PR Tip #1 For Your Ministry & Church:
Engage with the media. Don't expect them to come to you.
Churches are naturally nervous and cautious about talking to the media. Many have seen the damage caused by a bad story to the reputation of the church. Sadly for some churches, public relations (PR) just isn't on the radar because they don't even know it exists. Or at worst, PR is seen as 'worldly' (I hate that world but couldn't think of a better one).
You need to get this. The media isn't your worst enemy. It really can be your best friend. OK. Maybe not your best friend, maybe more like a distant cousin who you talk to occasionally and is useful when you need a babysitter. You know the kind, you need them because they are handy to have around. They need you because you are a source of easy pocket money and they love your endless supply of ice cream.
My point is the press can be one of the most strategically useful communication channels you have at your disposal. Why? Because good PR is most certainly your most authentic communications channel. Especially when connecting to your local community. The general public receives press stories in a completely different way to how they receive any kind of advertising. With public relations, the trust meter is sky high. The public believes what the press is reporting (regardless of whether its true or not). With any form of advertising there is a barrier because you have paid for the space and people are suspicious of any kind of paid advertising.
On a side note, reporters are people just like you. Many are doing something they are passionate about. But they have little time to invest in stories and are looking for well prepared news which will make their life easier. The more you prepare, the better the outcome. I'll talk more about this in a later post.
Now lets get to the heart of the matter – why you should engage?
1) Because your church has the greatest news story ever told. Your church is the hope of your community. But there is no use being the hope of your community if no one has heard of you and never hears from you.
2) Because PR is a seriously cheap way of communicating with a large number of people. I've done PR for my church and it hasn't cost us one cent (besides the phone call). It was as simple as picking up the phone and calling the local paper.
3) Because PR is the most effective and authentic communication channel you have at your disposal in communicating with your local community.
Convinced? Great. Before you engage and get out there, read my follow up posts I'll be posting them next week. These will be very practical tips to assist you in:
1) Discovering your story.
2) Preparing your story.
3) Writing your story/press release.
4) Sending your story/press release.
5) Sharing your story.
[Caution: The PR communications channel runs both ways. It can
be an incredible force for getting your story out, but it can also be a
media nightmare that has more backlash than a whip if you get it wrong [Proceed carefully and purposefully]. When in doubt talk to someone in the industry first.