The Church and the Public
Ultimately what people think of you, and your church, influences their thoughts about your message. The total picture your church projects from the first day you move to town is the foundation upon which you must build.
“Public Relations” is everything the public sees, hears, or knows about your church. It is the image you leave, whether consciously or unconsciously, which remains in the minds of your community.
In your public relations you must project:
Concern for people
These things are not items you “put on” or “show off” but somehow the presence or absence of them shows through. All of these qualities are presented to the public in every poster, sign, advertisement, sermon, news release, radio broadcast, or human contact.
A vast network of communication is open to you in getting our message out. Much of it is free; some is not too expensive. All of it is useful when used properly.
I. What Do I Want To Say?
(Say these things in your own words.)
A. “Hello people…we’re here”. Like the cry of a newborn baby you want to say you’ve come, the UPC is in town. It’s an exciting event, so make it thrilling. Use the newspaper, radio, posters, signs, word-of-mouth, and any other method to get the word out, “We’re open for business.”
B. “We are people just like you”. Friendly, with a smile–concerned about this community.
C. “We have something for you”. The spiritual needs of the world are not being met. We say to the world, “We can help you; our message deserves a hearing.”
D. “You can’t forget us”. We are permanent–at your call-available–you’ll be hearing from us often.
II. How can I say it?
A. Through Free Publicity.
Everybody wants to know what everyone else is doing: People pay money to find this out in newspapers and other media. Because church news is “human interest” there is much space available for your story.
The newspapers and radio stations are anxious for well-written and worthful news items which have wide appeal. Don’t expect them to get excited over every news item you bring, but you can expect fair treatment. Don’t try to preach in this free space, respect their production deadlines and keep it interesting. Occasionally, as funds are available, buy some space to balance out the free space they have given you. Provide glossy, black and white photos with typewritten copy.
B. Through paid advertising.
Display ads do not have to be large to be eye-catching. However, they do need much thought and skill to become effective. It is not necessary for radio spots to be long to get a message across. One good, 30-second spot, placed at prime time, will do more than several ill-timed long spots.
C. Signs and Posters
An attractive, well-lighted, and strategically placed church sign is a must. It advertises you 24 hours a day. If you go “cheap” it speaks “cheap.” Signs giving directions, and posters advertising special activities, need not be expensive to be effective. An ill-planned sign or poster, though expensive, will do harm.
D. A Good Computer
This should be the first item of equipment you buy. Flash bulletins for Sunday school, a church bulletin, letters to prospects, and simple announcements can be produced nicely on a good computer. A good used or rebuilt machine will be fine.
E. Copy Machine
A good used copy machine can be purchased very reasonably and will become an invaluable asset. Duplicating machines are also inexpensive and extremely helpful.
F. Church Stationery and Calling Cards
These are a must for even the smallest church. They can be produced inexpensively yet be sharp and neat. Your public image is enhanced by an aggressive approach. People should say, “Those folks are go-getters.” Be positive and on the offensive.
III. Look the World Straight In the Eye
As far as your chosen city knows, you are the United Pentecostal Church. All they see of it, at the time, is you. So, how you appear is a part of public relations.
Dress up when you go out among the people. Wearing work clothes downtown identifies you only as a working man. You are that, but you are more than that. It’s OK to go to the lumber yard, garbage dump, fishing hole, etc. in work clothes, but show up clean and dignified the rest of the time.
Go out of your way to meet governmental officials. Develop their good will and friendship. Meet the businessmen, get acquainted with judges, school boards, law enforcement officials, and news people. They are all servants of the citizens, so you need to know your employees. Meet your Chamber of Commerce officials.
Look the world straight in the eye, with a firm handshake and a ready smile.
Excerpted from “Pioneer Evangelism”