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Chapter 11: Church Publicity and Public Awareness

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Church Worker Handbook
What You Didn't Learn in Bible College and Seminary

© 1996 G. Edwin Lint
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Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

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Web Page on the World Wide Web Of the Internet

Radio and Television
Public Service Announcements
Writing PSAs
Getting Your PSA on the Air.
Typing your PSA and sending it to stations.
Recruiting talent to record your PSA on a cart.
Commercial Announcements (Spots)
News Releases
Talk Shows

News Releases
Display Ads

Brochures and Handouts

Glossary Of Terms Related To Publicity and Public Awareness

Church Publicity and Public Awareness

Your church may have many activities which you do not consider special enough to warrant a one-paragraph news release or public service announcement. Remember that each time your church's name appears in print or on the air, you are building a sense of name recognition in the minds of prospective worshippers. Therefore, it will be to your advantage to develop an action plan for developing and maintaining a program for Church Publicity And Public Awareness.

Consider these steps:

Options To Consider
There are several options you can use to provide information to your community, including:

Web Page on the Internet
Radio and Television Stations
Brochures and Posters

The pages which follow give descriptions of these options.

Web Page on the World Wide Web Of the Internet

As more and more people get home computers and have access to the Internet, having a Web Page will be an option capable or reaching more and more people. However, a local congregation should consider the type and number of people this investment of time, money, and energy will reach.

The fact that you are reading this from a web site shows you're aware of how to access information on the net. You may be less well informed of how to get information onto the web. You will find a full chapter in Church Worker Handbook titled Chapter 11: How to Publish on the Web with Adobe PageMill for Mac and Windows. Although this chapter focuses on Dreamweaver software program, the same basic principles apple for the html generators produced by Microsoft, Claris, and others.

Options to consider. There are several ways to get a page on the web. All of these options require you to consider the following:

Option 1: Use a free church web page service like Churches dot Net A basis template is used for all churches. You fill in the blanks from a standard form on line. Before you fill in one of these forms, look at several of the entries and see how the information on the form will translate onto your proposed new web page.

Option 2: Use someone from your church to create a page for you. A local business may even let you ride on their server at no cost to you.

Option 3: Hire someone or a company to do a web page for you. This will cost some money. However, more [in terms of animated graphics and frames] may not be better. Remember the warnings about brevity and the primary role of communication above.

Promote your site: No matter how you create your web page, you need to promote its URL. Click the link at the begging of this paragraph for an article I've written on this topic.

Radio and Television Stations

Public Service Announcements [PSAs]
A major section of these guidelines is devoted to PSAs. They appear to offer the best return on your investment of time and money.

Public Service Announcements, or PSAs as they're known by broadcasters, can be an inexpensive but effective way of telling people about your worship services. Although the FCC requires stations to run a minimum number of these free PSAs, and show this on their program logs, the traffic managers and on-air personnel may not give PSAs the same priority as commercial spots.

Stations in larger urban markets may be less inclined to run PSAs above the minimum daily number than stations in smaller, more rural markets. On the other hand, a nonprofit station may be more inclined to give nonprofit entities, such as churches, more consideration for running PSAs than would a commercial station.

Nonprofit stations may have more time on their program logs for PSAs because they are not running spots. In fact, they may be looking for quality PSAs to use as fill.

Broadcast stations run by the clock. If a scheduled program runs shorter than expected, a PSA may be used for fill. However, spots have a higher priority than PSAs. If the program log calls for a 60-second spot at a specific time, that spot will be run as scheduled because money is involved. On the other hand, a 10-second PSA may serve as fill, and be sandwiched in between a time check and a station break. The issue here is federal compliance vs. profit margin.

Writing PSAs
The first sentence in a PSA is the most important and must contain all the critical information. If a DJ or VJ needs a quick 10-second fill, he/she may grab your copy and just read the first sentence on the air. If that happens, you want that first sentence to carry maximum punch.

Warning: Be careful about mailing publicity copy provided by a music group or an evangelist without a rewrite. Use your guest's copy as a resource as you write the PSA according to these guidelines. I have seen very few publicity announcements which follow the guides established in this section. Too many times, the person who writes the copy tries to make a statement of writing skills, or tries to glorify the subject of the copy.

A good rule to follow when writing PSA copy is to make that first sentence provide the basic information in the following order: who, what, when, where.

Who: Deciding on the who may be the most important part of the job. As a general rule, name the singers or speaker and let that be the who: The Gospel Spot Lights. The Who is seldom your church or sponsoring agency.

What: The what tells about what is happening: will be in concert ... or, will be singing in special services ...

When: This is a simple statement of day and time: this Friday, March 15, at 7:30 P.M. ...

Where: Here's where you mention your church or agency. A simple statement of location: at the Bethany Community Church, just off routes 11 and 15 in Liverpool.

The complete first sentence of this example PSA now reads:

The Gospel Spot lights will be in concert this Friday, March 15, at 7:30 P.M. at the Bethany Community Church, just off routes 11 and 15 in Liverpool.

If only one sentence gets on the air, this is the kind of critical information you want people to hear.

In the second sentence, you can include such information as "a freewill offering will be received and everyone is welcome" and "a supervised nursery is provided for infants and toddlers up to 18 months." Save the hype about how wonderful your guests are and all the wonderful things they have done for the second and following paragraphs.

Getting Your PSA on the Air.
Try to get personally acquainted with the personnel at your local station. Key people will include:

If the station is large and you don't have easy access to the general manager or program manager, make a special point to become acquainted with the traffic manager. Ask the following questions about PSAs at this particular station:

1. What is the preferred length? Standard lengths are 60, 30, and 10 seconds.

2. Do you prefer written or recorded PSAs?

3. If the preference is written, what is the preferred format?

4. If a station's preference is for recorded PSAs, is your station's talent willing to record PSAs from copy we provide? Will your station record PSAs using copy we provide and talent we recruit or provide?

Typing your PSA and sending it to stations.
Make a mailing list of radio and TV stations in your service area and do not omit cable companies. They often offer video bulletin boards which scroll continuously. If you don't know the specific preferences regarding format, type your copy in double space and give a contact person who will be available to provide more information.

WARNING: Avoid making copies of copies. After the second or third generation, the copies begin to get muddy, spotted, speckled, and unsuitable for public distribution.

Save your originals in a safe place and use nothing but the originals to create additional copies.

Recruiting talent to record your PSA on a cart.
First, ask the station to record your PSA using a familiar DJ. Or, if you or someone you know has radio announcing experience, or professional recording experience, try to make arrangements with the station to have such a person go in and make a tape.

Avoid asking someone without announcing or recording experience to make a PSA unless they are a known person in some realm. Amateur recording artists are a turnoff, even though they may be articulate and well-spoken in real life. The mike seems to bring out the worst in amateurs.

Commercial Announcements (Spots)
While broadcast stations are required by the FCC to air a certain number of PSAs in a broadcast day, they are not required to give your particular agency any specific degree of exposure. If you want something specific said a specific number of times and in a particular way, you may have to pay for it by buying some spots. Spots are often sold in package deals. For example, you may be able to buy 20 thirty-second spots in a five day period. Be sure your contract specifies the times your spots will be scheduled. If you want them aired in drive time, your contract should say so.

News Releases for broadcast
Local stations are always looking for local news. Write up a news release and send it to the stations in your area, using the same mailing list you use for sending out PSAs. You may get an interview, or even an on-location TV news team if the station sees your activity as having news value. If you don't get a response on your first mailing, keep trying. Remember, you are competing with a variable over which you have no control: the news the rest of your community is creating that day. Keep trying, and you may be successful, on what stations call a slow news day.

Talk Shows
Never pass up a chance to appear on a talk show. If you don't feel comfortable in front of a mike or camera, find someone in your church who does. Talk shows producers are always looking for new material. What you have to say may be of more substance than what is often heard on talk shows.

Newspapers offer two means of getting your word out: news releases and display ads.

News Releases for publication
News items are free, but subject to the editor's perception of whether what you are doing is newsworthy. Develop a mailing list of newspapers in your area and send each paper a news release each time you have an event. As a general rule, write the first paragraph of your news release like a broadcast PSA. In later paragraphs, amplify with additional detail.

Display Ads
This is a sure way of getting your information in front of the public, but the cost can be high for high circulation papers. Ad rates are calculated on the basis of the column inch, which is one column wide and one inch deep (long).

Don't pass up the give-away shopping guides when considering newspapers for news releases, display ads, and classified ads. These papers may be more inclined to run your news release, and the ad rates may be lower than conventional newspapers.

Print materials which have been printed on 60-pound glossy enamel paper in four colors can be very impressive. However, this kind of expenditure may not be the best investment of your public awareness dollars. Your standard of quality should be subdued elegance. This means neat and impressive, not sloppy.

Posters can be put up on public bulletin boards, at super markets and malls. Keep the information minimal and keep the font size at 18 points or larger. Be just as diligent at taking down posters after an activity as you are at tacking them up. Stale posters in public places can be counter productive in terms of creating good will.

Some copy shops offer an enlargement service for camera-ready copy. Shops with such a service will blow up a letter size original to poster size, which you may find suitable for posting on super market bulletin boards.

Glossary Of Terms Related To Publicity and Public Awareness

Camera-ready -- A term which describes a page of text which is ready to go to the printer for duplicating.

Cart -- Public service announcements (PSAs) and commercial announcements (spots) are often recorded on carts for easy access. A radio cart (for continuous-loop cartridge) is the size, shape and design of an old-fashioned 8-track stereo tape cartridge. Video carts are similar to VHS tapes.

Click art -- Assortments of computer images which can be imported into a word processor or desktop publishing document with the click of mouse.

Copy -- This is the script which is read when an announcer records a PSA or spot.

Desktop publishing -- Microcomputers equipped with certain software can give the appearance of the printed page to a product done in an office or home. For more information, see Basics of Desktop Publishing, in this booklet. Software which can create columns of text in proportional spacing, and, a printer which can print at a resolution of at least 300 dots per square inch, are needed to give your product the appearance of being published by a commercial printer.

DPI -- Dots per (square) inch, the measurement of the resolution of a laser or ink-jet printer.

Drive Time -- The periods of the day commuters are in their cars on the way to and from work or school, presumably listening to the radio. Commercial radio stations are not likely to log more then the minimum number of PSAs during drive time.

Fill -- Stations run by the clock and fill (such as PSAs) may be needed to bridge the gap between programs when a program runs short.

Graphical user interface (gui) -- A user-friendly means of connecting the power of a microcomputer with the person doing the work. Such systems utilize the mouse, pull-down menus, and point-and-click routines to do complicated tasks. The Macintosh computer, as well as Windows and Windows software, all used a graphical user interface.

Gutenberg -- This German printer of the 1500s put the printed page in the hands of the common man, with his development of moveable type. Desktop publishing has put the printing of the page in the hands of the common man, also.

Half tone -- A glossy photograph which has been prepared for printing. Most photocopiers are not able to print text and glossy photographs without making the photos looks muddy.

Log -- Each radio and TV station keeps a program log which shows the nature, time, and type of all broadcasts. PSAs, spots, and programs are shown on the log.

Mouse -- A pointing and selecting device which is used in Macintosh computers, Windows software, and other computer applications that use a graphical user interface.

News release -- Local stations and papers are always looking for local news. Write up a news release and send it to the station or paper. You may get an interview, or even an on location TV news team if the station sees your activity as having news value.

PSA -- Public Service Announcement. This is a message from a nonprofit organization which is broadcast in the public interest. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires all radio and television stations to broadcast a specified number of PSAs per broadcast day. The minimum number may be two per hour, but a station often runs more than the minimum as fill during non drive time or non prime time periods.

Public access TV -- Check with your cable company about time on your local public access cable channel. Wayne's World, of Saturday Night Live fame, is a crude and frequently disgusting parody of a public access TV program.

Resolution -- The ability of a laser printer to print fine detail, measured in dots per (square) inch. The higher the number of dots per inch, the better the resolution. Desktop publishing requires a printer which can produce at least a resolution of 300 dpi.

Spot -- Commercial announcements are called spots. Commercial establishments buy spots for the same purpose they buy newspaper advertising.

Talk show -- This is a growing opportunity to get the word out on your services. Radio talk show guests may appear in person or by phone to be interviewed and to answer questions from callers. Local TV talk shows may require you to be in the studio.

Tri-fold -- A page folded in thirds. When an 8.5 x 11-inch page is printed in three columns along the 11-inch side, tri-folding that page gives the appearance of a brochure.

Twenty (20) pound -- The term pound expresses the thickness of a sheet of paper: 20 is standard, 16 is light, 60 is heavy.

Typeset --A print style which gives a typeset appearance. The spacing is proportional, according to the actual width of the letters.

Church Worker Handbook Table of Contents
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How to Download Church Worker Handbook Files
Return to Church Worker Handbook Home Page
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