Friday, November 30, 2007

Think Outside the Budget

I'm working on a brochure right now that will be passed out to college students, as well as play a role in a campaign to re-energize one of the communities in our church. In our brainstorming, we came up with the idea to have a photobooth for members of the congregation to get their photos taken to be used a as a background. Playing off the "behind every face lies a story" phrase, we were really excited about the idea. So, I began to research.

I found that renting a photobooth would run around $1700, while buying one would set us back a little over $6,000. So, it was time to think outside the budget. As I was researching photobooth photos to use in the initial brochure design, I found a lot of people posting pictures they took on their macs, using a program called photobooth. Great program with limited practical use...or so I thought. I figured, because the photos are going to be small and in the background, quality might not be an issue. So, we gave it a shot. After the services each weekend, the leadership invited people to come out and be a part of the project by getting their photos taken. We had over 130 people stop by to get their photos taken, and it really showed a great cross section of the types of people who "fit" here at church. More than anything, I was excited to see an idea work so well that was a result of not being able to do what we would have done if we had the money.

I think big budgets are often a hindrance. They allow us to rest on the fact that we can afford to do whatever we want. Sometimes not having enough money can in fact limit a project, but I think true creativity shows up when we are low on funds, and still deliver outstanding results.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Keep on Keepin' on

Very sorry for the massive delay in posting. I have been swamped at work with a major project, and now that it is back from print and mailed out to a few thousand households in the High Desert, I can reflect a bit on the chaos. The project was a magazine that we were trying to get done for Thanksgiving (along with a few other things all due at the same time). Typically we try to get our magazines in homes on the first of the month, but with Thanksgiving being a family gathering oriented event, we thought it would be great to have the magazine in the hands of the congregation to show to their holiday guests. Getting it in homes a week and a half early meant my deadline was a week and a half sooner than I was used to.

It wasn't just the deadline that made the project chaotic. The magazine was focused around compassion and I was having a really hard time figuring out how to communicate it visually without using the standard ideas. And not just once. There were three articles about it. I hit a creative wall, and couldn't seem to get through it. I began to realize that often the walls we face aren't because we are pursuing the wrong idea, rather, it is because we haven't pursued the right idea long enough. I am very happy with the final design, and am shocked to see where it is today, considering where it was just a few weeks ago. All the building blocks are the same...I just spent a lot of time moving them around.

From what I have seen, communications is no different. If you say something only once, the message will probably not make an impact. Instead, you have to live your life in a way that shows that you care about what you are constantly talking about, or your message will lose its teeth. Keep pursuing the thing that are right. If things don't seem to be coming together, then maybe you just haven't pursued it long enough.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Free 411...and more

Google unleashes a free 411 service. Nothing that I can say here that the video doesn't cover. But what about application? So I can get free 411, how does that help the church? Glad you asked.

Because Google is dominating the search world, and is rumored to be starting their own cell phone company, their presence in the hands of the consumers of America (and the world) is growing rapidly. And the church can benefit. Google has something called the Google Local Business Center. It's basically the service that allows you to input your business/church's important information so that the various Google tools can yield an accurate result. That is how this new Goog-411 service helps you.

As seen in the video, the caller can choose to receive a text message, or be directed to a map of the location they are calling about. If they are calling about a church in your area, you want to make sure your information is accurate so they can find it. Appropriate open hours (service times would be a great fit here instead of office hours) and contact information are available to anyone who needs them. This is a great, easy and free way to make your church easier to find for those who are looking. Oh ya, and it saves you a buck if you are looking for a place to eat in the area.