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Making Faith More Accessible: a Communications Strategy

Case Study: Red Letter Challenge, He Gets Us

As Director of Communications & Digital Discipleship at Woodside Church, RozLilia Salgado wears many hats. She provides feedback and ideas that often primarily champion the perspective and needs of newcomers–whether new to faith, re-exploring Christianity, or brought into awareness through felt needs or moving into the neighborhood.


This perspective leant itself well in the creation of the integrated campaign that led up to Easter of 2023.

Integrated Communication Strategy

Communications & Social Media Coaching

 

Context: What You Should Know Going into This Article

As an advocate for inclusion and accessibility, Roz was excited to discover the Red Letter Challenge ("RLC") at the March 2022 Exponential Orlando conference. Upon her return, she offered it to the church leadership to consider incorporating as a tool to both re-invigorate the existing church community & to invite those who considered themselves "outside" to explore the teachings of Jesus Christ in a way that was easy to follow and alongside friends & neighbors.


Through Roz's assessment, the Challenge needed clearer positioning & subsequent messaging that could help newcomers take the leap into taking their first step (it's always the hardest!)


2022 Exponential Orlando
Seeking ways to bridge the communication gap between the secular & Church communities


2022 Gloo breakout session
Finding wonderful and like-minded people presenting at a particularly exciting breakout session!

Content Strategy: Relating

In developing effective communications, there is an often overlooked game changing key factor that RozLilia sees as foundational: Order of Operations. Many lean or young organizations, skip to focusing on what they're offering. This is a common flaw, especially among nonprofit organizations.


It's important to Know Your Audience. Who are they? How old are they? What are they like? What are they concerned about / want? What do they need right now? What are their hurdles? Where do they look to find relevant solutions?


THEN the next step is to Know Thyself. Who are you? How are you equipped to help them? What are you offering that can "help them scratch that itch"? How do they know you? Who are you to them?


After detailing out these observations and more in a shared document with key collaborators. RozLilia guides the development process toward positioning. It begins with drafting content in a relatable & relevant way that addresses the specific audiences. Although often backed by good intentions (and sometimes unawareness) it can be tricky to blur the lines and skip segmenting the audience in a church environment as well as established social good / B-corp organizations. Don't fret! Look at the segmentation as discernment rather than division–it has a productive, compassionate purpose.


Distribution Plan: the Right Place, the Right Time

Another crucial step is to consider the communications channels that your audience uses. Where do they get their info? How do they react & respond to particular graphics and language? What's the journey that you're helping them traverse? When will they need to hear that next vote of encouragement and reminder that they're not alone? What are the key points in the Challenge's timeline?


Based on this information, the content for the RLC was tailored accordingly for print production, communications coaching, staff contribution videos, web, email, social media, and promotion via external channels.

Communications Channel Distribution Plan
Sneak peek behind-the-scenes (social media portion): Intersection of content strategy, planning, brand application, design and execution come together in a Multi-channel Distribution Plan


Graphic Design & Brand Application: Consistency

The Red Letter Challenge can be seen as a discipleship tool that can be used "off-the shelf", complete with a host of graphic resources, fonts, brand guides, etc. to an untrained eye. It can, somewhat. BUT Roz found that there were some blurred lines that needed some sharpening. Additionally, there was definitely some elbow grease and "assembly required" to accommodate the Communications' Distribution Plan based on how the church planned to offer resources, support, events, sermons, and social media engagement,


At the time, Woodside Church had a church-web platform, an internal ChMS, a mobile app, active social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, email service, weekly sermons, and access to other communications channels that needed to be considered and used accordingly. Brand application and message development needed to be integrated through copy writing & editing, graphic design and video production to maximize effectiveness.


Communications & Social Media Coaching: Being Real

A key ingredient that RozLilia felt was crucial for building stronger relationships with people was seeing and hearing from people. Church was not meant to be a building or a faceless crowd. With that in mind, Roz knew the church had to enlist the staff and lay leaders in contributing in a personal way. It was the first "big push" to personally show up on social media.


Social media can be a bit intimidating for many since it can be akin to public speaking! Roz produced some guidelines and a sample video (which was used in the campaign) ahead of time. Her video was intentionally unpolished to help others see that authenticity was more valuable than perfection and production for these videos.





Coaching & feedback was provided to help contributors feel more open to contributing their thoughts about a particular day's challenge. It was a great first step for this 76 year-old neighborhood church to move into a more engaging communications strategy.


Implementation: Rolling with It

Project management, coordination, and posting schedule was crucial to pulling off such a large campaign. And, as is often the case with lean organizations, lead-time was extremely short. The good news is that planning, trackers, and collaboration are always helpful tools in managing a multi-channel campaign.


Successful communications strategies follow an order of operations, align with your organizations' culture, values & mission to serve in a meaningful & impactful way. So, as a wise woman once quoted a particularly wise saying from a Dove chocolate wrapper "Don't just talk about it. Be about it!"


And, when there are other real-world relevant events are happening–don't compete, join in and roll with it!* Leading up to Easter 2023, Gloo's "He Gets Us" campaign was an unexpected convergence that only God could have planned.


At first, Roz's planning-mindset hesitated because it had potential for diluting messaging, breaking brand guidelines, and confusing audiences! after a cursory look through usability guidelines, it was ultimately decided by church leadership that the convergence should be embraced in order to ultimately promote the theme of helping each other to get to know Jesus better. "He Gets Us" was a late-add to the Red Letter Challenge campaign. Max Lucado books & conversation guides were given away and Gloo's phenomenal resources pointed to.


While Roz believes that, as a result, there was too much clarification to help audiences distinguish and discern between the offerings that needed to be communicated–what ultimately matters most is the mission: to invite people to a deeper relationship with Jesus. And she hopes, that others reading this case study will also see it as of a much higher value than a perfectly executed campaign.


Impact / performance snapshot:

Early on in the campaign (before the challenge officially kicked off). 230 adult books & 60 kids books were given away. Many individuals offered donations to cover book costs. 10 new discussion groups were formed. Some individuals chose to participate in the challenge with their family, friends, or significant others. Feedback has been very positive. Newcomers were excited to participate. Faith in Christ & relationships with Him were deepened.


Reference Links:

Please note, Facebook, Instagram, Patch.com, and Woodside Website and App (Android, iOS) may differ from original posts due to their dynamic digital nature.

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