August 17, 2018

Proposed Communications Commission

6/2/2014 Update: This Commission has been approved by a church-wide vote at the June 1 Annual Meeting

Proposed Communications Commission

The Communications Task Force

 

Com·mu·ni·ca·tion [kuh-myoo-ni-key-shuhn] noun

(from Latin commūnicāre, meaning “to share” [1]) is the activity of conveying information through the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, visuals, signals, written, or behavior. It is the meaningful exchange of information between two or more living creatures.

 

How do people find out about Parkway United Church of Christ? Where can people go to learn about Parkway events, Parkway values, Parkway offerings? How can we best promote to the St. Louis Metro area things like Jazz Nativity, Jesus Has Left the Building or the Community Easter Egg Hunt?

How do you keep up with what’s happening here? Our website? The Sunday bulletin? Facebook? The weekly enews? Sunday morning announcements? Coffee klatching? Smoke signals?

Communication is increasingly complex. With an overwhelming amount of  information to process and a myriad of ways to get it, confusion and frustration can set in. Good communication is vital to the life of the church—one of the highest priorities of any organization or relationship. Effective communication must be clear, deliberate, engaging and have maximum dissemination. It requires passion, skill and resources. Improving communication—with the world around us and within our congregation—is the goal of a proposed constitutional amendment that would create a new Communications Commission. The infrastructure of this commission is already in place as the Communications Task Force.

Since March 2011, the Communications Task Force, working under the Evangelism Commission, has developed effective and engaging strategies to promote our message and recognition to the St. Louis community and beyond. Strengthening connections in our faith community has been a parallel goal. The task force’s objective has been to make sure all PUCC members, visitors and friends have access to important information by broadcasting through a wide variety of avenues: website, online calendar, social media, e-news, print publications (bulletin, newsletter, pamphlets, flyers) signs, the church answering machine, verbal announcements, etc.

Communications Task Force Projects have included:

  • Website. A complete redesign of the website made it more attractive, more search-engine friendly and more dynamic. Phase I was to have an attractive, engaging site to let the community know who we are. Phase II was to make the site our central hub of communication to all: the Parkway faith community, the St Louis metro area, and the world. (It is a best practice to have one channel that communicates everything  people need to know. Websites are ideal main channels. All other channels should receive their information from this channel to maintain consistency.) Phase III—to be implemented this summer—will create a secure, password protected member section with a church directory and Parkway documents. Throughout all phases, the website is constantly evaluated and updated to stay current and functional. Check it out at www.parkwayucc.org
  • Social Media. The creation and maintenance of a Facebook page. Facebook users know that the page has current events, communication among church members, photos and video. If you are on Facebook, search for Parkway United Church of Christ. Non-Facebook users may access the page at www.facebook.com/pages/Parkway-United-Church-of-Christ/172576379461273. The page is lively and engaging. In order to broaden our influence and increase connectivity, a social media strategy is an ongoing discussion among task force members.
  • Development of a Crisis Communication plan. Much thought, research and effort has been put into a plan that will help us interact with the media and to keep members informed and connected in the event of a crisis.
  • Email. Implementation of an industry standard bulk email service. The weekly emails, the Lenten devotionals, the prayer list and e-vites are all sent this way now. Church-sent emails are more attractive and engaging than ever before.
  • Support for many church-wide activities and efforts. The Communications Task force has collaborated with the following groups: the 175th Anniversary Committee (logo design, outdoor sign, promo cards, press releases), the Stewardship Commission (logo and e-blasts for the fall campaign), Membership Care (graphics and promo materials for various events), Worship Commission (pew packets) and Evangelism (press releases and input on area community calendars for Community Game Night and Community Easter Egg Hunt). We also facilitated the survey initiated by Church Council in 2013 by clarifying and expanding the survey questions and putting it online. This informative survey had wide participation.

Other tasks we’ve worked on include making a style guide, hashing out the purpose of each of our publications, creating media contact lists, shaping the focus and content of our monthly newsletter, Intersections, signage, brochures and our business card.

So why create a Communications Commission? Here’s now this commission will benefit Parkway:

  • Permanent Priority. Effective communication is—and will remain—a priority for the congregation and the leadership at PUCC. Consistent standards and strategies will be implemented and maintained as people come and go.
  • Communications Support. Constructing a central go-to source for communications addresses the challenge of clear communication in a busy church with many events and programming. The new commission will keep messages clear, timely and widely publicized in appropriate venues. This support extends to all individuals, commissions and teams at PUCC and will free them to concentrate on all the other details of the task at hand. This commission will collaborate and connect with all parts of our church. Additionally, the Communications Commission will be proactive in our support by contacting and offering help with publicity, and work together to develop long-range communication plans.
  • Brand Identity. Successful organizations know who they are, what their mission is, and what values and unique brand position identify them. The Communications Commission will make sure this is clearly and obviously expressed. We will use best practices to ensure consistency and professionalism of our PUCC message across all media, both internally and externally.
  • Crisis Communication. Should the need arise, the Communications Commission will be actively and professionally prepared for the many aspects of crisis communications.

Current task force members are passionate about communication and have professional communications experience with multi-media/writing/editing. We work hard and laugh a lot. Terms will be staggered when a new commission is approved. All members have agreed to continue to serve:

An additional member is needed upon approval of this amendment. Pastor Kevin Cameron and Office Administrator Mona Smith Herberg have been active participants in the task force and will continue in those roles.

More Information. The May 18 Adult Education session will provide a forum to discuss this proposal to transform the Communications Task Force into the C0mmunications Commission and to think about how PUCC shares our ministry’s message. Full text of the proposed amendment will be provided when Council announces the agenda for the June 1 congregational meeting. In the meantime, if you have questions, you are invited to contact task force members. How you choose to ask those questions (letter, email, text, Facebook, tweet, Instagram, blog, phone, fax, or old-fashioned face-to-face) is up to you (no smoke signals, please).