Bilbo's comment on my previous post got me thinking about how church structures are seen in different light depending on which side of the fence one happens to be sitting on.
Having been a non-church worker before, I used to think the folks in church administration and the regional offices (or Unions, Conferences and Divisions as Adventists would call them) were the "high and mighty" ones who get to do the important work of the church.
Now that I'm actually a church worker, I've come to realise just how powerless and unimportant I actually am.
It's not that I don't do any work, so don't worry, I'm not actually siphoning off precious church funds (at least I hope I'm not). It's just that when it comes to communicating, it's the local church members who can do so much more.
Communicating with the public and the unchurched needs to be done at grassroots level. What church members are doing, what the local church is doing...these are all activities that only people in the area would be privy too.
I would certainly love to help do media work in places like Darwin or Kiribati, but the reality is, I'm too far away to be useful. Firstly, I haven't built up any relationships with the media and secondly, by the time information comes to my desk, "news" has become "olds".
I'm limited by my geographical location. It's no wonder I've developed such a great working relationship with the Hornsby Advocate, our local suburban paper. It's because I know what's happening in the area and am able to generate news in time for it to still be relevant. But I can't do the same for the Innisfail Advocate, or the Papua New Guinea newspaper. I can try, but it'll never be as effective.
Communication and public relations for the church is not something that I bear the sole responsibility for. I do for the regional head office (not solely, but you get what I mean). Whatever decisions are made, whatever actions are taken on a church corporate level, I have the responsibility of writing media releases, statements and basically attempt to raise the profile of the church to the external media.
But when it comes to the crux of the matter, when it involves the people, when it involves the heart, when it involves the community, it's what kind of communication work the local church does that matters. It's their media releases that count. It's their relationship with the media that count. It's them that count.
And unless they take an interest in engaging the public using the language of the media, the church will always be an unknown to the masses. Because ultimately, in the world of public relations and reputation management, it's not what we have to say that matters. It's what others have to say about us that does.
Technorati tags: church communication, PR