The COVID-19 pandemic changed how we all live, communicate, work and even do church. The changes have been so significant that there are some pre-COVID-19 practices that we may never return to. I guess we should never say never.
Even though we are slowly returning to a semblance of what used to be, we are forced to ask the question: Moving forward, what will be the greatest communications challenges? And because none of us can see into the future, it becomes necessary for us to be aware of the communications trends that have surfaced throughout 2020 and 2021 to help improve communications planning and implementation.
Communications professionals have identified the following:
While some congregations have gone back to in-person worship service, most churches are holding a hybrid service. This means that there are two groups of members that must be made to feel a sense of oneness. Whether it’s finding opportunities for virtual gatherings that are shared with individuals in the church building or digitally interacting through social media, identifying ways to merge these two groups for interactions will be critical.
Alternative media outlets
While our congregations continue to provide services to meet the needs of the community that are often newsworthy, studies show that in this unusual time, individuals are consuming more podcasts and videos instead of more traditional media. It will be important for congregations to create or identify podcast shows and video series that are relevant to their congregation and the community and develop tailored pitches to include spokespeople and content in upcoming episodes.
Strategic use of social media
A well-planned social media strategy is critical for any organization. Post stories, videos, sermons, inspirational quotes and updates about how your congregation is helping others and spreading the love of Jesus. You can push out content that highlights what you are doing to help people get through this pandemic.
A communications plan
If we have learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that there is a need for a solid communications plan. Review your congregation’s needs. What information do they need from their church? Who needs it first, and for what purpose? During this ongoing pandemic, it’s vital that people understand the importance of complying with the COVID-19 protocols in place in your building, such as handwashing, wearing masks and other safety measures. This information needs to be communicated in a friendly and easily accessible manner.
How will you deliver your message? What communications tools will you need? Will you communicate via text, email, website, etc.? Have you tested your emergency communications system and tools? Make sure your tone is always calm and reasoned and never panicked. Also make sure to assign a communications lead so that all information is consistent.