Christian MediaCreative Leadership

Ten Ideas to Be A More Effective Communications or Media Director

1.  Find a mentor and get better advice.  Seek out another media director who’s programs, campaigns, or events you admire and begin a relationship with him or her.  Stop making the same mistakes others have already made, and learn from other people’s success (and sometimes failure.)

2.  Watch more TV (not religious TV either).  Study contemporary graphic styles, directing techniques, and editing methods.  You’ll discover that “page turn” wipes stopped about 10 years ago, flying boxes went out even earlier, and many other things that will surprise you!

  Let’s stop producing such lame videos.

3.  Stop using “cuts and dissolves” at random.  There’s a reason to cut or dissolve between cameras.  Remember that cuts and dissolves to a director are like periods and commas to a writer – they’re the visual grammar that makes a scene work.  Learn to use them at appropriate times.

4.  Get on your pastor or ministry leader’s wavelength.  Stop focusing just about HD issues, projector quality, or font sizes, and start thinking like your boss.  The reason he doesn’t respect you is because he doesn’t understand you – and that happens because you speak a different language than he does.  Get on his wavelength. If thinks your just a “techie,” then become concerned about what he’s concerned about, and your relationship will change almost overnight.

5.  Learn more about direct response.  The bottom line is that 90% of what we do in Christian media and communications is response driven – from evangelism, to reaching visitors, to fundraising. Therefore, if you don’t understand current direct response techniques, you’re only doing 10% of your job well.  Learn to get the audience excited enough to want to join your church, participate in an outreach, or financially partner with your ministry.

  Your communications strategies should all be about inspiring action.

6.   Grow in two key areas – leadership and creativity.  Leadership, because you’re in command of a volunteer or paid crew that needs someone to learn from and look up to.  Creativity, because that’s the currency of this culture.  If you can become a strong, creative leader, you’re chances of success will instantly multiply.  Especially in the face of limited budgets.

7.   Stop hiring people like you.  Most people hire duplicates of themselves.  You need the confidence to hire people who are better than you – especially in areas you’re weaker in.  If you’re creative, hire a good manager or someone who understands budgets or scheduling.  If you’re a numbers person, hire more creative people.  Learn to build a team of experts – each with different strengths and skills.

8.  Learn better people skills.  The single greatest skill you’ll ever learn in life is how to deal with people.  Communications and media is a collaborative effort, and no one can do it alone.  Until you can learn to inspire people to accomplish great things, you’ll always be limited.  Motivating other people will multiply your effectiveness many times over.

9.  Learn to direct.  Almost every organization is using video in some way – from multi-camera events to single camera shorts or promos.  The art of directing is much more than randomly cutting between 4 or 5 cameras.  It involves shot composition, framing, cutting tempo, movement, rhythm, and the skill to direct your pastor, ministry leader, host, or actors.  If you can inspire your on-camera talent, you’ll jump ahead of the vast majority of directors out there who just push buttons or call shots.

  Remember you’re the leader, so even if you’re not the video “director” on your team, you need to understand what good directing looks like and why it matters.

10.  Keep it simple.  Contemporary style is simple, clean, and elegant.  Don’t get so fancy with your shot selection, graphic design, or editing that it detracts from your story.  Remember – the minute a viewer notices how “cool” your shots or graphics were, you’ve failed, because you’ve distracted them from the message.  Learn to be invisible, so the viewer is pulled into a compelling visual experience.

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  1. Great stuff, Phil! Spot on!
    I would add learn visual story telling that adds to what your pastor is doing. Suggest props, themes, and stories. Feed him creative ideas that he can build on. I find as we feed the pastor new stories like testimonies and such, he finds ways to build them into his sermons.

    1. Great point Jim. Telling an effective story is really a foundational thing. If you can’t tell a story, it doesn’t matter that you’re a great designer or camera operator.

  2. Very solid and good advice, Phil.

    You mention focusing on things other than HD, font size, etc… but you did not mention font style– which should always be “Papyrus”, the font style the Bible was originally written in.

  3. Phil: I totally agree with what your points! One of the things I really feel I need to grow in is your number 5. Can you recommend a good book or how to move forward to enhance direct response? Thanks

  4. Thats the 2nd time in a few days someone has said ‘get a mentor’ I need one in my specialist area but there aren’t many around in Australia.

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