After spending a few days surrounded by Episcopal communicators from across the globe at the annual Episcopal Communicators Conference, I have a LOT of new info to share – so let’s get to it!
Values of a New Media Culture
Keynote speaker Justin Wise identified five characteristics of today’s media culture – and they’re pretty spot-on.
- Interactivity – People expect to be able to connect with and interact with their media outlets.
- Personalization – Today’s culture is used to customizing media to suit their own needs.
- Ubiquity – “Churches need to be able to operate in a faster, more efficient manner,” said Wise.
- Connectedness – Wise explained that the Church’s role in culture is necessarily changing from knowledge about a commodity to a focus on community gathering – and that means the ability to connect is more important than ever.
- Sharing – Dialogue is the new monologue! “We are in relationship to share, to know and be known,” said Wise.
Richelle Thompson of Forward Movement and Mitch Sears of the Diocese of Utah led a fantastic workshop with recommendations of gadgets and programs that can make a communicator’s life better – many of them free! Here are a few of my favorites.
- Thinglink is a free online tool that allows you to take an image and create links to specific parts of it. I can see this being really useful for a church’s visitor page: upload a photo of your church sanctuary, and link each item to its role in the worship service. Or how about uploading a photo of a map of the United States, and linking specific cities to stories of mission trips your congregation has taken? There are tons of possibilities, and this is a fun tool just to play around with.
- Befunky.com is another free, web-based tool that allows you to edit photos in unique and artistic ways. For those churches without access to a high-end editing program, this is a great solution.
- Google for Nonprofits is a competitive program that grants participants some pretty fantastic privileges, including 3,000 20-GB e-mail accounts, $10,000/month of free Google Ad Words, and Google Hangout capabilities for up to 15 participants at a time. Google does have a pretty stringent application process, but it’s certainly worth investigating!
Working with Video
More and more congregations are getting involved in some sort of video ministry, whether it’s with their smartphone or with a high-end camera. Craig Wirth of the Diocese of Utah conducted a fantastic workshop on how to tell stories on film, and shared some practical tips for those of us interested in using this outlet to share our messages.
- “The eyes tell the story.” Craig urges filmmakers to make people – not things – the stars of the film. When conducting an interview, picture the screen divided in thirds with horizontal lines. The eyes should align with the upper line, and should also be a third from the right of the screen.
- “The best interview question is “Why?” It elicits the most emotional and heart-felt responses. Don’t be afraid to keep asking that question!
- “Tell ’em what they are going to see, show ’em, and tell ’em what they saw.” Your script isn’t written to be read – it’s written to be said. Use simple, declarative sentences, and have a clear trajectory of beginning, middle and end.
I’ll have more to share on metrics, analytics, Twitter and other general communications strategies in future posts!
–Emily Cherry, Communications Director