Day-to-day work life is overwhelming. There's so much to do, so much to keep track of. How do you stay on top of all the new trends that affect our media world and our culture? If you haven't been able to “come up for air” in a while, here's a snapshot of some of the trends that are shaping society:
1) Americans are feeling positive about some religious groups. (PewResearch.org) America may be moving toward a “post-Christian” society, but we still have some affinity for faith groups – Jews, Catholics and Mainline Protestants, to be exact. Nearly 70 percent of Americans surveyed see these groups in a positive light. Six-in-ten Americans see Evangelical Christians in a positive manner. While Americans are “warming” toward atheism, only half report a positive feeling about it.
2) Live streaming video continues to grow. (Hubspot.com) Livestreaming is gaining ground as a communications tool. Everyone from brands to public information officers are finding ways to stream live content to social media. As an aside, you may want to try streaming interviews or events and inviting your audience to view the experience.
3) Virtual “experiences” are gaining ground. (Trendwatching.com/trends/5-trends-for-2017) TOMS shoes takes people “on tour” to show how their shoe donations are making a difference in children's lives. Compassion International offers the “Haiti Experience” - a virtual reality (VR) tour of homes and projects in the island nation. VR isn't cheap or easy – yet – but it is gaining ground.
4) Transparency builds trust. (VisionCritical.com/massive-business-trends-2017) People are looking for imperfect, yet authentic communications. People want “real.”
These are just a few of the top trends in today's culture. I encourage you to take a few minutes to do your own research and learn about new tools and lifestyle changes so that you can become an even more effective communicator. Remember that while our world changes, Christ will never change. Our challenge is to communicate the timeless truths of the Gospel. One way we do that is by tapping into our culture through new tools and channels. Whatever channel(s) you use, be a light in the darkness and point people to Jesus Christ!
Bill Arbuckle CMW
Social Media is – like all other forms of communication – a double-edged sword. It serves to instantly connect us to friends, family and fans no matter where they live. It’s also a permanent record of our thoughts and comments – good or bad.
Thom Rainer, President and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources, recently published a blog post titled, “Five Reasons Why Pastors Are Getting Fired Because of Their Social Media Posts.” (ThomRainer.com) While his message is tailored to ministers and church leaders, it’s applicable to all of us who represent Christ in our daily work.
Rainer described the five kinds of social media posts that get Christian leaders in trouble:
1) Combative/Sarcastic Comments
2) Political Comments
3) Taking on Church Members (Online
4) Criticizing Others
5) Unsavory Comments
In his article, he also quotes from the Book of James, “If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, then his religion is useless and he deceives himself … (The tongue) pollutes the whole body and sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell.” (James 1:26, 3:6)
As we continue to connect with audiences via social media, it’s important to pause and think through our posts. Rainer’s list is a great place to start. So is Philippians 4:8 – “Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable…”
Our witness – our ministry – is based on words. So wherever and whenever you use words – especially on social media – use your words to encourage others and point them to Jesus.
Bill Arbuckle CMW
I've never liked used car dealerships. From the moment you set foot on the lot, you feel like a hawk is ready to swoop down, scoop you up and eat you for dinner.
But when I saw a bunch of people standing around a race car, I had to stop, get out of my car and go look at its shiny paint job. And wouldn't you know it? Someone stepped away from the group and came over to talk to me.
I recognized her from the TV commercials. Her husband owned the dealership. She sometimes appeared in the ads and talked about how they started the dealership many years ago. I was expecting to hear a full-on sales pitch and get dragged around the lot to look at cars I had no intention of buying. I was wrong. Very wrong.
“Would you like a picture next to the car?” she asked. We chatted and I told her I'd show the picture to my sons. “They'll think you're awesome,” she said. I thanked her, climbed back in my car and drove home with a smile and a different attitude towards the dealership. They weren't all about the sale. They were about relationships. I was impressed.
A couple of years later, I stopped back by the dealership. I'd just bought a car and needed a VIN verification. Although they were closing up for the day, a salesman took the time to fill out the paperwork. When he handed it back, I asked how much I owed for the service. “Nothing,” he said. “Just keep us in mind the next time you need a car.”
Have you started planning your station's Easter promotions? If not, here are a couple of ideas to consider as you look ahead.
1) Get local churches involved. The easiest way is to remind churches to send information about their Easter Sunday services. Other ideas include asking local pastors to write a devotional that appears on your station Facebook page. Promote it on air, online and via social media. Most ministers have something readily available, so it's just a matter of inviting them to submit. It can help build important relationships with your local community.
2) Think about families. What is mom doing around Easter? Building baskets for kids? Give her some tips and ideas so she can stuff Easter baskets with more than candy. Are families sharing Easter dinner? Offer recipes or Easter-dinner survival tips.
3) Talk about service projects. You may know of local ministries who will be serving a special dinner. Promote it and invite your listeners to volunteer or donate food. How about nursing homes and care facilities? Find out what's available and share it with your audience.
4) Have fun. Easter egg hunts are fun, by why not mix it up a bit and offer a digital Easter egg hunt that families can do on their own time. Pick various local tourist sites or choose area churches as your “eggs.” Encourage families to share their findings and earn a prize for competing. (Invite sponsors to contribute a free/discount meal or something small that families can enjoy together.
5) Share the hope. Easter is, after all, the greatest reason for hope. We celebrate Christ's resurrection … make sure people know why it matters. You don't have to beat people over the head with the message, but you can find some upbeat, hopeful ways share Christ's sacrifice for us.
Start planning your Easter promotions and find ways to get families involved with your message.
Bill Arbuckle CMW
How do you keep your promotions sounding fresh? Ever wondered where to find ideas for station imagers, remotes, big promotions and concerts?
Here’s the answer: Beg, borrow,
Maybe that sounds a bit harsh. After all, “Thou shalt not steal” is one of the Ten Commandments.
So how about this: Talk, Browse, and Swipe.
If you want to keep your promotions (both online and on –air) sounding fresh, then you need to build connections and conversations. Keep an eye out for what the industry is doing, and make a file of all those ideas.
Ready to get started? Here’s how to do it:
1) Talk: Start building connections in the industry. Connect with a local “Christians in Media” group, build connections via Facebook or LinkedIn, join an online group or read the comments sections in industry articles. Make it a point to have regular “input” sessions with others so that you keep a steady flow of good ideas.
2) Browse: Take a few minutes each week to scroll through Pinterest and look for ideas. I recommend searching for writing prompts or writing ideas. Make a habit of viewing ad agency websites and scanning through their portfolios. Learn how they use words and ideas. As you browse, ask yourself, “Will this idea work for my audience?” It doesn’t (and shouldn’t) be word for word, but train yourself to look at ads, portfolios and checklists for good ideas…and how to make them your own.
3) Swipe: A couple of years ago, I followed a writer’s suggestion of keeping a “swipe file.” I find a headline, story idea or thought and keep it in one of three places: Evernote, a leather-bound journal or in my personal “Book of Stuff.” My “Book of Stuff” is a small notebook where I keep notes on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest graphics, writing rules I don’t want to forget, web ideas and headlines. For me, a swipe file is where I store all those handy ideas that I’ve picked up from reading, browsing and talking to others. It gives me an instant and easy-to-access record of ideas.
It’s easy to find fresh ideas if you keep your eyes and ears open, and then write the ideas down in an easy-to-access location. But don’t just record the ideas, read them often and ask, “How can this work for me?” Make it a habit and put it to work. Then start cranking out those great promotional ideas!
Bill Arbuckle CMW