“Could you put something in the bulletin next week about our event?”
This is a common question that we hear in the church office. As a general rule and depending on space and timing, the answer is “sure.” But Meg Good, our director of communications is pretty good about asking follow-up questions such as: “Would you also like it to appear in the weekly email?” “How about the Newsletter?” “Would you like it to appear on the website or Facebook page?”
We’ve learned that in a congregation of our size with as much going on as we have here, if you don’t get the word out about something, you might as well not have it.
Needless to say, there are many ways to get the message out at Seaside, and that’s important because we are such an active church that one single method of communicating is never enough. This could be a confusing situation if each committee or event chair had to keep all of the relevant communication information in their heads, remembering deadlines, guidelines for length and contact information.
Fortunately, our director of communications and the Communications Committee have developed two helpful tools for you to get the word out to the congregation (an additional tool related to advertising in the community at large is in the works). First, you may download and print a helpful matrix which details the ways you can get the word out, the important deadline information and the person to whom the item should be submitted. Second, we have a useful online form that will walk you through the steps to get the word out about your event. This form may be completed and submitted online and Meg will gladly forward the information for you to the appropriate folks.
Of course, you can always stop by or email Meg and ask her to put something in the bulletin, but be prepared for more questions…did you consider running the information in the weekly email newsletter? How about on screen announcements before worship?
Now, a thought about style. Remember that we are a congregation with a lot of folks moving in. Some have been here a few weeks, others a few months, and a few just arrived on Sunday. When you write an announcement about your group, do new people know anything about your group? Even very familiar acronymns such as UMM (United Methodist Men), UMW (United Methodist Women), may elicit blank stares from newcomers, to say nothing of FIGS, M&M’s or MYF (The first 2 are United Methodist Women’s sub-groups or “circles” and the third is the Methodist Youth Fellowship). So when you write your announcement, look at it with the eyes of someone who has only been at Seaside for a week or two but who just might be interested in your event if they knew what it was. Does your announcement speak to them? If you are in doubt, show it to someone in the church who doesn’t belong to the group sponsoring the event and ask if they understand it.
And finally, don’t forget the five “W’s.” “Who,” “What” “Where,” “When,” and “Why” (Don’t laugh, you’d be surprised how often we have to track down the answer to one or more of those). It’s easy to assume that people understand us when we just want to pass along a quick note about something. But in fact “Everybody” doesn’t know that the XYZ group “Always” meets in the parlor at noon on the fourth Wednesday for their monthly planning meeting (OK, I made the “XYZ” group up, but you get the point).
The Lord has blessed us with great people, a marvelous church, and many miracles of modern communication at our finger tips. Help us to get that word out within the church and to the wider world!