Who, me? Write? I’m not a Reporter!
by Susan Kleinwechter, social media coordinator for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
It might have gone down like this: the bishop said, “You folks are all going to write during General Convention, and we are going to publish it. We’re not waiting until we get home.” Blank stares around the room, curt, affirmative nods, except from the excited communications director, who worked late into the night to get a small team very busy on the how. (There will be more on that). Did something like that happen with your convention possee?
For the next few weeks, deputies and alternates from all over the country are asked to become content creators and to publish things digitally. So here are some basic instructions for folks who are writing and publishing:
- You must contribute.
- Write about what is going on.
- Write about the context surrounding what is going on.
- Write what you think about what is going on.
- Write about how you feel about what is going on.
- Write about your spiritual experiences, connections and revelations.
- Take pictures and video of what is going on.
- Use the pictures and video to help people understand and connect to what you are writing about.
- Write about what other people say is going on, and comment on their writings. Quote other people.
- Link to content that will help people understand what’s going on.
Those are 10 basic instructions for writing about any event, to be re-used over and over. (Yeah, right; did the communications director make you say that? Is that director hinting that some of us are expected to do this for our ministry meetings and diocesan convention, too? )
Few among us are news copywriters, but that’s OK. The largest shift that has occurred in communications lies in how much everyday people in the world, versus official reporters and designated authorities, are now publishing useful information to eager audiences. News is not just broadcast at 6pm and talked about at the dinner table, or read about in a morning paper or monthly newsletter. It’s not just done by “the official source” who can always be expected to be fair and balanced. It’s done by people watching and participating in what’s going on.
Another subtle difference and new communications concept is the opportunity to talk about a subject, not report on it. There is more to convention than governance discussions and outcomes; smaller stories matter, too.
“We need to lay aside the outdated assumption that the only things worth talking about at General Convention are issues of finance, governance, and church polity. Sharing reflections on homilies and keynote addresses, revealing new ideas about mission and evangelism, conversing about the evolving theology in our church – it’s all worthy content. ~Adam Michael Wood”
Recalling her previous participation at General Convention, Diocese of Fort Worth communications director Katie Sherrod shares, “There is so much, much more than governance, although reporting on what is done is important. What’s more important are the relationships the deputation develops and shares. The daily Bible study, the daily worship services have always been, for me, the best part of General Convention. To worship with 10,000 Episcopalians is a powerful experience. To get to do Bible study with an Episcopalian from Haiti, or Taiwan, or from the European Convocation of Churches, or Puerto Rico, or Honduras enlarges one’s perspective in all sorts of ways. Many Episcopalians may not realize The Episcopal Church has congregations in 16 countries.”
So, yes, YOU, write! All of you! Everywhere! Photograph! Record! Publish! Comment! Dive in! You’ll find your voice.