In this blog post, we delve into a local initiative led by the Knights of Columbus in Red Deer: the launch of a magazine. We’ll examine the entire process, from inception to promotion and eventual launch, all achieved within a brief two-month timeframe. It’s important to note that when working with volunteers and limited funds, your approach to project communication may take on a more streamlined and cost-effective form, as demonstrated by this project, which managed to successfully promote itself on a shoestring budget.
This case study does not examine how the magazine was produced. It only examines the project management and communication methods utilized.
1. Create a Project Pitch
To initiate a successful project, it’s essential to have a dedicated leader at the helm. In the case of the Men of Worship magazine launch, one individual took charge and crafted a comprehensive project pitch that encapsulates several critical elements.
Define Your Mission:
Your project’s mission should seamlessly align with your organization or parish’s overarching mission. If it doesn’t harmonize with your mission statement, it may not be the right fit. This section should vividly illustrate the positive impact your project aims to make and should evoke an emotional connection. How will your idea transform the lives of your parish or community?
The mission of the Men of Worship magazine is: To empower Catholic men to live out their faith in their homes, parishes, workplaces, and communities. Every facet of the mission statement is thoughtfully reflected in the magazine’s content.
Establish the Project’s Purpose:
The purpose of the project delves into the practical aspects, translating the intended impact into actionable goals.
The purpose of the Men of Worship magazine is to: Create, promote, and publish a one-of-a-kind magazine for the men at St. Vladimir Parish, showcasing the vibrancy of our Knights of Columbus council. This initiative is designed to be a standout endeavor, generating excitement and intrigue.
Identify Your Target Audience:
Avoid attempting to cater to everyone; even well-funded professional advertisers maintain a specific focus. Define precisely who you aim to reach – their age, gender, interests, and knowledge level. Tailor every aspect of your project to speak directly to this audience.
For Men of Worship, the target audience comprises Ukrainian Catholic men in the Red Deer area. While the magazine may attract a diverse readership which also reached women, non-Ukrainian Catholics, and people outside of Red Deer, it remains laser-focused on meeting the unique needs of their targetted demographic.
Download their full project pitch here. Project pitches can also be done more simply in Microsoft Word or any other word processing program.
This step often presents challenges for many parishes, as there’s a tendency to adhere to traditional practices. However, every project should incorporate a distinct element that sets it apart from the norm. This encourages a creative mindset and an innovative approach that captures attention and encourages participation.
In the case of Men of Worship magazine, the innovation policy revolved around a modern design to signify a forward-looking approach. The content prioritized practical responses to everyday life issues from a faith perspective, presented in a contemporary style. The magazine consciously departed from the outdated writing style of many publications, infusing a modern and vibrant twist into its pages.
Establish a Well-Defined Budget:
Occasionally, we tend to perceive projects solely through the lens of spreadsheets. However, crafting a comprehensive budget is crucial, as it not only provides financial clarity but also underscores your strategy for obtaining or requesting funds. Here, the alignment of your project’s mission statement with the core values of your parish or organization plays a pivotal role. When your project resonates with your parish’s principles, it naturally piques people’s interest in supporting it, thereby reinforcing your overarching mission.
It’s crucial to establish how you intend to gauge the success of your project. Will it be based on event attendance, sign-ups, distribution figures, or another metric? In the context of Men of Worship, the assessment of success hinged on multiple factors, including the number of copies distributed within Red Deer, copies sold beyond Red Deer, website views, and reader feedback. These key indicators were instrumental in determining whether the magazine effectively fulfilled its mission or fell short of its objectives.
2. Distribute a Project Plan
The subsequent phase entails documentation of all project requirements, associated deadlines, and a clear delineation of responsibilities. In the case of the Men of Worship magazine, this encompassed various key elements. Writers were tasked with specific articles, complete with word count targets and subject outlines, each adhering to designated submission timelines.
Moreover, the utilization of AI technology aided in the initial translation of the magazine’s content. Subsequently, translators undertook the crucial role of proofreading and applying final touches and edits, resulting in significant time savings as they did not have to translate the content from scratch. Google Translate is an example of AI.
Requests were issued to parish members for the use of photography, and permissions for logo usage were secured from the Knights of Columbus. Additionally, approval was sought from the local parish to showcase the project.
In the process of project development, it is essential to consider all potential contributors and allocate tasks accordingly. Involving a diverse array of individuals, regardless of the scale of their roles, fosters a sense of motivation and ownership in championing your project’s cause. People who have played a role, no matter how minor, tend to share their involvement with friends, thereby contributing to your project’s promotion and engagement. This not only bolsters the project’s reach but also amplifies its impact on achieving your mission.
3. Communicate Your Project
As articulated in the project pitch, the Men of Worship initiative devised a fundamental promotional strategy that comprised a simple approach for communicating the magazine. This strategy was composed of three distinct phases: a pre-launch marketing plan, a launch day marketing plan, and a post-launch marketing plan. It is imperative for every project to incorporate these three essential components—pre-launch, launch day, and post-launch communication plans—to maximize its overall impact.
Foundational Communication Strategies:
In every project, there exist fundamental promotional methods that serve as building blocks. To create awareness and anticipation for the Men of Worship magazine, these strategies were deployed:
- Inclusion of project blurbs and launch date announcements in the parish bulletin for one month.
- Regular social media posts on the parish’s Facebook page, with an encouragement for all members to share these posts on their personal social media accounts.
- Asking the parish priest to feature the magazine launch in his weekly email to parishioners.
- Display of promotional posters within the parish premises.
- Submission of project details to the Eparchy of Edmonton for sharing across their social media channels.
- Posting promotions on relevant parish websites.
These basic approaches collectively form the cornerstone of our communication efforts.
Pictured above: A magazine promotion included in the parish bulletin.
Pictured above: An example social media post that uses repeat messaging that’s simular to the bulletin messaging.
Personal Outreach: A Cornerstone of Success
Personal outreach stands as a linchpin for the triumph of any project. It should be the bedrock on which every project is built. In the Men of Worship launch, a targeted approach was taken as email promotions were dispatched to every parish across the province. These emails aimed to gauge interest in acquiring custom copies of the magazine, offered at-cost for their respective communities. Even if the response included numerous rejections, this outreach served as a means to extend the project’s reach beyond the parish boundaries, encompassing various organizations and parishes.
For your project, consider implementing personal outreach as a potent strategy. If your project is an event, enlist your project team to personally invite a minimum of five individuals to attend. Utilize text messages to motivate event attendance, send personalized emails, and even make in-person visits. Employ every available avenue to place yourself directly in front of people and inquire if they would like to participate. This interpersonal mode of communication holds incredible sway, especially for smaller parishes, and it comes at virtually no cost.
Pictured below: An example email blast that outlines the mission, promotes the project, gives deadlines, indicates budget, and builds trust to the reader.
Innovative and Effective Communication Methods
When it comes to promoting your event, it’s essential to think creatively and step outside the conventional boundaries. In the context of the Men of Worship launch, the project team recognized that while parish posters have their merits, most people tend to pass them by, paying little attention. Instead, they invested in sign holders and custom signage strategically placed next to parish bulletins, ensuring that the magazine’s launch announcement was unmissable. This unique approach reimagined the concept of posters, making it memorable and visible to a significantly larger audience of parishioners.
Flyers can also be an invaluable tool for event promotion. To enhance their impact, consider using user-friendly design platforms like Canva, as opposed to programs like Microsoft Word, to craft polished and professional-looking project materials. Pay attention not only to design but also to the choice of paper. Utilizing high-quality materials like cardstock or white gloss paper for your flyers can elevate the overall impression of your project.
Consider purchasing cardstock paper for promoting your event for a professionally finished look. White gloss paper will produce stunning results in your communication without needing to visit a printing company.
For a cost-effective promotional method, postcards are a great option. Men of Worship, for instance, ordered 50 postcards and designed them to boost project promotion. These postcards were strategically placed in bulletins, on pews, in magazines, and on tables, all at a minimal cost. These post cards were designed and printed using Canva.
Video promotions offer a spectrum of possibilities, from simple to more intricate creations. A straightforward 30-second video, recorded using a smartphone, can effectively promote your project on social media. In the case of Men of Worship, a promotional video was crafted to introduce the project to email recipients and was featured on the parish’s social media platforms. This video could also be played during gatherings like a coffee social if your parish hall has a screen.
Consider where your parishioners typically gather, and use these spaces for promotion. In the Men of Worship project, placing promotional posters in the coffee social room, a popular congregating spot, allowed parishioners to engage with project details while socializing and enjoying coffee. While a parish bulletin board is a good starting point, situating your promotional materials where parishioners frequently gather yields significantly better results.
Crafting an Elegant Display:
The creation of a beautiful display is pivotal in leaving an indelible impression on your guests, conveying that your project is meticulously conceived and professionally executed. In a departure from the original plan, the Knights chose a simple yet effective dark blue fabric tablecloth that harmonized with the color scheme of the signage and the magazine itself. Complementing this, magazine holders and carefully designed signage were strategically arranged to present the project in an aesthetically pleasing manner.
Just as our parishes are intended to exude beauty and a sense of the divine, so too should our projects. A stark contrast, such as placing down the Men of Worship on a plain plastic white table with a dollar store tablecloth would undermine the impact and detract from the professional appearance of the magazine. It is essential to avoid the perception of being hastily assembled or of lower quality.
Pictured below: The Simple Display, with signage holders using home-printed signs. Signs, magazines, post cards, and the table cloth all contain a cohesive colour scheme to match the Knights of Columbus logo. Note for next time, make sure to iron your table cloth before use!
To further captivate the reader, the magazine included handwritten thank-you notes for those who picked up a copy, signifying the extra care and effort invested in each individual reader.
A printed blue tab labeled “Foreword by Bishop David” was affixed to the cover using double-sided tape, introducing a tactile 3D element to the magazine cover, enhancing its visual appeal and intrigue.
Pictured below: Blue tabs printed at home, cut with scissors, and taped with double sided tape. Consider where you can add depth to your display using high, medium, and low angles or adding a 3D element.
While these may seem like minor details in isolation, when combined, they transform a project into something truly exceptional. A personalized written thank-you note, a 3D tab, a carefully chosen fabric tablecloth, and an artful display may not have incurred substantial costs, but the lasting impact they left behind was immeasurable. All these small details cost $20, yet made a significant impact to the viewer.
Even if your endeavor is as modest as a Bible study, consider enhancing it with thoughtful details. These could include a visually appealing flyer, a sign holder, an elegant tablecloth, a prominently displayed Bible, an aesthetically pleasing sign-up sheet, and perhaps an icon. These elements can be employed to create a unique and visually captivating presentation that truly stands out, inviting guests to immerse themselves in the experience and participate more fully.
It’s imperative to underscore the significance of post-project communication, a facet often overlooked but brimming with untapped potential. The Men of Worship project placed considerable emphasis on how to sustain the promotion of the magazine after its launch. Several strategies were meticulously employed for this purpose:
- The parish priest included a final feature in the weekly email, ensuring the magazine remained in the spotlight.
- Curated photos from the launch event were captured and shared on social media platforms.
- A comprehensive project article, replete with accompanying visuals, was crafted and subsequently forwarded to the Eparchy of Edmonton for dissemination across their social media channels.
- Testimonials highlighting the magazine’s impact on readers were shared, further reinforcing its value and significance.
Even when your project has reached completion, it’s vital to consider how to effectively communicate your organization’s achievements. Additionally, think about how to kindle enthusiasm among a broader audience, encouraging greater participation in future projects or the activities planned for the following year.