Church Publicity that Doesn’t Work

March 29, 2006 by

This week’s poll is asking about press releases, and while we’ve recently covered how to do press releases, we haven’t talked about how not to do press releases. Jamey Tucker blogs about his experience with ministers and press releases, and it’s not good.

He had to call a church that had sent out a press release four times to get more information, and when he finally got somebody they told him they didn’t want coverage of the Bible study. So you send out press releases to get media coverage, and then turn down that free publicity? He tells of another instance where ministers wanted him to stay away from a symposium for pastors to address the HIV/AIDS crisis.

My question is this: how can ministers stand in a pulpit and preach a sermon that is open to anyone who walks through the doors, but yet be so hyper-sensitive about what they are preaching? Do they distrust the news media so much that they immediately figure we’re up to no good? And if churches want to spread the good news, should they balk at an opportunity to use the news media to share it with people who would otherwise not hear their message?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, most churches and most ministers need a good lesson in public relations.

Maybe some people should go over how to do press releases again.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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4 Responses to “Church Publicity that Doesn’t Work”

  • Wesley Walser
    March 29, 2006

    “Do they distrust the news media so much that they immediately figure we’re up to no good?”
    Yes, they do, and quite often it is for good reason. I have visited one church near my college whom have been misquoted or wrongly represented by the local new on at least three occasions that I can remember. On one such occasion a local paper slammed the church for it’s lavish new building and parking lot giving figures that were well above the actual numbers when they talked about how much the building had coasted.
    While in high school a reporter came to one of our classes for an entire day and only managed to print only a single quote from a student in the class. They of course chose a slightly negative comment and then pulled it out of context to make the entire program look bad.
    People tend to learn from past mistakes, and in both of these cases I think that intentional encounters with ‘media’ have been mistakes.

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  • Michael
    March 29, 2006

    Here’s my recent PR horror story:
    The Easter production is called:
    Passion Play – Bow The Knee
    The newspaper has written it up as
    Passion Play – Below The Knee
    The sad thing is, they had all the information sent to them in a release as well as through an insert and and advertisement.
    One call and it’s all fixed…but come on…Below the knee, seriously?

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  • Dan
    March 30, 2006

    “all publicity is good as long as they spell your name right,” the adage goes.
    Your churches still got its name in the paper or whatever medium we’re talking about. Be thankful for the exposure, give readers/viewers some credit to see through the bias or sloppiness and trust in the Lord. After all, what’s your alternative? Nothing?

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  • Kevin D. Hendricks
    March 31, 2006

    Interesting comment, Dan. I’m not sure the United Methodist Church would agree. ;-)

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Public Relations