A parable: Valuable content and searchability are as important to religion as they are to your marketing communication.
In our parish, believe it or not, we pay a fair amount of attention to Sunday sermons. You can become blasé about sermons pretty easily, but I’ve heard several of my friends begin conversations with “Did you notice how Father mentioned <topic X> in the sermon today?” The audience is listening, and chatting afterwards.
I like Father Chuck. He’s editor of the local Catholic newspaper (a profession he shares with my departed father-in-law, which also ratchets him up a notch in my estimation), so he’s articulate. He’s affable and his sermons are listenable, mostly because of the way he paces his delivery. He’s not at our church every week, so there’s a novelty-factor to his sermons as well.
Father Chuck was talking about Web 2.0 yesterday, although I don’t think he realized it.
“Your giving is important, and it’s one of the most important traditions in the Church, as today’s gospel reminds us,” he preached. “One of my friends is an accountant, and he tells me that he can always tell a Catholic’s tax return because the rate of charitable donations to total income is low compared to the returns of people in other religions.”
Some religions tithe a full 10%, of course, and Father Chuck cited statistics according to which Catholics donate about 1.8%, Baptists donate 2.5% and Jews donate 3.4% of their respective annual incomes. I don’t know whether he was laying a guilt-trip on us and expecting us to give more as a result – “Now that I’m retired as a pastor, I no longer need to worry about money in the parish” – but I’m willing to cede the benefit of the doubt to him and assume that he was just holding up examples for us to approximate. Maybe also trying to make life easier for our pastor.
At this point, the Web 2.0 angle ran through my mind: “Well, Father, if you’re putting valuable content out there that people really want, and making it easy for them to find it, they’ll gladly pay you for it. The Web has shown us that valuable content and searchability are the keys to everything.”
A lot of religious (and pseudo-religious) organizations understand this. Many of them sensationalize the value in the content and blow it out of proportion, but eventually they lose their luster. The same thing happens with marketing efforts and content, when the reality of the product doesn’t support the hype of the content.
About Hiring a Writer
What does this have to do with hiring a writer?
You don’t need to hire a writer who is Catholic, and you don’t need to hire a writer who donates more than 1.8% of her income to charity. However, for success in marketing communications, you do need to hire a writer who understands valuable content and searchability.
Either that, or figure out a way to convince your customers to tithe.
photo credit: shioshvili