How can Christian organisations avoid being misunderstood?

5 April 2021  |  Insights
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Whenever I meet someone new and they invariably ask what I do and I have noticed my increasing reluctance to say “I work in public relations for Christian organisations.”

I am passionate about our vision to give voice and profile to faith-based organisations. So why is it that I find myself hesitating to mention this?

Ultimately, I think it is because I don’t think I would be understood; that the words “Christian organisation” would invite a whole host of judgement and assumptions that do not reflect the work of our incredible clients.

I worry they would picture a boring, narrow-minded company trying to sell faith to anyone listening. An agency that works with religious organisations that lobby against all manner of liberal ideals. It’s a sad truth, but secular society often views “religion” as strict, controlling and backward.

Yet, for faith-motivated organisations like our clients, this could not be further from truth. From tackling child hunger to liberating people from addiction, all of these organisations work out of love to impact the world for good. The perception that all people of faith are judgemental rule keepers and all churches are abusive and bigoted shows there is a serious communication problem.

So how can we communicate more effectively?

Changing the perception of Christians in the media may feel like an impossible task. But it isn’t. Here at Jersey Road PR, we can attest to that. We are living through a unique time. COVID has seen an incredible rise in openness to faith. Faith-motivated organisations have a real opportunity to change the narrative. If we can communicate our heart, and take more of a holistic approach in talking about our motivation, we can begin to shift perceptions. Here are a few tips for how your organisation might better communicate;

1. Be aware of the issues of the day

It may sound obvious, but don’t blindly post about a campaign without researching what is going on in the world or your industry. It is a recipe for looking out of touch or insensitive.

2. Research your audience

This applies to both the audience your post is intended for and those who aren’t your target audience, but may well see it anyway. Understand who you are speaking to and how you will be heard.

3. Ensure your communications are culturally literate

Once you have researched your audience, make sure what you are saying makes sense and is interesting to them. Remember your communications will reach wider than your intended audience. So, if you are speaking to people of faith make sure you still have those without a faith in mind.

4. Build understanding and respect with your audience

Creating conversation and community within your audience can really boost engagement with who you are as an organisation.

5. Do a jargon check

At Easter, Christians are showcased more in the media and Christian charities, churches and organisations run Easter campaigns. But there can also be so much jargon and religious practice, that the true message of Easter gets lost. Easter is an opportunity to communicate the heart behind our organisation effectively, so check for jargon!

We need to open the narrative, talk broadly about issues we’re passionate about, and engage our audience by listening and understanding what they’re interested in. It is then that we begin to shift people’s perspective of “Christian companies” and the heart of organisations begins to shine through.

Esther Jolliffe, PR Account Manager

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