My first experience as a Church Communications Pastor was like drinking water from a fire hose. I was learning as I went, but those lessons were coming at me full force, with no time to really stop and think about what I was taking in, much less think about what I was producing.
Here, in the first of a two part series, I’m going to share with you what I learned as a 1st Time Communications leader; giving you some practical tips on how to avoid the things I did wrong as well as insights I gained along the way.
5 Tips for the New Communication Leader -
#1 - Being the Expert
Let me begin by saying, you don’t know everything, and that’s okay. Most Communication Leaders feel the need to be the resident expert on all things related to this vast creative ministry. But as in anything else, you cannot be the expert on everything.
- Be okay to say you aren’t an expert in everything. Your senior leaders and staff might expect you to be the expert, but be quick to dispel that notion. Good leaders operate in their strengths and staff to their weaknesses.
- Know who the experts are and staff or contract them. Who is the video producer in your area? Who’s the graphic artist you need? Who writes great copy, creates a great web experience, designs great banners, etc.?
- Be a continuous learner. You should spend 10% of every week learning something new. But how is this possible when your week is packed with meetings and production deadlines? One idea is that anytime someone cancels a meeting with you, use that time to read something about Church Communications, marketing, branding, technology or leadership. Have a ready list of blogs links and ebooks on your smartphone, notepad, or computer.
#2 - Master the Basics
This is critical. Get this wrong and everything else will follow suit. These are the foundation that will protect and communicate your message.
When I refer to “standards”, I’m talking about brand standards. This is where you articulate the mission, values, strategy, measures and vision of the church. Inside the Brand Standards document, you have:
- Your church logo, tagline, and statements
- How to use the logo and how not to use the logo
- The fonts you use (heading font, subheading font, etc.)
- Style (professional, clean, modern, etc.) and color template
- Email signatures, phone messages, etc.
Don’t feel like you have to reinvent the wheel. Ask some other Communication Leaders for samples of their standards. But remember, these are just samples. You’ll need to be sure they fit your church and your church’s culture
Develop a Strategy
After you develop your standards, you’ve got a good idea of who you are as a church. Your strategy involves understanding your audience, and then identifying the best way of communicating who you are to that potential audience. You have to bridge the communication gap between your church and your audience.
One great way to do this: Survey your current church audience. Ask them how they prefer to be communicated to on a regular basis. That will give you a pretty good idea of how people outside your church want to receive communications.
You have to decide:
- HOW you are going to communicate to your audience
- WHAT you’re going to communicate to your audience
- WHEN you’re going to communicate to your audience
And you have to make sure you have metrics in place to gauge whether or not you’re achieving your desired results.
Develop your Systems
Andy Stanley says, “The systems down the hall trump the vision on the wall.” This means our staff, leaders and volunteers’ actions are guided by the systems we inherit, adopt or create.
If you don’t have systems in place, standards and strategy mean absolutely nothing. The systems that you must set in place are the wheels that turn everything in action. It’s what allows the day-to-day operations to run smoothly.
Your systems are how you handle projects internally. They include how you work with:
- Outside agencies
- Other ministry staff leaders to communicate their message
- Senior staff to make sure the most important messages are being communicated the right way
You have to put these systems in place and communicate them to the staff.
In the next post, I’ll cover these three important topics: Saying No Well, Leading Up, and Training the Whole Team