Categories
Preparation

To Announce or Not To Announce… that is the question.

In conversations I’ve had with other communication teams, this really breaks down into 2 questions:

  1. What do you decide what to announce from the stage during service?
  2. How do you tell someone that you’re not going to announce their event?

I’ll answer each one individually as far as the filters that we use at Life Church.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGdZmtVqIT0

What do you announce from the stage?

We filter our announcements based on 3 criteria:

  1. Does it apply to 75% of people or more? (this could be service schedule change, guest speaker, holiday hours at the office, upcoming church-wide event, etc.)
  2. Is it something new or outside of the usual schedule? (a ladies conference, a new small group, VBS, a change in online giving, etc.)
  3. Do we have less than 5 things to announce this service? (We have a saying: “If everything is important, then nothing is important.”  If you announce 8 or 10 things, it’s very likely the people who need to hear important information are tuning you out because it’s mixed in with information they don’t need to hear.  Recently I visited a friend’s church. The person doing announcements read everything in the bulletin for the week and month as their announcement time.  I don’t remember any of it, except he started with a joke.

We usually do 3 announcements during the “Mid-Service” announcements (sometimes live and sometimes video) and then 2 at the end.  The 2 at the end are usually the “immediate response” information – ie. register in the foyer on your way out, see you for a special service this Wednesday, etc.

If we have less than 5 things that meet criteria 1 or 2, then often we’ll fill those slots with things that are important to our core values, but don’t meet 1 & 2.

If we have more than 5 things that meet criteria 1 & 2, then we cut down to 5… this leads perfectly into question 2:

 

How do you tell someone you’re not going to announce their event?

The easiest way to tell someone that their event won’t be in the announcements is to let them know ahead of time what your criteria is (so they can figure out for themselves if it’s worth asking) and then paint a picture for them of all of the different ways they can still spread the message about their event without it being in the announcements.

Paint the picture that their event is important and we don’t want it to get lost in the shuffle… I use the example that if I go to the grocery store and my wife asks me to pick up more than 3 things, I need a list.  That 4th thing may be really important, but I’ve probably forgotten. That’s why we stick with 3 announcements in the middle of service.

love is in the airSo, the married couples over 70 sky diving weekend may be a really important event to someone.  It may be the way that a couple connects with someone who leads them to salvation.

I’m not down-playing the importance of the opportunity by not announcing it from stage, but I’m saying there are better ways to connect directly with the people who may be interested.

(…and by the way, if we only have 4 things to announce next weekend, I would be happy to make this the 5th announcement.)

In the mean time, here are some other promotion options that you can choose when you submit an event request form:

 

  • Image on the 20 minute countdown clock pre-service in the Foyer, Worship Center & Duplicated on the digital signage rotating for 30 minutes after service
  • Facebook / Twitter / Instagram Scheduled Posts
  • Information printed in the Church Bulletin
  • Website Calendar
  • Add it to “Upcoming Events” TV above the Information Kiosk
  • Weekly email newsletter to all members

 

Opportunities you can utilize directly to connect with your group:

  • Provide handouts to your current group members and those you meet in church that may enjoy your event
  • Use your personal email address to send out an image and event information to people who may be interested in your contacts (include people who may not attend our church who may be interested).
  • Post information on your personal social media channels
  • At this event, hand out information for your next event

What is your experience with announcements and alternatives? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Categories
Social Media

Developing A Social Media Policy

Different churches take different approaches to Social Media.  Some have single channels for every piece of online communication, but we’ve taken the approach to let all of our small groups, and departments in the church have their own independent Social Media Channels.  For consistency, and to maximize effectiveness, we created a Social Media Policy.

I hope that the information we’ve created in ours helps you in developing and deciding what’s most effective for your church.  Be ready to revise as different leaders ask new questions, and ask Social Media channels change their features (I’ve made 21 revisions to ours!)

Life Church Social Media Policy:

Each Channel on Social Media that represents a group within Life Church may be the first (or only) interaction someone has with Life Church.  Here are some ideas and resources to maximize the impact of our Social Media Strategy: Brand Strategy, How to Maximize Engagement, Avoiding Common Traps and Image resources you can use.

 

Brand Consistency:

redcircle-logo1) Life Church Name & Logo: The circle icon may not be your profile picture.  This must be reserved for the Life Church page, however, include Life Church in the name of your page or group and use our logo in your image.  It needs to be clear that you’re a part of Life Church.  If you need help creating an image with the Life Church Logo for your Social Media Profile, please request help.

2) Will this information help someone Encounter God or Experience Life? If the answer is no, it’s not going to help us move the culture of Life Church forward.  No one’s goal is to detract from the culture we’re creating.  If your post draws unwanted attention (even if the content 100% accurate) and may take substantial time to manage and explain, something as public as social media representing Life Church isn’t the place for it.

3) Point to Life Church often: Share a picture or video that is posted on the Life Church Facebook page, retweet service quotes, or generate your own quotes and tag @LifechurchFMY.  Tag @LifeChurchFMY in your Facebook posts so they appear on our Facebook page too.  Ask people on your page how they heard about Life Church, where they serve at church and encourage them to join us for weekend services.  Use the resources at the bottom of this page that are branded with our logo.

 

Maximize Engagement:

1) Use Images: Images have a higher level of interaction than text or video updates.  Quotes from a recent message are great way to build an image. (Click here for some quote ideas) Next is Video – not shared as often, but sometimes the best way to communicate information in a short period of time.

How-did-you-hear-about-Life-Church2) Ask Open Ended Questions: People love sharing their opinion.  Rather than just broadcasting one-sided information “This week we talked about XYZ” instead try “What did you take home this week?” to start a conversation.

3) Engage in conversation: If someone answers or asks a question on your page, respond right away. (According to a recent poll from Facebook on fan engagement, people anticipate receiving an answer within 1 hour of asking on Social Media… Make it a goal, but not a rule.  You have a life outside of Facebook too.)

4) Mix It Up: If you’re always posting the same message, followers will start to tune you out, or unfollow.  Add in a comic that people can relate to, link to an article that relates to your current topic or demographic and point to things on LifeChurch.net like Live Broadcasts, Video On demand from current series or the online calendar for upcoming events.

5) Use a Hashtag to group thoughts: If your topic includes something that ties in with our current series, use the hashtag to connect the thoughts, or if it’s simply inviting people to #LifeOnFriday or #LifeOnSunday for example. (Side note: #LifeOnFriday and #LifeOnSunday are the names we’ve given to our weekend services: Fridays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 10am.)

 

Common Traps on Social Media:

1) Posting Frequency: Posting too much or too little will disengage followers.  This is an issue more with Facebook.  With Twitter, you can post much more frequently for the same impact. Rather than focussing on posting multiple things at one time, click the drop down arrow on your Facebook status box and click the “Schedule” option. You can schedule a few posts through the week and they’ll appear even if you’re not logged in.

Screenshot 2015-07-07 13.34.24

 

2) Temperature Rising: Some people chose to use Social Media as a place to vent a frustration or share an opposite opinion.  If this happens, respond promptly and positively.  If their comments continue to escalate, or the comment is not appropriate, delete the conversation, delete the post and reach out to that person with a private message (of course, use your discretion.)  At any time you can let me know at adam@lifechurch.net about an incident on Facebook that may affect a Life Church member so we can address it with leadership after you’ve connected privately with that person.

3) Be aware of who you’re endorsing.  Sharing a post or quote is an endorsement at some level, and since your page is representing Life Church, this is can look like an endorsement from Life Church.  A writer or speaker’s perspective can cover a large range of topics.  Even if you’re posting a link to a blog post that is entirely accurate, it may lead the visitor to click on other articles from that author.  Will that secondary information accurately represent Life Church also?

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Have anything that you’ve added to your Social Media Policy that’s not addressed here? Share in the comments!

Categories
Graphic Design

Framing a Message Quote in a Picture

Grace-and-FaithI like to take quotes from the weekend’s message and use them on Social Media.  It’s pretty easy to pull these quotes out if you’re listening to what quotes people respond to or tweet themselves.  I have the opportunity to tweet on behalf of Life Church during service, so I’ll use this   Images get much more engagement than a text quote, so I like to find images that reference the content of the quote, or an actual image from that person to use with the quote.

More than just including some text on an image, I like to ‘build’ or ‘integrate’ the text with the image and one of my favorite ways to make that connection is to have the subject overlap the text, so it looks like they’re connected.

Here’s how I built the image on the right in photoshop.

Before you start, pick your quote and your image.  You can change either of these as we go, but it’ll be easier to develop a design if you’re committed to including those concepts.

I started with a picture I had on file of Pastor Ryan and decided I wanted to use the image on instagram. Since instagram only allows for square images, I created a new photoshop file 500px by 500px.

 

Then I made a text box to decide where I was going to position the quote and made “Grace” and “Faith” larger for emphasis.  After the text was in place, to make the outline, I used the rectangle selection tool and made a rectangle around the text:

Screenshot 2015-10-27 15.39.46

 

I filled in the selection on a new layer with a color:

Screenshot 2015-10-27 15.40.44

And added a layer style by double clicking the layer in the layer pane. I added a ‘stroke’ in this case 8px / Position: Outside / Blend Mode: Normal / Opacity 100% and the fill color I used was the same as the font:

Screenshot 2015-10-27 15.41.23

 

Selecting that layer, I took the fill down to 0% – this leaves the stroke, but removes the bright blue filler I had used.

Screenshot 2015-10-27 15.41.33

 

Screenshot 2015-10-27 15.42.08

 

So now the image with the picture layer turned on looks like this:

Screenshot 2015-10-27 15.42.56

 

In order to edit a portion of the ‘stroke’ layer, I had to rasterize the stroke layer so it’s editable:

Screenshot 2015-10-27 17.25.30

Using the lasso selection tool, I selected the area where the quote box was over Pastor Ryan’s arm:

Screenshot 2015-10-27 15.43.35

and delete that portion from the rasterized stroke layer.  It will then look like the text frame is behind his arm:

Screenshot 2015-10-27 15.43.44

 

You can do this with text as well, not just shapes or lines, but you’ll need to rasterize the text (turn the text into a shape) which means you won’t be able edit the text after it’s rasterized.

Categories
Advertising Graphic Design

Maximizing Digital Signage at Church

It’s not out of the ordinary to have projector screens & LCD or Plasma TVs in your auditorium or through your church building, but many churches miss the opportunity to capitalize on the reach that these screens have.  For instance, we have screens in our auditorium for lyrics and scriptures during service. Before service, we use them as a 20 minute countdown to service starting.  During that 20 minute countdown, we have various screens on a 7-second rotation.  They include silencing your phone before service, moving backgrounds with our logo, follow along with us and download the YouVersion Bible App, and our monthly new-membership dinner.

HorseshoeWe also have 4 LCDs in the foyer.  2 that duplicate the countdown happening in the auditorium, 1 that’s designated for kids check in, and 1 that’s designated for our Horseshoe information center (we call it the horseshoe because… well, it’s shaped like a horseshoe.  Also, during service, when we say “Sign Up At The Horseshoe in the foyer,” just about every new visitor can figure out where that is any why it’s called that.)

For the Horseshoe TV specifically, we like to change up that image every week, but not have it rotate – just static.  It’s a single image that either tells what’s happening this week at Life Church, or it’s information about what you can do at the horseshoe (sign up for an event on the iPads, order a CD or DVD of this week’s service, etc.)

When we have a specific registration focus, the Horseshoe TV will say “Register for Life Groups (our small groups) here!”

If we have a training session during the week or on a Saturday, I’ll put the name of the session and the room where it’s being held.  I also include arrows to point the way.  We do have signage in the building, but I’m a fan of strategic redundancy.

I like to use unsplash.com images for the background of the horseshoe TV.  They’re colorful and high resolution, so I can use just a portion of the image if that’s what suits best.  In this case for design, I’m looking to maximize contrast (so it can be read across the foyer even with all the lights on) and maximize font size.  I also like to include our ‘L’ icon in some way if it doesn’t detract from the design.

Here are a few of the horseshoe designs we’ve used, and at the bottom you’ll find the layered photoshop files that you can use.  Our horseshoe TV is 1080p widescreen (1920×1080 px) and your photoshop file should be RGB color because it’s going to be shown on a screen (rather than CMYK if it’s going to be printed.)  We run ours from a USB stick that slides in the back – the only cable running to that TV is for power.

In the future, we may get an Apple TV so we can remotely change the image, or series of images, but until now, that hasn’t been necessary.

PSD Files:

Horseshoe TV Buy DVDs

This Week at Life Church Horseshoe TV

Hospitality HorseShoe Screen

This week at Life Church

 

 

Categories
Graphic Design Tools

Photo Resources for Design

Photo choices can make or break your design.  The right photo can convey your message perfectly.  The wrong photo can distract or confuse the person looking at your image.  It can be tempting to just Google an image and pick something from the search results, but there are photographers that use the sale of stock photography to make a living.  It’s not only unethical to use photography that’s meant be sold, but it can land you in a copyright infringement situation with that photographer or their representatives. Plain and simple: Don’t do it!

Thankfully, there are a few economical and a few free photography sites to make sure you’re getting the best quality image you need and doing it properly, both legally and in respect to the photographer.  Here are a few great options that I’ve used myself. (Please be sure to read each resource’s terms of use policy.  They vary from site to site and I’m not able to articulate all of each’s details here.)

Paid Stock Photography: BigStockPhoto.com

Screenshot 2015-10-21 23.52.24This library has 28 million photos, videos and vector images.  I have ‘almost’ always can find what I’m looking for or get the inspiration I’m looking for.  The only time I can’t find what I’m looking for out of 28 million pieces is when I have something REALLY specific in mind, and often then I can find 2 or 3 images that I need and can compile what I’m looking for.

BigStockPhoto.com offers free photos from their library every once in a while, and are currently offering a 70 image / 14-day trial.  Click here to try them out and get some free photos for 14 days. (plus we get a nice ‘thank you’ from Big Stock if you try them out for free.)

Free Photos: Unsplash.com

Unsplash.com is free, do whatever you’d like with the photography.  In their own words:

All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.

Photo by:  Stefanus Martanto Setyo HusodoI would recommend you subscribe to their email newsletter and get 10 new images every 10 days, or search on their website for the images you’re looking for.  Unsplash contributors have some common threads like landscapes and workspace images that give a hipster feel.

Whether the image is intended to be featured or intended as a background image for everything from conference posters to website backgrounds, Unsplash.com is my go-to.

 

Have a Stock Photography resource that you love? Share it in the comments below!

Categories
Graphic Design

Using Service Images as Backgrounds

There’s something to be said for familiarity.

When people see something they recognize, there is less processing or consideration or trust needing to be built.  Recently I was asked to create a presentation that was time constrained and included a shift in focus.  To instantly build a trust connection, I used an image that I took with my iPhone at a recent service:

 

Service-Shot

 

My opening slide was simply this picture with our logo imposed – just 2 layers in photoshop.  In this case, our Life Church logo is already familiar to the people I was presenting to.  This is 2 layers to familiarity:

 

Slide-01

Since this was the opening slide to my presentation, I went in ahead of my presentation, and put this slide on the screen so that when my presentation began, the people in the room had already ‘lived’ with this image for a few minutes.

 

From there, I moved onto introducing my topic and how we are going to talk about an opportunity for a cultural shift.  I took the same image, added a 10px Gaussian Blur in Photoshop (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur…) then added a text layer (Myriad Semibold).  Playing off of the already established familiar image meant that we could cut straight to the heart of the topic:

 

Slide-02