15 Comments

Church Video Announcements; An on-going conversation

I struggled with calling this post ‘an on-going conversation’, it’s probably more of an obsession. While I would never classify myself as a communications expert, I’m passionate about communicating well within the church. I’ve posted about this passion before (See 8 Simple Rules for Video Announcements), and I’d really like to hear from other video producers who are tasked with making video announcements at other churches. If that’s you, drop me a line in the comments… I’d love to hear the philosophy behind the how and why from others.

I’ve been doing my current version of announcements at Seacoast Church for about 6 weeks now. I call it “The Dispatch” and thankfully, I was given a lot of artistic liberty on how to execute each week.

Some of the parameters that I work within:

  • Keep the final piece at about 2 minutes long. We roll the announcements right before the message roll-in and the idea is to keep it short but informative.
  • Cover no more than 3 calendar items. I believe that any more than 3 items will be quickly forgotten.

Here is one of my favorites:

Some of my philosophy:

  • Video announcements allow me to tell a better story. I don’t ever want to just move a “talking head” from the stage to the screen; with the bit about the Harbor Cruise, I was able to to get onto the boat that they were using for the event. The boat, the water, the bridge… these are strong visuals and they tell as much of the story as the spoken word. A third layer in this was the music; “Come Sail Away” by Styx was a great way to help people remember that event as well. Never underestimate the value of getting a song stuck in people’s heads!
  • Pictures and a little bit of information get the point across. In the bit about Serve Saturday, with just a little bit of footage from a previous event, I was able to show that anyone can get involved, from someone with car skills to people who can throw a little paint around. An interesting side note is that the event organizer came to me after that piece ran with a concern that it needed more information, I assured her that it would be okay; all that people needed to know was already in the piece. They had only been averaging about 20 people in the past few months for Serve Saturday… we ran that bit for two weeks prior to the July event and they had 70 people show up! You don’t have to over-sell… keep it short, give people the what/why/when, and they will respond.
  • Quick reminders work! At the end of the piece, I had the talent simply ask folks to silence their cell phones and I was amazed at how many people were reaching into pockets and purses to do just that! Beyond that, finishing with a way for people to get more information is another key to communicating well; Our website will always have more information than we will ever try to fit into 2 minutes, I like to finish each week with the church’s website address.

If video announcements are something you’re already doing, or looking to start doing, jump into the conversation! Let’s help each other out by swapping ideas. Feel free to include links to stuff you’ve done so we can all see what you’re doing.

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15 comments on “Church Video Announcements; An on-going conversation

  1. I’ve started and stopped doing church video announcements a number of times. Right now I’m not doing them at all. I don’t want to go on a “rant” posting why we’re not doing them if this blog posting is really just about best-practices on how to do them well. So, let me know if you want any “observations” regarding the subject. I’d love to dive in and share what I’ve learned (best practices) as well as reasons for cutting it all together.
    everett bowes

    • Thanks for chiming in, Everett. Yes, I’d love to know about your experience in doing and not doing them. I was very hesitant to start doing them again as I’ve seen that they can be such a huge time-sucker. I’ve also seen so many bad examples that I’d rather not be lumped in with another attempt, if that makes any sense.

      I’ve seem a lot of churches who seem to be doing video announcements simply because ‘they can’, not because they have any great method or practice. I want to communicate well, or scrub the mission. So, let’s hear it!

  2. We are in the same situation as Everett. We have done video announcements for so long now that we are taking a break from them. Video announcements were golden for the first few years- we are switching things up to keep things fresh. I imagine that we will return to them sooner than later, but no matter how fantastic your announcements are, we have found it best to keep things fresh by switching up how we get information across (which is hard for me to do because Im a video nerd at heart).

    • I’m feeling the same way. Ours are being received very well right now, but they’re still new and fun… I can assume that at some point they will just be noise that most folks can tune out. I’m trying to fight that by not forcing it; On weeks when we have little going on, I don’t do them and work on the “absence makes the heart grow fonder” premise!

      Thanks for weighing in, Chris!

  3. I have been on the video announcement bandwagon for quite some time now. I love what you’ve done with yours they look great. We literally just started our video announcements here at Westminster Church of the Nazarene. And we produced them at my previous church in TN as well. We did/do them because like you said it allows us to tell a better story – even with just talking heads (we have our goals set to produce more commercial like announcements but we just wanted to get rolling).

    Here is a link to our current announcement format:
    http://nathansutliff.com/post-categories/media/new-wcon-video-announcements/

    Rather than delve into all the best practices, philosophy and reasoning I think you’ve inspired a blog post. Plus I don’t want to hog your comment space. I’ll send you the link.

    Thanks for the great post

  4. Sorry. Was away from the computer for a while, and I need to run off to something else now. I wanted to chime in before I took off, and then try to write back again later tonight.

    Here’s some reason why you would want to consider DOING video announcements (in no particular order):
    – an efficient means of communication
    – it’s a reinforcement of the church’s branding, and it’s rather early in your service
    – if you’re multisite this helps communicate a consistent message across all the campuses
    – you don’t have to worry about communication styles being different at each campus if you’re doing video announcements
    – when you first start doing video announcements the congregation is keyed in to what you’re saying. So the retention rate on the information is really high.
    – it can be really fun and creative

    Here are some reasons why you SHOULDN’T do video announcements:
    – Opportunity cost. Would you rather invest your production team on making video announcements, or telling life stories (testimonies)? So far, I have never seen anyone take a deeper step in their faith because they saw a video announcement about a pot luck dinner. Now, granted, if they didn’t see the announcement then maybe they didn’t go to the dinner, and they didn’t find community, which lead to a deeper faith connection…. but really, that’s a stretch. The reality is that your video team has limited resources. As leaders, we’re stewards of those resources. It’s a lot easier to make videos about upcoming events than to make videos that open up the sermon, or share testimonies, or video support for worship elements… but to me, that’s where we need to invest our time. The churches that I’ve seen that do video announcements well have incredible resources! If you’re not them, I think you should consider dropping them.

    – A lot of times the announcement can still be communicated effectively and creatively outside of a full video production. If that’s the case, then don’t tie up the video resources.

    – Once a church goes down the road of making video announcements they see that they need to limit how many video highlights are made each week. So, it becomes a smack-down for all of the ministries to justify why their event should get this level of spotlight. You end up alienating a lot of ministries.

    – Then, a few weeks into it, you don’t have enough “news”. You’re now into a rut of “the top 5 things going on this week”, or “top 3″… and you only have one or two things to highlight…. now what do you do?

    – The congregation starts tuning you out. This is what kills me… you typically start doing video announcements because the congregation is tuning out the person giving the announcements who is live in the room. At first, they tune into the video announcements, but then they start tuning that out too. So the video team must increase their creative efforts to really break through the apathy to get their attention again (sort of like what you see the networks do on TV…).

    Sooooooooo- in summary, here’s what I’ve found.
    1) if you have unlimited resources, outsource it.
    a) An outside production company will be able to enforce deadlines (like, I need your script by noon on Monday or we can’t do that announcement) better than your in-house team.
    b) your in-house team should focus on telling stories from inside the church, and helping to enhance your weekend experiences of worship and teaching

    2) if you don’t have unlimited resources, ask God what He wants you to do… work on invitations, or work on sharing how Christ is making a difference in people’s lives

    3) there are rare occasions when a video is needed because the topic is sensitive, or it’s for a major event, or for a major outreach event, or something else. THAT’S when you do the video announcement. Otherwise, if it’s an every-week-thing, you’re tuned out.

    If you’ve told all the life stories in your church, and if your worship team doesn’t need creative media support, and if your pastor doesn’t need creative elements for his teaching time, then I think video announcements are a great way to invest your time.

    Definitely shout back, everyone. I’m eager to hear what you think.

    Best regards to you all!!
    Everett

  5. Great topic! Video announcements have always been a pet peeve of mine. We are fortunate that our Senior Pastor wants the pastors doing our announcements. He likes the personal feel of it. Although, the pastors don’t like to do them. But with the hiring of our new communications director, he wanted to do a weekly video newsletter. (http://insidegfc.com/) He comes up with ideas and scripts them, but we still have to produce them.

    I just feel like the time and resources are much better spent producing videos for the weekend. Stories, sermon support, worship videos, that’s what I feel we were called to do.

    Does it all get done? Always.

    But at a price. At the price of our video team working extra hours. Definitely our weekend services pay a price. The more you produce, the less of your creative juices are left.

    Thanks everyone,
    Bryan

  6. Good thoughts! I’d add one other thing to the conversation: where video announcements fit within the communications strategy. My opinions:

    1) Video announcements are not the first time people hear about something. It is a reinforcement tool. Typically, video announcements are used to put a “period” on a communications effort (close to the event date).
    2) Video announcements can be anywhere from the 2nd to 5th time someone has been made aware of whatever you’re promoting.
    3) Video announcements are can have multiple demographic focuses, but should not be used in a main service to speak to less than 30% of the audience. In other words, if it’s too narrow of a focus, don’t spend the effort making a video (and boring the rest/majority of the audience).

    I’ve found that when taken in context, and as part of a communications strategy, only the right kinds of video announcements are created, saving both precious staff time and getting the most ROM (Return On Ministry).

    My experience (and 2 cents),

    Anthony

    • Thanks for your input, Anthony!

      You bring up a word that I think is often forgotten when video announcements are made: Strategy. Without a proper strategy, you will likely end up just reading portions of (if not all of) your church’s bulletin, regardless of its overall value. My two minute target time is prime ‘real estate’; it doesn’t go to just any ol’ event.

  7. I largely agree with Anthony. I especially agree with comment #3!

    And Bryan’s comments were right-on-the-money, too. All too often I noticed that creating the video announcements absolutely drained the entire team. And for what reason??

    I still think that a video, to announce something every now and then, is a GREAT idea. But a regular, on-going series is just very, very difficult to pull off with a smaller production staff.

    What are the churches out there that are creating great video announcements each week? I don’t know if these two churches are still doing it, but North Point, and Hillsong were leading the charge. Do we know what level of resources it takes to create them, and still create great content for the weekend experiences?

    everett

    • I am interning at a church right now where we are pumping out a 4 minute video announcement weekly. Along with other videos, we have a team of 3 of us that work on the video announcements each week. We spend maybe 2-3 hours a week on them.

      The hard part for us is keeping it non cheesy, we tend to give a story line with each announcement. Last weeks you can see here: http://www.youtube.com/user/LHCProductions

      They have been doing them this way for 5 years now. They have come a long way, and if you watch you can see that we can probably go further. But again it all comes down to time.

  8. Everett,

    I don’t think it takes a large team. In 1999, I produced a weekly set of video announcements with some creativity and help from a couple of members. We did it by renting the weather green screen at the local ABC affiliate for 1 hour, once a month, for $100. We pre-scripted the 2-minute video narration, asked the meteorologist (a member at the church) and used their equipment with a single camera (our operator) to shoot three weeks – four weeks worth of content (based on our editorial/event calendar).

    The result? KGOD, God TV, a fun, light-hearted way to get news and updates done without taking up stage time “reading the announcements”.

    This was all done on the cheap (see above) and used a Play Trinity system for the keying/background animation, Photoshop & our editing software. Total time was about 7-8 man hours, but was shown over three weekends.

    Creative with a little bit of effort and asking for help (the TV station being generous when they had NOTHING going on in studio outside of newscasts) netted some big results.

    And that was all in 1999, with technology all from the early to mid 90’s.

  9. As the Media Director of our Church, I have been requested to look at the possibilities of running a Video Announcement each week.

    My initial train of thought was to record a clip to be played weekly but refreshed every 3 weeks. This would allow us to deliver a level of quality above the humble “Weekly” announcement. It would also mean that we didn’t have to find the time to record, edit, and produce a clip every week.

    However, I am the biggest critic of things that get stale easy. Playing the same clip for 3 weeks might allow everybody in our congregation to see it, but it will eat me up to watch the same thing 3 weeks in a row (sad I know).

    So I’d rather invent a new way to communicate the announcements that has never really been done before. Very creative ways to convey the message that make the recipient not only remember it, but say that one word a producer loves to hear “WOW”.

    I am a huge fan of great advertising, you know, the ads you talk about at the water cooler, and never forget.
    One series of ads that I’ve fell in love with are the VW “Fast Lane”, like the fast lane elevator: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoNcYOvBwU0

    The burning question in my mind is, “What is the next Generation of communicating the Message/Announcements?”
    We are not here to entertain people, but if we can engage them more and change their perception of the good old Announcement, they might just look forward to what is coming next.
    Granted this will require quite a degree of creativity. But in giving the the right people an open creative license, I can only imagine what could happen.

  10. I have been tasked to start making video announcements, but my dilemma is when to show them, beginning, middle, end, all seem to have their pros or cons but I say we have to start somewhere and just train our people to be in their place, plus I can run them on monitors in the hallways and post them to the website for people to see during the week. I just returned from the WFX conference in Dallas and picked up some great ideas.
    I’ll bookmark this site and keep checking for ideas/suggestions. Keep up the good work.

    • Hey Scott,
      Thanks for chiming in on this topic. I’m glad you’re asking the ‘when’ question; all too often, I’ve seen churches dive in to video announcements with little regard to a real strategy with who and when they should be used.

      I’m a fan if using them as a pre-service piece (within a countdown, for instance) if a good number of people are there to see them at that point. If not, I recommend a transition point so they seem more a part of the flow of the service as opposed to an interruption to what normally happens.

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