It’s great when an event announcement leaves people wanting more. But it’s not so great when the “more” they are wanting is basic information like when and where the event is being held! Even worse is when they don't even know where to go to learn more.
We’ve all seen it: “Join Us for Christmas Eve Worship,” or “New Member Class, August 15.”
Ok, what time? What can expect if I go? Will there be child care?
You can’t give a full description of every activity or event in every location—bulletin, website, newsletter, announcements in worship, and especially the marquis sign out front—but two easy tips can help avoid the frustration and confusion caused by poor announcements.
1. Have One Hub
If an occasional visitor to your church wanted more information about Sunday school classes, joining the choir, or an upcoming event, where would he or she go for that info? Increasingly, the obvious choice is the church website, but the bulletin, newsletter, or an information kiosk manned on Sunday mornings could be other viable options.
Whatever medium you choose, make it known that that is where to go for more information. Communications Director Kem Meyer emphasizes this among other tips in her interview on Ministry Matters.
"Reinforce everywhere (from the platform, the bulletin, mailings, etc.) the one place where people can find everything. . . When you talk about big, all-church steps like volunteering, joining a group, etc., that one place is where people can find the specific opportunities that appeal to them with all the details—dates, times, directions, registration, etc."
When you announce an upcoming event in worship or in the bulletin, keep it brief and direct people to that one hub for more information. Direct people there consistently (and make sure it is consistently up-to-date), and it will soon become the trusted location for all info about the church’s happenings.
2. Have One Way to Request an Announcement
Everyone knows it’s the church secretary that really keeps things running. If the youth pastor leaves a Post-It note on her desk, the VBS chair sends her an email, the mission trip planner calls her up, and the seniors group organizer drops by while she’s doing a million other things, something is bound to fall through the cracks. Not to mention, the Post-It note, phone call, etc. all contain different and incomplete information.
Terrell Sanders, President of Main Street Open communication services, shared this excellent event promotion worksheet (also downloadable below) that takes the guess-work out of crafting an event announcement for a newsletter or website. It asks not just the “five Ws” of journalism, but several of each (where to come, where to park, where to register, and so forth) plus extra “Wows” that could be added to really pump people up to participate.
A form like this gives whoever edits the newsletter or updates the website everything they need to craft an announcement on your behalf. If program leaders prefer to write their own announcements, including a checklist on the form can help ensure they have answered the main questions people may have about the event or activity.
Whether you’re the person planning the event (Arrggh! Why didn’t they put the time in the bulletin?), the person editing the newsletter (Hmmm. What do they want me to say about this event?), or the person in pews (Okaaaaay. Why should I come to this?) having a communications strategy in place can save a lot of frustration and help remove roadblocks and smooth the way for people to grow as disciples and as members of the church community.