When it comes to internal communication we only have a limited amount of bullets to shoot so we should use all of them in our arsenal. This is because it is often hard to tell which will hit the mark. As a church leader I have seen this first hand as I have given announcements from the pulpit, shown slides with the same announcement and put the very same information in the bulletin. Yet when I ask someone why they didn't come to the event the answer is usually, "I didn't know about it." or "Was that this week?"
I usually stand there incredulous, with my jaw about an inch off the floor. They are either lying or we are still using communication devices that tend to stream in one ear and flow out the other, without stopping in between. I'm not sure which it is, but I can tell you the church is never hurt by using better communication systems available today. So here is one more shot you can fire, the email blast.
If you are going to use the blast as one of your bullets here are some pointers that should help you improve communication:
- Get a pure list of all email addresses. This is very important because if you have no list, you can't email people. Pure means that they are current and active.
- Maintain the list. You will get notification when an email is rejected. Just one out of place number or letter and the email will be floating around in cyberspace for eternity. Be vigilant in contacting members as they change addresses or correct mistakes.
- Make a template or even use gmail. The only real requirement for the email blast is that the system you choose can house a contact list. After that it depends on how much time and effort you want to devote to the blast. Some template based systems can tell you who opened the email, who clicked on the various links and if they forwarded it etc. Templates rather easy to use. Even a person with limited computer knowledge can fill in the blanks on a template. Most of these template based systems are free depending on volume.
- Use the subject line wisely. This is the place where you will peak the recipient's interest. Give them a compelling reason to open the email.
- Determine when you will send the blast out. Once a week would be enough but even a monthly email blast can work. A word of caution, don't over do it with daily announcements. People will start to ignore them. You can break the rules and email more frequently for emergency prayer requests, service cancellations or other important notices.
- Remain consistent. Try to always send the email blast out on the same day each week or month even the same hour is a good idea.
- Make things fit on one page. People hate to scroll down. This means clear, sharp writing or using links to pages on the website. Start the story in the blast and then finish the info on the website. Important things like who, what, why, when and where for events should be somewhere in the blast. Only more in depth information should be on the external link.
- Encourage members to pass the information along and sign up for social media.
- If your system allows it, see who is opening and clicking and who is not. This can be a marker for people that have a deeper interest in church activities. It can also let you know if people are reading what you are sending.
- Don't be afraid of feedback. Online or in person ask folks for ways to improve things. After all this is about internal communication make it a two way street when ever possible.