Bulletin Spring Cleaning
When communicating an idea we need to remember that it is not just the audible sounds in the form of words that gives us a message. Each of the senses in their own special way are receptors of information that our brain then translates into a message. When talking with your community, casual attenders, or members, we need to remember that all forms of communication need to be considered and refined to communicate as best as possible.
For instance, when I go into the mall, I am hypnotically drawn to the coffee shop. Why? The aroma of freshly brewed coffee pulls me to ordering a cup. Gloria Jean’s Coffee also communicates in other ways, for sure. They have signs, friendly cashiers, and plenty of products lining the shelves. However, the sense of smell is pleasing and communicates best in that situation.
When a visitor first walks into your church, hopefully they are greeted with a smile and then the greeter hands them a small publication that almost every church passes out each and every Sunday, the bulletin. Apart from the smile and the hello, your bulletin is the first thing that communicates who you are to the stranger when entering your building. What does your bulletin say?
First, realize that the purpose of the bulletin and content is for the visitor. You start off making an immediate mistake if the design is for members. Let’s face it, other than the “Prayer List” and “Who is Serving on Sunday,” the rest of the bulletin is largely ignored by most members or regular attendees. They may glance at the announcements, but they already know the format of the service.
So, consider your design, not based upon who normally comes, but what the first time visitor would want to know. Your content should be scrubbed of anything that is confusing to the first timer or anything that may give that visitor a poor general impression. For instance, think long and hard about putting financial or attendance numbers in the bulletin. Especially if they are a comparison to last year. Just because you have always put it in is not a good enough reason for it to remain in. Confusing nicknames or abbreviations should be avoided unless explained. “WOW meets Wed 6pm.” tells the visitor nothing. A better option is saying “Women of the Word - Small Group meets Wednesday at 6pm, please join us.”
When looking at the design you need to look at the overall theme of the bulletin. A clean modern design says something different than a scattered layout. Also, what colors are used if any? Soft and muted hues mean something different than bright vibrant colors. The colors should be consistent with your overall color palette at the church, along with a sharp clean logo. Font choice also needs to be consistent with the standard font of the church. It needs to be readable but not large print. Announcements can break the rules as they should be boxed in or on separate sheets of paper inserted in the bulletin.
Lastly, an overlooked aspect of design of bulletins is the paper they are printed on. Just like the scent of coffee communicates deliciousness to my palette, the touch or feel of the paper tells me who you are. Are you using rough recycled paper, is it smooth and slick, or is it regular old copy paper? Each has a different feel and can leave a different impression.
To change your bulletin you have to start by deconstructing the one you have with a different pair of eyes. View it from the targeted visitor, write down some ideas, and then try something new. If you have trouble stepping outside of yourself get some help. At Speiro we will review and analyze your current printed material for free. Just contact us if you would like some help.