One of the most common challenges with church communications is the complex coordination of event promotion. I use these words specifically from a church communicator's perspective. With each ministry of your church generating activity, it takes skill and coordination to communicate it all clearly and succinctly. Churches large and small often wrestle with this very thing. As a church communicator, meeting the various ministry events' expectations and deadlines can be stressful and mentally exhausting. Here are three steps to improving your event promotions schedule and the tension each step can release.
Develop a Central Events Hub
For the sake of this post, we'll refer to those who generate and manage events as "event owners." These people could be ministry leaders or individuals with event coordination responsibilities.
The first step in improving your events schedule is to designate an online calendar that would serve as your centralized hub for all ministry events. Each event owner should have access to the master calendar to add their events and information. Look for a calendar that offers approval functionality if you have a ministry leader on staff with approval responsibilities. Most church management systems like Fellowship One, Church Community Builder, or Planning Center have this capability. By designating one master calendar, you can establish best practices through procedures that every event owner follows.
Before I designated a master calendar protocol at our church, our team needed to chase down information. Some event owners got us lots of detail on time, but we had to be proactively calling ministry leaders for their input. It wasn't clear why they wouldn't be quick to pass that info since they wanted and needed their events promoted. When I stopped to think about it, promotion details are only one aspect of all the details event owners have to coordinate. They needed my help to assist when it's time to promote. Having a master calendar and established procedures creates a win-win.
Include Event Details in the Calendar Description
With event owners submitting their events for approval through one centralized master calendar, all event leaders, facilities managers, and communications coordinators have a healthier perspective of what's coming up. Event owners provide context for promoters when they include essential details, like who the event is for, why the event matters, and what it offers.
"When everything's an emergency, nothing is."
As part of our procedures, we encouraged event owners to include these details in the event description. It gave me a better understanding of the experience, allowed us to be more creative with the promotion, and caused the event owner to establish a clear purpose for their activity with expectations and benefits for their prospective attendees. For the most part, I no longer had to ask for more details. I just accessed the calendar.
Plan Your Promotion Content Schedule
Most online calendars have a way to search for events within a specific date range. I recommend searching for events within a four to six-week time frame. While they plan further out, I'd venture to say most people manage their schedules within the four to six-week date range.
Events that cost more or extend beyond a couple of hours require promotion that's farther out. Of course, you would promote these events based on the deposit/registration deadlines rather than the event date.
I'm often asked what's a reasonable lead time to include event details. Two thoughts come to mind with this question. Communications people feel better if the info is sitting there for when they need it. But event owners have a lot of logistics to deal with to iron out the details. I found that most event planners need details finalized for pricing, room reservations, and other incidentals about four-six weeks out. The registration deadline is an effective means of determining a promotion lead time. So, I recommend a four to six-week lead time from the registration deadline.
Providing a master calendar full of approved events and event details simplifies the promotion process immensely. With this approach in place, you will avoid the "emergency syndrome," where every event seems to be in a last-minute promotion push. When everything's an emergency, nothing is. Emergencies do happen. But with a master calendar and procedures functioning well, you've set yourself up to accommodate urgent or unexpected promotion requests successfully.
Don Wambolt has over 25 years' experience in leading church communications. More