Make your children's ministry event hard to
Poor attendance at your children's ministry event is rarely a
reflection of the quality of the event; rather it's a reflection of
the quality of your publicity for the event. Of course, the lack of
repeat attendance at subsequent events could be telling you
something about the quality of your events, but that's another
And this article is about publicity do's and don'ts. The
children and families you're trying to reach receive hundreds of
messages daily. How can your children's ministry event stand
No matter what you do in publicity, don't let it be an
afterthought. In fact, as you're first planning your special event,
make your publicity campaign part of the process also. Begin your
publicity plan with deep prayer. And work as a team; you'll
generate tons more ideas with a group of people than you would by
Then follow these seven publicity principles from experts who make
their living in publicity and marketing.
1. Know who you are. "Never pretend to be
something you're not. Every local church has a distinct personality
and character, just as each person does," says Jeff White, image
developer at Group Publishing, Inc. "If you're going to publicize
yourself to the community, show your church's true identity -- its
core values, its distinct voice, and its authentic
To better understand your children's ministry's uniquenesses,
answer these questions:
• What are three things your children's ministry does well? Of
those things, what's the #1 distinguishing characteristic of your
ministry? How is that thing reflected in the event you're
• If your children's ministry were a person, who would it be --
and why? a clown? Mother Teresa? a cookie-baking grandma? Once you
know your ministry's personality, how is that reflected in the
event you're publicizing?
• If your children's ministry has only one message that it's
trying to convey, what is it? How is that reflected in the event
2. Know your audience.
"Just as you need to know yourself, you need to understand your
community," says White. "Publicity is all about getting attention;
people will ignore you if you don't know who they are. Target an
audience. Who needs to hear your news?"
Create a target list that identifies who you're trying to reach
with the event you're publicizing. For example, at Children's
Ministry Magazine, we study the demographics and psychographics of
you -- our reader. Basically, demographics tell us how many of you
are male or female, if you're leaders or volunteers, where you
live, what your responsibilities are, and more. Psychographics tell
us what you care about, such as what makes you excited, passionate,
angry, sad, fulfilled, and more. Understanding these things makes
us better able to serve you. And we're always adding new
discoveries to our lists.
Do the same with the target audience you're trying to reach.
Create a target list by answering these basic questions:
• Who are you trying to reach with your event? (children, parents,
families, unchurched people, or all of the above?)
• Where are these people? Where do they hang out, eat out, shop,
go to school, play?
• When do these people need to hear about your event to fit it
into their schedules? When is the best time for them to attend your
• What do these people care about? What do they need from your
event? It's important to note here that there are real needs
(relationship with Jesus) and felt needs (entertainment). Your
target audience is most interested in knowing how you'll meet their
• Why would these people want to come to your event? Understand
the difference between features and benefits. A feature is a
description of your event, such as a wild and wacky sports camp.
Benefits of the sports camp are to learn new skills, meet new
friends, or have fun. Benefits are what people are going to get out
of the event. To answer the "why" question for your target
audience, you must tell them what the benefits of attendance are --
not just what you're doing. And to get their attention, your
benefits must be the answer to their felt needs.
3. Create a visual campaign. You know your target
audience and you've identified the benefits of your event -- now
it's time to attach the creative visuals to your campaign. What
images, colors, and wording would speak to your audience, based on
what you know about them?
You need a standard image for all of your promotional materials
for your event. This involves your logo, fonts, colors, photos, and
message. One of the biggest mistakes churches make in publicity is
not standardizing these things for each promotional piece. Every
method, medium, and mode within a campaign must look the same. For
example, if you look at your campaign's posters, fliers, postcards,
bulletin announcements, ads, banners, and anything else, you must
be able to see that all these things fit the same event because
they have the same look.