Presentation on theme: "68 Lombard Street, London EC3V 9LJ Tel: 0870 787 4490 Church Communications Research 2013 Julie Irwin and Kate Turner September 2013."— Presentation transcript:
68 Lombard Street, London EC3V 9LJ Tel: 0870 787 4490 Church Communications Research 2013 Julie Irwin and Kate Turner September 2013
Contents 2 Business context and objectives Methodology Communication Service Conclusions and recommendations Case studies
Business Context and Objectives 3 Ecclesiastical has a suite of Church communications including: Church Matters Newsletter Archdeacons Visitation News (where Ecclesiastical provides the inner four pages) E-Newsletters Seminars Inserts at renewal Parish Packs All communication is supported by the Church Matters website. Ecclesiastical wished to assess the usefulness /perceived value of its of the range of communications and understand the extent to which information was shared and passed on to other PCC members. As a secondary objective, Ecclesiastical wanted to look at service experience, particularly via the telephone, and understand if there was a need for telephone service between 8am and 9am and 5pm and 6pm.
What we did... Research Methodology 4 1 focus group (6 respondents) and 5 depth interviews as follows: Focus group of 6 respondents – one clergy member, one treasurer and 4 church wardens. –Most were in rural locations in Wiltshire. –One used social media extensively for personal and church use; one other was a more occasional personal user. 5 depth interviews: –One city centre location; two town locations and two village/ rural locations. –Two social media users. The focus group lasted 1.5 hours and depth interviews lasted around 1 hour. Fieldwork dates – 25 th – 27 th September 2013.
Use and Sharing of Communication 6 Recall /awareness of Ecclesiastical communications material/resources is relatively low and pass along rates are also low. Key challenge is to improve circulation Overall the communications tested received a positive reaction, however it is not reaching a wide enough audience: Recall and awareness of the materials/resources is low. Archdeacon Visitation News was most widely recalled (6 out of 11). While respondents do take their risk management responsibilities seriously: There is a lack of awareness of the resources that Ecclesiastical provide: –Ecclesiastical are not the first port of call for information (the Diocese, Church Care website, Church Buildings Council were all mentioned as alternative information sources) –Unless there is a specific trigger (e.g. requiring a faculty) respondents are unlikely to proactively seek information Pass along rates for information/ communications are also low: Church wardens, treasurers, secretaries are all volunteers and are often time poor (on other committees, involved in charities, family and/or work commitments etc..): –Don’t read everything they get - they receive a lot of information from different sources – achieving cut through is a challenge and insurance not perceived to be the most interesting/engaging topic –Don’t have time to pass on information (particularly adverse to photocopying) –Reluctance to circulate single hard copy as tends to disappear/get lost. –Don’t want to overload others with information by circulating/sharing materials others have received themselves Reluctance to share information that falls into recipients remit: –Sharing information can lead to decisions by committee which many are keen to avoid
Church Matters Newsletter 7 A positive reaction to the Church Matters newsletter but recall & pass along rates relatively low RECALL Story articles less interesting to some (minority) – very busy volunteers and only want to be told things that are focused and relevant to their own church. Improvements/ challenges: Articles = right length. Not too long – can go onto website if want more information. Open churches article = very interesting/ useful. Stone mason and bursary articles generally considered good –shows other ways in which Ecclesiastical are helping and supporting the Church. Positive stories = lead theft down. Good quality paper/nicely produced Positives: 5 out of 11 respondents definitely recall seeing the Church Matters newsletter. 2 of the 5 currently pass on the newsletter – one to the treasurer and one to the buildings manager. The rest tend to ‘file’ the newsletter with other Ecclesiastical documents as it’s generally considered relevant only for church wardens and treasurers. Typically glance through it and see if there’s anything of interest. Rather than pass on the whole newsletter, most respondents say they would note anything of wider interest and bring it up at a PCC meeting (in reality this doesn’t happen very often). Recall and usage
Church Matters Newsletter – In their own words... 8 I just look through to see if there is anything that interests … If it was something of huge interest I would take it to the PCC at the next meeting and we can discuss it. On agenda. I’d probably not pass it on. We could take it and put it in the church on the table but whether people would read it is another matter. I think the only way to get it across to people is at the PCC to get their attention. insurance of churches is pretty boring and so low down on peoples mind, we have a job to get people to read things that they should be reading. (Small town church warden) The articles are fine but they're not something I'd read or pass on. I only have time for things that are relevant to me and give me some call to action. (Village church treasurer) Probably note it if there was anything we needed to do and discuss with my co church warden and make sure we did it really. (Group discussion) Yes I've seen this.... Yes, I would pass it on,... I would pass this on to our building manager and, because money was always such a big issue, if there was something on the front cover which said competition win £5000, which I know Ecclesiastical do run, that would always attract my attention. It’s a hook, clergy are always looking for money for their parishes. (City centre church) I don't know - I probably have had it but I wouldn't have binned it but did I read it, perhaps not.... We're all very busy people and we're all volunteers. The fact that lead theft is down is nice but it's not something I'd bring up at a PCC meeting - we're being encouraged to have fewer PCC meetings so I wouldn't bring up nice stories that don't affect us directly.... The obvious things in here I'm already doing and unless there's something new I wouldn't pass it on. The survey is interesting... I didn't know about that... I will recommend that we have a survey. (Village church treasurer)
Church Matters Newsletter 9 Format and frequency considered appropriate. Calendar has limited appeal. Once a year on paper is considered appropriate: More than once a year could be in danger of being repetitive. Paper is considered good once a year by most – better chance of reading it. Minority would prefer all electronic communication (potential to ‘turn off’ all paper comms?) Looks good, could be a useful reminder but not of wide appeal: Most are already doing the things on the calendar (often at different times of the year). Would only be relevant to church wardens and treasurers so wouldn’t put on notice board. Linked videos potentially useful but email is a better way to communicate that. Format and frequency Calendar Coming out on paper once a year is good. I think paper you are more likely to read. Twice a year might be okay but not if they are going to be repeating themselves. (Small town church warden) On paper as it does save on downloading it... Once a year would be enough. (Group discussion) We do these things … we do have our lightening conductor inspected, we do have the fire people coming each year and looking at our fire extinguishers and replacing them if necessary, we do have the gutters cleaned regularly – in sense this is a little bit teaching granny to suck eggs although its quite a fun layout – but truthfully now I don’t think it is that useful. (Small village church secretary)
Archdeacons Visitation News 10 Most widely recalled (around a half ) but pass along rate low. Positive reaction to the communication but challenge is to extend reach. RECALL None mentioned in relation to AV news – however there is requirement for a new church warden pack (checklists, along lines of Parish Pack). Improvements/ challenges: Good length – not too long. Format (paper at Archdeacons Visitation) considered appropriate. Once a year = appropriate and right. Tailored to the local area = good/ more interesting. Particularly relevant to new Church wardens. Positives: 6 out of 11 respondents (all of the wardens) definitely recall seeing the Archdeacons Visitation News Typically not passed on – seen as relevant to Church Wardens – although some would share this with the maintenance people within the church. Confusion over Ecclesiastical’s role in AV News – Ecclesiastical potentially not getting the recognition deserved Recall and usage
Archdeacons Visitation News – In their own words... 11 Useful in a hard copy - I was given this when I went for my induction as part of my paperwork package and I think as a new church warden you need as much information as you can get and this is quite useful... not really thought about passing it on - I wouldn't want to pass on too much - sometimes you can give people too much information.... if there was anything key I would raise it at a PCC meeting.... I didn't know Ecclesiastical provided the inner pages - I thought perhaps they sponsored it. (Small town church warden) Again it has lots of different topics in it and for new church wardens it is probably quite important. (Group discussion) I would look at this. And I would look at this as well mainly it is not too big, when I get big magazines through from various charities there is very little chance I get to get through those and I get lots of them because I support lots of charities. But this is just about right I wouldn’t want any more than this. Once a year for both is right, if it is more than that it just starts to get into too much information. Online you could do more than this. (Small village church secretary) I recall it once because we were featured on the front cover, that’s why I recall it, this was in 2004 when we were just reopening. So that sounds very egotistical that I remember that. London Diocese are the in the scheme are they because I don’t remember many, but perhaps it went to, they say dear Church Wardens … No I didn’t see it after that. So when the church wardens are installed and that meeting with the Arch Deacon, they give them out. I’m much more aware of the other one. (City Centre church clergy)
E-Newsletters 12 Overall email communication considered most effective – easy to scan for relevance and easy to circulate. RECALL Key challenge is ensuring email newsletters are eye catching enough to increase open and click through rates – to achieve cut through. Improvements/ challenges: No barriers to providing email addresses – all respondents in the research use email and are happy to receive email newsletters. Potentially interesting and informative articles Easy to digest snippets with opportunity to follow links if more information is required More chance of information being timely Links to videos Positives: 4 out of 11 respondents definitely recall seeing E-Newsletters (others recalled emails but were unsure whether they were email newsletters) Typically glanced at to see if there’s anything of interest but people receive a lot of emails/ email newsletters = hard to read them all. Not usually forwarded on – sometimes assume other people have got it directly. Also, if there’s anything of interest would bring it up at a PCC meeting. Recall and usage
E-Newsletters – In their own words... 13 I don't know if we've seen it.... The trouble is we get so many emails... if it is on the e-newsletter you can scan through it and see if there is something that is relevant to your particular church or a particular problem you have then you can print it out and you have got it, and then take it along to meetings or put on the notice board so you are not under any obligation. Even if you choose not to read it at all you have got that option. I think they would have to put some sort of eye catching headline. Something that you are interested in. (Small Town Church Warden) I mean I’m sure I must have received it but I think the idea of a video is a really good one. If it’s not possible to have a Ray Sule character actually coming to see you in person I think a video is a very good way of communicating especially in somewhere like Tower Hamlets where peoples reading skills (City centre church) I do open it and then it’s a quick glance really and probably not a lot else – not forward on to anybody else. It would be easy to send it to everybody but am conscious that people get bombarded with all manner of emails and don’t want to cascade it to people who already have got it. And that is a disadvantage to a sense as don’t know who is on the email list. (Focus group discussion) What I would do, let’s say I got this, I probably would open it, planning ahead for Easter I’d ignore that, Smart Water we’ve done it. We have an electrical survey done. That we’ve communicated with Ecclesiastical to let them know that we were doing this (building work) they sent us back conditions that the builders had to follow and we made sure the builders were aware. So we did do that. My mind set is, I have limited amount of time, is there anything on there that I’m not doing, as far as I can see, no. That I wasn’t aware of (open church), if the headline was your church could be open and still secure, you could reduce your premium by this, I would look into it. Your cover could be improved by, best practice on securing churches, if the headline was like that I would look at it. (Village church treasurer)
E-Newsletters 14 Format and frequency considered appropriate. Content needs to be focused and headlines eye catching to achieve cut through. 6 times a year is considered appropriate: Not too frequent but frequent enough to be useful/topical Format of e-newsletter is considered good – essential that the headline is eye catching. Content should be focused – while stories are interesting, focused risk management pieces that can directly affect the churches have more impact. Linking to videos = a good way of communicating and getting messages across. Using real life case studies has appeal. Format and frequency Content I would have thought it would be better to have each of them mixed (story/risk management) rather than just a single focus. And I would sort of say would want some real examples rather than you should be doing this to actually XYZ church tried doing this and although they were successful these were the problems they faced and this is how they resolved them – real live anecdote. (Small village secretary) I think I would only want it if there was something really important you wanted us to know. Rather than planning ahead for Easter for example. If it was like that you would know that you would really need to do something about it - rather than just a general message. (Focus group discussion)
E-Newsletters – Specific Topics 15 Signing up to newsletters on specific topics is appealing. While all tested topics had some appeal: keeping the church open and secure, fire prevention and electrical wiring inspection had the widest appeal. Keeping your church open – tips and guidance****** Church security – keeping your church secure****** Fire prevention – assessing risks and prevention***** Electrical wiring inspection***** Health and safety – model policy and guidance**** Theft of metal – assessing the risk and what to do**** Church surveys – what happens at a church survey**** Building regulations – what you need to know when work is being done**** Portable Appliance Testing*** Slips, trips and falls – risk assessment and prevention*** Winter weather risks – protecting your church for Winter** Fire extinguisher maintenance* Additional suggestion for topics included: ‘What to do when your Vicar leaves’ (interregnum) – information to support Church Wardens if a Vicar leaves. “Have you reviewed your key policy”
ChurchMatters Website 16 Positive response to the website however most hadn’t used the website and were unaware of its existence. RECALL Key challenge is making sure people know it’s there and can be used as a resource – email newsletters with click through articles is the best way of communicating this but also backed up by information at archdeacons visitations, in the renewal pack, at survey etc.. Signage from main Ecclesiastical website (not immediately clear) Search function Improvements/ challenges: Wealth of information/ very informative Videos – very informative, well done Easy to navigate Positives: 3 out of 11 respondents said they’d visited the Church Matters website before The remainder weren’t aware that it existed as a resource. Those that have used the website had all had some construction work done on the Church and have looked at the website to get information on construction work. Recall and usage
ChurchMatters Website – In their own words... 17 Well what you’ve got to do to get people to go on to it, is to sell the information that is on it as being useful to churches. Go on this website because you’ll get value from it. The easiest way to do that would be to have a covering note, did you know we have a website, it would provide all of this for you. Did you know you could get a free survey … it’s those things, that’s what encourages them, I would never have thought of that (Village church treasurer) I thought it was pretty good and user friendly, just the headline and you go onto and then whack you are onto that. And I like the fact they have little videos like YouTube. Not been on it before. Didn’t know it was there before. You said about emails – have a look at our videos – you can find important information on our videos because often when someone sends it through and there is a link you press on it and watch it straight away. (Small town church warden) I was surprised that it wasn’t just about answering issues on insurance. Yes they do need to get that message out there, email and also communicating in renewal letters and through the diocese because don’t forget we get information from the diocese. Letters to ministers. (Small village church secretary) If I stick on the churches bit it is a bit easier to navigate around but if you start off on the home page it is difficult to know what is there. The signage I couldn’t see a site map at the bottom so I could find out what there was – the church matters … was better but there is a lot of stuff there and can it be found quickly well it needs I wonder if it is there and if it is not – a search box – it is better than many – but overall I think it depends where you go in and you don’t know where you are looking for. (Small town Church treasurer)
Parish Pack 18 Very positive reactions to Parish Pack - Considered very useful. RECALL Increase distribution – clear that there is appeal/demand for this pack between surveys. Demand for Parish Pack to be handed out as part of Church Warden’s Induction. Improvements/ challenges: Very useful – very interesting. Using less paper than previously – sufficient information on paper and then directing to the website for more information is appropriate. Separate booklets for separate information (can be given to appropriate people easily) Health & safety and fire risk check list approach felt to be extremely helpful Positives: 1 out of 11 respondents recalled receiving a parish pack: Much bigger pack than the one shown in research. Recall and usage
Parish Pack – In their own words... 19 I think they are excellent. They are very concise each little bit is very concise and they are easy to read and health and safety guide and how to carry out your own risk assessments and that sort of thing – I wouldn’t know where to start but these are quite useful. (Focus Group discussion) Very very useful, because effectively we have had to develop some of this ourselves, so this is incredibly useful, our H&S policy we have had to cobble something together. Really useful.... If you have pages and pages of stuff people just don’t read it. Really useful. I am sure the church warden would be very interested in this. Thank you. (Small village church secretary) Oh this is good. Very interesting. Can we keep this? Once we have read it and the other church wardens we could even put it in the church, we could draw out of this anything we need to discuss at the PCC and what we should be doing. And I think that is one of our failings we get stuff in the bundle from the diocese and you have to pass it round so that the next person sees it but then it just seems to disappear and half the things that I see in there I think oh that is useful that should be up on the notice board as it is suppose to be and you haven’t seen it happen and I think that sort of information, people aren’t that interested in insurance but that covers quite a lot of things really. What we could do is pass that one round the PCC members and see if anybody wants to pick up on anything. (Small town church warden) This would have been really handy. Why haven’t I seen this before (I think it’s quite new), wow, this would’ve been really good it’s a fill in kind of thing, the kind of thing that church wardens can work through or building managers can work through and you can kind of go back to and, yes, that would’ve been very good. (City centre clergy)
Inserts at Renewal 20 Potentially a useful message but no recall of inserts so message isn’t achieving cut through. None of the respondents remembered seeing this particular insert at renewal. One respondent recalled an insert on discounts for introducing other churches. The content was considered useful: However this is potentially a message that should be received in advance of renewal: I actually think that an email a month before renewal it gets you thinking perhaps we need to have a conversation about this and bear in … if it was something that needed to be discussed at the PCC then there is a long lead time. (Small village church secretary) That is interesting if we have a higher excess we could reduce our premium – do we know what our excess is? You have actually highlighted something which we said we have done with the utilities. We really do need to review our insurance. (Small town church warden)
Seminars 21 Awareness of seminars low. Potentially useful for a minority but not considered key. Just one respondent had been to a seminar: Just one other was aware of seminars – most weren’t aware that Ecclesiastical ran seminars at all. Lack of volunteer time would be key barrier to attendance. A minority felt seminars would be useful (if they were on specific, relevant topics) however the majority was of the opinion that: It was difficult to get people to commit to going to seminars (on line videos work better) Any costs involved couldn’t be covered by the church (even if seminars were free, it’s still asking people to give up more time and pay for petrol etc..) Specific topics of interest similar to E-Newsletters. A seminar on using social media for the church mentioned by one as potentially very useful. A couple of years ago I went to an evening seminar by Ecclesiastical on lead theft which was very topical at the time and there must have been 70-80 people there at this one meeting and that was very useful. We had been hit about 7 times within about 2 years. (Focus group discussion)
Advertising 22 Mixed response to the new ads – on balance more negative than positive reaction. Red background – makes it difficult to read/ see. Images less eye catching than previous pictures used. Improvements/ challenges: On brand – use of corporate colours; more corporate identity. Which? Endorsement Positives: I don’t like the red ad, I find the existing ones easier to see from afar... The older ones are more eye catching and more striking – I don’t like the red background. (Focus group discussion) I I like that particular colour (on the old ads) … Probably not mad keen, compared to this it does look like a lot of words I must admit, looks a bit wordy. … at the moment I see that colour and think more of Ecclesiastical but they might, I presume they’ve taken advice from disability groups about what’s the best colour scheme… I think the orange is quite bright and an attractive colour but it may be that they’ve done some eyesight work and it should be a darker colour on the background perhaps. A bit dull. (city centre clergy) These are obviously identifiable logos clearer and the right colour and everything and it is very interesting … I also think it is very good to have got the Which label on here. I am quite surprised to see that they are a Which recommended provider. So that the corporate identify is a lot stronger. (Small village church secretary)
Social Media 23 Only a minority have embraced social media as a means of communicating to the congregation/community about their church. Mixed in terms of Facebook and Twitter usage for the church: 3 out of 11 respondents were actively involved in Facebook for the church (less so Twitter at the moment): –2 of these have Facebook pages (both clergy) and believe it does encourage younger members of the Church and helps get their message out there: –The remaining respondent had set up a Facebook page and saw it as critical in getting their message out and advertising the church however wasn’t sure how to go about it: The curate in his late 20’s and a youth worker in his late 20’s and so they kind of dragged me… said we have to do this it should’ve been done ages ago, they set up as you say a Facebook page… it was very well used by church members. I remember that somebody put up, on Good Friday, a little kind of cartoon explanation of what the meaning of Good Friday was and we had about 5000 likes. So yes, I think it’s the way it definitely led us into a very important. (City centre clergy) One church in particular has a goodish number of young people and some of their friends have engaged with some of things the church is doing through Facebook friends. (Focus group discussion) We really need help with the social media… Getting the message out telling people what it going on like the church teas that might be that people who are in to that and for example walks people do walk around here quite a lot we are on a number of picturesque walks … we ought to be linking, come to the church buy a guidebook – make a donation.... And the other detail is that we want to advertise this space as a community space not just for this village. (Small village church secretary)
Social Media 24 There is limited interest in an Ecclesiastical Twitter feed or Facebook page. Eight out of 11 respondents reject the idea of using social media – primarily because of their lack of interest in social media: Limited appeal in Ecclesiastical’s twitter feed and Facebook page: One respondent felt Ecclesiastical should embrace social media although they themselves would be unlikely to use this medium. Existing Twitter users wouldn’t be interested in following Ecclesiastical on Twitter (and the tweets themselves considered repetitive): It’s not my form of communication, I know lots of youngsters use it all the time.... We've not really got much of a website. We would like to improve our website. (Small village treasurer) We do have a website for the church which is updated quite regularly and a lot of people look at that but I think actually we are the wrong church for twitter/facebook. (Small town church warden) One thing which really winds me up on Facebook/twitter are companies that muscle in and advertise – so to answer your next question I wouldn’t want to see Ecclesiastical on Facebook/twitter. (Focus group discussion) The great benefit with email is that it comes to you, Facebook … if I have to go on to a facebook page because I doubt that I would because I have got other things going on in my life. (Small village secretary)
Church Competition – Awareness 25 Low awareness of the Ecclesiastical competition but viewed as supportive and commendable by most. Just one respondent was aware of the Ecclesiastical church competition: Recalled one a few years ago about a church website competition – the respondent’s church didn’t enter themselves but were in the process of setting up their own website so used it for information/ looking at best practice. The majority of respondents felt Ecclesiastical offering a church competition with the 3 prizes as advertised was commendable and demonstrated support of the church... However, a small minority questioned the relevance of an insurer offering such a competition and was cynical about whether it affected premiums. Cash prizes considered most relevant – and the amount suggested is appropriate: I am not in favour. Partly because I think I’ll be paying for it somehow in my premiums and partly because they are an insurance company and it’s not their core business. (Focus group discussion) It’s got to be enough to get people interested and big enough to make a difference. These amounts are fine. Cash is best because there’s the flexibility to spend it on what you want. (Focus group discussion)
Church Competition – Entering 26 To encourage entry the theme needs to be something easy to co-ordinate and administer. Sufficient notice required – preferably at the beginning of the year. Encouraging churches to enter is a challenge: PCC members are volunteers and busy: –Getting someone to commit to doing what’s needed and entering might be difficult (it would need to be co-ordinated) –There is also some feeling that “we wouldn’t win anyway so what’s the point of entering?” The theme suggested (best use of church buildings) has some appeal (and its clear there are some novel/creative activities going on), however : –Could be too much work involved (taking photographs writing something up) –Element of bias/lack of fair chance - Not all churches have additional buildings or the location puts them at a disadvantage for community use. –One theme suggested was best church magazine: Something like a church magazine competition as a competition might be interesting – because you can just say here is our magazine and stick it in an envelope and send it to them, maybe the last 2-3 copies and then I suppose you could scan in the winning ones and put them on the website… We have got a magazine editor so if she – if it was just a matter of somebody popping it into an envelope and sending it off to Gloucester or wherever as long as 20 different people didn’t do the same thing it would need to be co-ordinated from that point of view so perhaps it would get discussed at a church council meeting … We need to know what is coming up and have a mind to do some things about deadlines with at least 3-4 months notice. (Town church treasurer)
28 Overall, respondents have been happy with service received. Telephone hours of 9- 5 are considered sufficient. Good claims service: Those who have had a claim experience typically very happy with the telephone service received. Feel they have spoken to a specialist church insurer who understands their needs; very able to answer queries. Very few had reason to call other than claims – never considered calling to discuss premium level/ excess etc.. All said they called between 9 and 5 – and said there was no need to have hours between 8-9 and 5-6. Just one had a minor complaint: Dislike of 0845 numbers (too expensive) Call back facility is appealing if on hold – most would like the call back within 30-60 minutes. Telephone A minority prefer to communicate via email: Easy to do in own time Have a record of all communication Typically would expect/ want: An immediate response (automatic) to say the email had been received and to give the timeframe in which it would be dealt with A reply within 2-3 working days answering queries/ giving next steps Just one had been disappointed with email service (lost email, lack of response). Limited need/ use of postal channels. Email/mail On line service with policy documents is appealing: Often volunteers who file things away in own home and if something happens while they’re away, no one else knows how/ where to access documents. On line access of policy documents considered useful. Strong appeal for on line calculator tool to calculate premiums/ excess: All respondents are cost conscious and most unaware that this was an option for them On line A dummy email that basically says we’ve received your email and you will get a response within 48 hours. That would be fine. (Small village church treasurer) I really like the idea of having an on line calculator to put in a premium and excess and play around with what the premium could be. (Small town church warden)
Service – In their own words... 29 whenever I ring up to say we have had some lead taken and we are going to have to make a claim each time the details are taken very quickly and efficiently and given a claim number and when we have further information it goes through very smoothly I find. (Focus group discussion) I haven’t found a need to do that, what was going through my mind was under what circumstances would I. No, because if there is a break-in or theft which has occurred there is not much Ecclesiastical can do about it, put simply they are going to pay money back once we’ve got it sorted. They don’t and neither should they, they don’t take a part in sorting out what’s gone wrong, you know, it’s either a theft or a break-in. I get advice from the church architect, because there is lots of constraints because it’s a grade 2 star building and the diocese is quite fussy about what we can and can’t do with the building. So no, I can’t immediately think of any reason why I’d need to contact them out of hours. (Small village church treasurer) 9-5 is fine. If we had a situation where we had a phone call to say that somebody has ripped all the lead of the roof we would immediately call the police but would like to contact Ecclesiastical – I am not saying that you need 24/7 cover as it is unlikely you are going to discover that at 3 o’clock in the morning but usually find it when it rains....most people assume there isn't anyone to take calls before 9am. (Small town church warden) I suppose yes that’s what they are and when you need them they come to your aid, professional with the dealings that I had and also when we had the work done because it took quite a long time I gave them the bill and that was fine too and they were quite helpful in talking me through the questions that I asked about how long did we have to do it within a timeframe and questions I had they were able to answer.(Focus group discussion)
Conclusions and recommendations 31 The communication material/resources all received positive feedback… However Ecclesiastical is not necessarily first port of call for risk management guidance/advice/help: Work in closer partnership with Diocese and other church resources (Church care, Church Buildings) to ensure the risk management help/advice available from Ecclesiastical is more promoted on relevant websites. It is essential that Ecclesiastical improve circulation and investment is required to build the database: Can’t assume that information is going to reach the right people as recipients rarely pass on or share information Need to invest and build a more extensive database of email addresses/ contact details of church wardens, treasurers, secretaries, clergy. –Use existing contact details to mail out requesting email addresses Communications could be improved to encourage readership/cut through: Length could be paired back (keep communications concise and succinct) Headlines and articles should be focused and relevant (risk management of more interest than stories) Consider more hard hitting headlines/stronger calls to action to encourage cut through More tailored communication e.g. signing up for specific Enewsletter topics Role for a succinct warden pack/checklist – circulated to new wardens and wardens whose Vicar is leaving. Telephone service experience typically around claims (those who hadn’t had claims had limited experience). Feedback on service typically good – all felt they’d dealt with a specialist church insurer and had been well supported through the claims process Call back facility is appealing if on hold – most would like the call back within 30-60 minutes.
Conclusions and recommendations 32 Communication:Key Conclusions:Recommendations for Ecclesiastical: Church Matters Newsletter Recall and awareness low however when shown, respondents do like and value. Format and frequency is fine. Consider more hard hitting headlines to grab attention – especially on the front page. Keep it short, concise, succinct. AV News Recall and awareness low however respondents again do like and value. Ecclesiastical not getting recognition deserved. Retain AV News at existing format and frequency but make Ecclesiastical’s support clearer. Potential to use AV News to communicate other resources (website) and collect email addresses for newsletter. E-Newsletter Most aren’t receiving e-newsletters however considered a convenient, best way of communicating key messages. Appeal for ability to sign up to newsletters on specific topics. Essential to obtain more email addresses – AV? When Church Warden’s are sworn in? Surveys? Proactively ask if anyone else in PCC should be getting newsletters. Ensure headlines are hard hitting and clear – email newsletters have to be immediately obvious. Website Awareness is low and Ecclesiastical not first port of call for resources. Multi channel approach to communicating website – e- newsletters, church matters, renewal pack, through diocese, AV etc.. Social media There is potentially a role for social media for churches however there is a definite reluctance from the majority to embrace social media (generation/ age issue). An Ecclesiastical Facebook page or Twitter feed is not something that would be used extensively however isn’t damaging. May be a role for Ecclesiastical to help churches understand and use social media to their best advantage (seminars, webinars on how to use; sharing of best practice examples). Launching a Facebook page or Twitter feed likely to have limited impact – while not damaging, resource may be better directed elsewhere.
Conclusions and recommendations 33 Communication:Key Conclusions:Recommendations for Ecclesiastical: Parish Pack Considered very useful although none had had a parish pack as shown. Length and size (on paper) considered relevant. Retain Parish Pack as shown – no need for bigger pack. Inserts Recall low and content considered useful however possibly a message that needs to hit prior to renewal. Multi channel – retain the inserts however find a way of communicating this message prior to renewal via email, post, newsletters etc.. Seminars Recall and usage low. Some appeal however topic has to be relevant and focused and there are issues in getting people to commit to attending. Seminars aren’t wide reaching however are valued by minority. Subject matter needs to be focused and relevant – potential to do a seminar on using social media for churches? Church competition Awareness low however most respondents see the competition as commendable and say it shows Ecclesiastical supporting the church. Taking the time to enter and finding someone willing to take on the task can be a barrier The theme needs to be straightforward and simple (i.e. something churches are doing anyway so it wouldn’t take much to enter) and entry needs to be easy (simple form, emailed off or sent in an envelope). Prizes generally considered appropriate (cash appropriate) however might need to be something in it for them to enter (i.e. sharing of information = benefit) Service Most happy with service received although not all had experienced the service. Ecclesiastical is considered a specialist church insurer. Ability to look at policy documents on line and an on line calculator tool have appeal. 9-5 are acceptable opening hours for telephone service. Call back facility is appealing if on hold – most would like the call back within 30-60 minutes. Email queries should receive an acknowledgement email with a timeframe for when someone from Ecclesiastical will get back to them – 2 working days is acceptable. Consider launching on line service.
Case Study #1 Rural Church in Hertfordshire 35 Respondent profile:Church warden for a small village church – village is very small (35 houses); church not very well supported as a church (one service every month, around 12 in the congregation) but well supported as a building (the building is very unusual, links with local NT property). The respondent has been involved with the church for many years, is a personal social media user but hasn’t used it for Church business. Ecclesiastical insurance: Church only insured by Ecclesiastical. There are no other church buildings; just the church. No insurance claims in recent years – little need to contact Ecclesiastical. Key issues facing the church: Small village, low congregation numbers, income is low, fundraising is key. They don’t pay their parish share (can’t afford it). They do keep the church open (get a lot of walkers) and provide some ‘afternoon tea’ afternoons to raise money. Personal safety is an issue they’re considering at the moment as often people are there on their own. The Church doesn’t have water/ toilets at present and they are putting on a small extension in the next few months to build these. Once this is built, in order to ensure the Church survival, they feel they need to open the building up to members of the public for events (concerts, parties etc..) and have held such events in the past. Advertising/ marketing the space is one key area and they do see social media as playing a part in this (however don’t have the knowledge to set it up).
Case Study #1 Rural Church in Hertfordshire 36 Service experience:No claims experience but has spoken to Ecclesiastical about smart water – can’t recall too much about the experience but believes it was positive and that Ecclesiastical came across as a specialist church insurer. Communication recall:Doesn’t recall receiving any communications and hadn’t heard of the Church Matters website prior to the research. Reaction to communication: Very positive reaction to all pieces of communication – Church Matters newsletter considered useful “I would read it, not too much information and there is a bit of good news here about lead thefts at its lowest” however the calendar considered less useful “teaching granny to suck eggs.” E-Newsletters considered the most useful “I must go on the website and sign up for these.” Would prefer the subject matter to be mixed – i.e. All have a story and a risk management focus rather than one or the other. If there was something she considered relevant she would forward the email onto other members of the PCC. Website considered very useful and wide ranging – felt needed to be told in various different ways that it exists as a resource. Parish pack again considered useful. Seminars would be useful although had to be free (no money in church to pay). Church competition:Unaware of competition but considered appealing and something that she would enter (they have entered competitions before). Entry has to be very simple and straightforward and not time consuming. Prizes need to be significant (£5k+).
Case Study #1 Rural Church in Hertfordshire 37 Ads:Positive about the new style ads “These are obviously identifiable logos clearer and the right colour and everything. I also think it is very good to have got the Which label on here. So that the corporate identify is a lot stronger.” Social Media:Has a personal Facebook page but not very active on social media. Sees Social Media as key to promoting the church and securing its future “I have created a facebook page and get occasional visitors to that and I would really like to use that more and I haven’t I am not sufficiently knowledgeable about twitter for example to know how we might be able to do it, but I do know that a lot of charitable organisations say it is what we should be doing.... Getting the message out telling people what it going on, little things like the church teas that might be that people who are in to that and for example walks people do walk around here quite a lot we are on a number of picturesque walks we ought to be linking more to the National Trust and Shaws Corner a lot of our visitors come from there because they haven’t got a tea room and so a marvelous facility when we do do teas for them. But we ought to be linking, come to the church buy a guidebook – make a donation.... And the other detail is that we want to advertise this space as a community space not just for this village you know, it is a great space for people, small concert venues, we do have local organisations that have come and used the church for concert venues either we charge them a fixed sum or we do a profit share, but I want to make it more known that we have that as a facility.”
Case Study #2 Village Church in Hertfordshire 38 Respondent profile:Treasurer for a mid – large village church. The village has a church school. The respondent has been involved with the church for many years, mostly as a treasurer. Ecclesiastical insurance: Church only insured by Ecclesiastical. There are no other church buildings; just the church. This church has had a lead theft and three break-ins in recent years so treasurer has had dealings with Ecclesiastical and has smartwater. Key issues facing the church: Low numbers; keeping costs down. “Falling numbers – aging population, we’ve got a church school in the village which is supported by the church, it’s very popular, … but none of the teachers and few of the children come to church, one or two with parents that come to church but that’s it.” “Keeping the cost down is important, we have a total budget of £23,000 in terms of costs and as you can see our insurance cost is £1500-£1600, a significant amount.” The church is not currently left open “I don’t see how an open church can be a secure church” however one of the church wardens is keen for the church to be kept open. Keeping the church secure is another key issue – especially given the break-ins and the lead theft in recent years.
Case Study #2 Village Church in Hertfordshire 39 Service experience:Service experience has been fine – all claims have been sorted fairly quickly. They did have one minor administrative error/ confusion but satisfied with speed in which this was sorted out. No recall of telephone service experience – typically communicates via email and has been happy with the service provided via email. Objects to the use of 0845 numbers in principle (too expensive). Can’t see a need to contact Ecclesiastical outside of 9-5 hours. Communication recall:Didn’t recall Church Matters newsletter; Archdeacons Visitation News; E- Newsletters; Inserts. Hasn’t had a survey so hasn’t had a parish pack. Was unaware of the Churchmatters website. Reaction to communication: This treasurer is a very busy volunteer and doesn’t have time to read everything in detail. He wasn’t interested in nice stories or information that didn’t directly impact on him and his church – for example, he wanted to know if there was anything he wasn’t doing that would affect his premiums or would stop the church being broken into. The most effective communication to him would be focused e-newsletters which he would scan and then click through to anything he saw was relevant to his church. “I keep coming back to specifics, the website and the offer of a survey is useful. Other things are useful if they provide specifics and guidance. Generalized stuff is more difficult.”
Case Study #2 Village Church in Hertfordshire 40 Ads:Unsure of relevance of the images – pictures aren’t as clear as existing ads. Social Media:Has own Facebook page but isn’t a big personal user. Hasn’t looked into the use of social media for the church – while admits it could be a good way of reaching younger people, this isn’t something that has been discussed. They do have a church website but this needs updating (which they are looking into). Hasn’t used twitter in the past and has no intention of using it in the future. No interest in an Ecclesiastical Facebook page or twitter account. Church competition:Unaware they had a church competition. While he thinks it’s commendable and supportive, he says they are unlikely to enter because: Don’t have any church buildings other than the church itself Doesn’t think they would win – other churches have more flexible buildings and can be more creative PCC isn’t very active and doesn’t want to put in more time/ effort “It’s not a particularly active church, its aging, there is a limit to what we can actually do. It’s a good thing to do, I commend Ecclesiastical for doing it, but there is a limit to what we can get our PCC to do.”
Case Study #3 Small Town Church in Bedfordshire 41 Respondent profile:Paired depth with husband and wife – husband is church warden and wife is treasurer. Been involved in church for 20 years, been in current role for a year (church warden – although had been church warden previously), 15 months (treasurer). Ecclesiastical insurance: Church, church hall and ‘Friends of St Mary’s’ fundraising group. “What I see as their key strengths is that they understand churches and they tailor their product to churches and I have to say looking on their website they have an incredible amount of extra information not necessarily through them but leading you through into other areas where you can investigate things or looking at making the church safer, not necessarily reducing premiums but making the church safer.” Key issues facing the church: Ageing population; low numbers; keeping costs down. Personal safety is another issue – often people are there alone flower arranging and “we need to consider their personal safety.” This church is kept open during the day – there have been discussions about keeping the church open and security so this is something that’s of interest.
Case Study #3 Small Town Church in Bedfordshire 42 Communication recall:Recall Archdeacons Visitation News – don’t recall any other communication and hadn’t heard of ChurchMatters website prior to the research. Reaction to communication: Very positive about all the communication shown – Church Matters newsletter considered interesting and informative and appropriate to be once a year on paper. Similarly Archdeacons Visitation news considered useful and appropriate to be once a year on paper. Unlikely to pass on the communications – unless something very relevant when it would be raised in a PCC meeting. Email newsletters considered the most ideal form of communication – but must be clear and relevant. Positive about signing up to receive emails on specific topics. Parish pack considered very useful (they wanted to keep the pack) – they weren’t aware of the option to have a survey but were very keen to get one. Inserts again considered useful but not recalled – the message about excess very relevant. Church Matters website very informative and useful – more email communication wanted about what the website offers. They also suggested more information with the renewal letter about the websites. Social Media:Non social media users and reject the idea of using social media for the church “we’re the wrong church for social media.”
Case Study #3 Small Town Church in Bedfordshire 43 Service experience:They did consider Ecclesiastical as knowledgeable about churches (specialist church insurers). Have had some dealings with Ecclesiastical but not extensive while they’ve been in their roles. They did recall one experience: “a little while ago through Ecclesiastical they had somebody come from a company, alarm people, because of a theft of lead and they came along and I went round with him and explained all the pros and cons and he did a very good job and he had been put in touch via Ecclesiastical and he did the survey and came up with some figures and they were quite scary for us and was going to cost over £5k now I had to give a presentation to the PCC to tell them what was happening and how much it was going to cost and I got in contact with an Ecclesiastical and said to them if we install these alarms how much will it save us, the answer was well it won’t save you anything but we will increase your cover which as far as the church is concerned that is a no-go so very nice so lets say for arguments sake we have got £50k cover for our lead and you are going to double it to £100k great but if nobody ever steals it” Ads:Negative reaction to the new ads – preference for existing ads (can see the pictures better, clearer messages). Church competition:Never heard of the church competition prior to the research. Would be tempted to enter although believe it would take a lot of work “we’d need to know about it at the beginning of the year so we could plan for it.” Getting a volunteer to manage this and enter might be difficult.
Case Study #4 Town Church in Hertfordshire 44 Respondent profile:Treasurer -previously a treasurer of the local parish church which had a daughter church attached to it but that’s now become a stand-alone LEP Methodist Church. Congregation a mix of Anglican/Methodist. Respondent also involved in other volunteer roles : involved in Alms House charity and scout group and his wife is a Church steward. Ecclesiastical insurance: Both churches within parish insured with Ecclesiastical – including one integral and one standalone church hall and one curates house. Been involved with Ecclesiastical for about 30 years - been the one throughout who is the main contact with Ecclesiastical with regards periodic survey visits, sum assured, notifying them of faculty applications, new works. Have had to get permission to do work on church buildings found the interactive PDF on EIG website asked a lot of irrelevant questions Key issues facing the church: Funding for Church maintenance. Had major works done this year including kitchen refit and leaded window repairs. Finding and retaining volunteers with sufficient knowledge/skills for various roles.
Case Study #4 Town Church in Hertfordshire 45 Service experience: Tends to deal by email and uses website. Expressed some frustration with lack of acknowledgment of emails and emails taking a long time to be answered. “ What doesn’t seem to be working very well at the moment and it is twice now I emailed them stuff, once to say we have got two lots of building work going on and we have applied for faculties and what do you want from us and I had to send a reminder because I hadn’t got a response. I sent in a buildings works questionnaire fairly recently and it hasn’t been responded to, quoting policy number and everything. I am sure there must be thousands of churches and it must be a nightmare in allocating emails to the right desk and the right person but they don’t seem to be particularly quick at responding to emails.” Also recently had survey and had to lodge a complaint about survey report : “Well the surveyors report I lodged a formal complaint about that I am sorry to say it has lots of inaccuracies in it and it had to be re-written.” Communication recall: Recall of Church Matters newsletter and Enewsletter. No recall of Archdeacon Visitation News. Aware of Church Matters website as had previously visited it when needed to find information on obtaining a faculty. Also recalls receiving Parish pack following recent survey Reaction to communication: Respondent thinks the materials are useful not so much for himself but other volunteers but challenge is getting them to read them “I do whizz through them (Newsletter/emails etc)I think these things it depends on the knowledge of the recipient having been involved in church finances and insurance for quite a long time I wouldn’t say I know everything but I have less need to be fed information, I think the problem is getting people to read it even people that need to read it if it not attractively produced, they are probably after my money so chuck it away unread which is a shame because I think there is a lot of useful stuff and there is a lot of ignorance out there in various churches who don’t really know what is going on and don’t make themselves aware of what is on offer”.
Case Study #4 Town Church in Hertfordshire 46 Ads:Not covered due to lack of time Social Media: Not a big advocate of social media, Respondent uses Face book in a small way personally and has a twitter account purely just to keep up to date with scout group. Does not see a role for social media for the Church and would have no interest in an Ecclesiastical Facebook page or twitter feeds. Church competition:Recalls a competition for about 10 -15 years ago – Church website competition – the church didn’t take part but found the results interesting/helpful. Feels the prize money is attractive. Feels a competion is a good idea but must be very simple to enter and not absorb a lot of volunteer time – suggested best church newsletter/magazine as a theme as that would only require someone to post off newsletter. Wasn’t keen on best use of Church buildings as feels it wouldn’t provide equal opportunity – some churches have big advantage in terms of location with passers by – easier to attract people to events etc than others locate off the beaten track.
Case Study #5 City Church – London Borough 47 Respondent profile:Vicar ( however has recently left parish)– two church buildings in a relatively poor London Borough. One of the churches was derelict when the vicar first arrived in 2003 – A huge fund raising exercise was undertaken to renovate the derelict church - £3.5m project over a 14 month period. Ecclesiastical insurance: Both church buildings insured with Ecclesiastical. Ecclesiastical was closely involved during the 14 month renovation period providing health and safety advice on construction site etc. Vision was to have the renovated church open every day of the week to provide place of sanctuary/solace to local population over and above service congregations – received lots of advice from Ecclesiastical on practical matters around how to safely leave a church open in a London Borough with high crime rates. Had named face to face contact at Ecclesiastical who was easily accessible by phone and made site visits. Key issues facing the church: Keeping church open everyday in London borough with high crime rates and many vulnerable people. Trying to increase congregation numbers and engage younger people. Fundraising always on the agenda. Lead theft – had three lead thefts several years ago. The parish is currently without a vicar (interregnum) which means church wardens have had to take on extra responsibilities. Outgoing vicar (respondent) found it very difficult to find information in advance of departure that could be provided to the wardens to help them after her departure.
Case Study #5 City Church – London Borough 48 Service experience:From the Vicars perspective all servicing communication was done either face to face or by telephone with a designated representative and was predominantly focused on the church building renovation Communication recall:Recall of Church Matters newsletter, Archdeacons Visitation News (one edition that featured their own church). No recall of Enewsletters and no awareness of Church Matters website – thought the buildings manager would probably be aware of the website. Reaction to communication: Positive reaction to all pieces of communication. Church Matters newsletter and Enewsletter – considered useful, anything on topical risk issues and /or funding raising/grants etc considered relevant – would pass on to buildings manager. Found calendar idea quite appealing, thought it would be good have some form of reminder/alert throughout year suggested a phone app could work. Particularly liked idea of links to videos on Church Matters website – literacy rates relatively low in borough and therefore things like video as a means of communication is more accessible. Volunteers time poor more likely to spend 5 minutes watching video than reading a lot of material. Parish Pack not seen before but considered extremely useful. “Wow, this is really good it’s a fill in kind of thing, the kind of thing church wardens can work through and go back to”
Case Study #5 City Church – London Borough 49 Ads:Prefer old over new advertisement – new ad colour too dark/dull, imagery not clear, too wordy. Social Media:Church set up own website page (driven by young curate and youth worker) – good way of engaging community – posted cartoon on meaning of Good Friday and it is received 5000 likes. Respondent felt it would be appropriate for Ecclesiastical to use social media (face book, twitter or what ever is the current trend) – good way of reaching out to younger volunteers etc. Church Competition:Aware that Ecclesiastical does run competitions – 1 st prize of £5,000 considered an attractive incentive to enter – no real views on theme.
68 Lombard Street, London EC3V 9LJ Tel: 0870 787 4490 Church Communications Research 2013 Julie Irwin and Kate Turner September 2013