Communication Audit: 24 Potential Channels to Consider

Communication Audit: 24 Potential Channels to Consider

April 27, 2016 by

Sometimes, it feels like our church communication efforts are floundering.

We see other churches do something amazing (fight that temptation to compare) and we wonder if we could “borrow” the idea.

But then we have so much on our plate. It might be time for a communication audit.

Start by Re-Evaluating Your Own Methods.

Taking an inventory can help you figure out what’s working, what isn’t and what you might consider adding.

Perhaps you have the right channels, but poor timing. Maybe you have enough money, but you’re putting it into the wrong channel. Maybe a method you’ve always thought is the most effective actually isn’t.

Taking an inventory can help you figure out what’s working, what isn’t and what you might consider adding. This step is so easy to overlook but so important.

Think about this carefully: Are you using the right communication channels for your church? (Emphasis on your church; what works for the church around the corner might not work for your church.)

Look through this list for just a few of your options. You can reach out to your community in a variety of ways.

And the best part is, these are just options. No one church is doing all or even a third of these channels. So just browse. You may find just one thing you may want to try doing, and that one thing could make all the difference.

24 Items to Review in an Audit

  1. Banners: Putting these over the main or sanctuary doors could be a great way to advertise special events like VBS. Extra: Depending on your area, you may be able to have a nearby building hang your banners. For example, my home church uses a next-door barn near the freeway to hang some of our large banners advertising Easter and Christmas services.
  2. Direct mail: What if you got a special invite to a church’s Christmas service through a card delivered to your door?
  3. Social media: With platforms like Facebook having such excellent pay-per-click advertisements available, they’re proving to be one of the most cost-effective options available.
  4. Videos: Churches plug videos into a variety of social media platforms like Periscope or YouTube for promotional purposes, but they can also be used for weekly announcements or broadcasted messages from the pastor. And yes, even newbies can do this!
  5. Website: Make sure it’s up to date!
  6. Invite cards: Whether they’re created for your special Easter services or for your next sermon series, these can help your parishioners invite guests more comfortably.
  7. Announcements: These can vary anywhere from a prepared video to a “talking head” on stage. Try some of these tips to give announcements with more purpose.
  8. Email blasts: Using platforms like MailChimp allow you to target your upcoming event announcements to specific groups (e.g., the women in your church, the parents of young children, etc.).
  9. Fliers: Feel free to post these on corkboards in your local coffee shop or grocery store. You can also make them into any size, ranging from a postcard to a big poster.
  10. Coffee cup sleeves: Have a church coffee bar? Try advertising your next sermon series on the cup sleeves! It doesn’t take a fancy graphic design for the sleeve to become a walking advertisement.
  11. Bathroom stalls: It works in department stores and restaurants — why not churches? This would be an excellent opportunity to market specific men’s and women’s groups.
  12. Billboards: Learn how to tell if this is going to be a good investment for your church.
  13. Newspaper ads: Print may not be as dead as you think. It might be worth a shot, especially in local neighborhood publications.
  14. Posters: Smaller than a banner, yet more effective in confined areas. For example, if your childcare room is downstairs, why not advertise VBS in the stairwell?
  15. Online alternatives: Besides a website and social media, improve your SEO by filling out your business profile on Yelp or a similar website. Personal recommendations matter.
  16. Doorknob flyers: You don’t have to have a conversation at every place you visit. Many people will consider it a form of soliciting, so leaving information at the door is generally safer.
  17. Set up a booth: Does your area have a county fair? Do your best to make an appearance! If you can have a fun giveaway or even a dunk tank, so much the better.
  18. Logo-embossed keychain and pens: It may be a tad old fashioned, but these can be fun gifts for visitors.
  19. Bumper stickers: Because people want something other than political statements on the backs of their cars.
  20. Sidewalk chalk: If you’re near a high-traffic area, sidewalk chalk pointing toward your church might be a fun way to connect with people passing by.
  21. Marquee sign: They may not be very glitzy, but they certainly save costs in the long run. And remember, simpler is better.
  22. Newsletter: Whether your church prefers print or digital, this can be an excellent way to communicate upcoming events, new classes and more without making your bulletin explode. If it’s online, make sure to check that the links are live.
  23. Bulletins: While you’ll want to use inserts sparingly, don’t lose an easy opportunity to inform your congregation about what’s coming next. Just try to make sure everything in the bulletin can appeal to at least 80% of the congregation.
  24. Texting: Did you know texts have a 98% open rate? Maybe texting is an option for your church.

Clearly, there are a lot of options to choose from. But obviously, you can’t — and even better, you don’t have to — do all of them. (Whew!)

Deeper Audit

Try to match each communication channel with the most people possible.

Here are some questions to consider and some thoughts on how to narrow down which channels and frequencies would work best for your church:

  • Will your choice of channels vary depending on the season? If so, how?
  • How much can your church afford? Think about budget but also available time.
  • Which channels best produce what you want to achieve? (e.g., encouraging more visitors, promoting your special events, etc.)
  • How will you measure the effectiveness of each channel?
  • Can you maintain these channels? Some are one-and-done ideas, but others require ongoing commitment to be effective.

Most of these questions are ones you already ask as marketers (and a self audit may help you find answers). So the real question is, how do you duke out which ministry gets to use which communication channel and how often?

  • Does the children’s ministry get the front page of the newsletter every week?
  • How often are the small groups advertised in Sunday morning announcements?
  • Which events get posters and which do not?

Obviously, a lot of this varies on what your church budget and congregation look like. Try to match each communication channel with the most people possible.

If you’re allotting some extra room on your website, chances are better that more newly wed couples will see it than your senior Bible study members will.

Share Your Channels Wisely

While you heard it enough times in kindergarten, it still matters: take turns.

If the youth pastor and volunteer coordinator keep butting heads about whose event gets plastered on the bathroom stalls, try to alternate each time.

Another way you can prioritize this is to measure the audiences of each communication channel. Is there an elementary school near your church? Then maybe advertising VBS on the marquee would be a way to reach out to moms driving to school.

Test Your Channels

A lot of this is just common sense. Give each communication channel you pick a test run. Brainstorm ways to measure the effectiveness of what you pick so that you’re being good stewards of your budget.

Facebook’s pay-per-click ads are easy to measure, but you may have to get creative when measuring other methods. This measurement could look like asking your event-comers to fill out a quick survey as they leave. Most churches also have some sort of connection card or check-in that parishioners fill out each Sunday.

Once a month, you could add a little extra to this check-in and ask how each church attender came to your church. (Hint: If you do this anonymously, visitors will be more likely to fill it out since they won’t be afraid of giving away their email right off the bat.)

Do It Well

If you commit to revamping your entire communications strategy, give yourself time to do it well.

But the most important thing to remember? This is a big project, and this list is only the beginning. You can get help on this from coaches, from your colleagues, from your parishioners.

If you commit to revamping your entire communications strategy, give yourself time (and grace!) to do it well. Good luck!


  • Most churches are on an advertising budget. Learn how to best use your resources.
  • Keep adding to your list of tips for church advertising.
  • Learn how to paint the town with your church advertising.
Post By:

Celine Murray

Celine is recent graduate who is still getting used to sitting for eight hours at a time. She blogs regularly at Latchkey Writing & Editing.
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