11.28.2006

Churches + Technology = News

When I was in graduate school the public relations tract (which I was on) fell under the College of Journalism. At the time I didn't really like that because I wanted more business experience and I knew some other schools linked their PR programs close to their MBA programs. I later got (and am still getting) that business experience but have looked back in appreciation for being around the journalists for those two years. One thing I learned from them is that the media, any media, has a hole to fill...they called it the "news hole."

Journalists obviously want to find something interesting to fill the news hole so they look to things that will provide the most interest to the widest number of people like a local connection to a big story or a scandal or something with high drama. When there's not something like that to be found the next best thing is to look at the broad categories of things that interest people like personal relationships, celebrities, pop culture, and so on. Two categories that are going to be high on most journalist's lists are "religion" and "technology" so you can imagine the sheer joy a journalist will have when he or she can find a story that covers both of these categories.

It is with that in mind that I've felt for quite some time there are many opportunities for churches to boost the buzz about themselves in their communities if they are willing to begin using some of the new technology (specifically web 2.0 tools) available to them. I've seen numerous articles about churches who started blogs, podcasts, etc. for outreach purposes and they became local (and sometimes national) news stories. It's a formula that seems too easy to be true yet I'm seeing too many cases to dissuade me of this assumption. A few days ago I came across another article (via Church Marketing Sucks) that affirmed this to me.

Community Bible Church (CBC) in San Antonio has been doing a series about protecting your space, called it "My Space" and used a lot of discussion about MySpace.com. You can read the full story here. At last count I saw where five different bloggers had picked up on the story which only spread it that much further. In fact, two of the blogs receive significant traffic and likely hit an audience more interested in the story than the San Antonio paper did.

In the interest of full disclosure, CBC is a client of my employer and I was visiting them a month ago as they were about to begin this sermon series. After having talked to a staff member today I can affirm that they were not seeking this press coverage but have seen a significant interest in the series as evidenced in the number of people corresponding with the pastor on his MySpace page. Incidentally, I was also told that the pastor is actively talking to people on MySpace daily. Way to go Pastor Robert!!

Ok, back to the topic at hand...the point here is that the "churches + technology = news" equation isn't a magic formula, it's simply meeting a need that journalists have by providing a single story with two engaging hooks. If you're trying to generate some buzz in the community about your church consider this equation. If you're using a lot of new technology already, you might be missing out on an opportunity. Why not place a call to the local newspaper or TV station? After all, they have a news hole to fill...why not give them something to fill it with? If get even a handful of curious visitors come to your church wasn't it worth it implementing some technology you should be using anyway?

1 comment:

Steve said...

Good post and CONGRATS on your new arrival!