Communications Request Forms
Save your sanity with a process
As communication leaders, we’ve all experienced quick conversations in the hall, text messages, phone calls, and emails from parishioners or fellow staff who have a communications project that needs to be done. Often that is followed by, “So, do you think you can get this done today?”
Without processes in place to receive information, the communication needs of a church can become unorganized and overwhelming. Welcome to chaos!
How do you fix this problem? Consider creating a Communications Request Form that walks a staff person or lay leaders through all of the information need to promote the program, event, or opportunity. Getting this system in place can be a game-changer for your communications designee, staff member, or committee.
- Map out the type of requests you receive, along with the information needed for each request.
- Build your print form with InDesign, Word, or Publisher.
- Build your online form with a form builder like Wufoo, Formstack, or even a free solution like Google Forms.
- Post a link to the forms where your staff or lay leaders can easily get to them. Then, teach them about this new system and funnel all communication requests through these forms.
- When someone stops you in the hall or sends you a text message requesting promotion, gladly say "That sounds like a great event. If you fill out a Communications Request Form, I'll be sure to begin working on your promotion."
- Your form communicates deadlines for you, so you can focus on communicating and scheduling promotion with the timelines available to you.
Let's put this process in perspective. Let's say you outsource your communications work to a marketing firm down the street. You wouldn't walk into their office without an appointment and ask for a new logo, promotions work, or an ad needed today, or even in just a few days' time. You would have a reasonable understanding that you weren't their only client. You would expect that they wouldn't be able to drop all of their other work to focus on your project. You would expect a formal process that both clearly defines the scope of the work and the deadlines by which that work could be completed.
Your communications office and process shouldn't be any different. Just because you're down the hall instead of down the street doesn't change this relationship of expectations. Your church or ministry should use best practices in the business world to inform the way that you relate to the business functions of your church. Try it out. Save your sanity.
- As you begin implementing this new system, be intentional about all requests being funneled through this system. For this to work, staff and lay leaders need to know that this is the place for all requests. No exceptions. It’s fine for the conversation about a project to begin in a meeting, phone call, etc., but make sure they know the project doesn’t begin until the communication request is submitted.
- Be careful that your form says “Communications Request” and not “Work Order.” You are the strategic communicator for your organization. You are charged with strategically promoting all events; though not all events are equal or need equal promotion. This process helps you to say "yes" to what is possible, within the scope of what is reasonable. Alternatively, this process also helps you strategically say that a medium of promotion is not possible or available. Again, "request," not "work order."
- For each of the individual requests, you can setup email notifications to go to specific members of your team. For example, if you have a staff member or volunteer in charge of social media promotion, they can receive the request directly when someone submits the form.
- Receiving the communications request is important, but it doesn’t end there. The next step for the communications designee, team, or committee is to map out the tasks and milestones for how the project will be completed. Choose what works best for you and run with it. Wall chart with projects in progress? Google Doc with updates? Project Management app like Asana or Basecamp? Find what works and get to work.
Examples of Communications REquest Forms
- Saint John's Cathedral, Denver, CO
- Christ Church, Grosse Pointe, MI
- The Church of St. John the Divine, Houston, TX
- St. Chrysostom's Episcopal Church, Chicago, IL
- St. Benedict's Church
- Trinity Episcopal, Fort Wayne, IN
- TMI - The Episcopal School in Texas, San Antonio, TX
- St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Encinitas, CA
- St. Columba's Episcopal Church, Washington, DC