In defence of the 'humble' church noticeboard

In today’s age of multimedia, multichannel communication, it can be all too easy to think that the church noticeboard is well past its sell by date. However, can I offer a defence of its role as an effective tool for church communication, together with five suggestions as to how any church may improve its’ usefulness.

We have all, of course, seen those noticeboards we would rather forget. Tired, tatty and covered in overlapping, dog eared and out of date notices, reminding us, in fading script, of events long past or things we must definitely NOT do in this building. I am sure that is not a description of your church. However, even if it is a bit too close to the bone and however depressing your board may feel at present, please don’t give up; what you have can still play an important part in reaching your church and wider community.

You only have to walk down any High Street to realise that noticeboards are far from obsolete. We may have apps and on line portals for almost everything, but marketing professionals still recognise the value of displayed notices, paying a premium for space on billboards, buses, phone boxes etc.; whilst shops use their windows and ‘A’ boards to promote what lies within. There is no reason that church noticeboards should not do the same, indeed, many of our buildings enjoy passing ‘footfall’ that would delight an advertiser. Whether the noticeboard is by the side of the road, in the church entrance or part of your church centre or hall, you may be surprised how many people walk past them each week.

So, how might you maximise the value of the humble noticeboard? Whatever type of noticeboard you have, in whatever location and whatever state it may currently be in, these 5 suggestions may help to make it a more effective tool as part of your church’s ‘communication strategy’.

1. Point to it. Keep reminding your church and wider community that it is there and contains interesting things. Mention new noticeboard items from the front on Sunday and in your other communication such as the ‘pew slip’ and the ‘parish magazine’.

2. Plan it. Have a clear idea of what your board will display and how it will be displayed. Some areas to consider:

  • Plan your timings. Try to ensure that notices are added at the same time as events / activities are advertised in other ways in the church. For example, if details of your Christmas services go out in a magazine at the end of November, put a poster up at the same time.

  • Plan the layout. Consider having a separate area of the board for different areas of church life and think about the overall look, ensuring, for example, it is neither too empty nor too cluttered.

  • Plan the look. Agree how any items are to be displayed. For example, will they be laminated and what is the maximum or minimum size of poster?

  • Plan the feel. Agree some form of ‘house style’ for church notices. This may include font and colour, but may also simply involve ensuring, for example, that all notices have details on who to contact to find out more.

3. Personalise it. Wherever possible (and bearing in mind that even your noticeboard needs to comply with GDPR in terms of having permission to use personal data), help people to connect with you by introducing them to real people they may meet.

  • Consider including pictures as well as public contact details of key people (ministers, church officers etc.) who readers may want to get in touch with.

  • Share stories. Remember you are offering community as well as activity. For example, if your advert is for a senior citizens lunch, why not include a picture of someone who goes with a brief quote from them about why coming along is so great.

4. Police it. Because your noticeboards are so valuable, others with things to advertise, not necessarily connected with the church community, will want to add their own material. Despite the risk of upsetting people (both members of your church and others), be clear about who can (and therefore who cannot) use it. A few uncomfortable conversations in the early days are generally well worth it! You may consider having a separate ‘community’ board for external notices or offering those who want to display ‘non church’ items an alternative, such as paid advertising in your parish magazine.

5. Prune it. Remind those who put up items that they are also responsible for taking them down when the event or activity they promote is over. Give yourself permission to remove out of date material and also consider suggesting that no poster, even for an ongoing activity, stays up more than, say, a couple of months. By all means replace or refresh it, but after that length of time, most people will largely stop even ‘noticing’ it.

Noticeboards are just one tool you can use in church communication, but one that is relatively cheap and easy to make work well. Reach for that drawing pin extractor!

If this article prompts questions or comments, please use our on line forums, via the UCAN web site, to discuss things further.