Designing and writing brochures, handouts, websites, weekend programs and other communication pieces is part of every church communicators job. These pieces are the first things visitors see when they want information about your church. You have to make sure these pieces look good even on a limited budget.
Here are FIVE quick tips to improving your communication piece:
1. Don't use too much text.
Too much text can turn a good piece into a bad piece. There is vital information you want to communicate, but make sure the information is actually needed. Part of being a good writer is being or having a good editor. Cut out the extraneous words, watch for cliches, and try to find more efficient and exact ways to state things.
Also, don't be afraid of white space in your brochure. White space is any area where there is neither text nor picture...it is white, empty space. Much like a vaulted ceiling or "open" floor plan in a house, white space opens the communication piece up and allows some freedom. You must be careful, however, where and how much white space you leave.
2. Choose good pictures.
There is a big difference between stock photography and a snapshot. Many brochures and flyers fail because they use low quality, poorly placed, badly taken pictures. Use good pictures. Good pictures are first and foremost high quality (so as not to become a blurry blob in the print piece, well cropped (the ball is in the picture if it is an action shot, for instance), and uses the rule of thirds.
A picture is worth a thousand words as the cliche states. Be careful what your picture is saying. It is bright and colorful? Is it clear what the participants are doing? Does the picture fit the communication piece?
There are several good places to find pictures. I can find almost everything I need at Morguefile.
3. Proofread before printing.
This one should probably have been number one. Proofread, proofread, proofread! In fact, have several people read the piece. Have them look at the spelling, punctuation, and ask "Does this make sense?" This tip alone could improve 90% of the poor quality church communication pieces. Most of the bad communications pieces are bad because they have numerous misspelling and poor grammatical structures. Nothing says unprofessional like misspellings and poor grammatical choices.
One point needs to be made. No one is perfect. Publishing companies with more money and talent than a church could ever hope for have misspellings and grammar errors. I think most people are able to overlook a misspelling here and there. The problem becomes irreparable when the misspellings and poor grammar reaches two or three times in a short span of reading. If one brochure has two or more problems, then people begin to turn off. Proofread the material closely.
4. Be careful how you use the templates.
Because many churches don't have the money to hire a professional for their communication pieces, the church secretary (or someone without appropriate training) is left the job of designing the brochure, flyer, or program. Due to lack of training, the secretary resorts to using the templates that come with the word processing or design program. While these templates may provide a starting point, they are overused. They are understandable for someone with no training, but be careful how much you use them.
Use them for inspiration. Use the templates and look at what other people are doing with their brochures to give you ideas about how to lay out your own communication piece. These templates are ok if you have absolutely nothing else to help you.
5. Know when to hire someone.
If you have a piece that is going to be seen by many people or is going to be used for a long period of time, you should invest the money to have it professionally done. Brochures that are going to be around for a while, websites, flyers that are being distributed to the community, program shells, etc. should all be professionally done. Why? Because these are pieces that everyone is going to see, and they are going to be with you for a long time.
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