When you hear the word communications, it probably conjures up images of smart phones, iPads, emails, and social media. Staying in touch is so important to relationships that people keep inventing new ways to do it. For the past 62 years our One Challenge workers stay in touch progressively using new means and methods, because we are committed to communication and relationship.
Currently One Challenge’s Communications Department processes roughly 100 unique newsletters from our workers every month. The process transforms a plain Word doc and some images into a professionally designed letter sent out by mail and email. Monthly numbers range upward of 20,000 paper letters and 10,000 emails. It is a costly, work-intensive routine coordinated by a newsletter editor and done 10 times a year. Why so much investment in communicating?
And the Survey Says…
A 2011 in-house survey of OC newsletter readers showed that 95 percent of the 3,400 respondents “usually read” the letters, with 500 of those noting they “always read it.” The survey also indicated that readers partner with their workers through prayer (75%) and financial support (62%). We are committed to communication and these monthly letters are a central piece. It is one crucial way workers and their support teams stay connected and build relationship. “We hear so many good stories of victory for the kingdom of God. Our job is to broadcast them,” says Kathy, Director of the Communications Department. “Additionally, the prayers of our partners are what keep our people going. My family was very aware of that in our many years overseas and we still sense it.”
Where other organizations have dropped sending paper letters or have delegated the correspondence process to the worker, OC continues to provide support with monthly letters. The justification for this is three-fold. First, it is much more difficult for the worker to produce what we do, taking them away from what they alone can do on the field. Secondly, experience has shown us that if we provide the schedule and service, the flow of communication is more consistent. Finally, it is much less expensive for us to post letters from within the U.S., also maintaining up-to-date addresses for the recipients. Thus, our approach is to encourage regular correspondence through the department, delivered according to the readers’ preference, either paper or email. If a preference changes, it can easily be made with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Getting the stories out in a way they will be read is the goal and ongoing challenge of the team. This is what has motivated the team to redesign the way emails are sent out, also including visuals and links to resources, corporate news, and events.
Staying in touch and in tune with technology has meant growing the team to include a journalist, website manager and graphic artist. “God has brought together an amazing team of highly motivated, competent people who passionately drive for high standards,” says Kathy. In the past three years the team has completely revamped the OC website, added social media, and redesigned all corporate print pieces, in particular adding an expanded yearly report (ministry review) to the list. The team is determined to keep up with the higher demands for instant and accessible news.
Shannon June, whose family served with OC in the U.K. and who now works virtually on the team from Texas says, “I’ve had the privilege of participating in developing communication technologies for over 25 years, beginning when books and magazines first started being digitized. Each development brings new benefits but also the challenge to learn new technologies. I enjoy deciphering what’s available and finding useful applications. It can be tricky when we get something set up and working and then the industry decides to make an update to improve things. Those “improvements” often lead to opportunities to learn more new things. Even when it is a headache, I love the challenge!” Shannon June is serving as the website manager and electronic communications generalist, but she also contributes with writing, video editing, and special projects.
“We would like OC’s website to accurately depict who OC is as an organization. This is often difficult because the Spirit directs our steps and OC has a wide range of ministry. But we, as a team, strive to tell the God story he has entrusted to us,” says Kelli, OC’s website journalist. Kelli has been a part of OC for 22 years, first as an MK and as an adult, serving in the Philippines and now in Colorado Springs. “In the last 10 years, with the explosion of social media, the avenues in which to tell God stories has grown exponentially. Facebook, Twitter and other similar sites are great ways to start dialogue of how the Lord is moving in the world.
OC has only begun to explore and navigate the potential of these sites and others,” she says. In light of these less expensive ways of connecting with people, the Communications team would love to add one or two more members. “An increased capacity for video and social media would enable us to quickly post even more engaging pieces for our followers,” says Kathy. “We continue to pray that we recognize the resources God has chosen and may choose to give us. As an example, we have a terrific relationship with our local printer. We have also greatly benefitted from the volunteer work of some faithful folks in the area of audio transcriptions. It’s a blessing both ways, I believe.”
Expanding the Conversation
One other critical arena the team has addressed this last year is internal communications. It is very difficult trying to get information to and from OC personnel who live all over the world. With the upcoming presidential transition as well as The Launch Project, it has been important to leadership at the United States Mobilization Center to communicate as clearly and personally as possible with the worldwide OC family. To enable real time group communication with workers in multiple countries, both the IT and Communications Teams were enlisted to learn and facilitate the use of web broadcasting to stream live video and have real-time text “chatting” with those viewing the broadcast. Differing bandwidth worldwide is an issue with any kind of broadcasting, so leadership is still evaluating what works best.
In the realm of both internal and external communications, the team imagines doing much more in the future, and likely it will stay that way. “One of the things I appreciate most about the team is their ability to generate and incorporate new ideas, new systems and new technology into the stream of all that we do,” Kathy says. “It’s a lot to manage and they do it with finesse and joy.”
How You Can Partner with Communications
- Let us know how we are doing by emailing email@example.com
- Dialog with us on Facebook, or comment on a website story.
- Let us know if you have skills you could contribute to the team in some way.
- Pray with us for any necessary resources to improve or expand what we do.
- Pray for us to press on with a rigorous and relentless schedule of deadlines.
- Pray with us for wisdom and discernment in prioritizing our goals.
- Make a contribution designated for the Communications Team.