Successful Communication Takes These Two Steps

I’ve been recently given the Director of Communications position and have been asked to come up with a comprehensive communications strategy designed for our particular church body, mission, and vision, etc. I was hoping to not completely reinvent the wheel and was wondering if you had any white papers that could be used as a framework for developing our strategy?

If you’re writing a communications strategy for the first time or the fiftieth time I’m a big believer in simplicity. The more pages and detail you have in your plan, the harder it is to execute. There are so many great, multi-page templates out there that are impressively robust. I’ve used many of them. I used to write them myself. I’ve also worked with some of the best and brightest agencies and consultants in the marketplace who have solid, researched deliverables with professionally designed tables, charts and graphs. They are beautiful, comprehensive strategy manuals that NASA scientists would envy. They hold a ton of great information that’s right and true, but not portable or contagious. 

In my experience, the bigger the strategy document, the more likely it is to end up in a binder on someone’s desk or lost in a network file folder. Inevitably, in these cases, there also ends up being a stressed out communications person (or team) who lives in a constant state of frustration trying to understand why nobody is following the plan! I’ve seen it countless times.

Try this approach instead. Simple rules. Simple frameworks. That’s the secret weapon to a successful strategy that everyone owns, not just the communications team.  

I’ve seen the most effective strategies gain traction and really work for the long run using a small document set of “conversation tools.” These one page documents are at a glance tools that serve as the strategy compass for your day to day work and decisions. I believe 3-5 one page documents are all you need to rally stakeholders, streamline processes and prioritize activity. It’s amazing what you can get done if you don’t over design or over produce it.

“Too often, a company’s strategy sits on a shelf, gathering dust. A strategy that doesn’t influence critical decisions on a day-to-day basis, however, is not a strategy—it is a book report.” ― Donald SullSimple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World

Here are two templates to get you started.

  1. Communications Charter
  2. Minimalist Communications Strategy Matrix

I guarantee, if you put the work into it, you will never regret this minimalist approach to your communications strategy. It’s the best way to equip your stakeholders (your brand handlers) to happily carry their part of the defined strategy. You’ll spend more time collaborating and less time handholding or pulling your hair out.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kem Meyer

Kem Meyer

Kem Meyer has spent almost three decades working with small business, big business, not for profit, tech, finance, PR, advertising, schools and churches. They all have issues with communications; for better and worse. And, learning from them all, she's developed quite a knack for finding the simple themes that increase organizational clarity and remove barriers that get in the way of our messages.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

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