Public Relations and Your Ministry

“ Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven ” Matthew 5:16

Taken from our Archives, this is an effective article to assist you in getting your message outside the walls of your ministry.  Be Blessed!

As the body of Christ in the Earth, it appears that we have allowed ourselves to be silenced in several venues, particularly the media. We have allowed the world to define who Christ is instead of His body demonstrating who He is. While there are many ways to let our voices be heard, one way is through strong, sustained public relation operations in our ministries.

Ministry public relations is about creating awareness of ministry activities, both for the general public and your attendants. Providing a positive perception of your ministry in the community provides an important foundation for all other communications, outreach and evangelistic efforts.

To be effective in communicating your message to the public and reinforcing it with your attendants, consider having a Public Relations Department in your ministry. You start by selecting an experienced, full-time public relations coordinator who can serve as the main voice of your church or ministry. The public relations coordinator can work with other volunteers to execute your ministry's public relations plan.

This person, along with the team of volunteers, will share information with the community about your organization's missions, needs, and activities. The public relations coordinator works with many audiences, from church employees and parishioners to community leaders and the media. The public relations coordinator may also secure funding and community resources to support certain church programs and activities. 

Your Organization's Public Relations Plan

Building community goodwill and generating positive mentions in the local media starts with a plan founded on basic public relations principles. Plan your ministry's strategy by asking a few basic questions:

  1. Who is your ministry's target audience? Where is the largest demographic of your target audience?
  2. What are some current trends reflected among your target demographic?
  3. What is your ministry's message? Why should someone in the community care?
  4. What are some creative, meaningful, and/or newsworthy ideas your ministry can generate?
  5. What the most appropriate media options for this message?
  6. How do we execute the message?

Once you have your written public relations plan, you can begin its execution. Consider aspects of your ministry's activities that might interest the local media. This is an important point and does require some thought. If you have attendants who are members of the media, enlist their opinions about the newsworthiness of your ministry's activities. Remember, there are a lot of things happening in the world and your local communities that are competing for media coverage.  Usually, a strong human-interest appeal is good, but check it out.

You can also contact the local media in your area to find out what type of human -interest stories they would be interested in covering. Don't assume this is the same for all the various media markets in your area. It can differ according to their particular mission statements, which usually indicates the "personality" of that specific media market.

Bringing It All Together

The media can be a powerful tool to educate and promote your ministry and its events. One way to inform the media and the community about what's going in your ministry is with a well-written press release. A press release is a presentation of newsworthy information sent to a media market. You can use an agency such as P.R. Newswire or the Christian Newswire to help you with sending your release. There are other agencies. Research them and see which one works for you.

The press release can be "picked-up" in a listing, story or small article as written or it can generate coverage by the media, allowing them to discover their own story. While there are many press release templates on the Internet that you can use as a guide, here are a few things you should consider:

  1. Is it news? Make sure your press release has a strong news angle that will appeal to the audience of the media market you are contacting.
  2. Make sure to include a date, contact name, phone number and the words, "For Immediate Release" at the top of your release.
  3. Provide a clear, clever headline that identifies the news angle of the story; this will help your press release be noticed.
  4. Your opening sentence should state the "who, what, when, and why" of your story in a clear, straightforward manner.
  5. Begin your release with the most important facts and move to the least important. This style is preferred by editors when evaluating and editing articles.
  6. Tell your story as an objective observer of the events, not as an active participant. Stick to the facts.
  7. Keep it short. Two pages, double-spaced is appropriate for most releases. Make sure your title and contact information are on both pages. Use the "###" marks centered at the bottom of your release to indicate its conclusion.
  8. A professional presentation can be the difference between your story receiving coverage or being sidelined. Confirm that all information in the release is correct, including spellings and grammar.

Another item that will be important for you to have on hand is your ministry's general information brochure that can be provided to members of the media and your community. It contains the basic "what you know about us" information. You can also develop a media kit for your ministry that tells the story of "who" your ministry is and why it is an important organization in your given community. The media kit is more comprehensive, so you will have to determine if you need the brochure, the media kit or both.

Today, we cannot forget the impact of social media and your ministry's website. Both are critical components to your public relations efforts. Your IT Coordinator should work in tandem with your public relations department to ensure that your ministries activities and events are promoted on You Tube, Twitter, and Facebook at a minimum.

Your ministry's website is a vital marketing tool in publicizing ministry activities and events. It should be current and monitored daily; it is one of the first places the media will look for information about you, your ministry and what it has to offer. This is also true of an internet-savvy community, too.

One of the most important tasks of your ministry is drawing more un-churched to it so that you can minister to them, build them up and win them to Christ. Having a strong public relations outreach is one component in reaching this goal.  In many of our communities, we have a "church on every corner." What do they do? What do they offer for the betterment of the community? Who are they? A strong, sustained public relations effort will answer these and other questions. We have an important story to tell. Don't let the media write the story without you. Let your voice be heard in your community.

This article is written by Minister Andrea Simpson

Director of Creative Services and Public Relations