Engaging CultureStrategy & Marketing

The Momentum is Starting to Change in Religious Media

Apparently, my last two books – Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media, and The Last TV Evangelist – are making some kind of buzz out there in media circles.  Just in the last month, one of the largest church denominations in American ordered 50 copies of one title to give to each of their state offices.  A major religious media organization ordered 75 copies to give to each of their board members and each department head throughout the organization.  We’ve seen other orders for 20, 40, and more copies as pastors, ministry, and non-profit leaders realize the importance sharing their message in a media-driven culture.

Universities are starting to use the books as textbooks in their media classes.  Nothing will change the thinking of your church, ministry, non-profit, or even business like getting copies of each of these books into the hands of influencers – board members, those on your leadership team, department heads, or your closest confidants.  If your leader is the problem, get copies for him or her.

Just a few weeks ago, I met with the CEO of one of the largest ministries in America.  One of his graphic designers had given him the book and it completely transformed his thinking about the perception of the organization.  At another major ministry, one of the radio producers gave a copy to the head of communication and after reading it he flew all the way out just to meet with our team.

The momentum is starting.  We can change the way people of faith use the media.    Religious leaders are understanding that we live in a media driven world, and that’s changing everything about how to connect with the culture.

Are you seeing signs of leaders changing their thinking?  Let me know, because I need your help to keep this conversation going.

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  1. Big churches and big ministries are way too committed to self-preservation to see the big picture here.  This is a sea change – a massive shift in communication and culture.  Do you honestly see a momentum shift, Phil?  Do these organizations see the absolute necessity to fundamentally change their approach to content?   Will your book sit on desks, as these once powerful resources become museum pieces?  I hope not!  But inertia and lethargy are powerful forces driven by fear dedicated to protect and preserve the status quo.

    "The internet has eliminated the barrier of geography, cost and time." (Seth Godin – "Tribes")  It’s a relentless force that has already made dinosaurs out of the Yellow Pages and newspapers.  Terrestrial radio and TV are so heavily leveraged they can’t even strategically respond to the market share they know they’re loosing.

    Where does that put faith-based media?  Do we know the influence and market share we’re loosing?  Are they’re any metrics being used to keep anyone consistently accountable?  What cannot be measured cannot be changed.  This is a huge opportunity to lead culture and shape the dialog of the future.  We are all at the starting line.  For God’s sake – and I mean that literally – I hope someone wakes up!!  SOON!!!

  2. It always amazes me how these leaders got where they are without this knowledge.  It is just common sense to a lot of us. 

    I will call this a victory. 

    Great job Phil for giving us tools to prove many of us know what we are talking about!

  3. Hi phil, I think that the ideas that you present, especially in the books that are mentioned in this thread, are vital to seeing a change in religious media. My pastor introduced the book branding faith to our media team as well as a few of your other materials. For me, Branding faith has been a paradigm shift and a life line. I now see the dire importance of telling one consistent story in everything we do. Yet, I have a question for you that I hope you would be able to answer. What do you do when you are a part of a large and growing ministry that has made amateur strides towards the goal of defining the ministries brand, but may not be particularly interested completely redefining the brand whether by in house staff or by bringing in professionals due to cost or time that it would take completely asses the job and bring it through production? 

    1. That’s a very typical situation. Most pastors and leaders will SAY they understand the need for branding and better communication, but aren’t willing to put their money where their mouth is. I’ve discovered the best way is to show them how unifying their message makes a huge difference. Put their print material, website, TV, video, radio, social media – whatever campaigns their doing on the table. For most organizations it looks like it could come from a variety of places. But organizations that can unify that message both from a content and design point of view, really start firing on all cylinders.

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