A communications plan is a road map for getting your message across to your audience. It is an essential tool for any organization—even churches. Creating a communications plan can be overwhelming, challenging and frustrating. But a sound plan is key to conveying your church’s message to your congregation and to your local and even national communities.
Communications planning is an intentional process that looks at what each of your church’s audiences need to hear from you. Developing a plan will increase the likelihood of accomplishing your desired communications outcome. Whether you need to communicate ongoing activities in your congregation or really “big news” about your church, the most effective communications start with a solid plan.
However, there are a few things you need to consider when developing your plan. Ask yourself, who’s the audience—is it the congregation, the community, elected officials, or other Presbyterians across the world? What is it you want them to know or hear from you? What’s their preferred method of receiving information? And how will you know that they heard and understood your message?
Let’s take a look at what you need to get started on your plan. The information here is to provide you with a guide for developing a communications plan that’s sure to get your message heard by the audience you want to reach.
Use the following steps to create an effective communications plan for your congregation or ministry.
- Develop a Situational Analysis. This introductory paragraph describes the current status of your ministry or congregation.
- Determine your goals. Goals provide direction and a purpose for your communications.
- Know your objectives. Objectives are specific, tangible points leading to your goal.
- Determine your strategies. Your strategies will be the general approaches used to achieve your complicated goals and objectives.
- Outline your tactics. Tactics are day-to-day tools and activities used to help implement the strategies, achieve objectives and attain goals.
- Know your audiences. Determine whom you want to reach and the message they need to hear from you.
- Determine your key message(s). Your key message(s) should be simple, concise and clear ideas that summarize the essence of your ministry or congregation. They must be clear across all communications platforms.
- Create a timeline for your plan. Your plan doesn’t have to take place over the course of a year. The timeframe should be based on what works best for your congregation. Develop a reasonable timeline that works for your church.
- Develop a budget. A budget is simply a financial guideline for accomplishing your goals and objectives. Dream big! Consider all opportunities, and then pare down as budgets dictate.
- Establish ongoing evaluation. You should always evaluate your plan as needed. Measurable objectives can help you determine whether you’re meeting your goals.
Now that you’ve read the necessary steps for developing a communications plan, why not contact the Presbyterian Mission Agency and schedule a Communications Workshop for your congregation?
The mission agency’s communications ministry will conduct workshops for groups of 20 or more scheduled through your presbytery.
This daylong workshop, conducted by communications professionals on the mission agency staff, will give you tips and techniques to better reach your audience. We’ll offer insights and guidelines on creating a communications plan for your congregation and discuss the do’s and don’ts of media relations and “pitching” stories to your local media. You’ll learn proven techniques for using social media tools like Facebook and Twitter and leave with tips that will make your communications more effective and help increase your reach. And we’ll provide resources to help with your church’s website. For more information or to schedule a workshop, contact Gail.Strange@pcusa or click here for additional information.