One of the best ways to tell the story of your church is through the secular news media, which includes local or national newspapers, TV, and radio stations. Our team loves pitching positive stories to the press about what is going on in the life of your church. There are two big advantages to our team pitching your church story to the news.
- Your UMC brand credibility is strengthened when in appearing in the news because your church has not “purchased” the advertising space or time, it is being reported by a trustworthy news outlet.
- When you appear in the news in a positive light, it creates awareness of your United Methodist Church, connecting your congregation to new people in new places.
Please contact someone on our team if you have a story you'd like told.
When a crisis occurs, and the news media begins asking you questions, pastors are often pushed past their comfort zone. After all, Media Relations 101 is not a class offered in seminary! So here are five tips to get you started in dealing with the media, especially when your church reputation is on the line!
1. Be prepared
The number one rule when talking to the media is, “be prepared.” When a journalist calls your church for an interview, ask for the journalist’s name/number and what the story is about, and then refer the call to the spokesperson, so they can prepare for the interview. After the spokesperson is prepared, then call the reporter back for the interview before their deadline. It’s also important to have a written crisis communication plan. See a sample from United Methodist Communications here.
2. Choose a spokesperson prior to a crisis
It is critical to choose (and train) a media spokesperson before a crisis occurs. A church spokesperson needs to be well spoken, credible and someone who accurately reflects your brand. Having just one spokesperson ensures that one unified story is told. It is also essential to educate personnel, so they are aware of who is designated to speak on behalf of the church.
Four Questions to ask when identifying a spokesperson
3. Respect a Reporter’s Deadline
Respect a reporter’s story deadline. During a crisis, the media is going to be one of the ways your church tells the good news about Jesus Christ to your target audience. A delayed response, or no response at all, could mean a missed story opportunity for your ministry.
4. Communicate internally (to your church) and externally (to the media)
When a crisis occurs, communicate the message to your internal audience first, then to the media.
5. In a media interview: Listen, Think, Respond
When a reporter asks a hard question, it is ok to pause for five to ten seconds, formulate your answer, then respond. The only exception to this rule would be a live interview.