Communication Planning Sheet for Big Days

Communication Planning Sheet for Big Days

Christmas. Easter. Baptism. There are big days in the life of every church. My solution for mapping out these days has been to create a basic planning sheet. This allows me to see the overall picture of dates and communication channels in one place. This doesn’t capture every action item in a project (I use Asana for that), but it helps visualize what needs to happen and when.

Here’s an example from Christmas.

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Here’s a blank PDF template to download.

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How To Plan For Christmas At Your Church

How To Plan For Christmas At Your Church

Do you hear that? It’s September and I can already hear the jingle bells in the distance. With Christmas on the horizon, here’s a look at the planning process at our church and ideas you can implement when planning Christmas this year.

1. It starts in January.
After our staff returns from holiday break, we review what went well, what didn’t, and what was missing from our Christmas services. Often, our Lead Pastor will have an idea in his mind for the coming year’s Christmas series. I save these notes in Evernote so I can bring them back around when Christmas planning begins.

2. Gather ideas through the year.
I save articles and ideas to Evernote all throughout the year as I come across them. Church Marketing Sucks has oodles of useful articles related to Christmas Eve and planning.

3. Schedule a meeting in September.
In early September, I schedule a Christmas planning meeting with our Lead Pastor, Worship Pastor, and Executive Pastor. We review the Christmas sermon series, nail down location and service times for Christmas Eve and begin brainstorming ideas for the Christmas Eve service. Depending on the size of your church and what you want to accomplish for your Christmas series, you may want to have that meeting earlier than September. But for us, September works.

After this smaller meeting, we will bring up the plan to all staff during a weekly staff meeting for feedback and additional creative ideas.

4. Create a plan.
After those meetings, I begin crafting a plan in Asana. This outlines the tasks I’ll need to accomplish based on the ideas we discussed for the services. This plan covers everything from Christmas Eve graphics, social media, promotional materials, and creative service elements. It helps me stay on track during the busy season.

5. Work the plan.
Once the details are set and the plan is made, we’re off and running. We begin hard promotion for Christmas the week after Thanksgiving. We will do teaser posts on social media and light promotion the week of Thanksgiving as people begin to get into the Christmas spirit. Promotional and creative elements are determined by the series messaging and the theme of the Christmas Eve services.

For example, one year we made it a big event with horse-drawn carriage rides and family photos before the service. We did a larger outside marketing push that year with radio ads and mailers. We’ve done a simpler, traditional service and emphasized personal invitations to family and friends. We created social media graphics and invite cards so our people would have tools when inviting their guests.

 

Christmas is by far my favorite time of year to work at a church. It’s also one of the busiest. As church communicators, it’s important to stay focused on why we are celebrating and not lose focus by checking our to-do list twice. This means giving yourself margin for prayer and time with the Lord – another reason planning ahead is important!

What about you? How do you plan for Christmas at your church?

Resources:

Church Marketing Sucks
SundayMag.tv
God Rest Ye Stressed Communicators

 

How to Add a Communications Volunteer

How to Add a Communications Volunteer

No Communications Director is an island.

There are too many moving parts for one person to do it all with quality and excellence. Plus, you will burn out in the process. But it can be difficult to hand off areas to a volunteer. What if they don’t do it like I would do it? What if they are inconsistent? The best way to set up your volunteers (and yourself) to win is with a clear volunteer process and defined roles

I recently decided to add a volunteer role that wasn’t as specialized as a graphic designer or videographer. I needed a person that could do everything I do, and help in creating content and planning for the year. I created the role of Communications Coordinator. There was a gal in our church who had a similar role in her job. I asked her to come on board.

Here’s what that process looked like.

1. Set up an initial face-to-face meeting.
Setting up a meeting with your volunteers is important. This gives you an opportunity to cast vision, explain the role, and hear feedback from them. Ask them what they want to do and how much time they can commit to each week. This sets up expectations for you and them. You should walk away from that meeting with clear action items and a scheduled time to follow-up.

2. Follow up within 36 hours.
For me, this is usually done via email. In this email, I will give an overview of our meeting, action items and next steps, and a date for our next face-to-face meeting.

3. Give them the tools they need.
I set up our Communications Coordinator with an Asana account, access to the guidelines, and tools we frequently use to communicate.

4. Let them do the job.
For the control freaks out there (myself included) – don’t micromanage. You’ve set them up to win and now it’s time to let them do the job, and even do things their own way. Often the best ideas come from our volunteers – not our staff!

5. Provide feedback.
Build in touch points for feedback. I tend to give frequent feedback in first 3-4 weeks with a new volunteer. Highlight and appreciate the great work they are doing and offer suggestions to make things even better. Ask your volunteers if they have all the resources they need to do the tasks and if they gave identified any gaps. You also should ask questions to evaluate if this is really their ‘sweet spot’ for ministry based on their unique skills and gifting.

If you’re feeling like you can’t do it all alone, you’re exactly right! And that’s okay. You need teammates, and hopefully this process gives you a good place to start.

 

What about you? What’s your process for adding volunteers to your team?

How to Create Social Media Content From Your Pastor’s Sermon

How to Create Social Media Content From Your Pastor’s Sermon

Social media is relentless. Each day requires fresh content to engage with your audience. Luckily, one of the most valuable sources of content is readily available to you every single Sunday – the sermon. Every week you need new content and every week your pastor creates it.

Here are a five ways to repurpose the Sunday sermon for social media.

1. Verses
Keep the main passage of Scripture or supporting verses in front of people through the week. You can simply post the text or turn them into images using Canva or Over (App). See an example

2. Quotes
Take the memorable quotes from the sermon and turn those into images. See an example

3. Video Clips
You can do this easily in iMovie or a similar program. Clip a short (3 minute or less) snippet that can be easily understood, even without the context of the entire sermon. Post to Facebook. See an example

Tip: Upload directly through Facebook, rather than linking to Vimeo or another site. This will give you greater reach.

4. Sermon Bumpers or Video Stories
Did you create an awesome sermon bumper? Share that bad boy! Folks love to watch these again and it’s a great way to share what happened on Sunday for those who missed it. See an example

5. Next Steps
Did your pastor talk about the importance of serving others? Create a post encouraging people to get involved with a volunteer or mission team. Emphasize Sunday’s application by creating a clear next step for your audience to take. See an example 

Bonus tips:

  • Ask your pastor to send the manuscript or outline to you each week.
  • Take notes during service to remember quotes and verses.
  • Use tools like Hootsuite and Canva to schedule posts and create images.
  • Plan out your content for the entire week. Don’t try to remember to post each day.

What about you? How do you create and plan social media content each week?

Why We Switched to a Monthly Bulletin

Why We Switched to a Monthly Bulletin

The bulletin. The word brings dread to church communicators everywhere.

Like many churches, we created, proofed, printed and folded hundreds of bulletins each week only to watch them be tossed into a trash, left in seats or crammed in Bibles to be thrown away later.

Surely there’s a better way!

In January we took the plunge and made the switch to a monthly bulletin.

Now we produce a monthly news that highlights major events and a story. We pass it out on the first Sunday of the month and make it available at our Guest Services all month. Each week we pass out a simple front and back card with our current series branding, information for first time guests and a perforated tear-off for a connection card.

Here are a few reasons why we made the switch.

1. We launched an app
The app is now the primary way for our regular members and attenders to see upcoming news and events. It’s geared toward our internal audience and we continually push people to check the app and use it to connect with us.

2. The bulletin didn’t change week to week
We emphasize small groups, volunteer teams, family ministries and missions. This means we don’t have significant programming changes week to week. If something does come up, there are other effective channels (email, social media, push notifications) we can use to get the word out.

3. It forces us to plan
All communication requests have to be submitted by the 15th of the month prior to be considered for the monthly news. The monthly method eliminates last-minute promotional requests and ensures details are mapped out well in advance.

4. It allows us to share stories
Every month we include a life change story or highlight a mission team. This gives us another avenue to share the mission of our church (connecting people to Jesus for life change), rather than simply pumping out more events and ministry leader requests.

How’s it working so far? Great! We’ve received positive feedback on the switch, saved money and can use time more effectively throughout the week.

There are no formulas for church communications – it all depends on your context and audience. For us, the move to a monthly bulletin has been the right one.

What about you? Does your church do a weekly bulletin? Are you ready to switch to a monthly?

Resources:
Monthly News – Example
Weekly Bulletin – Example