What are you Tweeting about?
Recently, on a balmy evening in September, about a dozen parish communicators met at St Paul’s Cathedral for the Parish Communicators Network TweetUP.
This great event started with Evensong at St Pauls and a special welcome from the Dean, the Very Revd David Ison. Joining together in this way, in seats next to the high altar, it enabled the gathered communicators, who run media channels in parish churches, to meet and worship with other like-minded volunteers.
The role of a parish communicator can often be a solitary role in any church. Many of our worshipping communities have a dedicated volunteer whose aim it is to communicate what’s happening in parishes to a wider audience. The activity can take place through a number of channels, including the weekly pewsheet, a monthly magazine, a website in cyberspace, or through a hotly contested argument on social media.
The volunteer in this role can rarely be praised for their efforts and people often only notice when there is a misunderstanding over a post or article. This is why the Communications Team felt the need to gather parish communicators together, to worship in one space, and then meet for networking and refreshments afterwards.
The TweetUP, which is named for being a gathering organised by Twitter, was attended by people who a new to social media and by the more experienced in the field of communications. All who attended felt the evening was worthwhile.
Jo Shears, the administrator at Holy Innocents Hammersmith, commented:
“It was a great evening to meet others in the same boat. Often you don’t know if your media output is right or wrong, but it helps to find out that others are feeling the same too.”
Philip Dawson, Churchwarden at Christ Church Southgate, highlighted in cyberspace, that it was:
“Lovely to meet others again … and share a wonderful evening … Lots of good ideas!”
Philip, who is fondly remembered as a super tweeter for the @OurCofE feed, was able to give members of the TweetUP some sterling advice on online sources for prayers, bible readings and image sources. His church held their own TweetUp in Southgate, over the last weekend, to create a space for social media gurus from his church. He generously shared a handout from this event, which listed online sources that can help with the dreaded writer’s block, which affects all communicators from time to time.
In the warm evening, the Tweeters were able to share ideas and stories of how they run communications in their parishes. Some churches are very privileged, like St Luke’s and Christ Church Chelsea, who have three people running their media output. All three members of the team, have other roles but find it useful to share out the jobs as an add-on to their main parish roles of administrator, property manager and churchwarden.
This is rarely the case, and most churches such as St Brides Fleet Street have a single person, who runs the output. At this central London location, Neil Bellingham, a professional singer, runs the church social media and its website. He led the discussion to how can we all make Twitter, an instant form of micro-blogging, last longer and relevant to the lives of our parishioners.
It is here where the Parish Communications Network comes into its own. In a solitary role, there are not many answers to these questions. But together, as a team of people with experience of parish life, we can help.
The Network meets on an informal basis and updates are sent to all members quarterly. If anyone wishes to join and benefit from this invaluable source of experience, they can via filling out this short online form.