Last updated 31st October 2021
Simple guide to promoting a church event
Got an event (or events) coming up and want to promote it/them effectively? If so, this step by step guide aims to help you work through things you can do and what to think about to get your event noticed.
The guide covers:
- what to think about before the event
- what to think about during the event
- ideas on how to encourage people to continue to connect with your church after your event
After reading and acting upon this article, if you need further support or advice in promoting your event then contact Ronnie Semley, Diocesan Communications Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
Getting your event noticed
Step One – who is the event aimed at?
Everyone has a limited amount of time and energy so we recommend you target the people who are most likely to be interested in what you are doing. You can then think about where you are most likely to find those people in your community. Some examples:
- If you are doing a family friendly event then think about the schools, nurseries, parent and toddler groups that are close to you and engage with them.
- If you have a sporting event then local sports clubs/gyms/societies may be a good place to target your publicity
- If you are doing an older persons’ event then Age UK, residential homes and others may be good places to send publicity.
Things to do
- Be clear who you are trying to attract
- Get a database together of the groups and organisations that you could send information to. Don’t forget to check organisations’ social media accounts (Twitter and Facebook). This is important because if this information is on their public websites and documents then you won’t have an issue with GDPR
Step two – what do you want to say about your event?
You will want to put some publicity material together. So you need to think about …
- … what will attract the people you are trying to reach? Do you have something that will capture their imagination? People will often think about what is in it for them before going to something – so you may need to make your offer clear to them.
- … a good way to make sure you have included everything is to answer the five w’s … who, where, what, when and why.
- … all the details that people will need – people can often forget times and dates and locations.
Step three: Produce your material
If you are producing posters and flyers, then follow the advice here and here and work to make sure they are eye-catching. Make sure you have a plan to distribute the flyers and posters (remember your target people in step one) and ensure you have people to do this.
Step four: Update 'A Church Near You'; websites and social media
- Put all the details of your event on A Church Near You. Make sure your website (if you have one) has all the details too.
- Post the event to any of your social media feeds. If you use Facebook for your church you should create a Facebook event. You can consider paying a small amount of money to boost your post to the people you wish to target. You can also pin a post or tweet to the top of your profile.
- Keep sharing the event on social media including your twitter feed (if you have one) and use the ‘handles’ of key organisations which may be interested; as well as the @cofelancs handle for retweets on the diocesan Twitter feed. Send the information about your event to the Diocesan offices for inclusion on the Diocesan website as well. If you email details to email@example.com then Karen will add them to the website events calendar which receives a lot of 'traffic' every day.
- Encourage others in your church who are on social media to share and retweet your posts to give them a boost.
- Post about your event on local community group sites and pages - particularly thinking about those you have identified in step one
Step five – tell your local media
A well written press story has a great chance of being published in your local paper, here are some hints to ensure you produce a great release.
- Make sure you put all the details in – include a quote from the event organiser or someone who can add spice to the story.
- Don’t forget to invite them to the event; they may not come but ask just in case!
- Whenever your local newspaper comes out, contact them a few days beforehand at least. The more notice you can give the better!
- If you know a local journalist by name direct it to them – if you don’t know who to send your story to then check on the newspaper’s website (the contact link is usually somewhere at the bottom of the homepage. Similarly for other local media – such as radio stations, check their website for contact details and always send to a named individual if you know someone.
- Add contact details so the journalist can check any facts with you
- Email details and a photo to illustrate if you have one. The photo works best as an attachment but put the story in the main part of your email.
- Don’t be afraid to follow it up with a phone call.
Step six – encourage your congregations to tell people and bring a friend
Word of mouth is the most powerful tool so keep talking to your congregations about your event and encourage them to tell others in your community – friends and family etc.
Encourage them to come to event (sounds obvious but make sure they are there) and to bring at least one friend with them. The more of your regular people who are enthusiastically talking about your event, the more others will get excited.
Things to consider during an event
Your publicity doesn’t stop when the event starts. There are things you can do during and after the event to keep it alive in the minds of people who have engaged with - and people who might come to your next event. You may not bring everyone along, but it could keep people talking about your church.
- Take plenty of pictures. You will need to be careful about safeguarding and permissions. You could designate an official photographer and let people know they are doing that role on behalf of the church. The simplest approach is to put up signs telling people what you are doing and what you will be using the photos for.
- Keep tweeting and posting on social media – perhaps create a social media hashtag for the event (eg a church fruit and veg harvest event could be #GrowForGod) and make sure everyone attending on social media uses it – announce it at the start of the event and have the hashtag on promotional posters and around the church hall on the day.
- Get some reaction from people at the event. You can use this as quotes and comments to keep others interested. This could include video soundbites (and try and grab a word with the bishop or Archdeacon if you they happen to be attending your event).
Use this to do follow up stories on your website, social media and to the local press. Also, send follow up stories to firstname.lastname@example.org and if we can feature coverage in Diocesan communications channels, such as The See magazine, then we will.
Encouraging people to keep coming:
- Our aim should be not just to create one event, but to be thinkling at all times about mission and to encourage people to keep coming to church. So remember to use any event you put on to promote different ways for people to stay connected to and keep coming to your church. Jesus is our USP – unique selling point … and we need to be maximising the chances we have to talk to people about Him - otherwise we may as well be the local Rotary Club!
- Make sure you have plenty of information about church activities around the place on posters, flyers etc. It doesn't have to be hard - if you are holding a jumble sale why not have a staffed table with Christian literature next to the second hand book stall? Make sure all those welcoming and talking to guests know what’s going on in the church and can engage people in non-threatening, friendly conversation. They should also be able to invite guests to future events and even services. You need to think about services, clubs and fellowship groups that people can engage with as part of this.
- If you do want to invite people who attend your events to a church service, there are plenty of opportunities throughout the year, in addition to the obvious opportunities around Easter and Christmas, there is Mothering Sunday; Pentecost; Harvest Sunday; services for Thy Kingdom Come and much more …
- You can collect information from visitors so that you can keep in contact. You will be GDPR compliant provided you clearly tell people what you are using the information for, give them the ability to opt out of receiving communications and store the data securely. More on GDPR here. Make sure you have something to follow up the contact with. If you have a regular news email for example then add people to the mailing list. If you don’t then why not set one up?
Ronnie Semley, updated July 2019 and October 2021 with acknowledgment to Liverpool Diocese for some of the above content