Did you catch the Apple event last week? Apple theology and general reaction aside, I’m not here to talk about the big announcements. It was the front-of-mind best practices leading up to the big announcements that caught my attention. And, as I watch churches in the frenzy of Easter planning, I can’t help but wonder about the front-of-mind best practices leading up to the big Easter event.
Brand is the buzzword for businesses and organizations all over the world. It spurs countless meetings and brainstorms, millions of dollars in research and hundreds of pages in manuals. It has shifted messaging and advertising campaigns. It has prompted new logos, flashy design, catchy taglines. And, after all of that, people still don’t know how brands are made.
You’ve got a lot on your plate as a Senior Pastor. It’s hard to see how you can make any more space when there aren’t enough hours in the day. But do you believe you should be driving all points of communications as the senior leader?
When I say it out loud, it just doesn’t feel right. But, I do turn 50 next month, so the math checks out. “I’ve been in the professional communication arena for thirty years.” There. I’ve said it. And, it’s so weird. It doesn’t feel like that long. It feels like I’m at the starting line. I think that’s because communications is basically a lifelong work study program; it just never gets old.
And, after three decades at this, I can share the one common, critical gap I see derail effective communications every time. In every arena. In every business. In every not-for-profit. And, most prominently, in every church.
Whether it’s growing pains or culture change, pain points inevitably show up in every business or church when there’s a “shift” to manage. Systems start to fail. Silos creep in. Staff morale tumbles. Whatever “it” is, the temptation is to fix it; and fix it fast. Here are three common mistakes I see leaders make when facing big issues in change management:
Last year, I partnered with TonyMorganLive & The Unstuck Group to publish the following article. Just this week (it's only Wednesday), I've had multiple calls and emails about how to prioritize promotional activity. I think it's time for a throwback. Enjoy.
Once upon a time, in a church, far, far away, there was a problem with communications…
It’s spring. Time to upgrade things going out of style, time to store the things that don’t fit right now and time to retire the items we’re not using anymore. You can do this with your wardrobe if you want, but I’m not interested in your closet. I'm talking about your communications activity.
I have to ask, are you taking inventory of all the content and materials you’re generating and measuring the ROI at least once a year? If not, you should.
I curated a list of reads for you. And, I've read a lot. These are not all of my favorite reads, but a strong list of some of the great ones. Many titles on this list (some classic and some new) have been the most influential and helpful sources for me personally. Every title on this list is a place where you can count on finding perspective as a leader, insight to set better project expectations, alternative approaches to ignite creativity, strategy around organizational communications and essential interpersonal ingredients for aligning teams.
The toughest thing about fresh insight, new strategies and a personal passion to make something happen is the wait for others to catch on. Am I right!? Here are five things to help you stay the course as you try to pitch a project, champion a strategy and win people over to lead change of any kind.
As a church, communications AND clarity advocate, a lot of people have come to me asking what I think about churchclarity.com (a new web site attempting to pressure pastors and churches to disclose their positions on LGBT issues). I've had so many inquiries, in fact, I thought it would be helpful to share a personal reflection here.
I've been recently given the Director of Communications position and have been asked to come up with a comprehensive communications strategy designed for our particular church body, mission, and vision, etc. I was hoping to not completely reinvent the wheel and was wondering if you had any white papers that could be used as a framework for developing our strategy?
I know what shy is, and I am not shy. At least not anymore. Growing up that’s all I was. It is what people told me I was. It was what I didn’t want to be. The dictionary defines shy as these words: bashful, easily embarrassed, timid, restrained, and reserved. Shy is thought of as a permanent personality trait. It is something you are and will continue to be. Knowing as a little girl what gained the most attention, I avoided it. I monitored my behavior with a microscope and punished myself for getting out of the box I held myself in. At times the box was safe and kept me from embarrassment but most of the time my box was a prison and the unrealistic standards I held myself to added to my anxiety.
I work with churches every week desperate to fill or "fix" a communications role with someone who has the passion and skill set to help with their communications activity. Unfortunately, many candidates who take on that communications role aren't equipped to succeed once they’re in it. Here are three common landmines I've seen sabotage best laid plans and promising new hires:
I would love to know more about social media plans. What platforms should be using (if any) and in what ways? How often should we post? I am going to launch a Social Media team in 2017 and I would love to have my “ducks in a row” or at least in the right pond before getting them going.
What do you do when top level leadership communication strategies are inconsistent with the new strategy that was actually approved by the same top level leadership which continues to result in more confusion?
If you're using your email list exclusively to promote church events, you might be coming across like a disconnected corporate jerk. I'm not saying you are a disconnected corporate jerk, I'm just saying you might look like one.
I live my life in bursts: work and play, schedule and spontaneity. With a simple framework, I am at my best in this variety. It engages my heart and intellect in every way. Colors are vibrant. Neurons fire. Things connect. I am productive. I am in the zone.
Too often, institutions behave as if communications is synonymous with promotions. Promotions is one, singular layer of a communications strategy, but it is not an interchangeable word for communication.
We’ve started doing weekly video announcements and it’s been a struggle to find "announcers." Are verbal announcements still a good idea when we already have a bi-weekly bulletin that includes announcements, too?
Do you endorse different Facebook pages for the different departments? I'm looking for a way ministry leaders can get pertinent info out to those interested without clogging up main communication channels in the church. It seems there would be challenges ensuring those pages reflect our values and don't get us into any sticky situations.
I try (keyword: try) not to speak out on topics when I am pressured, emotional, ill-informed or inexperienced. Every time I give in under one of those circumstances, my noble intentions cause more harm than good.
When I audit communications teams and functions for organizations, a crucial part of the process is leading informal focus groups with key stakeholder groups. In almost every case, I encounter team members from different departments who are frustrated with each other because they are not fully aware of changes before they are implemented.