I participated in an interesting focus-group discussion this evening that I would like to continue with all you brilliant BCC readers. A young man from some Church research department was flown to New York City to talk to members here about how the Church is perceived in the local community, and how the Church can better get its message out.
Being that I’m a professional Web junkie, I blathered on and on about social media techniques: Twitter, Facebook’s micro-targeted advertising platform, blogs, and stuff like that.
The Man from Salt Lake (as I’ll call him) was more interested in discussing member PR efforts; whether we think members should be engaged in public relations, how they should be managed/encouraged, and whether PR is any different than regular ol’ missionary work.
For my part, I say it’s the same thing. Telling someone about the Gospel is telling someone about the Gospel, whether we do it on Twitter, at the office water cooler, in a shared FHE, via press release to the media, or in a discussion with the missionaries. To me, it’s all a form of public relations/marketing, whether grass-roots or otherwise.
Of course, some of these methods will have higher “conversion rates” than others (in the crass, marketing sense). It’s easy to tweet that I am preparing a lesson for church, which probably builds up the brand identity of the church among my Twitter followers. It’d be a different story if I were to mass-invite them all to attend their local sacrament service. Perhaps the water cooler is better for that.
Anyway, I want to get your take on a few questions that arose from the discussion:
Is member missionary work different from “grass-roots” or “viral” PR? (or does the distinction even matter?) Do any of you have positive experiences of working with your local public affairs representatives? Or coordinating their efforts with the missionaries’? When you see a church ad on Facebook or Google Ads, what’s your mental/emotional response? Is discussing brand perception and mindshare too “Global Religious Organization” and not enough “Kingdom of God on Earth”?
I’d love to read your responses to any or all of those Qs. Refer to Elder Ballard’s blogging talk as often as you wish. And who knows? Maybe The Man from Salt Lake will be reading this.