How to Prevent Last-Minute Communication Requests

How to Prevent Last-Minute Communication Requests

April 24, 2017 by

It’s Sunday morning and the family ministry pastor stops you in the hallway. “Hey, we’ve got a couples’ retreat coming up and need videos and such to promote it. Can we meet soon to get started?”

“When’s the retreat?” you ask.

“Oh, it’s in two weeks.”

Sound familiar? I hope not, but if it does, there’s hope.

Here are a few tips on how to prevent the last-minute communication request issue.

Tip #1: Create awareness about what you do.

If you were to survey the church staff, you’d likely find they don’t understand what you do. They know you shoot videos, create graphics, and make the website look good, but that’s about it.

How do I know this? Well, I was pretty clueless before I started working with church communications teams. I also realized how little other staff members knew about communications through team meetings and planning for events. It’s not that staff members don’t appreciate your work. They simply are unaware of how much time and creative energy goes into it. To overcome the gap, let them into your process a little. Sharing your work and how you work will prevent frustration and resentment from growing.

Tip #2: Meet with the most frequent “offender.”

Who forgets to tell you about events most often? That’s the person you need to get to know. Ask them out to lunch and start the conversation by stating you want to discuss how the communications team can best support their department. Listen intently to their comments and take notes.

Address the root of the problem: Who forgets to tell you about upcoming events most often?

Also, ask what’s going on in their ministry area. What goals do they have for the year? What weighs most on their mind? The answers may surprise you and could give insight into why your team is the last to know about events. Asking questions also demonstrates that you care about the person and their ministry.

Next, weave a bit of education into the discussion. Mention why you need to know about upcoming events ASAP. Couch the need in benefits to the affected individual: by giving plenty of notice, you deliver quality work that serves their department and the rest of the church staff.

Tip #3: Make sure your process is crystal clear.

Do you have a standard process for creating content? If so, talk with the newest staff member or volunteer and ask them to explain the process to you. You should hear a response like: “I go to this online form and fill it out at least two months before the event. Then your team sets up a meeting with me to go over the details and schedule the work.”

If your team doesn’t get the process, no one else will either.

If the individual is confused at all, you may need to either simplify the process or work on how you communicate it to others. If people think it’s too complicated, they won’t use it. They’ll just keep flagging you down in the hallway.

Tip #4: Advocate for an event planner.

How does your church plan events? Is it a series of ad-hoc meetings or do you have a standard process in place? When churches have a standard process for planning events, the communications team is less likely to hear about an event at the last minute. Instead, you’ll be part of the planning process from the beginning.

What does a standard process look like? Typically, it involves assigning one person as the event coordinator or planner. This individual gathers information about why we’re doing this event, the intended audience, when we want to host the event, and more. They’ll propose who should be on the planning team, develop a plan based on input from each team member, and coordinate the overall planning process.

They also communicate with all parties. When they hear of an upcoming change to the event, they let you know about it right away. The event coordinator also manages team members and deadlines. Because they have the biggest picture of the event, they know which tasks have a downstream impact (meaning if Task A is late, Task B can’t start, etc.) and how to avoid potential issues.

Putting these tips into practice should help your team avoid last-minute requests. They aren’t quick fixes or silver bullets, but the tips will make life a bit less stressful for you and your team.

More:

  • Buy a copy of The Church Event Planning Toolkit by Deborah Ike.
  • Read our review of The Church Event Planning Toolkit by Deborah Ike.
Image: Chris Combe (Creative Commons)
Post By:

Deborah Ike


Deborah Ike is the founder of Velocity Ministry Management, helping church leaders tackle the administrative aspects of church life. She’s also a freelance writer, providing content for businesses and publications that serve churches at DeborahIke.com.

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