September 16, 2007

How to Improve Your Church Communications

At MinistryCOM, Jon Walker said that service journalism is one of the best ways to improve your communication pieces and get readers to actually read the pieces. Jon defined service journalism as "creating something that is usable and useful and makes it easier for people to act." It also includes "how to" articles.

Your church communications would improve if you simply answer two questions:

1. So What? Why is this important? What am I (the reader) going to get out of this article or communication piece?

2. What Now? Usually the church tells them that something needs to be done, but doesn't give practical steps or tell them what to do.

Help people want to read by using better styling.
1. Clear Title. Tell them what the article is about in the title. This helps them know if they want to read the article. If you use a "cutesy" title, you need to give a very good subtitle.

2. Subheads. Break the piece apart with subheads. Like it or not, most people (especially men) only skim. Subheads help break up a large piece into manageable pieces.

3. Sidebar. Use timelines, charts, graphs, etc. to display larger amounts of info in short, easy-to-see pieces. You can tell more in a timeline than trying to write out the biography.

4. Use Pull Quotes. Pull quotes need to be interesting. Also, use a sentence that is a few sentences into the paragraph.

5. Use Q & A and FAQ Pages. People like to read these.

6. Use lists. People love Top 5..., Top 3..., 7 Ways to.., Jon says that odd numbered lists are read quicker than even numbered lists. Go figure.

What are some strange things you have seen in church communication pieces? What are some characteristics of the best things you have seen in church communications pieces?

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