When discussing catechesis and evangelization, I am very comfortable using the phrases such as “public relations” (PR) or marketing, and find that I often encounter push back.
“The Church is not trying to win a public relations battle!”
“Proclaiming the Gospel is not a popularity contest!”
The conclusion that many people draw is that public relations and marketing necessitate altering the content of your core beliefs. That is a fallacy. According to the Public Relations Society of America, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
I would hope that one of the goals of catechesis and evangelization – proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ – is to build mutually beneficial relationships between the Church and those we serve.
Public relations is the art of recognizing and influencing how one is being perceived. One way to change how you’re being perceived, of course, is to change your message…that’s called flip-flopping and it happens so much, especially in politics, that it gives PR a bad name. However, you can stay true to your message and still utilize PR strategies to ensure that your message is received in a positive light. A lot of that has to do with not only WHAT you believe and WHY you believe it but in HOW you get that message across.
I personally think that the Catholic Church right now is suffering from absolutely horrible public relations strategies. So much of our approach boils down to, “this is what we believe and why we believe it and if you don’t like it, tough.” We’re very big on WHAT we believe and WHY we believe it, but lack horribly in HOW we present those notions to others. Author Simon Sinek (Start With Why) reminds us that “We live in a tangible world. The only way people will know what you believe is by the things you say and do, and if you’re not consistent in the things you say and do, no one will know what you believe. ”
What we need as a Church is more consistency between what we say and what we do (how we say it). Catechesis and evangelization rely on more than just words…they rely on perception and perception is influenced more by actions than by words. You would think that a sacramental church like ours – one that believes in the centrality of sign and symbol – would do a better job of communicating with the public at the symbolic level (i.e. paying close attention to HOW we get our message across in addition to WHAT our message is).
What do you think about the role of public relations and marketing in the Church?
- What is Church Public Relations?
- Is Marketing a Dirty Word?
- Church Marketing S*cks
- Church Marketing is the Great Commission
- The Word Made Fresh: Communicating Church and Faith Today
- Should the Vatican Put More Energy Into Public Relations?
- Bible Verses on Marketing for Marketers
- Why There is No Such Thing as Church Marketing
- Is it Wrong to Market the Church?
- Public Relations Lessons from Jesus, The Apostles, and The Bible