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MARCH / 2003 Getting Your Point Across
by David Gagné

Taking advantage of today's technologies for tomorrow's growth.

Your message is important. How you communicate your message to today's "sight and sound" generation is equally important. Using traditional methods of communication simply are not achieving the results you desire. Possibly it is time that you consider the use of multimedia to reach your audience. Using multimedia creates a dynamic relationship between your message and the recipient. It generates excitement with today's generation and a renewed interest with your established audience.

The fact is multimedia surrounds us. When used effectively it does its task of getting our attention and it even entertains us. Conventional communication tools such as newsletters, magazines, radio, etc. are still a large part of our daily lives but we all have adapted to them and we find them quite common. In order to generate a stir among an audience nowadays it takes a combination of media, thus "multi-media". Marketers are quite aware of the power of multimedia and have invested millions of dollars to make sure that you see and hear their messages. Since the Church seeks to reach all people it only makes sense that if we are going to reach them, then we must be using the same tools to do so.

One of the most common new forms of multimedia is Email. If you have access to a computer and would like to have your own email address it is quite simple. You are able to set-up your own private email account and send and receive emails to your friends, family and colleagues. If you have not updated your church directory in some time then it's time to do so. Be sure to collect all the regular information and this time also collect your member's email addresses. Be sure to include any Missionaries' email addresses as well if available. This allows Church members to keep in contact and encourage Missionaries in another country quickly and easily. Another great use for email is to send out weekly or monthly newsletters. These can be simple text emails or full color, with sound and animation. When sending out an email newsletter, be sure to have the recipient's permission to send it to them, otherwise it may be considered "spam" mail and quickly discarded and worst of all it could be reported to authorities.

Having a Website has become popular for many churches and ministries. However, without keeping information current and offering something to your visitors, your website will have a short life span and no visitors. It would be like constructing a new Church building, furnishing it, leaving the door wide open but not staffing it or posting a bulletin for any visitors. It is crucial that if you do have or plan on having a website that there be someone appointed to maintain and keep the information current. A Church website is an excellent place to post upcoming events, schedules, conferences, etc. A website can serve as an excellent witnessing tool. By placing information about becoming a Christian, the "Sinner's Prayer" and a method of contacting the Church, the visitor can send an Email and ultimately this may lead to another life changed for the furthering of His Kingdom.

If you can post a weekly message for the viewer to read, listen or watch, you will be sure to have repeat visitors to your website and most likely referrals of others. For audio and video messages it is best to use what is referred to as "streaming" media, such as REAL technology and Windows Media Player. With the programs that produce the streamed files, a viewer in the comfort of his/her home or office, can listen and watch any message that you desire to communicate on the Internet. With live streaming, an actual live performance can be broadcast in real time over the Internet. This would be ideal for conferences, concerts, etc.

Many churches use Microsoft's PowerPoint to project lyrics to music for Praise & Worship onto a screen with a computer monitor projector. This allows all the lyrics of songs to be stored electronically and called upon when required. It is also used for projecting announcements, reports, etc. Of course, this requires a person or team that is dedicated to ensuring that things run smoothly. If you have a video camera linked into your projector you could project live coverage of the service, play a promotional video through a VCR for a Missions trip or have a relaxing slideshow presentation before service begins.

With all this being said, if you do not promote that you have multimedia capabilities, that you have a website for further information and that you can be reached by email, then no one will know and your efforts will have been wasted. Remember the conventional communication tools? - newsletters, door hangers, postcards, etc - make sure to reinforce your website address and email information on any promotional tools.

On a final note, if you are looking to venture into the realm of multimedia, I urge you to consider contacting a professional. Simply having a computer and the tools readily available does not ensure that if you build it they will see or hear. Multimedia requires a professional touch to ensure that your message is clearly communicated and that the "multi" aspect - the images, the sounds, videos, etc - are creatively and effectively blended together to be informative and entertaining.

David Gagne, R.G.D.
Creative Director
Ministrybeehive Christian Communications

David and Isabelle Gagne have over 20 years combined experience in marketing and graphic design. He and his wife operate Ministrybeehive Christian Communications serving churches, ministries and organizations the world over with excellence in graphic/web design and marketing strategies. They may be reached for Media Ministry consultation at thegagnes@ministrybeehive.com

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