The end of 2015 is at hand. Budgets and plans for the coming year are being drawn up and leadership roles are being considered. This is an excellent time for a comprehensive survey of your parish’s communication plans and tools.
A good place to start is to review the current contracts you have with communication companies. What do you still need? And what should be re-evaluated?
Your current Internet, telephone, or web hosting plan may not have been updated for years and you may find much better deals are now available. A quick call to your service provider can yield better service, higher speeds, or cost savings in the hundred of dollars. Take a few minutes to make sure your plans are up-to-date and compare providers to get the best deal.
Next, look at what platforms you use to communicate the message of Christ to the wider world. Does the parish have a Facebook page or Twitter account? Have these been dormant or underused for some time? Who is responsible for maintaining the online presence of the parish? Is this a team effort or the responsibility of just one person?
The person (or persons) responsible for your external communications is an important selection and should be considered with equal importance as other parish roles.
This person is the voice of the parish, but as with many other positions, requires the support of the entire vestry. To maintain an active social media presence, the rest of the parish must commit to participate. Your selection of platforms to maintain may depend on this commitment.
Now is the time to cull or re-commit to the accounts that underused. While reducing your communications channels can seem like a step backward, it is better to focus on a few things well than to spread yourself too thin. Having a good, robust website and active Facebook page is better than having many platforms that are infrequently updated or underused.
Finally, ensure that the parish has control over all accounts and products. A well-intentioned volunteer who has been maintaining an account or website may leave and the parish would lose access to these accounts. The parish should protect itself from this all-too-common occurrence by ensuring that accounts are registered and paid for by the parish and not a single member, including the rector.
Adding an annual review of your communication strategy is a good practice to ensure you head into the new year with a message that is focused on the Great Commission and tools that are efficient and effective at spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.