I make a living curating stories—finding just the right recipe of words and images to entice an audience to engage, attend, donate, volunteer, take action, take a sample, or take charge. When I first began this journey more than 30 years ago, the ways to share those words and images were pretty limited. Mail was all delivered by guys in little white trucks, phones were only used for calling people, newspaper was king, and radio and television stations were sparse. I didn’t even have a computer.
Yes, times were hard back then in the age of dinosaurs.
Now? Think about it. The ways to communicate are almost endless. We can share story, show story, invite people to be part of the story. There’s Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Vine, OKDOTHIS, Path, Snapchat, Google+, blogsites, websites, smartphones, tablets, email, old-school mail, hundreds of channels of television and radio. And even newspapers. So, so many options.
Yes, times are still hard.
Because all those options are just noise unless the people you want to communicate with are ready to pay attention to them. Now, there are a lot of experts in the marketing world who will tell you to use every method possible to get your message out. That to “cut through the clutter,” you need to make your noise louder, bigger, bolder, brighter.
But here’s the truth. More noise doesn’t work. So, what DOES work?
Breathing in and out, to start with—because all the stress can really get to you (if you’re anything like me). And then paying attention to what those people pay attention to—and using THAT to share your story well.
Today—and I say “today” because tomorrow may be different (things change in a blink)—teens at our church are getting information through Instagram, texting, tweeting, Snapchat. Our student ministry takes advantage with quick messages, short videos, and text overlaid on images. And they equip their ministry leaders to communicate well with their students by providing them with information that is easily shared in relevant ways (and when I say “relevant,” I don’t mean cute/snarky language that isn’t realistic coming from an adult. I mean soundbites that can be easily tweeted, texted, and shared).
Today, and likely tomorrow, their parents are learning ministry information delivered via email and Facebook. They’ll also pay attention to Instagram pictures. We use Facebook and Instagram to attract attention, and then send links for parents to our website for details, registration, downloads, and more. And our parents have told us that they love face-to-face time as well. So our student ministry invests them in—with regular times to share updates and get their feedback.
So, ask yourself: “What are students, and their parents, paying attention to these days?” Or better yet, ask them. Take time. Breathe in and out. And share your story well.