When Email Fails…

Courtesy of Dreamstime.com

This past weekend I needed to remind parents that we had a scheduling change in program.  Shouldn’t be a problem, just type up the email and hit send, right?  All went according to plan until my inbox filled up with ERROR MESSAGE and UNAVAILABLE RECIPIENT.  I tried everything from creating csv spreadsheets to cutting down the number of recipients and sending out multiple emails.
It was frustrating trying to work around the problem, I found myself threatening a machine, shaking my fists and just wanting to give up.  Fortunately, I was able to get the word out and people were able to find the correct information.  So, how did that happen?

Actually, it was by creating a system of communication that takes advantages of different mediums.  Too many times we put all our eggs in one basket because we’re lazy or intimidated by the complexity that certain communications can bring.  But in this time of mass and diverse communication it’s silly not to take advantage of what’s available, such as:

  • Texting Systems – If you want to touch base with people as quickly as possible, there is no better way.  The beauty is that there are web based programs that allow you to mass text, which serves as a perfect alternative to email. While there is a fee for most texting softwares, it’s definitely worth the cost.  We’ve been using Simply Youth Ministry Tool’s texting platform, I recommend checking it out; however, there are other ones out there.
  • Social Media – Choose one form as your main platform outside of email and texting.  Whether you use Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or something else make it a reliable place where people can go to get instant updates and information.  If it is consistent and accurate people will trust it.
  • Word Of Mouth – Remember the good old days of phone trees?  Chances are if you are under 25 you don’t know what that is, and that’s okay.  But, what we need to do is find people who can help us get the word out when we can’t.  These are people who can get in touch with people, who can get in touch with people, who can get in touch with people.  Granted you won’t get everyone, but you’ll get most people’s attention.  This can be powerful with bringing people back to your platform.

There is no perfect form of communication; although texting does come close.  What every youth minister needs to do is create multiple systems of communication and make sure people know about them.  When you communicate clearly you build trust, you inform and empower others.  Make communication intentional and put together a plan.

What other forms of communication do you find helpful?