Most organizational communication problems are really something else.
Here are a few examples:
My friend Kaleigh is a freelance copywriter. Business owners routinely hire her to write their About Us webpages and their Core Values. She often has to make the content up from scratch…
… because they need her to tell them who they should be since they don’t know.
I once attended a church and regularly heard the leaders complain that people wouldn’t sign up for small groups. Every Sunday they announced Men’s and Women’s Bible Studies and special classes and events for young adults. People signed up for those things…
… because that’s what sounded important and fun.
When I worked in corporate PR, I had a well-known technology company on retainer. About once a month, my team and I were asked to write a press release and pitch journalists on a new cell phone we’d never seen or held, working off only a list of specs. And those phones rarely got any media attention…
… because we were marketing something we didn’t believe in.
Communication is often more effective than we think it is. The frustration comes when, truthfully, we are not actually communicating what we think we are communicating. Who we really are, what we really value and what we really believe seeps out. No fancy schmancy communications plan needed.
Still, when churches sense their message isn’t getting through, they often dive headfirst into changing the technology or the graphics, trying more announcements, redesigning the site, etc. Perhaps you lead at one of those churches. The problem is they are often trying to solve the wrong challenge…
If your vision series fails to rally your congregation, you probably don’t have a communication problem. You have a buy-in problem (which may also be a vision problem).
If people aren’t showing up for the right things, but they are showing up for a variety of things, you don’t have a communication problem. You have a clutter problem.
If your emails inviting people to serve go completely unnoticed (and you have, of course, already tested various headlines to see which receive the most opens), you don’t have a communication problem. You have a strategy problem.
If your mission, vision and values could be pulled from any church website in any city across the country, you don’t have a communication problem. You have an identity problem.
Who we really are, what we really value and what we really believe seeps out.
As Kem Meyer always says, it’s not about sending the right message; it’s about releasing the right response.
You’re communicating more than you think. And yes, sometimes, the way you’re communicating is just not effective (especially in churches). I absolutely suggest trying different methods with different audiences until you find what clicks. But if you’re not getting the right response, dig a layer deeper than your technology, graphics and stage announcements before you spend an inordinate amount of time and money on wordsmithing and redesigning.
People hear you. If they aren’t responding, take the time to diagnose what’s really broken underneath.