It is important to manage your church’s reputation, so that you can be the most effective at reaching the community around you and online with the gospel. To do this you need to always know what the perception of your church is, both inside and outside of the church.
Using various tools and methods, the communications team at your church should be monitoring news sites, blogs, social media, comment threads, forums, and other internet sites for mentions of the church, its pastors, and topics relevant to the church.
Those mentions can then be vetted, researched, and when necessary, added to a Public Relations Brief that is provided via email to interested parties on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis as necessary. Usually this is something that would be communicated between the Communications Director and the senior leaders or Lead Pastor in order to keep them informed.
This concept is very similar to what the President of the United States receives on a daily basis, called the President’s Daily Brief or PDB. The more informed you are about your surroundings and the public’s perception, the more you can anticipate when a crisis may hit. Sometimes this knowledge alone is enough to help you avoid the crisis, but if it does hit you’ll have more time to prepare.
While daily may be a bit excessive, to maintain organized communication between the communications team and the senior leaders of the church, I recommend preparing a weekly PR Brief which covers the following information:
- New Issues: situations that the senior leaders should be aware of
- Status of Issues in Progress: ongoing issues that the senior leaders are already aware of, and the status of our actions
- Potential Issues: issues that may or may not come to realization but that are being monitored and prepared for by the Communications Director
- Internal Issues: issues regarding staff, pastors, deacons or members that the senior leaders needs to be aware of
- Issues Worth a Mention: issues that don’t require action or active monitoring but senior leaders should be aware of
- Wins: public relations items that have had a positive external or internal impact
Each item mentioned in the brief should also include recommended actions from the Communications Director. While the decision making may be left to your senior leaders, the Communications Director should work as an informed advisor who can make recommendations based on what they are seeing and hearing.
In the PR Brief, new issues can be rated 1-5 concerning their severity and action needed. This helps prioritize what needs to happen first, and makes the weekly brief easier and quicker to read.
- High Urgency: Action is needed and this issue should be addressed immediately.
- High Risk: This issue should be addressed within 24-48 hours and may need immediate action.
- Medium Risk: This issue may or may not require immediate action but should be addressed this week.
- Low Risk: Problem can be resolved with current resources, does not require immediate action.
- FYI: This is information you need to know. No immediate action is required.
Don’t wait to start this for your leaders. Build one this week and email it to your pastors to see if it is something that they would be interested in receiving on a weekly basis. I have seen this system work wonders for keeping everyone informed and alert, a vital step in being prepared for any communications crisis that may come your way.
This post was adapted from the book PR Matters: A Survival Guide for Church Communicators by Justin Dean.