Marketing and PR according to Randy Phillips
Randy Phillips has a keen ability to make things happen and then to get other people to get excited about what he is making happen. He was born with some of the talent, his father contributed to it, and a news editor at a local outlet put the icing on the cake. I sat down to lunch with him the other day and he shared with me his Marketing/PR strategy from the ground up.
Let me back up just a little and say that I used to be on his staff and one of my three positions of the church was marketing/PR. So, I am very familiar with his tactics and strategies as I used to be one of his key players on the team. This stuff will not only help you tap into the news outlets, but the same techniques are used to garner interest from those in your church that are on the outside looking in.
As we sat at the table, he took the pepper shaker and stuck it at the middle of the table and said, “You start with your ‘anchor store’, and then you build off of that. Just like Walmart or Target is an anchor store in the shopping center with many smaller stores on the periphery, your ‘anchor store’ is the core idea that God gave you to begin with.” Maybe it is a concert, a new program, a outreach plan, a new business or ministry idea. God gives you an idea that will help accomplish his purpose. You get fired up about it because you felt it came from God. However, getting others to get on board is often a challenge. (Especially those outside of your core ministry circle.) Randy’s dad, Kenneth Phillips taught Randy a lot on this topic. Thinking of the big idea. Think outside of the box. Be creative. The anchor store is the foundation and in itself it needs to carry its own weight.
From the pepper shaker, Randy started adding Sweet and Low packets. If you want to move beyond your core audience, then you need to consider other ‘stores’ to compliment your anchor. This concept was driven home with Randy when I was on staff with him in early 2000s. He wanted every idea we had at the church on the news (TV, paper, online, etc). I had the address of every news outlet in Texas and I would send out press releases to them all. We never got feedback.
Finally, Randy was frustrated and took out the Religion Editor of the Austin American Statesman to lunch. She basically told him, “We aren’t interested when you have a concert at your church. Just because you think something is interesting and will change everyone’s life that attends or participates doesn’t mean that anyone else does.” So, Randy asked the million dollar question, “What are you interested in writing about?” She told him that she wanted to know how his event impacted the community in a very specific way. You need to have a component (another store) that connects the dots to everyone else. In media terms, you need ‘an angle’. How does the core idea actually connect to everyday people? Where is the life change? Give an example. Give concrete stories of individual people that have been effected. Instead of telling people what you are doing, tell them about someone who has experienced life change. Then, they naturally ask HOW it happened. (What the venue or method is)
From a spiritual angle, you want to give God glory for how He is actually impacting lives instead of giving attention to the method you are using. All of this process takes time to dream, think, plan, talk with others. It takes a much bigger investment and effort to take things to the next level. However, the results (fruit) of the investment (sowing) are huge. It becomes exponential and momentum is created.