It’s no secret that churches have to budget, especially for events. When faced with “getting the word out,” sometimes the promotion portion of the event is overlooked until it’s . . . well, time to promote it. Here are a few budget-friendly, event-promotion tips to help you work lean and practice good stewardship.
Promote directly to your church members
Whether it’s an event specifically for your church members or to engage the community at large, it’s important to start small by communicating directly to your attendees. Word-of-mouth is the most effective tool you have in marketing events, so educate your members about the event and ask them to help spread the word. To get the ball rolling:
- Ask the pastor or another on-stage speaker to announce the event from the stage at all of your services.
- Show a slide on your in-house screens.
- Post the information on your website, Facebook, and Twitter. If applicable, take advantage of church or ministries’ Pinterest and Instagram See our earlier post regarding social media to determine the best sites and ways to share.
- Remember to take advantage of shortened link services like Bitly to share links to additional information.
- Have a blurb added into the weekly bulletin(s), church e-newsletters, and church mobile app if available.
- Display posters advertising the event through the church halls and by doorways and church cafes.
- Past events can spur interest in future events, so be sure to share pictures from the events via social media, on church screens, etc.
Utilize your design work to the fullest
If artwork or photography has been put together, repurpose it. It keeps the event’s look consistent, regardless of where it will be promoted. (Don’t have a design budget or a designer on staff? Reach out to your church community, as it could make for a great internship or simple volunteer opportunity for a student seeking to hone their craft.)
A starter list of promotion pieces might include:
Printed flyers. Make available before and after services or during other regular activities. Encourage members to take extras to share. If text is used sparingly, business-card size is a standard size that often gets more bang for the buck; it’s also easy to carry and environmentally conscious.
Downloadable promotion pieces. Use your printed flyer as a starting point. Be sure to educate members on where to access these tools so they can then be shared electronically. These same designs can be reformatted for social media, too.
Since local residents may be more prone to check out an event that’s convenient to attend, take advantage of opportunities to share information within a small radius of your location and/or the event venue. A couple targets for where to start are:
Local restaurants know that your members are patrons of their establishments after services conclude. There’s no harm in asking if you can display a flyer or poster in their window. Just be sure to go back around to remove them as a courtesy.
Some grocery stores and big-box stores will have community bulletin boards by their entrances. If you see one, place a flyer on it.
Notify the local press
A press release sent to your local media outlets helps to garner awareness for your events, particularly to reach those outside of your current church membership. Depending on the outlet, this could be applicable for placement in their religion section, local news, PSAs, or events calendars.
It’s best to send this out as soon as possible, but no later than two weeks in advance, if possible. And send a reminder the day before, if it’s the sort of event that the media may be interested in covering.
Press releases are not elaborate narratives, so be sure to address the basics: What (the name of the event and what to expect), where (venue and address), when (day of the week, date, and time), why (let them know the purpose of the event), and who (Tell them the hosting ministry or church, and of course any players involved with the event, like band names for concerts, etc.).
A Google search can lead you to a plethora of examples that may serve as your template.
Now that you’ve written the release, it’s time to distribute it. Make a distribution list, starting with the local media/press outlets: local Christian radio stations, local television stations, large and community newspapers, locally focused websites, maybe even a few blogs. Once you have your list, peruse their websites to target specific individuals or departments to contact; since this shouldn’t be too long of a list, it might be worth a phone call to fine-tune your contacts further. Typically, you’ll probably send your press release via email or their own “contact us” forms, but a phone call helps develop relationships that can be valuable for future events, too.
In addition, most cities have online event calendars that are free to use; do a web search to identify them and fill out their online submission forms. Many may request a flyer, which is another great reason to have your promotional pieces available electronically.
Help others, and stay fearless
Lastly, if something worked well for you, be sure to share it in the comments section below, as we’re all in this great mission together. It sounds cliché, but nothing ventured, nothing gained; try a few new things for your next event, if they don’t work for you, try another idea. The goal is to get people engaged in events that can lead to life change; if we do our best, God will handle the rest.
Brenda Smotherman serves as publicity and marketing manager for Abingdon Press.