Why? Why does this even matter? This is just ONE MORE THING! I can just hear your thoughts – and justifiably. It seems like a huge task to completely revamp your website, bulletin and content strategy. And it is.
Wait a second. In the title you just said “website and bulletin”, and already you’ve bait and switched me to content strategy? What’s a content strategy?
In the secular world, a content strategy is the regular production of editorial content related to your industry meant to position you as an expert and gain the attention of potential clients. Here are a couple definitions I just stole from Google.
Planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content. –Kristina Halvorson, Brain Traffic
Planning for the creation, aggregation, delivery, and useful governance of useful, usable, and appropriate content in an experience. -Margot Bloomstein, Appropriate Inc
A content strategy flips the tables on traditional, linear marketing by defining the process and then securing the right resources for producing a consistent stream of content mapped to buyer needs across all phases of the buying cycle. -Michael Brenner, SAP
“Yes!” you say. “The Church already has a content strategy, it’s called the Bible, and it’s the most popular piece of content on the planet.” You’re right, it is, but unfortunately, more than half of all Catholics don’t own or read the Bible, so we’ve got to get creative with this revamp.
To be honest, “revamp” is the wrong word. That implies you’ve “vamped” to begin with, and it’s likely you haven’t. What we’re trying to do here is the same thing millions of companies have already done with the recent wave of technology and ubiquitous, low-cost tools that surround us – connect people through story.
The following are the reasons why the Church should embrace a storytelling mindset when it comes to their communications.
1. Some Churches are BIG.
That’s right, the sheer size of some congregations can make it feel impersonal. People can get lost in crowds, and without a sense of belonging, people are more likely to leave.
This whole “faith” thing is about love! And it’s much easier to love someone when you know their story. In a recent meeting with a PhD theologian, he suggested that at EVERY Mass someone should get up before or after the liturgy and give a witness talk. Great idea…. Except most people would rather die than speak publicly.
But a video or audio recorded interview with the Pastor? That’s do-able. And it can be stored online and accessed by anyone, anytime. Shrink the feel of your Church with better communications. Done diligently, over time, it will return a bounty.
2. Young people are surrounded by great design and UX (user experience) all the time.
It’s expected from all companies – large and small. Well designed media – print and digital – is a reflection of your brand. If your bulletin looks like it was designed in the 80s, and your website in the 90s, young people will not take you seriously.
It’s not about being cool or edgy. It’s about being thoughtful. It shows that you care. There’s an emotional response that will either invite or repel implicit in every interaction. You need to invite! Even a short talking head video of your Pastor will go a long way (especially for your SEO)!
Bad design and messaging isn’t THE reason young people leave the Church, but it’s definitely not helping them stick around.
3. Great storytelling counteracts the atmosphere of secrecy and guilty silence surrounding the Church.
Young people equate transparency with ethicsI remember growing up and it being explicitly told to me “You do NOT talk to other people about your family… And anything regarding your family, means anything at all, because you are IN your family.” Confusing, right?
The Church has been suffering from somewhat of a public relation crisis over the past 20 years, beginning with the scandal in Boston. No doubt, THAT was a tragedy. In fact, among Gen Xers and Millenials, I don’t think the Church fully recovered. It might never. But to heal, we need to demonstrate to people that the Church’s teachings are still relevant and alive in its people.
We can do that with authentic storytelling. Life is messy. People are a little crazy – and we all know this! Authentic storytelling communicates the fact that people don’t have to live in shame for the tragedies of their past. They can confront evil – both within and without – and live close to God despite it. They can use their faith to overcome it. And they can overcome it to the extent that they’re willing to tell the story and help others to overcome their own battles with life.
The process is not that difficult, and it is worth it. So long as you don’t involve a large committee, the plans can be laid and executed within a couple months.
The whole mission of Diligent Dove is to facilitate this process. So sign up for our D-School classes and use our free resources to get the process started today. A robust communications and content strategy can breathe life into the lost sheep among us. If we save that one sheep, it will have been worth it.