Writing multi-channel communications,creating content for both print and digitally forms is easier than many people who create it in church offices realize. That is because a common misconception in the church office is that if you create communications for various channels, e.g. brochure, web, email, brochure, you need to redo the content, restructure, rewrite, and reformat it for each channel. The truth is that you don't only not need to, but if you do change things in each channel, you will confuse people.
This article will explain:
- what content details you need to include in every channel
- the important visual elements that need to stay consistent
- suggestions of what channels to use
- how often you need to repeat your message
The essential content details that connect people with the ministry or event of your church
These details need to stay the same no matter what channel you use:
- Name of event (clarify acronyms and church jargon)
- Who the event is for
- Time, including duration
- Location & how to get there
- Contact information of person putting on the event
- If childcare is provided
- If there is a cost
- Why people should want to attend, the text that explains and invites.
Getting these basic details together is often the hardest part of any communication process. Always remember that though these details seem small, they are the vital links that actually get people connected to an event. Once you have them, you simply need to repeat them.
You will always be tempted to leave some of them out thinking that people have already seen them, but remember that just because you have seen something 5-10 times as you put it into different communication channels--every piece you put out will always be the first piece some people see.
YOU MUST include all the important details in every piece you send out or with an easy link to them. NEVER (the shouting is intended here) tell people to "contact the church office for more information." Nobody has time to do that and even if they do, chances are that since you did not have the information when you first put out the communication, you don't have it now.
Getting the little details from people holding events and putting them into every channel of communication is some of the terribly hard servant work of church communications--but these details are essential to link people to life-changing events. For example, a newly-single mom at your church may want to come to an event, but if you are unclear about child care or child care costs she may not have the emotional courage to contact the church and ask about it.
In addition to consistency in your words, you also need visual consistency
What would you think of a team that changed its team colors to make the team "more interesting?" Doesn't make sense does it? It doesn't make any more sense for your church communications to change the items below to "make things more interesting."
Remember, people do not read church communications because they are "interesting" or not. They read them to find information, to meet needs to grow spiritually. It might not be as interesting for you to create consistent, but what might seem like boring designs, but consistency will serve your people well.
The visual content that needs to stay consistent includes:
- Logo, if one has been created for the event or ministry
- Key images or pictures.
- Colors used in advertising, or tied to an event
- Layout if unique
Once this core content is created: DO NOT CHANGE IT!
The content of your message needs to be consistent and don't change identifying colors or images.
The most successful advertising campaigns are ones where a company finds a slogan, image or person that works and they repeat it again and again. Some phrases have even become part of our vocabulary:
- Can you hear me now?
- Just do it!
- Where's the beef?
Though we aren't attempting to become part of the national jargon, the same secret for success applies in church communications. For example, if your church has decided to use the slogan, "Everyone in One!" for a small group campaign, don't use that slogan in your printed material and "Never study alone!" as your theme on the website. People will be confused and think you are promoting two different programs.
Decide on your content and design and then take that content and design and put out the message using the various channels. For example, perhaps your content is a campaign to get the congregation involved in small groups. The communication team members, using the same content and perhaps similar colors and images, can create a variety of communications to carry out your ministry goals including:
- a print brochure
- a bulletin announcement and insert
- a PowerPoint presentation
- a website directory of small group times and locations
- a print directory with the same information for the welcome center
- cards for the various groups that people can take home
- an email newsletter designed to inform and encourage people to sign up
- social media that links to information and encourages sign-up
You may use more or less of it of the basic core of information (but always with the same look, color, slogan) in the various channels. For example on the web you might list every small group with detailed information about what is being studied and detailed directions on how to get to each small group, whereas in the church bulletin, you might simply give a list of topics, times, and a link to the website.
Finally, each channel should repeat the same message several times
Remember nobody sees all the channels and no one in your congregation will see each communication each time it is presented. Though the number changes with the authorities cited, most marketing experts agree that people need to see a message at least 5-7 times for it to register at all. We may be sick of repeating it, but you can be sure that after you send out the same message 10 times in at least 5 different channels, there will still be someone who says, "Thank you so much for that one (text, postcard, email, bulletin announcement)--I didn't know that was happening, but when I saw it, I went and it changed my life."