Promotion and advertising are generally seen as necessary for a healthy outreach of your parish youth ministry. I find that often there are forms of promotion that I am easily drawn to, and other that I hardly have the patience to touch! I think most youth ministers can relate to that. Whether it is because we have gotten used to doing something regularly, consistently or because it takes up the least amount of our “admin” time – we have all had our personal favorite forms of promotional outreach!
However truth is, any promotion or advertising ultimately is not about your preference and schedule, but how to reach the hearts and minds of those we seek a response from. Here are some thoughts to consider as you prepare your next go round of outreach plans:
Time Invested vs. Return
A lot of time can be put into artistic posters, videos, business-card sized invites, to name a few. Does the preparation and development time you put into any promotional forms end up getting the responses you expect – or better? If not, it’s not untypical to feel discouraged, disappointed and even resentful towards teens that they didn’t value your invested time. Don’t set yourself up consistently to be disappointed if a form of promotion isn’t working – explore options.
Is using media alone to promote your event the best thing you can do?
Based on my experience I have to say no. Again the temptation is to facebook, email, text, youtube, or poster blitz information all over the place in an attempt to capture the most amount of people. Would I suggest you do that? Definitely! Is it the most effective way to make an impact on teens and tweens? Not likely. Don’t let media blitzes cut into the relational time – teens/tweens need to know that you CARE enough about them to contact them, not incorporate them into a contact list.
Largest Range vs. Niche Range
I had a great sit down a few weeks ago with a teen that didn’t attend our last Life Teen retreat which was run about a month beforehand. Over our coffee chat he shared his personal disappointment in me. He shared how he heard about the retreat through friends who got the information off the parish Life Teen facebook group. That was the only place it had been made available.
He, as well as two other teens – for personal or parental reasons – do not have facebook accounts. The only three out of a contact group of about 70 teens. All three are active in the ministry, but because I chose a medium to cater to everyone – including 30+ who likely I knew would not attend – I presumed they would get the info somehow else rather than taking the time to email the three of them directly – their preferred mode of information sharing.
Could he have attended? Yes. The point was he felt that I didn’t care enough to think about him and his limitations of access. Be sure you find and act on the best way to reach your people collectively and individually.
Ultimately we all have limitations on our time and resources. Being sure we use those wisely and concisely helps us to stay positive and motivated to do better job in bringing Christ to our teens and tweens.