When people think of Content Marketing, one of the first best practices is to try and connect with the audience’s deepest needs, the individuals truest self. As Content Marketing Strategists, we love to highlight and salute great examples of authenticity in action.
It seems a natural strategy for a church - their bread and butter is helping their communities to search and know themselves - and to act on what they find. A leading church in the San Francisco Bay Area, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church recently ran a month-long series called “Thank God its Monday” that did that, as well as employing a number of other best practices in this strategic communication method.
Menlo Park Presbyterian Church describes itself as a place where everyone's welcome, nobody's perfect, and anything's possible.
Their positioning lends them to meet people where they are - spiritual works in progress. But also, meeting people where they are - from a time spent standpoint - led them to want to address how our opportunities, challenges and relationships at work shape us.
In addition to the teachings they would deliver via the weekend services, the leadership decided to develop a multi-channel campaign, inspired in part on the largely successful #humansofnewyork series. MPPC had a website, blog, podcasts and social media accounts, and all were aligned and resourced for an integrated campaign.
The objective was to help members of all ages and stages feel connected around a common theme, and to allow people who weren’t members to do some soul-searching about how work shapes us via the stories posted on their friends’ social media.
An example of the Lead Pastor John Ortberg giving sermon messages both live and recorded to share at other venues. These recordings would also be shared via Vimeo and podcasts.
For this 4 week series, the teaching staff developed 4 weekend long form programs - 2 traditional sermons, 1 video interview with noted psychologist and author Henry Cloud, 1 video roundtable with 4 members - 2 very experienced and 2 newer in their careers.
In addition to these elements, the church leadership identified 20 individuals who told brief stories of how their work has shaped their spiritual lives.
Finally, they developed 20 podcasts - featuring a mix of staff members, community members, and sermon remixes.
An example of an individual sharing their work/faith background stories on Facebook.
#TGIM distribution channels
As mentioned above, this organization had established website, blog, podcast and social media, but this was the first time that all the channels were coordinated around the same campaign. In particular, the developing of daily Facebook stories and Podcasts provided a very unique opportunity for the church to become a daily resource - meeting people where they were, whether at their computer, at their commute or some other mid-week opportunity.
Twitter was used occasionally to share about podcasts, and Instagram would be used to repost some of the Facebook stories, but there was no media developed specifically for use in these channels.
This organization serves about 5000 regular attendees each week, but is also a resource for many online, as well as supporting many charitable endeavors in the community. As mentioned above, the idea was to use the existing community’s members to share information for the good of the members, but it was very a very strategic decision to make the information accessible and useful to those that might not be members or even have any interest in church attendance.
Because of the mix of media used they were able to reach many more people than they typically would have been able to do. And in going into the community for stories, they strengthened the community - helping people to know one another better, to share inspiration and support. This worked particularly well as the church is multigenerational - as was the campaign.
Menlo has a history of innovation and community focus. One of their key strategies is to put considerable resources into starting new campuses so that people in need of a nearby thriving spiritual community will have access to one. They implemented many best practices in doing this - with 4 new communities being started in the last several years.
But a church is more than a physical place with bodies that congregate once a week. By pursuing this online content strategy they have successfully used their gifts and resources to achieve their mission - bringing the good news to anyone with an Internet connection and an interest in finding the meaning in their daily work.
The success of the campaign on Facebook seems to have led to a new practice where new initiatives are given faces and stories - the current campaign shows people providing their view of how rewarding serving the community is.
Content Strategy is a key component of Inbound Marketing. If you're not sure what Inbound Marketing is all about, download our free checklist to make sure you're staff is using all of these best practices!