Why are there more than 122,000 public relations specialists in
America? Because bad news travels fast and lingers longer, while
good news is rarely heard above the din of bad news.
Politicians and corporate presidents understand that it's
critical for their image-building to shout good news year-round. In
the same way, good public relations is your key to helping people
inside and outside your church understand your ministry's vision
and strengths. What you do internally to create a positive image
for your children's ministry can make or break your children's
ministry, in good and especially bad times.
Like it or not, you have a public that demands you feed it good
news. Your public, of course, starts with children, parents, and
teachers, then extends to your church staff, congregation, and
The following are 32 practical internal public relations
strategies that are as simple as they are effective.
1. Publish your good news. Sometimes people
don't know what to think about your ministry because you don't tell
them. There's nothing like the printed word to establish an
impression of your progress. Don't forget that newsletters can be
emailed as well as mailed. And they can be handed out after class
or put in your bulletin, too.
2. Deliver more than you promise. It helps to
publicize events, but make sure your results speak louder than your
3. Celebrate every success. Did you tell anyone
and everyone about the stories that brought tears to your eyes at
the mother-daughter retreat? Go ahead and make them tear up,
4. Share your stories with "megaphone members."
There's always someone in your church who's the first to know
everything. Rather than hide news from these amplified voices, take
them to breakfast once a month to fill them in on your secret
successes. They'll love the insider information, and you'll find
that your stories will become legend as they're repeated throughout
5. Attend the right meetings. Do you attend
your church's board meetings or staff meetings? Make sure you're
present when your ministry is evaluated and your goals are set or
assessed. Remember, don't wait to react to questions; be proactive
and share positive successes.
6. Make the good better. Yesterday's fully
staffed nursery can quickly become tomorrow's no-show Sunday if
you're spending your time putting out fires rather than nurturing
success. I love what Peter Drucker has stated for any newcomer to
ministry: "Do what needs to be done first, then do what you want to
do." You must fix problems before you set goals.
7. Change the wattage of your light bulbs.
Making your ministry brighter can be as simple as changing light
bulbs. Use fluorescent bulbs wherever you can since they distribute
8. Change a stinky diaper in the nursery. Once,
when I walked into a nursery to encourage the volunteers, I noticed
something terribly wrong. One of the toddlers needed to be changed
in a hurry. By picking up that child and spending the time to
change the diaper, I unwittingly became a legend among the nursery
staff. They knew instantly that I appreciated what they did and I
understood how hard it was to do it.
9. Create PowerPoint presentations for your board,
staff, or church. If you don't know how to use PowerPoint,
enlist those who can to create a compelling media display that
correlates with your vision.
10. Put your message in many mouths. For you to
stand at the pulpit and make the announcement that the 2-year-old
department needs volunteers creates a glaze across the audience
that rivals anything Krispy Kreme doughnuts could create. Instead,
have one of your nursery volunteers share a story of how his or her
life has been enriched because of spending time with a young
11. Win your critics. In fact, take your
biggest critic to Starbucks and ask for advice. For extra credit,
bring a notepad and take notes.
12. Let your light shine. Stand in your church
lobby at the conclusion of each service to smile and say goodbye to
people. Greet everyone by his or her first name.
13. Be there for people. Attend every funeral
at your church. Greet the family, and don't sit in the back.
14. Don't play hooky. Attend at least one
church service each Sunday. It'll do your heart good, too. Attend
with your family and sit together. For extra credit, sit together
toward the front.
15. Cover the basics. Fill out a regular
attendee card and put it in the offering plate. It's amazing to me
that even the office staff loves you if you aren't above the tasks
you ask others to do.
16. Give faithfully. Put your offering in the
offering plate -- not for show, but because it's the right thing to
17. Display your crowd-pleasing wares. Display
the preschool and kindergarten crafts in the lobby one Sunday. Have
the kids file up to the front of the church to sing a few songs.
Show videos of your children's ministry -- with lots of choice
quotes from kids of all ages.
18. Have an open house. Twice a year, invite
parents to attend Sunday school with their children. Ensure that
every class is well-staffed, and provide special refreshments
19. Show that you care. Visit someone who's
sick in the hospital or at home. Send anniversary and birthday
cards to your board and staff members.
20. Read about good public relations from the
sources. The Web site www.realworldpr.com/index.htm is a great place
to start, but any business publication such as Fast Company
magazine can speed up your learning curve in the field of
21. Visit classes. Visit every classroom and
teacher every Sunday so they see you seeing them. People rarely
remember what you say, they rarely remember what you do, but
they'll never forget the way you make them feel.
22. Work on positive staff relations. It'll
show. Say good things about your senior pastor's sermon at the next
staff meeting. Ask the choir director if you can sit in on practice
one night just because you want to. Ask the youth pastor what you
can pray for this month. Be kind and considerate whenever you speak
to the custodian. For extra credit, help set up a room sometime.
Attend the board retreat. Listen and ask questions rather than
making statements or observations.
23. Communicate well. Update your phone message
daily, stating where you'll be that day. This little task takes
less than a minute, but you'll be amazed at how many people will be
impressed by your initiative and industry. Let everyone know when
you'll be on vacation.
24. Serve in other areas. If your church has a
clean-up day, make sure you show up to work. For extra credit, help
out in the men's or women's ministry area of the church, or scrub
the church sign out front -- work somewhere besides your area.
Serve lunch at a Habitat for Humanity site, compliments of your
25. Go online. Start a Web site for your
children's ministry that communicates the vision for your program
as well as coming events. Add a link to your site on the front page
of your church's Web site, too. And update it regularly.
26. Improve bathroom odors. Have you ever
walked into a restroom and just felt repelled? A simple act of
changing the air freshener or getting automatic fragrance
dispensers will overcome the nasties.
27. Broadcast good news. Submit a bulletin
insert before the deadline, and have something positive to say in
every church monthly newsletter. Create press releases for your
main ministry events that are open to your community, and share
results afterward. Remember, the distribution of the press release
is as important as the document itself.
28. Get involved at school. Attend Open House
Night at school with your children. Or attend even if you don't
have children. Spend a lunchtime with kids from your ministry at
their school. Chances are they'll invite their friends and become
the envy of the school if you bring fast food.
29. Wow your volunteers. Serve snacks to your
volunteers each Sunday morning. Include flavored coffee that's
different from the normal coffee offered to the church. Feed
volunteers' children, too.
30. Say thanks first. Thank volunteers for
serving in children's ministry before asking them if they'd like to
volunteer for next year. Even better, thank them in front of the
children they serve, the parents they support, and the peers they
31. Provide signage that's visitor-oriented and
child-friendly. Ask a colleague who doesn't attend your
church to visit one Sunday and review what you need to do to
communicate to parents and children more effectively. Imprint polo
shirts with your children's ministry logo for all your team
32. Proofread your letters. There's nothing
like a misspelled document to communicate carelessness, laziness,
or ignorance. If necessary, have someone else proofread for