Creating Professional Emails for Your Church
I recently attended an event at a local mega-church where I filled out a visitor card. On it I included my email address. Within a few days I received an email telling me about an upcoming event and the kick-off for a new sermon series. What’s wrong with that you might ask? They did score big on the follow-up meter. However, the presentation of the email – the look and feel of the communications left a lot to be desired.
Now, let me break down this email for you so that you can avoid some pitfalls when preparing communications that represent your church or organization:
- My first impression of the email was that it was in Courier New font. As a communications person, I hate Courier New. Your font makes a statement all on its own. Courier New says “unoriginal, non-creative, and lacking any HTML skills” even though Hyper Text Markup Language has been around since 1990 (eons for the Internet world), and subsequently replaced by CSS and other, newer coding languages. The unfortunate truth however is that this was an HTML email because the church’s name was a link to their website.
- To be kind, this was my first email from that church, I have no way of knowing if that email was one of those unplanned/not-part-of-our-normal-email-distributions or what. However, since it was my first email from them, the communications team at this mega-church should have a philosophy that treats every email they send as potentially being someone’s first. For a large seeker church this is a daily reality. It may not be so common at a smaller church to be concerned with the quality of appearance in every email – but I am surprised by this church with several thousand members and seven weekly services.
- Another thing that struck me was something you can still mess up on even if you have a nice looking newsletter. The email was “signed” by the pastor – who is male. However, the email address from which it had arrived was “pam@somechurchdotcom”. Now I don’t know if P-A-M stands for something beginning with “Pastor” or what, but none of the other letters were this pastor’s initials. If you are going to send something, make it look like the person who’s salutation is on the email sent it – otherwise it looks unprofessional.
Now, let me say something about first impressions. It takes me a while to develop one of an organization. Since there are obviously many people that make up a church, it takes longer for me to form one. I saw this church’s commercial on TV about a year ago, and said, “that looks like a great church.” It was a well done commercial. I never attended until recently, and got to put actual faces with the church’s name. The email I received is just another, small way to evaluate and form a first impression. You should not be fearful of people’s first impressions of your church, especially if there is much that makes you afraid.
Instead, focus on what you can change. Start small, do research on other churches. Don’t mimic, or plagiarize, but take what has made for attractive communications at one church and transplant it to your own. You will need to make changes to fit within the culture of your own faith community. Always remember that change is unpopular and even more so when less people buy into that change. Ask yourself how you can bring the community together to achieve goals – what will the change allow you to do, or do better? Always be prepared to answer questions, and if possible, provide enough information up front to answer and minimize questions that could come out at a church meeting.
I will leave you with one recommendation: If you are looking for a newsletter program, I use and thoroughly enjoy MailChimp.com for their user-friendliness, corporate sense of humor (they love their jobs, and let you know it), and professional look and feel.