God isn't bland. The Church shouldn't be, either.
Dissecting a Hot Mess

Like any red-blooded American, I spent quite a bit of time at Walmart over the holidays. Between forgotten gifts and missing ingredients, I logged more than a few hours suffering through a depressingly long check out line. It was during one of those trips that I stumbled onto this little nugget… An example of “design by committee” that was so potent I immediately emptied my arms to grab a quick pic. Brace yourself…


Impressive, right? I can almost hear the competing interests asking the poor designer to “add one more really important thing” to the cover. It’s a monument to “cramming it in there.” It’s the equivalent to a room full of people screaming for your attention.

Frankly, it reminds me of a lot of church bulletins (and mailers, websites, email blasts, etc).

What Went Wrong?

There’s obviously a lot wrong with this cover, but if you’ve spent any time in the communications world, it’s easy to picture the input that went into this…

“Just put the logo on there somewhere, I don’t care how you fit it in.

“We need to make it ‘pop’… Try making the background yellow.”

“The picture of the woman is wasting too much space… What else can we put in the middle?”

“All of these stories are important, so make sure they all jump out to the reader.”

“I know it’s a lot of text, but just add some bullets and italics to break it up.”

So what’s the chief culprit of this monstrosity? They failed to acknowledge one simple rule: When everything is important, nothing is important.

Rethinking Your Strategy

Until a recent revamp, our bulletin was a lot like this magazine cover. Each week we gave our members a bloated trifold containing just about every piece of information the ink would allow us to put on the paper. Every ministry got a prime spot with ample space to elaborate. It was meticulously packed full of information about the next few months of events in our little community.

No one read it; no one cared.

Upon rebooting a number of the other components of our communication strategy, we put our bulletin under the knife in a big way. We cut out the clip art and half-page banners. We replaced the custom weekly designs with a unified layout that is identical from week-to-week. Where our old bulletin typically promoted 15-20 events over the next 3 months, our new bulletin is limited to 7 concise blurbs about things that are relevant to the next 10 days. We cut the fat, and no one missed it.

Kick off the new year by examining the things you’re shouting at your audience… Do they really need to know about it? Right now? Is that announcement really worth the 80pt font? Try your best to communicate with a steady, clear voice instead of a chorus of conflicting messages.

Your members will appreciate it.

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  1. Tonja (Reply) on January 7th, 2012

    We’re doing the same thing right now along with building a brand new website. My question is, since the program is now longer your source for all that info, where do people find it? On your website? Other printed material and where would they get that material? Through peer and small groups? We know we need to streamline the program, but people still need to be able to get the info.

  2. [...] Resources: Eric Murrell wrote Media Bleep articles last year on internal marketing and external [...]

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