Are you a Communications leader in your church or organization? Is it your role to help your church and its ministries communicate effectively? If so, there’s a meeting that I want to get on your radar.
It’s what I call a Communications Audit.
A Communications Audit is an intentional meeting designed to accomplish a few things:
- Discuss what's happening with a specific ministry (like Kids, Students, Singles, etc.)
- Evaluate how things are going with their communications
- Plan for the season ahead, and update them on key communications information
If you're like the typical communications leader working at a church, you probably find yourself overwhelmed, overworked, and trying desperately to just keep your head above water. The last thing you're probably looking for is another meeting to go to.
So why should you do a communications audit with ministry leaders? Why take the time out of your busy schedule to add these meetings?
Through the years, this process has played a part in some of the most effective changes our church has made in reaching more people with the love and grace of Jesus Christ. Not only that, it's provided a platform to build relationships with ministry leaders and break down the silos that can get in the way of partnering together to reach people. It's been one of the best investments I've made with my time.
Leading a communications audit process can help you make the shift away from constantly being reactive so you can build a proactive strategy for communicating effectively as a church.
So here's the communications audit playbook. Use it, tweak it, and make it your own.
Step 1: Pre-Meeting
Schedule & Communicate Expectations
This meeting will be infinitely more effective if you and the ministry you’re meeting with come prepared. Around 1-2 weeks before the meeting, coordinate the time and place where you will meet and set the expectations for what you’d like to accomplish. Ask the ministry team to come prepared with the following:
- Dates: What are the dates for your key events this year? Bring key timeline and milestone dates for registrations, deadlines, etc.
- Website: Are there any updates or changes needed for your online presence on our website?
- On-Ramps: What are the key on-ramps events or programs for your ministry right now?
- Evaluate: What is working, not working, missing, and confusing in communication with your ministry?
Step 2: Meet
Evaluating what’s working, not working, missing and confusing is a great way to kickoff the conversation. Talk through what’s working (so that you can optimize it), what’s not working (so you can fix it), what’s missing (so you can add it), and what’s confusing (so you can clarify it).
It’s crucial here throughout this process that you act as a partner, not just a marketer. The ministry leader you’re meeting with brings passion and gifting that helps people connect in their area. However, don't forget that you as a communications leader also bring passion and knowledge in the area of communications. If you can partner together to evaluate the effectiveness of the communications in their ministry, it can be a catalyst for positive change.
Next, take a moment to pull up the website and talk through their online presence. For bonus points, have any stats available that you have access to, like Google Analytics, so you can give them a sense of what exposure their page is getting. Talk through anything that may need to be changed or updated.
After you finish evaluating, have them walk through their calendar for key events and programs over the next season. Most likely, they won’t have every detail on each event ready, and that’s ok. Any information they can give you at this point will help get these events and programs on your radar.
At this point, I also discuss with them their key on-ramps for engaging people in their ministry area. This is crucial for me to know, because it’s impossible to try to communicate to a church-wide audience every single thing that each ministry has going on each week. By understanding their ministry on-ramps, you can maximize the exposure to those on-ramps for their ministry, knowing that when you get people engaged in that on-ramp event or program, they’ll be exposed to the rest of their ministry.
Now that you’ve heard from the ministry team, take a few minutes to go over the information they've shared and clarify anything that is not clear.
Most likely, you'll have a long list of wishes and needs that they'd love for you to accomplish. Next, take some time to communicate what you need from them to help set you up for success to effectively promote their ministry. This is your chance to talk through any challenges you've faced in promoting their ministry in the past. For example, if the ministry is constantly requesting things at the last minute, remind them of what your timelines are for fulfilling those requests.
Here are a few other things that you may want to discuss:
- Bandwidth: Share with the ministry leaders what type of margin you or your team has for projects and communication requests each week. It’s helpful for them to understand that depending on the size and demands of your team, it may impact the time or budget it takes to accomplish their needs.
- Communication Requests: Remind them of what your process is for submitting the information you need to promote their ministry, along with the lead time you need to get the projects done. Quick tip: Create a digital form that you can easily point people to that walks them through all the information you need to fulfill their request. You can check out what our forms look like at http://westridge.com/forms
- Stories: The more you can focus your communication strategy around inspiration instead of inspiration, the better off you'll be. A great way to do that is to share stories of life change that have happened in your church or the ministry that you're promoting. Take time in this communication audit conversation to ask them if they've heard of any powerful stories that could be shared with the church. Remind them to always be on the lookout for these stories and let them know how they can best share the stories with you.
Step 3: Follow Up
After the meeting is over, the real work begins. Within the next 24-48 hours, follow up with the people that were in the meeting:
- Thank them for their time.
- Encourage them about their ministry.
- Share how you’re excited to partner with them and support the communication of their ministry.
- List the next steps that they are responsible for, along with what you or your team is responsible for.Be specific.
I’ve found that these ministry communication audits can lead to some major improvements in the communications of each ministry and the process in how things get communicated. But honestly, the thing that I’m most thankful for is the opportunity to sit down with a ministry, build a relationship with their team, and hear the heart and passion they have for their ministry.
Ministry is hard work, and there is no room for silos. We’re all on the same team, with different roles and skills. What they do matters. What you do as a communication leader MATTERS!
Phil Bowdle is creative arts pastor at West Ridge Church in Atlanta, Georgia and is passionate about creating high-impact experiences that lead people to Jesus Christ. Learn more about Phil at www.philbowdle.com.