Church Public Relations Success Stories: You Can Do This

Church Public Relations Success Stories: You Can Do This

August 20, 2018 by

We’ve been talking about public relations all month. We’ve got a wealth of resources for our Courageous Storytellers members—and you can even get a sample with our crisis communication tips.

But sometimes press coverage can feel like an afterthought. You’re so busy with bulletins and announcements, you don’t have time for press releases. And do they even work?

Today we’ve got proof positive that press releases can be worth your time. We talked to four churches and looked at examples of how they landed some press coverage. Hopefully this can inspire you that public relations is worth the effort.

Public Relations Success Stories

Game Changer

Vikki Huisman, communications director at Edgewood Baptist Church in Rock Island, Ill.:

I’m new to staff and my church’s first communications director (part-time). We decided to have our anniversary celebration for our recovery ministry at a large riverfront park and invite the public. A local daytime talk show had our pastor on to discuss the event and it went very well.

In addition to the usual communication venues our recovery pastor requested, I wanted to take the message to the public. So I sent out my very first press releases for this event, reached out to our local Moody radio station affiliate to interview the recovery pastor, and I reached out to our local TV station that has a live daily afternoon talk show. The talk show producer texted me a week later and scheduled our recovery pastor to come on the show.

I report to our worship pastor and he told me that trying this communication avenue was a game changer for us. From his point of view, it has opened up the staff’s eyes as to what is possible. I don’t think they could see the possibilities in having a communications director. It is so much more than proofreading and editing for grammar.

Do don’t be afraid to try something new.

Prom & Packers

Jodi Tonarelli, director of weekend experience at The Ridge Community Church in the Milwaukee area.

For a story about the church rearranging their Christmas Eve services for a Green Bay Packers playoff game:

I reached out via a Twitter direct message to a reporter I knew at the local TV station that was running the game. I knew they’d be looking for ways to pump up their coverage in the days prior to the game, and I thought our twist on a ‘Packers story’ could be something fun for them and timely in many ways.

For a story about the church giving those with special needs a chance to attend prom:

We sent news releases to all local newsrooms in our market. The event has become a part of what our community associates with our brand. When we say we are from The Ridge, it’s common for people to say, that’s the church that does that prom, right?

My biggest takeaway is to think of things from the reporter’s side of things when pitching a story. Be sure to tell them what visuals or interviews you can offer them and give them an easy storyline to follow. They are on such tight deadlines these days, it helps when you can show that they’d be able to get a compelling story in a limited timeframe.

Responding to Tragedy

Jessica Ayers, communications manager at Concord Church in Dallas:

A few years ago, shootings took place in downtown Dallas at a police protest rally. The next morning, news stations requested an interview with our senior pastor, Bryan Carter, to get his thoughts on the attack.

The following day, Pastor Carter partnered with city officials and other pastors of local churches to partake in a citywide prayer service at Thanksgiving Square. From there it was decided that we would host a night of worship open to all churches in the city, in an effort to bridge the gap between races and come together as one church. News stations from around the world came to cover the service, ranging from the BBC to local stations in the DFW area.

As a result, we were able to extend our reach into the citywide conversation regarding racial reconciliation. Senior leadership at our church has been invited into conversations with the mayor, Dallas police chief and other city officials to strategize about ways the church can empower and equip the community to bridge the racial gap and unify our city.

Embracing New Technology

Charla Wilkerson, director of communications and administration at Fairfax Circle Church in Fairfax, Va.:

We got press coverage for one of our banners in front of our church. It was in response to an article I read on Church Marketing Sucks about Pokemon Go when it first came out. After I read the article, I made a couple of banners (homemade so that we could hang them in time). Our church fronts a busy road with great visibility. A national blog picked us up in an article about how Pokemon Go was being handled by churches.


Need help to do more with public relations? Check out Courageous Storytellers for super practical resources.

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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