different layers as they get to know the brand better.

Bruce Duckworth, in Brand Thinking, ed. Debbie Millman

It is this conversation that we seek to start, and continue with our audiences, as we seek to participate in their journey towards Christ.

 

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