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Web Stuff Wednesdays

USING THE WWW FOR WINTER WEATHER WARNING

Christmas greetings from your friends at Church Plant Media! Before our various holiday celebrations, we wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Due to all the recent snowfall across North America, Tim has asked us to help you put together an inclement weather strategy for your church. A few of our team members live in the Northeast, so we have some first-hand experience with this topic. So if your leadership team has been wondering how to announce the news that the Grinch stole your winter gathering with a blanket of white, consider the following.

We have found the acronym S.N.O.W. to be helpful:

  1. S = Social MediaFacebook, Twitter, etc.
  2. N = News ChannelsRadio, TV, & e-mail
  3. O = Outdoor SignsSignage “just in case”
  4. W = Web HomepageBanner & blog post

1. SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook and Twitter may be the fastest ways to spread news about winter weather warnings. Social Media is where people “live” online so it can be very effective. In June the Barna Group did a study called The Rise of the @Pastor where they found that over one in five churches (21%) use Twitter and 70% of churches use Facebook. Both of these numbers grew around 10% in the past 2 years.

The Barna study also stated, “In fact, more than two-thirds of pastors (65%) say they think social media will be a significant part of their ministry over the next two years alone. Comparatively, about one-third of Protestant pastors say they think social media is overrated and not necessary to their ministry.” If you are reading this blog post we are guessing that you are in the 2/3 majority.

2. NEWS CHANNELS

Getting the word out about your weather related response should include news outlets like local Christian radio stations, local TV news, and church-wide e-mails. This usually depends on the severity of the weather, the size of your congregation, and your location, but many radio stations will be happy to run an announcement about your closing or cancellation. Often TV stations will do the same.

Usually a church-wide e-mail will reach most families before they try to travel in the snow. Whether folks read their e-mail on their computer, smart phone, or tablet, a majority of people are connected enough that they will get the update. One tip is to mention in the e-mail that people should call their prayer chains and small groups with the news, along with anyone who may not have access to e-mail.

3. OUTDOOR SIGNS

Depending on where your church meets and how easy it is to get there, you may want to consider posting some kind of signage “just in case” people make the trip. This can be as simple as a handwritten note on paper that is taped to the front door. Or if you have a church sign out front with moveable letters, that would be the ideal place to post a weather advisory for those who brave the cold.

Regardless of when and where you meet, most likely there will be someone who does not see the notes on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, the radio or TV, and they won’t bother to check the website. They may think that if they can drive, so should everyone else. If you can make it over to your meeting place, you may want to serve them with a note to politely tell them to go back home and stay safe.

4. WEB HOMEPAGE

To round out your action plan, you should make strategic use of your website homepage and blog to let people know about the cancellations or closings. As a website company with over 15 years of experience, we have seen first hand how a website can be an effective weather warning tool. The homepage “hero image” (banner, rotator, or slider) will always “save the day” with your big announcement.

In addition to creating an eye-catching graphic for your homepage, the church blog is the next best place for this kind of breaking news. It would even be wise to link the “hero image” to your weather related blog post, so your website visitors will get the news fast with the graphic and they will be able to click to learn more about when and if the meeting will be postponed or cancelled.

We hope this strategy helps you sing: “Let it SNOW! Let it SNOW! Let it SNOW!”

Merry Christmas from your friends @ Church Plant Media | (800) 409-6631 x 1

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