Remember that episode of The Office when Michael talks about the business book he's writing titled Somehow I Manage? You can actually read all five chapters on NBC's website. Chances are, if you work in the area of communications of a church, you've felt like this could be the story of your life. You've got requests coming at you from all directions and many people are counting on you to come through for them. This where setting up processes to help manage everything that's going on can save your sanity.
Processes (or systems) are extremely important to helping you be efficient and productive. During a breakout session at Killer Tribes 2013, Tripp Crosby encouraged people to "invest in [their] process, not just [their] craft." As the Communications Director at my church, it can be time consuming to simply keep up with everything that every ministry wants promoted and/or created. So I've set up three main forms that help me catch all the incoming requests so I can filter them through a process to make sure nothing slips through the cracks and everything gets accomplished. Those forms are Promotion Request, Project Request and Website Update. In this post we'll focus on the Promotion Request form and process.
So here's the my process and the tools I use for communication:
1. Gather promotion requests using Wufoo*
All ministry leaders have access to an online form to request promotion. The form asks for all the details about their event and reminds them to schedule room reservations, child care, etc. with the appropriate people. Once they submit the form, I get copy of their submission in my inbox, and they get an automatic response letting them know their submission has been received. Click here to view a copy of our Promotion Request form.
One thing you'll notice about our Promotion Request form is that there's no room to request communication channels. We have an established priority framework that acts as a basic guide for how certain events get promoted. The list was adapted from Granger Community Church's Communication Manual (see the bottom of page 11).
*We use Wufoo because it is a robust form making solution that allows you to connect a merchant account to accept payments for event registration and even use custom CSS to keep your branding consistent. Wufoo also offers a 50% discount to non-profits. If you're looking for a free alternative, you can use Google Forms.
2. Reply with a promotion plan
This is a new step in the process that I've just recently added. Because our Promotion Request form doesn't list specific channels, this helps people know exactly how and when their event will be promoted, gives them an opportunity to respond with questions and helps avoid guerrilla marketing. If someone isn't satisfied with the level of promotion their event is scheduled to receive, we can discuss the why (looking back to our priority framework) and offer solutions to help them promote it in smaller, more focused ways to the appropriate audience(s) for the best results.
3. Add tasks to Asana
Once we've nailed down a promotion plan for the event, I can add reminders to my to-do list like when I need to write copy, share something on social media, publish information in the bulletin, publish the event to the web, create a flyer, etc. We've recently started using Asana* to handle tasks for our team. Asana is free up to 15 team members and then offers packages starting at $50/month. So far, we've had a great experience using their product.
*We narrowed the list to Wunderlist and Asana. Both have great team options. The deciding factor in favor of Asana was that they allow you to schedule due dates for subtasks and Wunderlist currently does not.
Creating a process for things like this will simplify your work, save you time, and help ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Be sure to assess your process often and listen to feedback so you can continually make it better for yourself and the people who use it.