Public Relations 101

public relations 12

We learned a very useful skill in Leadership Matters Course (LMC) – public relations (PR). Formerly when I think of PR, my immediate association is that of slick advertisers telling people how great they are. This is a caricature and not the truth. PR is actually making sure that what we are is what people think we are. It is knowing yourself and your constituents, and being authentic in your relationships.

PR is very important in pioneer missionary work. Before a church can be planted, we need to know the needs of a community and how we can meet them to build bridges to share the gospel. We need to deploy our limited resources that are best suited in satisfying those needs. For all of these we need to employ PR skills in working with community leaders, which unfortunately do not form part of the formal training in a seminary. That’s why we’re so glad we were introduced to the subject. Let me summarize what we learned in LMC.

What we are is our distinctives, what set us apart from others. To help you discover your distinctives, you need to answer 4 questions:
1. What do I offer?
2. What do I want to be known for?
3. In what ways is what I offer different from what others offer?
4. What is my purpose?

For example, in my case I offer pastoral, evangelism and discipling skills, with a background of over 3 decades of business experience. I want to be known as a pastor who knows the Word and the market place, and how to connect the two. What I offer differs from others in the practical application of Scripture to the real world. My purpose is to build and multiply strong churches through building strong families.

The people are our stakeholders, those who can keep us in business, or put us out of business. They include the folks we are serving, our supporters, family members, governments, contacts etc. To help you identify all those in your sphere of influence who can make or break your ministry, and to determine their needs so you can connect with them, you need to ask questions in 4 areas:
1. Their needs – known, unknown and unspoken.
2. Their perceptions of you.
3. Who you should relate to?
4. How you can serve them better?

Once you’ve done your research and know both your distinctives and your stakeholders, you build relationships with them by finding a solution to their needs. Some relationships are new which you need to win, some are already established which you need to maintain, and some need to be strengthened as they are not deep enough. The last thing is to put together a plan of action, then implement it to solve their needs. PR is useful. I wish I had learned that earlier.

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