Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sign of the TImes - Does Your Community Know Where You Are?

Maybe it was the location after all? 
By Russ Ward
At Speiro Communications we are constantly looking at ways churches can improve their communication strategies and challenge conventional thinking so they can become an alternative for God in their community. We look at ways to borrow from other models and apply them when it makes sense as long as the strategy does not violate Christian principles and morals.

The "borrowing" I am talking about is from retail stores. One of the basic principles that often gets overlooked by church leaders when putting together a communication strategy is the role that location and signs play in the way that the local church communicates with their community. When it comes to retail, why do we shop where we shop? A lot of that decision often has to do with the communication value of location and the physical appearance (signs). To demonstrate this...Click here for the entire article.

For more information about Speiro Communication go to or email us at


Monday, February 2, 2015

10 Signs the Barn Needs Paint

Does your barn need some paint? Find out below. 
In case you didn't notice, the title of this post is a punchline to the old joke about women wearing makeup in church. That joke has pretty much run its course when it comes to makeup. But, it can lead to other questions about the local church. When was the last time that you put on a fresh coat of paint?

Let's be clear, I am not talking about brushes and buckets, but the overall message that your current name, logo, bulletin, monthly newsletter, ink pens, website and other identity materials give about your church. Whether we like it or not the look and feel of everything in the church speaks to the visitor and the unsaved about who we are and what we are saying. So how do you know if it is time for a fresh coat? Below are some signs that you need to do some thinking about what your image is in your community.

  1. Your logo was designed by Methuselah. In all seriousness if you are still using imaging designed in the last century you may want a new look or update. 
  2. If your church name is Bethlehem Fire Baptized Holiness Church of God of the Americas (real church) or if you can't fit it on an ink pen or if your church name can be misconstrued like the Flippin Church of God (real church). Its a bad sign if people are laughing at you and not with you.  
  3. If asked "What are the colors in your churches design pallet?" and you say, "I didn't know a church was supposed to have colors in a design pallet."
  4. You are still using a mimeograph machine or a two color Riso for most of your printing. 
  5. The church website was designed over 5 years ago, by a church member.
  6. The church bulletin hasn't changed since the old secretary retired (10 years ago).
  7. The church sign contains the church name and a place for a cheesy sermon title or is on wheels. 
  8. Your church newsletter features "Family Circus" cartoons or mostly regurgitated material.
  9. Every time you take a job to a printer you get a new logo.  
  10. Nothing in the church matches. The website, bulletin, newsletter, signs, offering envelopes and identity materials all look different and without looking at the name, each could be from a different church.
In all seriousness we need to understand everything that affects the senses has an impact on how a community or individuals feel about the church. We live in a different time. I grew up with no air-conditioning, no children's program and hardwood pews in church, but you would be hard pressed to find even the most devoted in a church without those amenities. The current generation makes judgements about eternal questions based on the superficial, yet we need to reach this generation. If we are to be smart in the way we deal with those outside the church we probably need a fresh coat of paint. 

If you have questions about Speiro Communications or how we can help you, contact us at or visit our website at     

Please Release Me - Tips on Sending Out Press Releases

Print may be dead, but churches can use it to spread the good news. 
By Russ Ward
Print is dead or at least on life-support. It's true, when you look at circulation rates for local, regional and national newspapers. As an example, the top ten national newspapers' Sunday edition circulation has dropped 47.5% in ten years. Total revenue reveals an even more devastating trend. In 2000, the advertising revenue for newspapers in the US was 65.5 billion; by 2013 that number dropped to 17.3 billion.

So if print is dead why should a church waste the time to send out a press release?

Because that lost revenue will allow you to tell your story more effectively and then communicate about your church through social media. This is based on the total decline of news reporters. Only 38,000 full-time jobs now exist in print media in the United States and that number is down 33.2% from its 1989 peak of 56,900, according to the annual census of the American Society of News Editors. This has led to many newsrooms to quickly peruse submitted releases and then publish them as they are sent. The result is you get to set the tone and tell your church's story the way you want.

In my career I have witnessed this decline. Fifteen years ago when sending a press release my client or myself would often receive a follow up call with questions. Now, the phone never rings and the vast majority of times the press releases are printed without a change. Keep in mind that editors still have to fill papers and without a full staff of reporters, so they use more press releases to fill the columns.

But if people don't read the newspaper why should we care? Because the purpose of a press release is not to have it seen in the paper. It seems like an odd contradiction, but the printing of the article in the paper is only an ancillary benefit. The real benefits are to use the paper to create an opportunity for social media to spread the word, use the newspaper's online presence and lastly, use the printed story as a way to reach other media outlets. So send out a press release.

Also, keep in mind that the newspaper is not the only media outlet. Local radio, television and other outlets form media today.

Below are some tips on sending out a press release:

How often?
Press releases should be sent out weekly to monthly. More than once a week and they will start to get ignored by much of the media. Less than once a month and the press will forget who you are. An additional benefit of consistent releases is that your church will become the "experts" on church matters and social questions. You will be called when reporters have a question about a story in the news about faith or God. Take advantage of this relationship by working with the media and be mindful of their needs and deadlines. Consistent press releases are a great opportunity to build rapport with influencers.

Who should I send a release to?
Everyone. We don't need stamps or a FAX machine so don't be stingy with your story. All newspapers, radio stations, television stations, magazines, media services and online outlets, should be sent a release; but not only just locally. If you are in Missouri, you should be sending your releases to the media in both Kansas City and St. Louis plus nearby medium sized markets. Even some national news outlets should get the release. If your media list is less than 50 email addresses, then you are not sending it out to enough people.

What should I say?
The release can be about a variety of subjects: A new sermon series, VBS, happy 100th birthday, a holiday program, community outreach, mission trips, pastor appreciation festivities, Superbowl alternatives, and much more. One of the more successful press releases I have sent out for a church was about them not serving doughnuts for Sunday School anymore. It would be easier to list what you shouldn't send. Just remember to tell the story in a way  that reflects your congregation and the love they have for the community.

How long should it be?
Most press releases should cover one typed, single space page or less, including the contact information and title. Very few press releases should be multiple pages, however the most important thing is to give all of the information.

How should it be worded?
Press releases are not an opportunity to gloat or brag! It is a way to let people know who you are and what you do. Write it in that fashion. Most media outlets now have an online component, so those that publish your release will be putting it online as well. People searching for information about your church will be the audience. Write for them. Always be completely honest and clear. If you are expecting 100 people for a special program say that. Don't use the "deacon count" (count the cars in the parking lot and multiply by four).

I find the best way to write is to compile a list of all of the important facts. You know these as the "who, what, why, when, where and how come" of journalism 101. Then just put them in a reasonable order from most important to least important and fill in the blanks by joining the fact together as a story. It is also a good idea to quote someone in the church associated with the program you are touting. Lastly, have someone proofread it. It is always better to look like an idiot to a friend or fellow christian than to everyone that reads the paper.

Also, there is a specific format expected. You can find samples on line or contact me at and I will email you one.

Lastly, have fun and involve others in telling the story about your church!