Diocesan communications day
On 29 September at St Mary’s Arbroath about twenty people attended this opportunity to learn more about current methods of communication, but focusing particularly on modern electronic media.
Bishop Nigel commenced the day by outlining some of the issues which we face in getting our message across and how important it is that we act professionally in our dealings with the media. They are not antagonistic towards the Church, but the local media especially are keen to promote information about what is happening in their catchment area, albeit by and large from a news standpoint.
Then the Provincial Communications Officer, Lorna Finley, gave a talk on how to write a press release for a church event. She spoke of the need to be creative by emphasising a distinctive angle of the event and by using a picture if possible. The opening paragraph should have as much information as possible (Who? What? Why? When? Where?) and we should avoid jargon and language which might be familiar in church circles, but which means little to those on the outside. Amongst other pieces of advice contained in a leaflet she handed out she urged us to check facts and details – a salutary reminder in view of recent news items nationally.
The second speaker was Mary McKinnell, who is Information Technology Officer for the Diocese of Aberdeen & Orkney. She gave a talk on using various forms of social media including websites, e-mail, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. They all potentially have their uses in church life, but there are differences in which is appropriate for a particular purpose. After a lunch generously prepared by the ladies of St Mary’s, there was an exercise in small groups to use some of the techniques learnt in the morning.
The idea was to advertise some theoretical or actual planned event: what methods of communication should be employed and a plan of how it should be carried out. The meeting was rounded off by Karen Willey, the Brechin Diocesan Communications Convenor, speaking about the plans for the upgrading of the diocesan website. She mentioned that the Province were producing a template which could be used free of charge by all the dioceses and probably, if so desired, by congregations. If this was taken up, it would mean that there was a common ‘look’ to provincial, diocesan and congregational websites throughout the Scottish Episcopal Church. She invited ideas as to how the current one might be improved.
Of great significance was to establish who were the main target groups, e.g. congregations in the diocese, people doing genealogical or historical research, etc. This will affect how it is set up. A major overhaul of the website is currently in progress and it is hoped that it will be launched during December, but ongoing suggestions and comments will always be welcome.