COLUMBIA UNION CONFERENCE
COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK A Practical Guide for Adventist Communicators & Ministry Leaders
5427 Twin Knolls Road, Columbia, MD 21045 n (410) 997-3414 n columbiaunionadventists.org
The Columbia Union Conference Communication Handbook was published by the Columbia Union Conference Office of Communication Services in October 2018. Project Coordinator and Editor: Celeste Ryan Blyden Contributing Editors: Michele Joseph, Ricardo Bacchus, V. Michelle Bernard, Kelly Butler Coe, Sandra Jones and Shirley Rowley Designer: Carla Conway Proofreaders: Ricardo Bacchus and Lisa Krueger Authors and Contributors: Debra Anderson, Ricardo Bacchus, Jessica Beans, V. Michelle Bernard, Celeste Ryan Blyden, Richard Castillo, Kelly Butler Coe, Tom Grant, Andre Hastick, LaTasha Hewitt, Sandra Jones, Valerie Morikone, Taashi Rowe, Shirley Rowley, Heidi Shoemaker, Eugene Simonov, Pierre Walters and Jennifer Gray Woods © 2018 Columbia Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Permissions: Content from this resource may be republished in print or shared online when including the following statement for each and every usage: “This article or portions thereof first appeared in the Columbia Union Conference Communication Handbook. Find the original published work at columbiaunion.org/communicationhandbook. All rights reserved.” Additional Copies: For additional, free print copies of this resource, please contact Shirley Rowley at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (443) 259-9578. Available Online: The handbook may also be read or downloaded at columbiaunion.org/communicationresources. Video presentations by some of the authors are also available. [ 2 ] COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK
Table of Contents OVERVIEW 6
Columbia Union At-A-Glance
8 Communication Team Directory
28 Craft a Message for Every Generation 30 How to Improve Community Perception of Your Church
12 Copyediting Tips Worth Remembering
10 5 Ways We Serve
How to Avoid Violating a Copyright
Keep Calm and Communicate in a Crisis
Adopting the New Adventist Brand
36 Grow and Mobilize Your Digital Audience on a Budget
VISITOR 14 Telling the Story 16 Departments and Online Platforms 17 Services to Members 18 Adventist Trademark Guidelines 18 How to Write Common Religious and Adventist Terms 19 Newsletter Submission Checklist
COMMUNICATION RESOURCES 20 Communication Internships
38 How to Create a Must-Read Email Newsletter 39 A Step-by-Step Guide to Maximize Communication for Your Next Event 41 20 Ideas to Increase Attendance at Your Next Event 42
How to Find Great Stories
10 Good Newsletter Story Ideas
9 Tips for Writing a News Story
How to Get Your News in the News
Tips for Great Photos
22 Communication Toolbox
52 Do’s and Don’ts for Building Your Social Media Presence
COMMUNICATION BEST PRACTICE
54 How to Engage Your Audience With Videos
24 What Is the Role of Communication? 25 How to Lead Local Church Communication 27 Rethink Your Brand to Increase Community Awareness
Look for this symbol to watch corresponding videos by some of the handbook authors at columbiaunion.org/communicationresources.
COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK [ 3 ]
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Dear Communication Colleagues, When the children of Israel set out on the road to the Promised Land, God provided seven things to facilitate their journey: He provided them the gift of His presence; a way through the water and the wilderness; direction through the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night; leadership through Moses and the elders of each tribe; resources for daily sustenance and strength; practical guidelines through the commandments; and a vision of the wonderful plans He had for their future. The children of Israel aren’t the only ones who needed God’s provisions; we need them too. As communication ministry leaders involved in various capacities at every level of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, we need all of these accommodations to be effective in our work to advance the mission of Jesus Christ. As the team tasked with telling the Adventist story here in the Columbia Union, we have a great opportunity to help God’s people remain focused on reaching the Promised Land. Yes, it’s a lot of work, and we put in many hours, but together we are making a significant impact. We are so thankful to partner with each of you, and we pray this resource will inspire and spur your efforts to lead communication with courage and excellence.
In His Service, Celeste, Kelly, Michelle, Sandra, Shirley and Ricardo Communication Services/Visitor Team
5427 Twin Knolls Road, Columbia, MD 21045 n (410) 997-3414 n columbiaunionadventists.org
COLUMBIA UNION AT-A-GLANCE Who we are, Where we are, How we serve
The Seventh-day Adventist Church, founded in 1863, is a
further the work of the Seventh-day
Protestant Christian denomination whose mission is to pre-
Adventist Church by prioritizing:
pare the world for the Second Advent of Jesus Christ. With some 20 million members in more than 200 countries, and
The Columbia Union Conference will
Spiritual Renewal Promote healthy churches by unit-
thousands joining daily, it is said to be one of the world’s
ing members through personal
fastest growing religions.
and corporate spiritual revival and
The Columbia Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists was established in 1907 to coordinate the Church’s work in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. From this office, we
active engagement in ministry.
Evangelism Support initiatives that impact our communities by revealing the love of Christ, inviting people to accept
connect and provide administrative leadership, governance
Christ as their Savior and sharing
and support services to eight local conferences, 75 schools, two
the distinct Seventh-day Adventist
higher education institutions, two healthcare networks with 12
message of hope and wholeness.
hospitals, the WGTS 91.9 FM media ministry that draws more
than half a million listeners each week and numerous com-
Foster excellence in spiritual and
munity-based ministries. Each year our organizations sponsor dozens of programs and projects that address human need, improve quality of life and introduce people to Jesus.
academic development in Adventist schools, and support programs that promote affordability and increased enrollment.
Experience the Mission
Engage youth and young adults in
for partnerships, ministry develop-
We encourage members to experience the mission of sharing Jesus Christ’s message of hope and wholeness and preparing people for His soon return.
Values Christlikeness, Unity, Respect, Excellence, Equality, Integrity, Service
mission, and provide opportunities ment and participation at all levels of the church.
Leadership Developmentent Maximize the vitality of the church by supporting leadership development, promoting effectiveness, assuring equality and highlighting best practice.
Social Relevance Embrace opportunities to share Christ’s message of hope and wholeness by addressing issues that impact today’s society, encouraging and facilitating dialogue and seeking solutions that promote healing.
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COLUMBIA UNION TERRITORY Where We Live, Work and Serve
Columbia Union By the Numbers
Adventist Community Services Centers – 180
Members – 147,149
Churches & Companies – 833
Conferences – 8
Full-time Pastors – 387
Hospitals – 12
Adventist Book & Health Food Stores – 5
Schools – 75 Educators – 479 Student Enrollment – 9,000+ Camps – 8
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COMMUNICATION TEAM DIRECTORY Our Columbia Union Communication Services team enjoys a strong partnership with the directors of each of our unionâ€™s 21 entitiesâ€”eight conferences, two healthcare networks, two higher education institutions, eight academies and one media ministry. Together we coordinate, collaborate and lead the communication work in the Columbia Union territory.
Union Communication Services & Visitor Magazine
Celeste Ryan Blyden
V. Michelle Bernard
Vice President, Strategic Communication & Public Relations Visitor Editor and Publisher E: email@example.com T: (443) 259-9570
Assistant Director and Visitor News, Features, Social Media and Online Editor E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: (443) 259-9572
Assistant Director and Visitor Print and Email Newsletter Editor E: email@example.com T: (443) 259-9574
Kelly Butler Coe
Assistant Director and Visitor Art Director and Graphic Designer E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: (443) 259-9573
Visitor Advertising and Circulation Manager and Bulletin Board Editor E: email@example.com T: (443) 259-9571
Administrative Assistant E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: (443) 259-9578
Allegheny East Conference
Allegheny West Conference
Mountain View Conference
New Jersey Conference
Director of Communication & Church Ministries Coord. E: email@example.com T: (610) 326-4610, ext. 317 W: visitaec.com
Communication Director E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: (614) 252-5271, ext. 43 W: awconf.org
Communication Director E: email@example.com T: (410) 995-1910, ext. 347 W: ccosda.org
Communication Director E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: (304) 422-4581, ext. 14 W: mtviewconf.org
Communication Director E: email@example.com T: (609) 802-0856 W: njcsda.org
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Blue Mountain Academy
Communication Director E: hshoemaker@ohio adventist.org T: (740) 397-4665, ext. 128 W: ohioadventist.org
Communication Director E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: (610) 374-8331, ext. 236 W: paconference.org
Assistant to the President for Communication E: email@example.com T: (540) 886-0771, ext. 201 W: pcsda.org
Communication Specialist E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: (540) 886-0771, ext. 236 W: pcsda.org
Principal E: email@example.com T: (484) 662-7000 W: bma.us
Highland View Academy
Lake Nelson Adv. Academy
Pine Forge Academy
Shenandoah Valley Academy
Spencerville Adv. Academy
English Teacher & Newsletter Editor E: lzerne@highlandview academy.com T: (301) 739-8480, ext. 243 W: highlandviewacademy.com
Marketing & News Dept. E: lseferlis@lakenelson adventistacademy.org T: (732) 981-0626, ext. 25 W: lakenelsonadventist academy.org
Principal E: kfielder@pineforge academy.org T: (610) 326-5800, ext. 217 W: pineforgeacademy.org
Director of Development & Alumni Relations E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: (540) 740-2202 W: shenandoahvalley academy.org
Executive Assistant & Newsletter Editor E: email@example.com T: (240) 883-3504 W: spencervilleacademy.org
Janel Haas Ware
Spring Valley Academy
Washington Adv. University
Administrative Assistant, Recruitment & Marketing E: viswetnam@spring valleyacademy.org T: (937) 433-0790, ext. 142 W: springvalleyacademy.org
Communications Lead E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: (301) 434-4700, ext. 719 W: ta.edu
Associate Dean, Enrollment & Communication E: email@example.com T: (937) 395-8601, ext. 55663 W: kc.edu
Director, Public Relations & Marketing E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: (937) 395-8601, ext. 55611 W: kc.edu
Vice President, Integrated Marketing & Communications E: email@example.com T: (301) 891-4134 W: wau.edu
Washington Adv. University
Kettering Adv. HealthCare
Kettering Adv. HealthCare
WGTS 91.9 FM
Social Media Marketing & Digital Strategist E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: (301) 576-0193 W: wau.edu
Vice President, Public Relations & Marketing E: tgrant@adventist healthcare.com T: (301) 315-3356 W: adventisthealthcare.com
Vice President, Marketing & Communications E: josefer.montes@ ketteringhealth.org T: (937) 762-1058 W: ketteringhealth.org
Communication Specialist E: christina.keresoma @ketteringhealth.org T: 937-762-1059 W: ketteringhealth.org
President & General Manager E: email@example.com T: (301) 891-4200 W: wgts919.com
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5 Ways We Serve Mission
We gather and share news and stories to to keep members around the union connected, informed, engaged and inspired to experience the mission of sharing the hope of Jesus Christ.
We manage the communication aspects of a variety of projects by researching issues, developing strategies, coordinating initiatives, drafting content, engaging audiences and solving problems.
We seek to raise awareness of the Columbia Unionâ€™s mission, values and priorities through targeted marketing efforts, on Visitor news platforms and by sharing our position on internal and external issues.
We tell the story of what God is doing in and through His people in the Columbia Union Conference.
We promote and protect the reputation of the Columbia Union and our entities through strategic and crisis communication efforts.
We create resources that promote best communication practices and provide training to equip communicators at every level of the church to become effective in telling our Adventist story.
Connect With Us Corporate Website columbiaunionadventists.org or columbiaunion.org News Website columbiaunionvisitor.com Email News Sign-up columbiaunionvisitor.com/vnb Facebook facebook.com/ColumbiaUnionVisitor
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Twitter twitter.com/VisitorNews Instagram instagram.com/ColumbiaUnionVisitor YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/ColumbiaUnion Free Resources* columbiaunion.org/communicationresources *Includes resources in English and Spanish
Communication Portfolio Our dedicated team produces, publishes and provides the following— all to connect members and increase understanding of our union’s role, mission and collective story.
Corporate Website Columbia Union Calendar
Resources and Training Crisis Communication Worksheet Developed by Celeste Ryan Blyden, Copyright 2014©
Date ___________________________________ Team ________________________________________________________________ What Happened?
Public Relations Initiatives
Who Cares? Target Audiences
How do we reach them?
What do we want known/understood about this situation?
What Do We Say? News (what do we know)
Assurance (express concern, cooperation)
Message Point (about us)
Updates (our contact person)
Annual Report Annual
Great Is Your Fa ithfuln
Adopting the New Adventist Brand We administer the Columbia Unionâ€™s corporate brand. Hereâ€™s a look at how we adopted the global Adventist logo and applied it to materials we use in our daily work:
Four Ways to Use the Logo
New Global Color Palette Options
Columbia Union Color Palette and Fonts
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Notecards Email Signature
Learn more at https://identity.adventist.org. Also visit the North American Divisionâ€™s website for materials, templates and guidelines at https://nadadventist.org/brand-guidelines.
Columbia Union Printshop
At this website, Columbia Union Conference office employees can order printed materials. COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK [ 13 ]
Telling the Story We use print, web, email, video and social media platforms to tell the story of what God is doing in and through His people in the Columbia Union.
Standards for Quality Ethical Journalism
The Visitor provides news and information, inspiration for effective ministry and insight on issues with a spiritual focus to help engage members in experiencing the mission.
1. Strong, well-thought-out content that reflects the values of the members we serve and organizations we represent
2. News and mission focus on the pulse of current events
Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists
Connect, Inform, Engage, Inspire • We connect and inform members of current news, information and resources for effective ministry. • We engage members in discussions about issues and ideas that impact the church family, enhance our understanding and inform our faith. • We inspire members to become involved in experiencing the mission of preparing people— locally and globally—for Christ’s soon return.
Members and leaders across the Columbia Union rely on the Visitor to keep them informed about what God is doing in and through His people in our union’s churches, schools, conferences, healthcare organizations and many ministries.
We partner with organizations across the union to gather and share news and information using every available media platform.
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3. People-oriented coverage that exudes a hometown feel 4. Unionwide access, engagement and involvement 5. Headlines and captions that draw readers 6. Graphics that complement and enhance copy 7. Consistent standards 8. Diversified communication channels 9. Fact-checked and verified information 10. Objective and balanced articles
Visitor News Website Visitor Magazine
Videos Email Newsletter
COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK [ 15 ]
Departments and Online Platforms Magazine Editorial – A thought-provoking opinion piece that is anecdotal, spiritual in nature, educates readers about an issue, calls or moves them to action, and/ or inspires growth. Newsline & Noticias – Short, concise, up-to-date news items and information with unionwide impact in English and Spanish. Features – All Visitor stories and features should be of unionwide impact or interest and share about members within the union’s eight-state territory. We do not typically accept unsolicited submissions, so it’s best to pitch ideas, propose topics or identify current trends. Current Trends – A two-page feature or report on news or trends developing within the union or the global church family. Designed to inform and challenge thinking on an issue, it’s presented as an objective article or analysis with supporting sidebars, statistics, links and photos. Potluck – This online section highlights new offerings (e.g., DVDs, CDs, books, etc.), resources and ministries of members. Perspectives – A place to share opinions on current news, trends and issues that impact Adventists and the community at large. Bulletin Board – Contains classified advertising for employment, miscellaneous, real estate, services, travel, announcements; legal notices; obituaries; column/box ads and each month’s sunset calendar. Also shared online. On the Web – Promotes online content and new resources.
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Email Visitor News Bulletin – This electronic newsletter, published by the Columbia Union Conference, is designed to keep members informed and connected between issues of the monthly Visitor magazine. It includes news, photos, quotes and is circulated to more than 3,000 leaders, educators, pastors and members who read and share it within their networks. Digital display ads accepted. Sign up at columbiaunionvisitor.com/vnb.
Web columbiaunionvisitor.com – Our designated news website, launched in 2014, features news, photos, videos and social media feeds about recent conference or unionwide events. Also, access news about each conference, college, university and healthcare network in the union, get advertising information and read the Visitor magazine right on your tablet, smartphone or computer screen. Digital display ads accepted.
Facebook Facebook.com/ColumbiaUnionVisitor – Through this social media platform, we engage with members, invite feedback, answer questions and post news, photos and videos.
Twitter Twitter.com/VisitorNews – Follow us to see breaking news and interesting tidbits about your church family.
Instagram Instagram.com/ColumbiaUnionVisitor – See photos, news and inspirational posts from union members and ministries. Also catch live coverage of many Columbia Union events via Instagram Stories.
Services to Members
From the Archives
We’re honored to remember your loved one with an obituary in the Visitor if they were a member residing within the Columbia Union territory during his/her lifetime. Send the life sketch to Sandra Jones, Bulletin Board editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (443) 259-9571 or download a form at columbiaunionvisitor. com/obituary.
We accept print and digital advertisements. Classified, display and digital advertising space is provided to church and para-church organizations and businesses that provide products or services in harmony with the mission and beliefs of the Adventist Church (see adventist. org). Visitor editors reserve the right to refuse or discontinue advertisements at any time and may edit classified ads to comply with editorial policies. For advertising information, ad sizing and specifications, costs and availability, please review options at columbiaunionvisitor.com and click on “Advertising and Subscription Information.” Contact Sandra Jones, Visitor advertising manager at email@example.com or call (443) 259-9571. Discounts available. First-time advertisers who are members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church must submit a letter of recommendation from their pastor or conference leadership, stating that they are members in good standing. Email is accepted for recommendations and ad submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read issues of the Visitor from the last five years, go to columbiaunionvisitor.com, and click on “Visitor Archives.” Find archived copies dating back to 1901, when it began in Ohio as The Welcome Visitor, at this link: http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Periodicals/Forms/ AllFolders.aspx 2017
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Adventist Trademark Guidelines The Seventh-day Adventist name, logo and likeness can only be used by church-owned and church-operated organizations and ministries. The following should be printed on your website and all organizational published works: Adventist® and Seventh-day Adventist® are the registered trademarks of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists®.
How to Write Common Religious and Adventist Terms • Annual Council • biblical; book of Job • camp meeting • end-time; Executive Committee • the Flood; foot-washing ceremony; foot washing • Garden of Eden; God’s Word; the good news; the four Gospels; Gospel of John; the gospel message; the Great Commission; General Conference; GC (second reference) • capitalize Jesus in all references, including as a pronoun: He, Him, Himself, You, etc. • kingdom of God • Lord’s Prayer; Last Supper • North American Division; NAD (second reference) • prodigal son; Promised Land; Pathfinder club (capitalize name of club when part of title)
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• Sabbathkeeper; Sabbathkeeping; Scripture(s): capitalize when referring to the Holy Bible; scripture(s): lowercase when referring to a scripture(s) verse; Second Coming; second coming of Christ; Sermon on the Mount; Christ’s sermon on the mount; Seventh-day Adventist Church; Adventist Church (second reference); Church (third reference); Spirit of Prophecy; soul winner; soul-winning (adj.) • Ten Commandments; tree of life; the Trinity; three angels’ messages; third angel’s message; tithe-paying (adj.); tithe paying (noun) • Week of Prayer; Week of Spiritual Emphasis • year-end meeting; youth rally (capitalize when specific name)
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you write/edit your stories, m 2.askAsyourself these six questions:
Who, What, When, Where, Why (one quote) and How (one quote).
Use active voice, not passive. m 3.Wrong: Shirley Graham was asked by Sandra Thomas to speak at her youth event. Right: Sandra Thomas asked Shirley Graham to speak at her youth event. Fact check and verify information. m 4.Double check phone numbers, emails, websites, the spelling of a person’s name and title; attribute quotes to the correct individuals; provide the correct city/state where a church or school is located.
We prefer no more than two articles per page. Credit authors. Check for punctuation and grammar. Use “recently” or “last month.” Use correct format in Word: Helvetica Neue font; 12 pt; 1.5 spacing.
individuals, as well as their titles, if applicable. Pastor of which church? Member of what ministry?
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of each month. Submit your newsletter/ articles in one Word document attached to one email, including photos and captions.
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7. Anticipate upcoming stories/events. “Pre-write” an upcoming event, so that after the event, you can simply fill in the blanks. Use current stories. Plan ahead and time your article to run before or after an event. For example, don’t use a Christmas story in the March issue. (Be sure to share breaking news ASAP so we can immediately post it in “real time” via our social media outlets, news website and in the Visitor News Bulletin, our weekly e-newsletter.)
Submit at least two to three photo m 8.options for each print story.
All photos must have a high-resolution file size of at least 1MB or 300 dpi. Use digital cameras, not smartphones. Credit photographers.
Include captions with each photo. m 9.Captions “tell the story” in a picture. What are they doing in the photo? Provide first and last names, titles/churches/locations. Please remember, by policy, we cannot use photos of Adventists wearing jewelry. Pray through the process. m 10. You have been called to share the gospel via news and events in your conference/ academy. Let God lead as you write, edit and photograph.
COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK [ 19 ]
Communication Internships An internship is a great opportunity to mentor a young adult for two years and provide them with valuable on-the-job training. Funding may be available for internships, established according to the following policy. Please contact appropriate entities to apply.
NAD Working Policy 2017â€“2018 FC 37 05 Eligibility Requirements for Applicants 1. Be a recent college graduate with a major in communication or a communicationrelated field. 2. Submit the application forms provided by the Internship Committee to the North American Division Communication Department.
FC 37 15 Selection Procedures for Internships 1. An employer and an applicant shall agree on a job description and qualifications for employment. 2. The employer shall submit a request for an internship to the North American Division Communication Department. The request shall include a job description, remuneration information, and an applicantâ€™s resume. The Communication Department shall notify the appropriate union and ask if the union will participate in the internship. 3. Communication internships recommended by the North American Division Communication Department shall be submitted to the North American Division Committee for Administration (NADCOA) for final approval.
FC 37 20 Terms of the Internship 1. The internship shall consist of two years of full-time communication-related work under the supervision of a qualified communication person. 2. The employing organization shall submit reports to the North American Division Communication Department after six months, after 12 months, and at the end of the internship.
a. At the end of six months, the intern shall write a description of tasks undertaken and accomplished. The report must be read and signed by the supervisor and employer, and a copy filed with the North American Division Communication Department.
b. At the end of 12 months, the supervisor shall complete a standard evaluation form that the intern reviews and signs, a copy of which shall be filed with the North American Division Communication Department.
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c. At the end of the internship, both the supervisor and the intern shall write reports about the internship program, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the intern’s performance and of the internship’s value.
3. The internship shall be entered into with the expectation, but not the guarantee, of regular employment in the organization receiving the services of the intern. However, if the intern’s work has been satisfactory, but the employing organization cannot provide ongoing employment, the employing organization will make efforts to place the intern.
FC 37 25 Salary and Expenses The salary and expenses of the intern shall be shared by the division, union, and conference/institution on a monthly basis, as follows:
College intern GC Institutional intern
Healthcare intern 20% 20% (Health Care Corp) Balance (Institution)
NOTE: Percentage factors are calculated using NAD Remuneration Factor. Balance payments are based on salary, allowances, and expenses.
FC 37 30 Number of Internships Communication internships shall be limited to a maximum of 12 active internships at any one time.
COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK [ 21 ]
Communication Toolbox Here are a few resources, events, links and witnessing tools that communication teams at Adventist organizations can use and share to enhance ministry and raise public awareness:
Resources Communication Catalog* Find resources to help church leaders involved in communication of all types, with a specific section on using technology for communication and evangelism. Also includes articles, websites, ideas and items to assist in ministry. Free Crisis Boot Camp Book* Want to know what to do when the phone rings and there’s a crisis? This handy guide—filled with case studies and action steps—will help you communicate effectively during crisis situations. By Celeste Ryan Blyden, 103 pages. Available in English or Spanish in print or eBook. Media Outreach Book* Have you ever wondered how stories appear in the local newspaper, television news program or on the radio? Check out this book to learn how you can alert the media to what is happening in your church or school. By George Johnson, 35 pages. Available in print or eBook.
Events The Society of Adventist Communicators is an organization for the professional development, continuing education, recognition, networking and nurturing of Christians with careers in communication. Each year more than 200 professionals and students gather for workshops, keynote presentations, field trips [ 22 ] COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK
to media outlets and an awards banquet. Learn more at adventistcommunicator.com. The Sonscreen Film Festival is the annual gathering for Christian young adults who have a passion for using film and video for the purpose of creating timely and relevant productions for social awareness, outreach and uplifting creative entertainment. It was created by the North American Division (NAD) in October 2002, to nurture Christian filmmakers in their craft, career development and spiritual lives. Learn more at sonscreen.com.
Resource Centers Based in Lincoln, Neb., this ministry of the North American Division provides local church leaders with quality Christian resources for every ministry of the local church, including communication and technology. It’s also the event registration hub for many ministry training events and retreats. Order resources at adventsource.org. This is a ministerial and educational platform designed to strengthen professionals through continuing education courses, teaching courses, ministerial training and dissemination of uniquely Adventist content for the church community and beyond. The mission is to empower people with the passion and skills necessary to further the kingdom of Christ in the 21st century. Learn more at adventistlearningcommunity.com. A DV EN T I S T L E A R NING COMMUNI T Y
Witnessing Tools Adventist Brochure* This colorful brochure, prepared by the General Conference Communication Department, invites readers to explore what the Seventhday Adventist Church has discovered and why we believe that your whole life matters.
Adventist Church & School Connect Adventist Church & School Connect began in late 2005 when the NAD decided to offer every church and school a website to help them reach their communities. It’s operated by AdventSource, whose staff provide all design, training and website support. Sites can be customized, and they offer support services. Learn more at https://www.adventistchurchconnect.com/. Columbia Union Communication Services Find the print version of this handbook, a few Going Public other resources (some in Spanish) and short video presentations by some of the authors of this handbook. All are free and available for viewing or download. For access, go to columbiaunion.org/communicationresources.
Message Magazine Since 1934, Message magazine has shared uplifting, Bible-based articles and information, celebrating redemption, embracing relationship and promoting readiness. Subscribe, order bulk copies for outreach events, order Bible study guides and access sharable online witnessing content. Learn more at https://www.messagemagazine.com/.
Revelándose al Público Diez Formas de Crear Conciencia Pública Sobre la Iglesia Adventista del Séptimo Día en Su Comunidad
Octubre del año 2005
10 Ways to Raise Public Awareness of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Your Community
NAD Social Media & Big Data Services This department helps ministries, conferences, unions and divisions better understand, connect with and provide relevant cost-effective initiatives and services to church members through social media outreach and big data analytics. Find tips, courses, resources and videos at https://www.sdadata.org/.
My Way to Jesus Access sharable information and videos explaining the Adventist Church’s 28 Fundamental Beliefs at mywaytoJesus.com. Vibrant Life Jesus spent a lot of time healing mind, body and spirit. How Vibrant Life shares His minisLaughter try by meeting people where they are and providing information and encouragement to help them live abundantly. Access sharable witnessing content at http://www.vibrantlife.com/. www.VibrantLife.com
mind • body • spirit
America’s Oldest Health Magazine
The Secret to Dealing with Difficult People
Improves Your Health 20-Minute
How to Lower Your Risk of
HEART DISEASE AND DIABETES
Signs You’re Too Stressed
*Order from adventsource.org
COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK [ 23 ]
COMMUNICATION BEST PR ACTICE
What Is the Role of Communication? By Celeste Ryan Blyden Communication is the right arm of every effective organization. Whether it’s a local church, school, large healthcare network, century-old conference or union office or a newly created ministry, communication is a vital part of organizational success. Communicators perform myriad functions and services, including, but not limited to: 1. News and Information – Keeping members connected and informed about church, school or organizational activities, using every available avenue. 2. Public Relations – Helping to shape our global brand by telling our story locally, building relationships with our publics and sharing our message points consistently and effectively. 3. Design/Branding – Creating, monitoring (for consistency) and protecting the visual image of our organization and all its entities. 4. Media Relations – Pitching stories and ideas to public media, handling media inquiries and representing the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a spokesperson. 5. Social Media – Using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and numerous other digital platforms to share news and information, promote events, monitor your organizational brand, field questions and share resources and inspiration. 6. Advertising and Promotion – Assisting with development, wordsmithing, design and implementation of marketing strategies that speak to specific target audiences. 7. Strategic Planning – Developing communication initiatives and materials that help the organization fulfill and effectively communicate its mission, vision and strategic goals. 8. Training and Mentoring – Providing annual training for local church communication leaders, and mentoring or providing internships for students and graduates who need experience. [ 24 ] COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK
9. Crisis Management – Preparing for and helping the organization communicate effectively in crisis situations. 10. Media Production – Producing videos, podcasts, e-newsletters, magazines and more that share news, mission stories or reports with members. 11. Teamwork – Playing an active role in the leadership team of your organization by lending ideas and input; solving problems; writing, editing and wordsmithing content; and helping to share the organization’s story with its many target audiences.
That’s a lot! Where to begin? First, identify your target audiences and how to reach them. Second, outline action steps and tackle them one at a time, as time and budget allow. Third, regularly evaluate and report on progress. GET MORE: We asked experienced communication
leaders for tips on how to do the roles discussed above. Find them in the pages that follow and in our online video series at columbiaunion.org/communicationresources.
Celeste Ryan Blyden serves as vice president for strategic communication and public relations for the Columbia Union Conference.
How to Lead Local Church Communication Updated by Heidi Shoemaker As the designated communication leader for your church, your role is specifically designed to ensure members remain informed and the church is appropriately represented to the public. The following are the four areas which comprise your ministry as communication leader in the local church:
Healthy Living booklets to members for distribution to friends, work associates and community leaders; encourage your church to join Compassion 10Million, and share the Compassion Movement website and monthly weekend events (compassionmovement.org) with community contacts and local government officials.
As communication leader, you are responsible for constructing, monitoring and safeguarding the identity of your local church and its name within your community. Where to Start: • Ensure the church is clearly identified by an attractive exterior sign. (New signage should follow Adventist identity guide lines.)
Your primary objective is to increase public awareness of our church members, mission message and story; work to get church activities and events communicated in the media; and help to get the church’s views included in the news effectively and accurately.
• Check the church’s appearance regularly for problems requiring attention. • Promote the identification of your church through listings in local community direc- tories and calendars (print and digital), tourist publications, highway signage and area accommodations.
Where to Start: • Seek to become personally acquainted with newspaper and online news editors, broad- cast assignment editors, religion reporters and community relations personnel.
• Arrange for church representation at exhibits and fairs, in parades and at other community events. • Build and nurture relationships with community leaders, clubs and organizations, and encourage increased church involve- ment and support within the community when and where appropriate. Try This: Develop and regularly update your church website; develop and regularly update social media platforms; join a communication association like the Society of Adventist Communicators and the Religion Communicators Council; supply the Who Are Seventh-day Adventists? brochure or Adventists and
• Develop initial contacts with press kits; nurture contacts with emails and phone calls; and follow up contacts with personal emails or hand-written notecards. • Report church and Adventist school activities to local radio, television and newspapers by submitting news releases and public service announcements; arranging for photo coverage of congregational activities or events; and serving as a source of informa- tion for public media representatives. • Look for opportunities, story ideas and current issues that concern your church, school and community. COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK [ 25 ]
Try This: Develop and maintain a local media contact list; seek coverage of camp meeting, a health fair, school program/event or a Pathfinder event that benefits kids or the community; and send your contacts Christmas cards from your church.
News and Information
Today it is imperative to employ multiple strategies to foster the church’s presence in the community. It is equally important to keep church members informed about upcoming activities, and to share church news with conference communication directors and the larger Adventist family. Where to Start: • Develop and regularly update social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, etc. • Identify and connect with online/social media community groups in your area, based on common interests; or sponsor a “targeted” post to appeal to alternative/ younger demographics. • Produce a regular newsletter (email and/ or print) with photos, articles and input from members, and/or submit articles and photos to conference communication direc- tors for conference newsletters and social media posts or sections in union newsletters, papers or social media posts. • Maintain an attractive bulletin board in the church lobby, highlighting church activ- ities, news, photos and developments; develop digital announcements and cap- tioned photos to loop on church foyer and sanctuary screens. Try This: Send sick, shut-in and missing members copies of the church newsletter or bulletin via email or snail mail; send them CDs/DVDs of the sermons or links to livestreamed or archived worship services. Create “private” social media groups or utilize password-protected features of your church website to stay in touch or share prayer
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requests with active and inactive members. Produce a church pictorial directory (print or digital), paid for by ads from members, community businesses and church well-wishers; watch a variety of Adventist media programming (adventistmediaministries.com) available on-demand or on Hope Channel (hopetv.org).
Advertising and Promotion
More than ever, local churches need different mechanisms to engage new generations and populations; the effectiveness of any strategy depends on the type of person a church is trying to reach. Your essential responsibility is to design promotions for all church events and evangelistic campaigns to attract your desired audience. Where to Start: • Regularly consult with the pastor and ministry leaders about events and activities being planned. • Assist them with the creation and placement of brochures, flyers, targeted sponsored social media posts, direct mail, broadcast and print ads, promotional videos and other marketing ideas. Try This: Ask a college student member whose talent is graphic arts to design your flyers, brochures and ads; invite members who work in communication or marketing by profession to help develop an advertising campaign for your next evangelism effort or church project; encourage an older teen or young adult to create a video, design a social media campaign, update a church website or regularly update social media platforms.
Heidi Shoemaker serves as communication director for the Ohio Conference.
Rethink Your Brand to Increase Community Awareness By Tom Grant Branding is the process involved in creating a name and image for a product or service in the consumers’ mind. It aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains consumers. Adventist HealthCare is the first and largest provider of healthcare services in Montgomery County, Maryland. Yet, while some people knew the organization’s hospitals, they did not know that we also had excellent home care services, rehabilitation locations, mental health services, physician offices and wellness programs. In 2013 the PR/Marketing team set out to learn how to bring together our entities in the community’s mind. We conducted focus groups and email surveys with some 500 patients, community members and physician leaders, and learned that the Adventist HealthCare name needed to be more prominent in all our locations. In addition to the name focus, we also had to update our blue “A” that had been part of our New Logo logo for more than 15 years. The new logo uses brighter colors. Blue is the color of healing and is carried through from the organization’s past logo with a bolder tone. The addition of orange represents strength, brightness, vitality and good health. The logo also recognizes the organization’s roots in the Seventh-day Adventist Church through an artistic rendering of the Adventist flame.
As a not-for-profit, we did most of the work internally, with some help from an outside agency, in order to be good stewards of our financial resources. Our new colors are vibrant, but some printers had a difficult time capturing the colors on their presses. We should have tested our colors some more to adjust for variations among printers. In addition, we needed to have a more complete inventory of websites that had our old entity names. We hired a third-party company to help us track down old names, but the work continues given the vastness of the internet.
Make sure you have research to present to your internal executives and leaders that shows the reasoning for your new approach. You will need their support as you roll out new names and logos internally and externally. RESOURCE https://medium.com/madison-ave-collectivethe-importance-of-branding-for-nonprofits-how-to-get-internalbuy-in-and-build-a-stronger-brand-47ed7c760f5c
Tom Grant serves as vice president for Public Relations and Marketing at Adventist HealthCare, headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md.
COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK [ 27 ]
Craft a Message for Every Generation By Jessica J. W. Beans One Google search of the words “generations” and “communication” will reveal pages upon pages of advice on how to advertise, engage and connect with Generation Z, Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. Intergenerational communication has received an abundance of attention over the last few years with thousands of authors claiming to have the key to correcting the communication gaps among these generations. The Seventh-day Adventist Church has discussed this topic over the past few years; it is imperative, however, to continue the dialogue on how to best communicate to all generations, especially young adults and youth, to better strengthen the church community. Defining generations aids researchers and communicators to better understand how formative experiences, such as technological changes and world events, have shaped the way people view and interact with the world. Generations are a lens through which one can strive to understand societal changes. It’s best to remember, however, that these generalizations about generations are better viewed as a tool for understanding perspectives and changing viewpoints, rather than a strict categorization that defines who people are.
Observations and Tips:
Research by the Barna Group2 has found that the older generations, such as the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers, generally find their identity and value in the institutions of which they are a part. They appreciate the institutional identity of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Content about institutional growth or leadership could connect well with these generations. For example, writing about internal church-related initiatives will most likely gain larger engagement with these audiences, as their identity is wrapped up in the growth and movement of other Seventh-day Adventists. Younger generations, however, tend to be less trusting of institutions and find their identity in other ways. For example, in the past, Generation
THE GENERATIONS DEFINED1,2 GENERATION Silent
Generation X Millennials or Postmillennial or Gen Xers Generation Y or Generation Z
BIRTH YEARS 1928-1945
AGE IN 2018
73-90 years old
54-72 years old
38-53 years old 22-37 years old
Find their identity and value in the institutions they are a part of
Find their identity and value in the institutions they are a part of
Find their identity in their peer groups
Sources: Pew Research Center and The Barna Group
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Interested in movements and causes
*1997-? 21 and younger Want to know “why” and the purpose behind initiatives and statements
* Still being defined
X has largely placed their identity in their peer groups, and Millennials are known for their interest in movements and causes. When communicating to these younger generations, it is imperative to express the purpose and “why” behind initiatives and statements, instead of relying on “we’ve always done it this way” language that points to institutional identity alone. Since Millennials value creating positive change in their world and discovering their unique identity, using action-oriented language to emphasize the difference being made in your community is a good way to frame communication. Many in this generation grew up during the internet explosion and adopted social media while entering adulthood. Millennials were entering the workforce during and after the recession, which has shaped their worldview and values. A multi-channel approach to communication is needed for these younger generations. Refocusing on producing content relevant to their lives and purpose over and above institutional news will help engagement levels. Though researchers say Generation Z will continue to develop their values and identity as they enter adulthood, early observations show an increase in the individualistic mindset. The Barna Group3 states that this generation disconnects identity and religious or institutional affiliation. Generation Z has grown up in the digital age and do not remember a time without mobile devices. They expect quality, fast-paced content and a multi-channel approach to communication. They tend to be more private in their social sharing than Millennials and are more prone to using timebound content sharing, such as Snapchat and Instagram Stories. Both Generation Z and Millennials expect an increase in social media and digital content over traditional mediums. Mobile-friendly content is a must as most web and social searching today is done on a mobile device. As a rule of thumb, younger generations want content to be more personalized, relevant to their lives, more genuine and authentic. They want to engage with this content in a two-way conversation or dialogue through polls or comments. There is also a large increase of interest in photos and
videos as a way of communicating information in contrast to long-form written content and lengthy articles. User-generated content (which is content that is generated through an individual’s account, and then shared on an institutional account instead of the institution generating the content themselves) over institutional or branded content receives much higher engagement from these generations as well.4
Jessica Beans serves as associate dean of Enrollment and Communication for Kettering College in Kettering, Ohio.
Millennials value creating positive change in their world.
COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK [ 29 ]
How to Improve Community Perception of Your Church By Richard Castillo While serving as communication director for the Oklahoma Conference, we created a 30second commercial featuring one of our teachers. She was presented as a busy, hardworking individual who chose to balance her hectic work week with Bible study, worship and rest on the Sabbath. Friendly people with smiling faces attended church with her. The commercial’s message focused on the happiness and satisfaction found in an Adventist lifestyle. We also purchased 15 to 20 billboards with similar messages in Tulsa, Okla., and bought internet advertising. The commercial, billboards and web ads referred viewers to a website that offered information about our beliefs, as well as the location of churches in Tulsa offering Bible studies and seminars. To measure reaction to our campaign, we hired a market research firm. They prepared an online survey and asked 200 people to respond to questions before and after watching our 30second commercial. Out of the 200 people who took the survey, two were Seventh-day Adventists and 180 were professed Christians. The survey results were enlightening. Before watching the commercial, most of the participants—88 percent—believed the Seventh-day Adventist Church taught healthy lifestyle principles. However, 63 percent thought our church was a closed community that offered its positive aspects to members only. More than
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50 percent viewed the church members as judgmental and unwelcoming. After watching the 30-second commercial, the idea of us being a closed community went from 63 percent to 21 percent! The idea that we are judgmental as a church dropped from 53 percent to 16 percent. The idea that we could be a welcoming and open community rose from 48 percent to 66 percent. We sat back and shook our heads. The narcissists in us wanted badly to say, “What a fantastic video you produced.” Then reality began to sink in: Many of the people who took the survey were uninformed about Adventists. That means we need to tell them.
How to Tell Our Story 1. Be consistent and intentional – Use social media to constantly and consistently share a positive impression of your ministries.
Billboard in Tulsa, Oklahoma
2. Carefully craft your message – Smiling, diverse faces are more valuable than lots of words. 3. Hunger and need can be good things – It sounds strange, but people are hungry for a better, healthier life. They may not approach your church for your theology, but they may approach because you are offering a way to experience improved health and happiness. 4. Spend money – If it’s worth posting, it’s worth paying to reach more people who don’t know you. The good news is that social media marketing is still pretty inexpensive. 5. Keep it simple – Simple, intentional design will always trump busy text-filled flyers. The ability for you to be known as the church that cares rather than the church that informs will better enable you to reach hearts for Jesus in a tangible way. 6. Be present in the community – Make yourself seen and maybe less heard by making sure your church is represented as part of the community. Have an exhibit or table at your city’s fairs, street festivals and other family friendly events. Host block parties outside of your church (in the parking lot, street or town square) that give people an opportunity to like you before they actually get the opportunity to get to know you.
Smiling, diverse faces are more valuable than lots of words.
Richard Castillo serves as pastor for media and outreach at the Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church in Takoma Park, Md. COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK [ 31 ]
12 Copyediting Tips Worth Remembering By Columbia Union Visitor Staff
1. Inanimate Objects Can’t Perform Functions Examples: Each table was anointed up front (really?) The preacher was on fire (really?)
2. Use Active Voice Rather Than Passive Voice
stories in March because the due date was in January) • Say “recently” or “last month” while editing; anticipate when the issue will actually be read
5. Ask for the Pedigree • Proper ways to credit the educated—Ph.D., D.Min., M.D.:
Wrong: Tamyra Horst was asked by Heidi Shoemaker to speak at her women’s event.
Wrong: Dr. Michelle Stevenson (Is she really a doctor? What kind?)
Right: Heidi Shoemaker asked Tamyra Horst to speak at the Ohio Conference Women’s Ministries retreat.
Wrong: Michelle Stevenson, D.Min.
3. Three Ways to Use Commas: • After states: Example: Potomac Conference is located in Staunton, Va., about three hours outside Washington, D.C. • When two complete sentences surround a conjunction (and, but, or, yet): Example: Jim Greene and his wife recently celebrated 50 years of marriage, and he loves to share the secrets of a successful marriage. • After an opening phrase that answers “when” in three or more words: Wrong: In May, the Hillcrest church will host a youth rally. Right: During the church service, the choir sang a number of hymns.
4. Don’t Date Your Story
Right: Michelle Stevenson, who holds a doctorate in Ministry • Don’t use Mr., Mrs., Elder or Deacon (just members’ first and last names): • Use proper titles for pastors or presidents, etc.: Right: Ron Halverson serves as president of the Ohio Conference. Right: Lisa Reid, senior pastor of Allegheny East Conference’s First church in Washington, D.C., presented a message titled, “All in a Day’s Work!”
6. Headlines: Would That Headline Draw You in? • News stories—Put a verb in your headline: Wrong: 18 Baptisms at Hagerstown Right: Hagerstown Celebrates 18 New Baptisms • Editorials and first-person articles—No verb necessary; be creative, and consider them as teasers:
• Plan ahead and time your article to run before an event or after
Examples: There’s Room for Everyone to Serve
• Avoid using really old news (e.g. Christmas
The Rescue Story
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7. Location, Location, Location
Wrong: the Family Life leader announced Right: the Family Ministries leader announced
Every entity mentioned must include a city and state:
11. Write Captions in the Present Tense
• West Wilmington (Del.) church • Ethnan Temple in Dayton, Ohio
Example: Kelly Lee, pastor of the Ohio Korean church, presents Celeste Kim, Children’s Ministries director, with an award.
• Beltsville Adventist School (Md.) • Lake Nelson Adventist Academy in Piscataway, N.J.
12. Use State Abbreviations (see AP Stylebook for more)
8. Use Words Properly or Look Them Up
• Who and whom • Affect and effect • Two, too, or to • They’re, there, their • Peeked, peaked and piqued
9. What Version is That? • Identify what version of the Bible you are quoting from:
Washington, D.C. DC
Example: “When you quote Scripture, here’s the proper way to identify it” (Prov. 3:10, NIV). • Write out what Ellen White book you’re quoting from: Example: “When you quote Ellen White, here’s the proper way to identify it” (Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 96).
10. Refer Correctly to Official Ministries of the Church • Women’s Ministries
• Children’s Ministries
• Youth Ministries
• Health Ministries
• AP Stylebook • Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 5th Edition • The Chicago Manual of Style • Painless Grammar • Review and Herald Style Manual
• Pathfinder Ministries • Sabbath School • Family Ministries
• Disabilities Ministries
• Adventist Community Services COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK [ 33 ]
How to Avoid Violating a Copyright By Jennifer Gray Woods A copyright is a set of rights granted to creators of original works that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. Here are five rules to keep in mind:
1. Only the copyright owner has the right to: • Make copies • Distribute • Publicly perform • Display
© • Make derivatives
2. Using materials without first getting permission is copyright infringement, and you can be fined up to $150,000 per violation. These violations include:
• Projecting lyrics on a screen during church service without permission • Using music or pictures on a website without permission • Changing song lyrics or making an arrangement without permission • Publishing a song performance online without permission from the originator and the artist
4. Anyone is free to use work that is in the public domain, however:
• Materials found on Google (pictures, music, etc.) are usually not in the public domain. • Materials do not have to have the © symbol on them to be copyright protected. • Using material for religious or nonprofit purposes is not a justification to infringe on someone’s copyright.
5. If you find material that you want to use,
and it is not in the public domain, you first should get permission from the copyright holder. When getting permission to use copyrighted materials, be sure to follow the terms of the license; otherwise you may still be infringing on someone’s copyright.
Jennifer Gray Woods is an associate general counsel for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
3. Copyright lasts for a fixed period of time. For works that were created during or after 1978, a copyright generally lasts for the creator’s life plus 70 years. After this point, the work enters the public domain.
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Materials found on Google are usually not in the public domain.
Keep Calm and Communicate in a Crisis By Celeste Ryan Blyden A crisis is a reputation-defining event in the life of your organization. It’s an unpredictable event that thrusts your organization into the spotlight. It presents danger that threatens, and at the same time, opportunity that can strengthen and infuse new life into your organization. Crisis Communication (also called Crisis Management) is the practice of helping our organizations work through and communicate effectively about difficult situations, which are most often caused by natural disasters, unexpected death or human error.
During 20 years of helping Seventh-day Adventist organizations work through crisis situations, I have learned never to be surprised when someone calls about a situation that is unfolding. Because we are human, bad things happen— even in God’s organizations—and good people make mistakes. I’ve also learned that there is wisdom in the counsel of many (calling for backup is a good move), but too many cooks can spoil the broth and cause inertia. Working with a small group of three to five individuals who are best suited to respond to the situation at hand will help you create an appropriate process and effective response in a timely manner.
8 Steps to Managing a Crisis 1. Get the Facts – What happened? And what do you know? 2. Form a Crisis Team – Who will work through this situation? I suggest three to five people whose roles are most relevant to the situation you’re facing. 3. Draft a Statement – What do you want known about this situation? A statement simply articulates your perspective on the issue. 4. Consult With Others – Seek input from administrators, legal counsel, your board chair, staff members, colleagues, etc. 5. Brief Your Team – Here’s what’s going on, what we’re doing about it and what we have to say. Invite their questions and suggestions.
6. Release the Statement – Share your official statement on corporate letterhead as a PDF through previously established channels like your organizational website, email newsletter or a press conference. 7. Monitor and Manage the Crisis – Monitor social media, listen to what people are saying and what questions they are asking. This will inform future statements/messages. Don’t weigh in or defend; just observe what is being shared. 8. Follow Up and Debrief – Once the crisis situation has passed and things are returning to normal, evaluate your actions, effectiveness and what you learned in the process.
Don’t ignore warning signs; maintain a healthy awareness of issues facing your organization and what people are saying on social media, at the potluck tables or in the hallways. Also, when it comes to crisis, experience is the best teacher. Participate in training annually, and regularly review helpful materials. When your crisis call comes, pause to pray for understanding and guidance to know how best to navigate the situation and circumstance. As Psalm 46:1 promises, “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble” (NLT). RESOURCE: Order the book, Crisis Boot Camp, at
Celeste Ryan Blyden is the author and presenter of the Crisis Boot Camp book and workshop. COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK [ 35 ]
Grow and Mobilize Your Digital Audience on a Budget By Eugene Simonov Digital marketing (also known as “online marketing”) is the marketing of products or services using digital technologies. One of the most common digital marketing tools is Google ads. Every second more than 2 million searches are performed on Google, and most of these search results include Google ads. With a good strategy, Google ads can drive the most relevant traffic to your website exactly when people are searching for the types of products or services your organization offers.
How We Use Google Ads
Big companies hire marketing agencies that create and execute Google ads strategies for them. But if you can’t afford a marketing agency, you still can create Google ads. That’s what we do at WGTS 91.9. As a nonprofit, listener-supported media ministry, our goals are to attract new listeners and convert our current listeners into donors. To meet our first goal, we created multiple campaigns (text, search, image and video) that targeted people interested in contemporary Christian music in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. That meant anyone who lived in that geographic area and searched for Christian music, a particular music artist or looked for a radio station became our target audience. They saw our website in Google searches, our graphic ads on third-party websites and our promo and commercial videos on YouTube. If they clicked on our ads, they were sent to the WGTS website. To meet our second goal, we created campaigns to target WGTS listeners and those already familiar with our radio station. The content focused on our values, such as community, prayer and Christian beliefs. These ads helped us turn listeners into donors. The beauty of this type of marketing is that you target those who are most likely to be your audience, and it’s cost-effective. You can run Google ads with a
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daily budget of $5 to $20 and bring more website traffic than through traditional marketing.
As with traditional marketing, digital marketing requires lots of research and testing. We started using Google ads about three years ago. In a short time, our campaigns became cost-effective. Here are three things we’ve learned in the process: 1. The quality of our website and loading time are essential. The more user-friendly your website, the more chances it will pop up in a Google search through a paid advertisement. We are constantly working on improving the quality and loading speed of our website to increase the effectiveness of our campaigns. 2. Use events to find your target audience in addition to your other digital marketing campaigns. For example, when the Christian movie I Can Only Imagine came out in theaters, we used it to drive traffic to our website. We created multiple ads that targeted people in our area who were searching for this movie, watching trailers and buying movie tickets. Since this movie is about the Christian artist who wrote the song “I Can Only Imagine,” we created ads such as: “Stream songs by MercyMe on WGTS radio” and “Listen to your favorite Christian songs for free.” With a $100 budget,
we got thousands of website clicks with a huge impression rate (brand awareness). 3. A good campaign needs to be monitored and tweaked regularly. Studying weekly reports and adjusting campaigns is the key to high Return on Investment (ROI). Most of our ongoing campaigns started bringing 10 times more clicks to our website (without increasing the budget) after weeks and weeks of adjustments.
Best Practice 1. Have a clear goal Before creating a campaign, make sure you know what specific action you are trying to get your target audience to perform. 2. Know your target audience At WGTS weâ€™ve noticed that the better we know what our audience likes, does, listens to, and is interested in, the more effective our campaigns. 3. Donâ€™t ignore mobile users Always keep in mind that most people will see your ads via their mobile phones. Ensure that you are using mobile-preferred ads and your website provides a user-friendly experience on mobile devices. 4. Always test Once you identify your campaign goals, plan various tests to try to maximize your outcome. At WGTS, we usually create variations of our ads and monitor which ones get the best click-through rates and the lowest cost per click. Once we know what works, we keep only those ads that are performing well. SOURCE
Most people will see your ads via their mobile phones.
Eugene Simonov is the director of video and creative marketing at WGTS 91.9, based in the Washington, D.C., area.
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How to Create a Must-Read Email Newsletter By Andre Hastick Email newsletters have the power to deliver a strategic, direct message to your members and community for very little cost. While we all receive many messages every day, a well-planned email can cut through the clutter and inspire people to engage in your mission.
People are busy. My newsletter displays the mission of my organization in bite-sized chunks. This approach leaves the door wide open for people from all walks of life to connect and feel a part of something bigger than themselves.
Best Practice 1. Develop a content calendar for upcoming newsletters No matter how frequently you decide to send a newsletter (monthly, weekly, etc.), the deadline sneaks up on you! Taking time to plan your next two or more newsletters will keep your communication purposeful and less daunting. 2. Use pictures strategically and bountifully People love pictures! In these social media-driven times, people prefer to scroll and take-in a compelling image over reading hundreds of words. Using compelling images that implicitly share the story will help convey your message in less time. I used to find pictures that supported good text. Now, I make scroll-friendly text that supports good pictures. Every block of text should be paired with at least one good image. 3. Adapt your strategy for maximum impact A major benefit of sending email newsletters through a service like MailChimp is the ability to view statistics on how many people opened your email and what they clicked on, etc. You can also run tests to see which subject lines lead to more engagement. These gems will give you tremendous insight into your audience and how to plan future newsletters that compel readers to action. [ 38 ] COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK
See “Tips for Great Photos” on page 48. Mailchimp.com is an e-newsletter platform that is free to use for up to 2,000 subscribers in your database. It’s user-friendly, has dynamic template options and provides detailed usage reports.
Andre Hastick serves as communication director for the Chesapeake Conference.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Maximize Communication for Your Next Event By LaTasha Hewitt Whether you are planning for a 10-day camp meeting, constituency meeting or other major event, communication plays a big role in how your attendees experience the event. Here are some steps to follow to maximize communication during your next event.
Nine to 12 Months Before the Event 1. Gather information This will require you to meet with conference administrators and ministry teams before your event. Gather event dates, speakers’ bios (and images), information for video, and print reports, costs and program outlines.
b. Social Media. This allows individuals and churches to share the information with their followers and give you greater reach. This is also a good place to include links to the website, to stream or add links to another streaming portal.
2. Assemble a team This event is not the time to fly solo. Form a team of photographers, social media managers, media and production crew members (camera operators, sound technicians, video editors) and writers.
c. Video recaps. This is highly appreciated by those who were unable to attend your event but want a taste of what is happening. Decide ahead of time what elements you want to capture, and schedule your team members to cover those events.
3. Meet regularly It is important to schedule regular meetings as you lead up to the event—monthly (10 to 12 months out), biweekly (six months out) and weekly (three months out). 4. Develop a strategy With all the moving parts of camp meeting, it’s important to have a strategy to ensure all bases are covered. Determine what media you will use to communicate, what will be communicated, to whom it will be communicated, how and when. Here are some media options: a. Website. This is usually the first place people look for information about a major event like camp meeting. Make sure you include as much information here as possible. Add details as they become available. You do not need to wait until you have all the information.
d. Digital signage. This is ideal for major traffic areas on the grounds/facility where the event is held. Use signage to share the daily lineup of services, activities and highlights from the previous day(s). e. Email. Create a special edition of your e-newsletter that highlights important news from or about the event. f. Texting. Have registrants and/or attendees sign up to receive updates and alerts about events.
g. Event guide. This is a must for those who prefer to “live by the book” and have an in-hand guide. Be sure to not only include the order of service, but also activities, meal times, if applicable, and flyers about future events.
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Days Before the Event
The Weeks After the Event
1. Alert internal and external media. Pitch coverage angles for your event.
1. Report coverage – Develop a summary of the event coverage results. (How many views online?)
2. Pre-write articles. Collect as much information as possible so you can begin writing and know ahead of time what information you’ll need to gather at the event. This will help you release information in a timely manner.
2. Create an archive – Save copies of media stories, materials created, budgets and expenses, contractor and vendors, etc., for use in the future.
The Day of the Event 1. Coordinate internal and public media coverage. Facilitate interview requests, and have quotes and photos with captions available. Share a one-paragraph news story with conference and union communicators. If applicable, share a news story with the local public media. 2. Be prepared for a crisis. Anticipate and help to handle any crises or issues. 3. Update your website. Post a one-paragraph news story and several photos on websites. 4. Use and monitor social media. Live tweet and/or use Facebook Live to share important moments, quotes and photographs of constituents and leaders in action. Livestream the event to promote transparency. Encourage attendees to tweet about the event using a designated event hashtag. Retweet and respond to positive social media mentions. To increase views of your coverage, post a link to the web article on social media.
3. Thank everyone – Be sure to show appreciation to everyone who helped with any aspect of the communication (vendors, printers, technology team members, videographers, photographers, etc.) 4. Evaluate and re-evaluate – Even though you may have had a strategy during the event, it’s always good to monitor how it worked to determine if you should continue or possibly move to another option. Following the event, it is imperative to ask attendees what elements they found most useful or that could use improvement. These are always helpful when planning for the following year.
LaTasha Hewitt is director of the Communication Department for the Allegheny East Conference.
The Day After Event 1. Release a short news story – Write about 500 words, and include photos, quotes, statistics and event highlights. 2. Monitor coverage – Know if media coverage and social media posts exist about your event. Check to see if anyone has republished your news story. 3. Fill photo requests – Fill requests for additional photos and captions from the event.
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Encourage attendees to tweet about the event using a designated event hashtag.
20 Ideas to Increase Attendance at Your Next Event By Celeste Ryan Blyden If you’ve attended one of my workshops, you know I often say that we are Seventh-day “Eventists.” It’s because we are always planning our next event, attending an event or have just finished an event. We call our events meetings, retreats, committees, boards, camp meetings, evangelistic meetings, youth meetings, prayer meetings and even meetings to plan meetings. And every Sabbath there are wonderful events we anticipate all week—Sabbath School, worship, potluck, afternoon programs and maybe even a game night. Indeed we are event-loving people, and one of the things I am asked often is “How do we get people to attend our event?” And the addendum is: “And how can we do it without breaking the bank?” Hence, for your next event, here are 20 promotional ideas to try—most of them free! 1. Develop a promotional plan for this event that looks at target audiences and includes outreach tools, a timeline, a budget and branded materials. 2. Invite the public, community leaders, public servants, media and other religions. 3. Support community events, march in parades, attend meetings, go where disaster strikes or violence occurs to hug, pray and serve. 4. Introduce yourself to your neighbors. 5. Use technology and social media to promote the event. 6. Write a press release, and seek coverage from local media (print, broadcast and online). 7. Write and share bulletin announcements with area church clerks. 8. Create an app for your event.
13. Share news with your target audiences in print and email. 14. Empower members to “reshare” your news with their social networks by clicking the “share” option in your story post. 15. Create and distribute a print brochure. 16. Create a mini-display or exhibit booth. 17. Develop a Social Media Campaign (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram—before, during and after the event). 18. Use text messages to reach members (97% of text messages are opened). 19. Create a hashtag, and get members to use it too (e.g. #2015GCSession, #crisisbootcamp, etc.). 20. Create a short teaser video to post on YouTube, Vimeo or Facebook, etc., or use Facebook Live.
9. Send a free invitation online (see evite.com). 10. Create an “Event” on Facebook. 11. Design and mail postcards to your database. 12. Place announcements in your union magazine, and buy digital ads online.
Celeste Ryan Blyden serves as vice president for strategic communication and public relations for the Columbia Union Conference. COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK [ 41 ]
How to Find Great Stories By Valerie Morikone My ears and eyes are always focused on finding unique and interesting stories that will appeal to the reader, showcase God or bring encouragement. Here are a few ways I find great stories:
Listen I have my “writing antenna” up at conference meetings or events when visiting a church and in my daily conversations with members. Ask I love to ask “I’m interested in you” questions, like “How has God impacted your life?” “How are things going with you today?” “You just returned from a vacation? Where did you go?” “How long have you been attending the _____ Adventist Church?” “I see that you just joined the ______ Adventist Church? Would you like to share your story with me?” Sometimes, its just the simple and basic questions that get the person to open up, and, as I listen to them, I see opportunities for a story. Look Look around your conference, school or church and see what’s new. Pastors sometimes share at workers’ meetings what’s happening at their churches. They also contact me with stories. New members joining the church can result in wonderful testimonies and conversion stories.
When assigning an article, it helps to give clear guidelines to the author. What are you looking for—a profile, testimony, short news recap of an event or editorial in first person? On what angle of the story should they focus? Be specific. As for length, I like “more than enough” words rather than fewer. Sometimes I reach out to various department/ ministry leaders and ask them to share a story that highlights the work and news of their departments. I assign these “evergreen” articles in advance, giving them ample time to meet my deadline.
Valerie Morikone serves as communication director for the Mountain View Conference.
My preference is to create an outline early in the year, jotting down ideas for each month; but nowadays, I’m usually just a month or two ahead. There are specific events (camp meeting, wellness camp, women’s retreats) that provide ideas or leads. I need to be more detailed about photo submissions and how to take photos that complement or help tell the story better. If I give myself time before a deadline, I can let the article or story “sit,” which gives me a few days or a week before the deadline to have a fresh look at the story. I prefer for someone else to write the initial draft because I love doing the editing.
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Would you like to share your story with me?
10 Good Newsletter Story Ideas By Ricardo Bacchus and Visitor Staff 1. Spotlight a ministry department Youth Ministries, Prison Ministries, community services, etc. 2. Spotlight a member, teacher or student oldest church member, newly baptized member, extraordinary achievement, conversion story, testimony, new ministry/departmental leader 3. Focus on a theme prayer, women in ministry, education, evangelism, summer camp, health, religious liberty 4. Assign guest editorials departmental director to coincide with a theme; school principal, student/alumnus, parent or pastor. (These can be organized months ahead.) 5. Report on trends or the plans of your conference: tithe updates, baptisms, conference initiatives, statistics, program updates, needs
9. Set up great stories Talk to your ministries leaders, and help them plan creative events that may lead to a great story. Network wherever you go to find story leads. 10. Anticipate, Anticipate, Anticipate Consider your deadline, consider the date of your event and decide whether to run the story before or after. If before, get a photo of the intended speaker and musicians, and share a short profile of them. If after, arrange for a good photographer and writer to be present.
Ricardo Bacchus serves as an assistant director for Communication Services at the Columbia Union Conference. He coordinates and edits the Visitor News Bulletin email newsletter and all conference and academy newsletters that appear in each issue of the Columbia Union Visitor magazine.
6. Spotlight conference entities schools, supporting ministries, community initiatives, camp and retreat centers, etc. 7. Ask a question of the month and run answers with photos of members of different ages, ethnicities, church positions and genders. 8. Recap camp meetings, retreats, graduations and other annual events. Provide many pictures ... members love to see themselves.
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9 Tips for Writing a News Story By Taashi Rowe One of the best ways to raise awareness of the wonderful things God is doing in your organization is to tell your story. But before you submit your story for publishing in print or online, follow these nine tips and get your story in good sharing shape. 1. Every sentence and headline should have three parts: Subject-Verb-Object. Example: The cow jumped over the moon. S (Cow) V (Jumped) O (Moon) 2. Every news story answers six questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How 3. News writers follow the inverted pyramid style: The most important detail comes first; the least important detail goes last. 4. News should be written in the active voice; avoid the passive voice. • Passive: The pastor was asked to preach by the conference president. • Active: The conference president asked the pastor to preach. 5. News should be written in third person; never first or second person. • First Person Voice: I enjoyed worship today. (I, me, we, us)
Present: Mary is weeping. Future: There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 7. Every story must include the following: • First and last names, properly spelled (never Mrs., Mr., Dr., Elder, Deacon, etc.) • Titles (director of communication, pastor, the church’s head elder) • Pedigrees (Ph.D., Ed.D., D.Min., M.D.) • Church name with city and state (Hilltop church in Columbus, Ohio)
Example: Dave Weigley, Ph.D., president of the Columbia Union Conference, recently visited the Sligo church in Takoma Park, Md., as well as the Mount Holly (N.J.) church. 8. Captions should include names of all the people in the photo and should be written in complete sentences in the present tense. Example: Jorge Aguero presents gifts to newly baptized members (left to right) Carlita Mendoza, John Black and Marisa Sosa.
• Second Person Voice: You enjoyed worship today. (you)
9. Always include at least one quote in your news story.
• Third Person Voice: The members enjoyed worship today. (he, she, they, all, everyone, etc.)
Quotes allow your pastor, the event organizer or ministry leader to provide the much-needed what, why or how of your story.
6. Know when to use past, present or future tenses. Past: Jesus wept. [ 44 ] COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK
At the time of this writing, Taashi Rowe served as Columbia Union Visitor news editor.
Pop Quiz By Taashi Rowe 1. Identify and label the subject, verb and object in these sentences:
4. Using the previous tips, write a short news story about a recent event at your organization:
The deacon opened his Bible.
Yesterday, I gave my Bible to a visitor.
2. Whatâ€™s wrong with these sentences? Please rewrite them correctly.
A good time was had by all.
5. Write a headline for the event you wrote about above: Over $15,000 was collected by the church at the youth concert last Sabbath.
6. Write a caption for this photo:
3. Is this sentence written correctly? How would you rewrite it? Conference president Rick Remmers visited the Spanish church in Wilmington.
See answers on the next page. Also, scan and submit your completed practice section, and we will send you a small gift. Email us at email@example.com. Be sure to include your name, email and mailing address so we can respond. COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK [ 45 ]
Answers for the Newswriting Pop Quiz* By Taashi Rowe 1. Identify and label the subject, verb and object in these sentences:
Over $15,000 was collected by the church at the youth concert last Sabbath.
The deacon opened his Bible.
Better: Church members collected more than $15,000 at the youth concert last Sabbath.
Subject: deacon Verb: opened Object: Bible Yesterday, I gave my Bible to a visitor. Subject: I
3. Is this sentence written correctly? How would you rewrite it? Conference president Rick Remmers visited the Spanish church in Wilmington.
Better: Rick Remmers, Chesapeake Conference president, visited the Wilmington (Del.)
2. What’s wrong with these sentences? Please rewrite them correctly.
4. Using the above tips, write a short news story about a recent event at your organization:
A good time was had by all. ANSWER: It’s written in the passive tense. A better way to write it would be to follow the Subject–Verb– Object format. Here are three correction options: Good: Everyone had a good time at the event.
ANSWER: Underline the who, what, when, where, why, how in your story.
5. Write a headline for the event you wrote about above:
ANSWER: Did you remember to include a verb
The men reported that they enjoyed the event.
in your headline? Underline the verb.
Best: A quote from an attendee: “What a rich, spiritually enriching experience,” remarked Andre Hastick, communication director for the Chesapeake Conference. “I was truly blessed and am looking forward to attending next year’s men’s retreat.”
6. Write a caption: ANSWER: Here’s a sample caption that could work for this photo: Simon Pandley, pastor of New Jersey Conference’s Indian English Mission Caleb in Edison, prepares to baptize Sushma Potluri, a former Hindu. *See quiz on previous page.
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How to Get Your News in the News By Debra Anderson Reporters are bombarded daily with story ideas from organizations. What makes your story idea worthy of consideration above the others? The answer can be complex, but often it’s as simple as the depth of your relationship with the reporter. Think of it like this: email from family and friends is generally opened before messages from unfamiliar sources. It’s all about relationship. An effective media relations program is key to the overall success of a good communication strategy. There are several steps that better the chances of coverage for important news and events taking place at your church, school or affiliated entities. Here are four:
1. Do Your Research
Begin by compiling a list of local newspapers, television stations, news radio stations and independent news websites from your area. Carefully peruse them to identify the writers and reporters of religious and community news. Read, listen to or watch their stories. Find their professional biographies for insight into their career paths. Scour their social media. How often do they post? Discover what their interests are. Learn what types of stories they report on. Observe how often their stories are reported—daily, weekly, monthly? This information will help inform your decision on what stories to pitch and when to pitch them. When you have insight or a carefully considered opinion, comment on their stories leaving your name and the organization you represent. This will help them become familiar with your name and showcase the expertise you bring to the conversation.
2. Make a List
Once you have identified reporters who focus on stories that pertain to your interest, create a spreadsheet that includes the following: their name, organization, mailing address, email address, phone number(s) and their regular deadlines. Update your list at least once a quarter or as you receive notification that a reporter is no longer with the company.
3. Develop the Relationship
Compose a brief letter of introduction to newspaper editors, radio and television assignment
editors and religion reporters, informing them of your willingness to be a resource of information on spiritual, health and education matters. Include information about you, the organization you represent and the relevance of that organization to the larger community. It’s a good idea to stay in touch. Once a month, set aside time to make a call or send an email so they know you remain a valuable resource for them.
4. Be Clear, Concise and Convincing
When pitching a story idea, the reporter or editor is most interested in the substance of the subject. Be clear on the subject matter. Be concise in your pitch. Be convincing in why the lives of the readers, listeners or viewers would be enhanced by the information you are presenting. When submitting your press release or media advisory, take into consideration the audience who may be reading or viewing it. Make sure the script is composed at a fifth-grade reading level. This allows the reader or listener to understand without having to decipher complicated language. It also allows the reporter or editor to make quick, informed decisions on the validity of the potential story for their audience.
Debra Anderson serves as assistant to the president for communication in the Potomac Conference. COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK [ 47 ]
Tips for Great Photos By Kelly Butler Coe BE A PHOTO DIRECTOR A photo director takes charge and is purposeful in including a variety of ages, genders and ethnicities. Pick the location: “Everybody go outside to the backyard.” Add props: “Girls, put on your sunglasses.” Arrange people: “Move in close and lean toward the camera.” Take a little time to compose each picture into the masterpiece that it can be. You’ll be surprised how willing people are to take the time to get it right. Just ask! PHOTOGRAPHING GROUPS Your chances of getting a quality group photo increases when taken outdoors. So, if you have a choice, move everyone outside. If this isn’t an option, try to keep the group in a tight arrangement so that the flash will reach each person. Place individuals with darker skin tones toward the front of the group. Avoid arranging your subjects in a single line. Organize people in an organic grouping and stagger them to ensure that each person is visible. TELL A STORY Tell your story through photos. For example, at your next church picnic, capture the arrival and setup, interaction of members, games, packing up the blankets and tired kids on their way home.
CAPTURE THE EMOTION Catch the grins, tears, surprises and hugs that make for memorable pictures. Keep your camera handy and turned on so that you’ll be ready for those spontaneous expressions. CHOOSE A MAIN POINT OF INTEREST Although you know what your subject is, it can be hard for a viewer to determine your intent if there are too many elements in your picture. Eliminate all unimportant components by moving closer, zooming in or choosing a different shooting angle. [ 48 ] COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK
USE A PLAIN BACKGROUND A plain background shows off the subject you’re photographing. When you look through the camera’s viewfinder, force yourself to study the area surrounding your subject. Make sure tree branches are not growing out of your favorite church member’s head!
MOVE IN CLOSE Thou shalt not take pictures from the back of the sanctuary! Step right up and grab that shot. Fill the frame with the subject you are photographing. Up close, you can reveal telling details, like a sprinkle of freckles or an arched eyebrow. But wait! Don’t get too close or your pictures will be out of focus. Check your viewfinder carefully or consult your manual to learn the focusing distance of your camera. LOOK YOUR SUBJECT IN THE EYE Direct eye contact can be as engaging in a picture as it is in real life. When taking a picture of someone, hold the camera at the person’s eye level to unleash the power of that magnetic gaze. For children, that means stooping to their level. And remember, your subject need not always stare directly at the camera. Changing the eye level angle will create a personal and inviting feeling that pulls you into the picture.
ALTER YOUR POSITION Change your position to emphasize or exaggerate how big or small your subject is. Crouch down and shoot up, and the object will tower over you. Shoot down and the object will seem comically small. You can also move your camera right or left only a few feet to change the composition dramatically.
MOVE IT FROM THE MIDDLE Center stage is a great place for a performer to be. However, the middle of your picture is not always the best place for your subject. Bring your picture to life by simply moving your subject away from the middle. Imagine a tic-tac-toe grid in your viewfinder. Now place your subject at one of the intersections of the lines. COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK [ 49 ]
WATCH THE HORIZON
Just as an off-center subject is usually best, so is an off-center—and straight—horizon line. Avoid cutting your picture in half by placing the horizon in the middle of the picture. To create a feeling of spaciousness, keep the horizon low in the picture. To suggest closeness, position the horizon high in your picture.
WATCH THE LIGHT
After the subject, the most important part of every picture is the light. It affects the appearance of everything you photograph. Bright sunlight can highlight a grandmother’s wrinkles, while the soft light of a cloudy day can subdue those same facial creases. If you aren’t happy with the light, move yourself or your subject. The “golden hour”—the hour just after sunrise or just before sunset—is known to be the best time of day to capture particularly beautiful photos.
USE A FLASH OUTDOORS
When taking pictures of people on sunny days, try turning your flash on. Using it will eliminate shadows. On cloudy days, the flash will brighten up people’s faces and make them stand out. (Also try taking a picture without the flash, because the soft light of overcast days sometimes gives pleasing results as well!)
KNOW YOUR FLASH RANGE
A dimly lit sanctuary is less than optimal for taking photos. What to do? Make sure that you are taking pictures within your camera’s flash range. The flash range is a measure of the distance at which the flash can illuminate a subject and can be found in your camera’s manual. If you’re unsure of your flash range, don’t take a chance. Position subjects close to a natural light source and/or turn on additional lights. Make sure they are no farther than three or four steps away from the camera.
AVOID FLASH REFLECTIONS
When you use a flash, be mindful of windows, glass surfaces and mirrors. They’ll reflect the flash, creating glare that can ruin an otherwise great shot. If you can’t avoid them, stand diagonally from your subject to take the picture.
Is your subject wearing eye glasses? Here’s a tip:
Slide the earpieces upward, creating a slight, downward tilt to the glasses. It may feel a little strange but will be undetectable in the photo and will usually eliminate the glare on the glasses. [ 50 ] COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK
AVOID RED EYE
Ask your subject to look at your shoulder rather than directly at the camera. Turning on all the lights in the room may also help. If your camera has a “red-eye reduction” feature, use it.
To avoid blurry pictures, hold that camera still! Digital cameras usually take a few moments to capture the photo. Hold your camera in both hands, keeping elbows close to your sides to give your camera the most stability. Take a gentle breath, hold it and take your shot. Another method of ensuring sharp photos is to steady your camera on an object—try a tripod, railing, the back of a pew, a table or against a tree. Keep your camera steady and in position until you hear that your camera has stopped processing the picture. If your subject is moving, wait for the action to slow or stop before you take the picture.
Be attentive to where your focal point is. Take the time to ensure that the camera is focusing on the subject and not an extraneous object nearby. Once you have taken the photo, look at the picture in the viewfinder. Zoom in and doublecheck to make sure the focus was on your subject before moving on to your next shot.
TAKE SOME VERTICAL PICTURES
Is your camera vertically challenged? Many subjects look better in a vertical picture—from a lighthouse at sunset to your 4-year-old niece jumping in a puddle. Make a conscious effort to turn your camera sideways and take some vertical pictures.
DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY GLOSSARY
Pixels, megabytes, resolution. If you’re unfamiliar with this lingo, take a quick peek at this glossary: Pixel—The smallest element of a digitized image. One small dot of light among the many dots that make up an image. Megapixel—A unit of graphic resolution equal to one million pixels, used to measure the resolution of a digital image. The more pixels in an image, the greater the image quality. Resolution—The number of pixels in an image. The higher the resolution, the more detail an image has.
VISITOR MAGAZINE SPECIFICATIONS • Please provide us with digital images in any the following formats: JPEG, PNG, TIFF, RAW • Set your camera to take photos at the highest resolution available. • Do not crop, color correct or sharpen photos before submitting them. • We love choices! Send us several photos to choose from. • Please submit caption information with your photos. Kelly Butler Coe serves as an assistant director of Communication Services for the Columbia Union Conference and as art director and graphic designer for the Columbia Union Visitor magazine. COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK [ 51 ]
Do’s and Don’ts for Building Your Social Media Presence By V. Michelle Bernard
DO • Create Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts for your church, school and organizations.
• Think about what makes your organization special. Share/create content that helps tell that story and inspires others to work toward your ministry goals.
• Respond! If someone messages your organization with a question, answer it in a timely manner!
• Regularly post pictures, quotes, event info and news on your social media platforms. • Share moments others will want to share— baptisms, dedications, anniversaries, cele- brations, accomplishments, etc. Post about holidays/local events/popular topics of interest, but add your organization’s spin.
• Study the best times to post. Use your analytics to see when people respond the most.
• Remind people to follow you on social media via the church bulletin, website, announce- ment slides and during the announcement period. • Follow local news and media personalities, and share your news with them on social media. • Follow other social media users, and engage with your followers. • Tag organizations and people featured in your posts. They may share your post if they are mentioned. • Use quality photos, GIFs and videos for more engagement. • #Hashtag your posts so people searching for that topic will see them. • Think about what types of posts you personally interact with most, and then create those same types of posts for your church/school accounts.
• Be timely! You typically post your personal photos right after (or during family events). Update your organization’s accounts in the same way—in “real time.”
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DON’T • Publish songs and videos without making sure you have the copyright license to do so. (This means livestreams of church services and special music too!) • Post too much. Make your posts meaningful. • Just publish material. Engage readers. • Publish the same information and graphics on all platforms. Consider the platform you’re using. Use beautiful graphics on Instagram, share news blurbs on Twitter and use Facebook to engage your audience on a deeper level. • Publish on your personal accounts first. Building your personal brand is important at events (people are doing this anyway), but your organization should be the “source” of news. Share the organization’s posts on your personal accounts, and encourage your leaders to do the same. V. Michelle Bernard serves as assistant director of Communication Services for the Columbia Union Conference and as assistant editor for news, features and online content for the Columbia Union Visitor magazine.
Examples of Good Posts*
*For additional tips and resources, visit https://www.sdadata.org/. COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK [ 53 ]
How to Engage Your Audience With Videos By Pierre Walters Video is an effective form of communication because it’s almost like being face-to-face. Videos can create an emotional connection that other media cannot, through an engaging multi-sensory experience. Video makes you “hip” with the times (the younger generation—the “digital natives” —expect video), helping you to reach across generational barriers to create memorable human connections. Videos allow nonverbal cues to be communicated. Videos can offer compelling testimonials. However, not just any video will do. The big challenge is poor engagement when videos are:
• Too long—The memorable moments are too short and too far between. • Static—Imagine an interview with a camera in the corner, recording the entire interview in one take. Now imagine an interview where several cameras capture multiple angles. There’s context, unexpected angles and the “up- close and personal” view. Which would you rather watch?
Creating a Great Video
The biggest challenge is keeping your audience engaged from beginning to “The End.” Here are a few tips: 1. Be brief Distill your message, and allow your visuals to show your main idea. The human brain processes visual information and emotion much faster than it processes words. Hence the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” 2. Organize your thoughts and ideas Follow a PREP structure with a clearly defined beginning, middle and end:
• P – Make your POINT • R – Provide a REASON • E – Give several EXAMPLES • P – Reiterate your POINT [ 54 ] COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK
3. Interview multiple people Interviews follow the PREP model:
• P – The visionary makes the point and outlines the mission, vision, background, “aha” moment and influences. This person also infuses passion into the story. • R – Another person provides the reason and offers a different perspective on the same main point. • E – Two to three more people provide testi- monials—personal stories. Ask questions such as: What’s your story? What hap- pened to you? What was the result? How did you feel? • P – The visionary reiterates the point and offers a takeaway or call to action. 4. Use B-roll The supporting footage helps illustrate the key points. Examples: close-ups of facial expressions or hand gestures, different angles for interest and drama, location footage for a sense of time and place or historic footage. 5. Use voiceover narration It can bridge the gap between scenes and interviews in your video.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to engaging video that gets the job done. 1. Brevity is key Communicate the concept as fast and efficiently as possible. If something isn’t necessary, cut it.
2. Show, don’t tell People want to feel a story—the emotion, the excitement. Your b-roll footage must be engaging. 3. Enthusiasm Your interview questions should evoke emotions, and your audience should get a sense of who you are. Be passionate, energetic, emotive and intentional in your choice of music, visuals and narration.
Save yourself a lot of time and headache by using these tips when creating a video. 1. Always start with an outline, and develop a structure using the PREP method. Clearly define the story’s beginning, middle and end. 2. All components of your video must work together for one common goal—engagement. Video is pointless if it doesn’t engage. 3. Be brief. Create a stream of riveting moments.
RESOURCES I invite you to read my book, Prove It With Pictures, which helps any business, organization or brand share their message through visuals. Becoming an Author: What Are You Waiting For? discusses the principles of storytelling structure and how you can apply that to video. Both books can be found at https://www.blueartists.com/main/agency/and https://www.barnes andnoble.com/
Be brief. Create a stream of riveting moments. Pierre Walters is the director and senior producer for Blue Artists, a creative agency based in Maryland that’s dedicated to helping visionary people build and maintain impressive brands. COMMUNICATION HANDBOOK [ 55 ]
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Columbia Union Communication Handbook