Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Service or Self-Promotion?

With the record breaking heat wave we're experiencing in the U.S. (and Oklahoma where I'm at), I see both an opportunity for service and self-promotion ... but am wrestling with this.

Last night on the news, I heard there were a couple heat-related deaths in our metro, with a tag at the end about a community agency who is giving fans away and has a waiting list of about 150 or so.

Here's what I'm wrestling with ... I believe the mission of the church is to not only seek to save the lost ... but also to serve them in Christian love. I want to suggest our church make a donation to buy several fans. BUT the tension is ... I'd also like to get some good PR out of it too.

If the primary motive is serving and helping ... should we be guilt-free about getting good press out of it? Be honest ... what are your thoughts about this?


Anonymous Stacey Hamby said...

I understand this delicate balance completely. We don't want to say to the public, "Look at us and what we're doing" in what could be construed as a prideful way. I once heard that the difference between marketing and public relations is that marketing is what we say about ourselves, and public relations is what other people say about us. As a church, we don't need to feel guilty at all about wanting to get good PR in our community -- because that's good name recognition and a way to draw people to our church. We would just prefer that other people to say it.

I suggest working with a local charity or agency that could distribute the fans -- but your church provides the fans or the funding for their purchase. Then, that agency issues the news release, saying there no longer is a waiting list because your church has donated all those and more. If the media follows up on that, then there is the agency's or the recipients' opportunity to say what the church has done and your church's opportunity to be able to comment about caring for your community. As a result, someone out there might see that your church cares in a practical way, and decide that is a place for them to check out.

We have seen it work with a partnership we have with a local school district. For three years, we have painted elementary schools and a middle school, and I worked with the district's communications office to cover details such as number of volunteers and project details, and they sent out the media advisory. Both our church and the school district have gotten good press coverage from both TV and newspapers that go to the schools during the painting project to talk to people who are participating and get photos.

Either way for your church, it's a win-win because whether or not the media covers it (which is always a bonus), you have fulfilled part of the church's purpose and made a difference in people's lives in a practical way, opening doors for more ministry in the future. And you can't go wrong with that!

I hope it works out for you and let me know if you have any questions!

10:57 AM  
Blogger Cory Miller said...

Thanks, Stacey, for the wise and on target advice!

8:22 PM  

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