How to Manage Content for Your Church

How to Manage Content for Your Church

July 20, 2015 by

I recently had a conversation with Dave Shrein for the Church Marketing Podcast about content management and editorial calendars. As the editor here at Church Marketing Sucks since 2004, I’ve had a fair amount of experience managing content. Some of that experience can translate to church content, so I shared some helpful tips. Here are some additional highlights:

Content Systems

Most churches are creating lots of content—sermons every week, announcements, updates, etc. It can really help to get organized with all that content.

  • Do you have a system for scheduling your content (usually called an editorial calendar)?
  • Do you have a system for creating that content (or does content just come in haphazardly)?
  • Do you have a system for spreading that content across different channels (a sermon that becomes downloadable audio, a link on social media, quoted on Twitter, summarized in the email newsletter, etc.)?

Key word: systems. You need systems in place to keep everything running smoothly. Otherwise your content will be chaotic and lose its effectiveness.

The Content Factory

Managing content for a church is like running a factory: you need a steady supply of raw materials to churn out good content. If you run out of those raw materials, your production line will grind to a halt. That’s bad.

Your pastor probably keeps writing sermons every week, so that’s an easy one. But if you want other content—blog posts, social media updates, articles, videos, etc.—you’re going to need a system to keep that content coming in. Either you’ll have to write it, or you’ll need to find someone else to. And what are you writing about? You’ll need a steady stream of reports and updates from ministries throughout the church so you have something to talk about.

Keeping the factory running often means doing whatever you can to bring in new stories, knowing that lots of that raw material won’t make it into finished stories. You’ll have volunteers who drop the ball, stories that don’t pan out or stuff that just falls through. It’s OK, life happens. You just have to plan for it.

Content management is a long-term game. You can’t just think ahead to next month. Look ahead to next year.

Love Your Writers

So how do you keep that editorial pipeline full? Get some help. (If you’re the one creating all the content, you’ll burn out.) And then love whoever is bringing you content. Whether it’s staff, volunteers or members of the congregation, take the time to pour into them.

Here’s how to pour into your writers and contributors:

  • Anticipate their questions. After doing this for a while, you’ll notice the same questions always come up.
  • Give realistic but flexible deadlines.
  • Be their greatest cheerleader. A lot of these people won’t be confident writers, so they need your enthusiastic support.
  • Follow up with them. Keep the project at the forefront of their mind.
  • But also don’t be pushy. Most of these folks will be doing this as a favor.
  • Don’t worry if they miss a deadline. If you really want that story, be patient. Give them a new deadline and keep encouraging them.

Backup Plan

Always have a backup plan. Keeping a steady stream of content is important for consistency, so you need content to fall back on when stuff falls through (because something always falls through). People miss deadlines, stories flop, life happens. Keep a few timeless stories in your back pocket to pull out when your schedule falls apart.

Think Long Term

Content management is a long-term game. You can’t just think ahead to next week or next month. Look ahead to next year. But don’t be intimidated. Long-term thinking will help you recognize the cyclical nature of our lives. Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Mother’s Day, summer, back-to-school, etc. happen every year, which means you don’t have to reinvent the wheel all the time. Sure you’ll want a new story for Easter, but the content you used last year is just as relevant. So use it again.

Using a content calendar helps you anticipate what’s coming. That means you can get ahead of the game and not be stuck going round and round in the hamster wheel.

Test, Evaluate, Repeat

Pay attention to what works, and do more of it. Look at your stats, look at the response you get and figure out what people are reacting to.

But don’t become a slave to stats. Just because breaking a story into multiple pages will increase page views doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Just because a story doesn’t get a lot of hits doesn’t mean it’s a failure. Sometimes you have to be tenacious in pushing a story and getting it to take off. Sometimes it just won’t take off.

Watch your stats, but don’t let the numbers drive all your decisions.

Communication Schedule Podcast

I hope you find all these helpful. Check out the full podcast for the full conversation.

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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