Creating a parish press kit
One of the best tools for parish communicators is a good press kit. It provides a representative picture of your congregation and helps you look professional and knowledgeable to local editors and producers.
Your press kit should include:
- A concise fact sheet.
- A photo and biographical sketch of your rector.
- An annual calendar of events and special services (such as the opening softball game or blessing of the animals, burning of the greens, reenactment of Stations of the Cross, Easter egg hunt — things that might lead to a feature story or a photo, not regular church services).
- A list of church members who have expertise in different areas. This list gives reporters contacts for many different articles and a voice with which to localize national or international stories. If, for instance, your local paper is using a wire story about the presidential election and someone in your congregation is a precinct chair, you have provided easy access for the reporter while allowing a voice of faith into an otherwise secular story. A retired service person might be able to add a voice of faith to the current stories about the war in Iraq.
- Another item to include is a list of photo opportunities. Sometimes all the newspaper or TV station wants is an image of kids hunting Easter eggs or the bishop all dressed up in a procession. It could even be a youth group making six-foot long sub-sandwiches to sell before the Super Bowl game.
- Also include copies of previous coverage you have received.
Include the contact person’s name and phone number on everything — and it should be a number that will be answered by a person, all the time. Put all this, with an introductory letter, into a nice folder and take it to the local newspaper editor with a church coffee mug filled with chocolate. Make an appointment or lunch date to discuss what kinds of stories you might provide to them.
These relationships are critical in receiving coverage and promoting your church family within your community.