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Imagine you and your spouse or good friend have tickets to an orchestra concert.
You get all dressed up, maybe get a bite to eat at a nice restaurant, and make your way to the performing arts center. You present your tickets, receive a program and make your way into the hall where you can hear the instrumentalists warming up and tuning their instruments. Your anticipation is building.
You’re having a quiet conversation with your spouse or friend and begin to sense something is not right. Most of the instrumentalists have stopped warming up. You check your watch and it’s 10 minutes past the time the concert was supposed to start.
Finally someone nervously walks to the center of the stage to make an announcement.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I apologize for the delay. Our orchestra conductor is not here this evening. We’re not sure where he is. To make matters worse, he has all the music. But as they say, ‘the show must go on,’ so the orchestra is going to perform tonight’s concert from memory with no conductor. Enjoy the show.”
There’s a brief moment of awkward silence as the host exits the stage.
One of the violinists begins playing. Someone in the horn section jumps in and starts playing then increases their tempo to catch up to the violinist. Most of the other instrumentalists join in, but some are playing in rhythm with the violinist, some with the trumpet player, and some seem to be trying to find their own rhythm.
It sounds worse than a horde of fighting alley cats!
A clarinet player stops playing and yells at a French horn player, “You’re playing to fast!”
The French horn player yells back, “No, you’re playing too slow! And you’re not even playing the right part of the song!”
The chaos continues with some people arguing, others walking off stage. Everyone is frustrated and angry.
Your evening is ruined.
Is this what your communications team sounds like?
During the Sunday service the pastor announces an upcoming youth group retreat, and tells people to go to the website for more information and to register. But there’s no information on the website because the youth pastor didn’t send it to the website administrator until 10 PM Saturday night, and the web administrator doesn’t check email or update the website that late.
Or how about this scenario…
A bible study leader reads the weekly e-newsletter sent out every Wednesday. She becomes upset because there’s nothing in the email about the new bible study she’s starting next week. She angrily calls the church secretary and asks, “Why didn’t the new bible study get announced in the newsletter? I sent you info about it yesterday!”
The secretary replies, “I’m sorry but the deadline for newsletter announcements is noon Monday.”
The bible study leader replies in frustration, “That’s ridiculous! One day in advance is plenty of time! You should have gotten my announcement in the newsletter anyway!” And then she hangs up.
Just as an orchestra needs music and a conductor to perform in sync, a communications team needs a plan and a leader to orchestrate good communications.
Your communications plan should define all communication tasks, who is responsible for them, when they need to be done, and what the inputs and outputs should be. The communications plan should set the rhythm for your organization’s communications and team by defining which tasks are to be done daily, weekly, monthly, and annually.
The communications leader (you?) should work with the other members of the team to develop the communications plan, hold people accountable for the tasks they’re responsible for, and work to clarify and improve the plan when issues arise.
As we continue the Summer Rhythms blog series, we’ll help you develop your communications plan by sharing what we’ve learned about the tasks that need to be done to manage a website, improve search rankings and do your other communications well so that the people in your organization are informed, inspired and engaged.
Start by listing all of your organization’s forms of communication both online and offline. This will include your website, social media, email, newsletters, verbal announcements in your gatherings, printed bulletins/programs.
Next start planning the process for creating and managing those forms of communications.
- Where does the information come from?
- Who organizes and produces it?
- What are the steps involved in producing it?
- When is it published or distributed?
As you work on your communications plan, you may start looking for ways to save time and simplify things by building a new website with our fast, easy to use WP-EZ Website Builder, or having our team do your Christian website design or Christian SEO for you.
What’s the status of your communications plan? What’s your next step? Share your answers in a comment.