Ali and I first met back in 2005 when we both worked at Mt. Bethel UMC in the marketing department of the church. We redesigned the church site a few times while we were there, and helped get their first blog off the ground.
We recently took a look at the current state of the church website, and were blown away by the consistent quality content that they post on there. In the month of February alone they posted 37 blog entries talking about everything going on at the church. This includes everything from staff changes and worship service details to events and photos. It’s everything that every church blog should be talking about, but few are able to pull off.
I reached out to Johnna Bain, the Director of Communications at Mt. Bethel (who Ali and I worked with years ago), to have her share how they’re able to post such great content so consistently. Here is what she had to say.
I’ve been asked how my team is able to consistently gather blog content for our church website. It is not an organized process, but it is more of an inspired process, which for us has taken years of evolving into what is now a natural signature of our weekly communications content.
Pictures. They really do speak a thousand words.
Although we have a full-time staff photographer, we constantly ask people to take and submit pictures. We try to capture the spirit of what is happening within our church community and beyond. We ask photo submitters to keep their camera (or phones) on a high resolution for images, so we may use them on the website or in print. Although we may cull through a plethora of images, we certainly use most of their submissions. We always find a way to incorporate their images within a story or in the photo gallery or in an eblast. Everyone likes to see their work in the spotlight.
Stories. We all have them, and we encourage people to share them.
Some stories are shorter and lighter than others. Some stories involve layers of emotions and require more reader attention. There are different stories for different readers. They all mean something. Nothing is more compelling than the stories about and submitted by people in your own community.
We invite all types of authors, and throughout the year, we ask people to submit their thoughts, reactions, and observations to occurrences around our church community. Again, if someone is willing to submit, we are more than willing to post. We do claim editorial rights and decide where the submission will be posted. We follow up with an email and a link to their article, so they can readily share.
This has been years in progress, but what we have found to be most effective is to give our audience ownership. With a little guidance, our readership drives our content. They are responsive and effective and have attracted a consistent readership.
When there is an entry point (Pictures) to compelling content (Stories), you will find yourself gaining interested followers. However, consistently good content is key to maintaining readership, so consider engaging people who are passionate about your topic. Remember, to guide and value their input as you expand your communication efforts.
Johnna A. Bain
Director of Communications
Mt. Bethel UMC