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The UK newspaper The Guardian released this video about three weeks ago.  The simple purpose is to show consumers how The Guardian now both follows and covers news on several media platforms.  But the genius of the piece is the use of an old morality fable to demonstrate a new reality.

Enjoy the cleverness of the message as you watch this, and then read on…

…and thanks to Kathy S. for bringing it to my attention!

My favorite bit is “There’s no way he could have blown down those housest, he had asthma!”

In the flashing visuals and voice overs we see much of what is good and bad about the instant info access we now enjoy.  In the course of two minutes, the basic story of the third big boiling the BB Wolf gets spun several ways as more facts emerge.  And through it all people comment, sometimes adding misinformation to the story, sometimes empathizing with one character or another.  And it beautifully illustrates how many of us shape the information we receive from whatever source through the filters of our own biases and preferences.  Homeowners support the pig’s right of self-defense.  Others are troubled by the violence of the pig’s respnse to the wolf.  You don’t have to have watched much cable news  to know the truth of this wee morality play.

Of course, the full story doesn’t emerge until the trial, probably months later.  That’s months of people telling and retelling the story according to partial information and personally biased opinions.  Where lies truth.

“OK, Kiely, what’s that all got to do with church?”

Like it or not, that’s the way information spreads even in church.  Anyone who has spent a lot of time working in churches – paid or volunteer – knows that even with simpler technology – like word of mouth – misinformation can get out there.  This ad merely reminds us that the information -whether correct or incorrect – now spreads faster and in more media forms.

I would argue that this is one reason why churches and the people who work there, are going to need to develop a lot more than just a web site in the near future.  I am coming to believe we need to develop a very intentional social media strategy.

I think I have mentioned elsewhere that when I come back from sabbatical, I expect to start managing some aspects of my work week differently.  Instead of occasionally answering the phone and tending to e-mail…oh, yeah, and actually seeing people… I will have to work with church leaders to manage social media like Facebook posts and tweets on behalf of the church, attend to what’s going on in currently moribund church Facebook messaging page, encourage content from members and friends and so on.

Why?  Well, for one thing, that’s where some people are looking for us to be and that’s where the want to interact with our Unitarian message.  For a second thing – and some will no doubt feel uncomfortable with this marketing approach – we must control our own message and not let others define us based on rumour or their different theological points of view.  In this US Republican nomination campaign, broadly defined liberal religion has been under attack by those who would turn the USA into a Christian state.  My good UU friends in the US are not sitting idly by, but are countering with strong social media campaigns of their own. We can all learn from that.

For a third and final thing, not being there represents a large hole in our attraction/marketing strategy.  When I started in ministry, district staff used to preach (sometimes in vain) the importance of the Yellow Pages listing so that newcomers to town and visitors could just find us.  Anyone still use the Yellow Pages?  Just as that listing was vital 25 years ago (along with the ad in the newspaper religion page), an up to date, vibrant and comprehensive web and social media presence is growing in importance.

I know, I know, some reader is saying, “But I hate Facebook…or Twitter…or whatever.”  No problem, except that if you are in a position of leadership, the people with whom you might need to connect embrace that technology.  Wise leaders find the crowd, they don’t wait for the crowd to find them.

In my next post I want to direct you to a marketing program on radio that describes the need for a crisis plan in marketing.  Stay tuned.

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