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Taking On Church Communications: What to Ask Before You Start

May 9, 2017 11:15:00 AM

Taking On Church  Communications

You’ve taken the plunge: you’ve agreed to take on the task of church communications—or perhaps you’ve already been tossed into the deep end of the pool and are struggling to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing as a church communicator. You may be full time, part time, or a volunteer. You may work alone or as part of a team.

Generally, there are some basic expectations for what you will do as a church communicator, though the details will be different for every situation. But what are the things that you need to know to be able to successfully manage your tasks as a church communicator? Consider asking some of the questions below to get started.

Print or Email Newsletters and Bulletins

  • How is the address database handled? How should you respond to requests for the mailing list, both in and out of house? (Learn more about best practices for maintaining a useful church database.)

  • Who approves the items to include, and what are the criteria to meet?

  • When is the deadline for announcements? What is the publication schedule?

  • Who is printing/folding/mailing the newsletters and bulletins?

Website

  • What is the church’s vision for the website?

  • Is the leadership happy with the basic layout and state of the website, or do they want a significant overhaul? (If a lot of work needs to be done, read up on conquering website mapping.)

  • How often are you expected to update content and is there an approval process?

  • Who else works on the site and what do they do? Who provides tech support and what is the protocol for contacting them?

Social Media

  • What accounts does the church have? Do you have the necessary access to all of them?

  • Who else has posting privileges?

  • How often should each account be updated? (If you’re overwhelmed when you think about frequent posting, here are some great ideas for posts churches can try.)

  • If the church does not have accounts on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat, can you start one?

  • Does the church have any ongoing hashtags?

  • What are acceptable/unacceptable sources for interesting links to post?

  • Are ministries in the church expected to produce their own content, or do you need to seek it out? Who can you contact for each ministry?

  • Does the church want to pay to promote things to the community? Do you have a budget and discretion to choose when to promote, or do you need to seek permission each time?

  • If part of your church’s social media activity is posting sermon notes or devotions, does the staff need or want reminders?

Announcements and Multimedia for Worship Services

  • Are you the only one preparing multimedia for worship services? Who are you working with and what is their part in the process?

  • When does the multimedia content need to be finished each week?

  • What are the guidelines for what can and can’t be included?

  • Are there certain programs you need to use to produce this content?

  • What are the parameters for size, resolution, style, etc.?

General Questions

  • Who can you count on to help you out if you’re sick, have a family emergency, or need to travel?

  • What software or technical training can the church provide?

  • What are some of the main events that are planned for the year? (Consider managing how you will organize communications for church year themes and events with a church communications calendar.)

  • Do children and youth ministries have a photo release included in their sign ups? Do the leaders know who has not given permission for a minor’s photo to be taken and used? (If no one has an answer to this question, read about four things to consider when using photographs of children and youth.)

  • Do you need to handle any payments for renewals (domain name, paid services)? Who do you contact about renewal reminders and payments?

  • Is there an established “brand kit” of typefaces, fonts, and colors? (Read more about setting your church’s brand and “house style”.)

  • Do you have files for church and ministry logos? If not, who does?

  • Is there a policy in place for dealing with negative comments or controversy involving the church? (If not, learn more about setting your social media response strategy.)

  • Does the church have access to any paid media content accounts that provide stock photos, videos, etc.? How can you access that content? (Read more about free and cheap stock photo websites for churches.)

Once you’ve gotten answers for these questions and have figured out how you’ll proceed with the ones you don’t have answers for, it’s a great idea to be sure that anyone who comes after you won’t have to work so hard to get these answers. Prepare and regularly update a list of important information about your workflow that you can hand over to someone else should you find it’s time to stop handling communication for your congregation.

Take a look at some of the “Interview with a Church Communicator” interviews and other church communications articles that Concordia Technology Solutions has done and see how other people are managing their tasks and time. If you’ve already come up with your own list of questions to ask when taking on church communications, what else should a communicator inquire about when getting started?


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Kimberly Myers

Written by Kimberly Myers

Kimberly Myers is Director of Communications for the Nebraska District LCMS in Seward, Nebraska. Her background in literature and linguistics led her into both teaching and editing. She and her husband worked for the Office of International Mission for sixteen years as English language teachers in Asia before they transitioned to Nebraska. Kim is a proud and unapologetic nerd with a love of fiction and online culture, and is excited to have the chance to apply her interest in digital and social media to online community outreach.

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