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Good content = good vacation

Beach scene

When I visit this shoreline, I don’t want to fret about stale content. Photo: Ali Symons

If you’re reading this right now, you may be one of the few in your workplace that has not yet skedaddled to the beach/cottage/cabin.

Before you take your turn to skedaddle, take a look at your church website.

It’s true that many congregations thin out over the summer, but it’s also a time when new people may cruise to your website or pop in your doors. Help them out by keeping content fresh.

Beware the stale spaghetti
First, an obvious point: keep your website current. Your church may not be a multimedia storytelling machine, but I’ll bet you want to keep your service times accurate. Make sure your current summer service times are front and centre on your website.

You may also need to update summer contact information. Are contacts still the same for a pastoral emergency? An urgent prayer request?

Before you turn on those out-of-office email responses, double-check your content. Is anything going to “expire” while you’re gone, like that ad for a June spaghetti supper? Nothing looks worse than stale spaghetti.

Keep the stories flowing
If your website is story-driven, then sustaining content can be a challenge over the slower summer months. Here are some suggestions for keeping things active:

  • Refer to your editorial calendar. These calendars are always a good idea and should ideally include a “whenever” pile where you toss stories that aren’t time-sensitive. Now’s the time to write that profile on that quirky parishioner who sews liturgical banners out of vintage calico.
  • Run news from another source. You could go global and pick up something from the Anglican Communion News Service. You can also share stories from your friends here at the Anglican Church of Canada. (You can even set up rss feeds that run automatically on your site.) You might also want to go local and point to community events or podcast series from just down the street.
  • Welcome a guest contributor. It’s common blog practice to have a guest contributor write a few posts. (It’s what the Rev. Matthew Griffin did here recently.) Why not encourage a young writer in your congregation by having them contribute some stories? Maybe other leaders from your congregation also want a turn at the mic. Right now my home church is doing a series where leaders share reflections on their favourite verses. These are succinct spiritual thoughts for the season. Pair it with a nice Creative Commons picture (or one of your own) and you’ve got a pretty post.
  • Share your sermons. If your church doesn’t post its homilies, maybe this is the time to start doing this. These could be in whatever form works for you: text, audio, or video.
  • Follow your parishioners’ fun. Is someone in your congregation working on an international development project over the summer? Or walking the Camino de Santiago? Chances are that someone you know is blogging about their adventures. Link to their site and highlight the best content as it comes through.

Think of this content maintenance as packing an essential item in your suitcase. Don’t wake up in the middle of the night fretting about that stale spaghetti. Clean it up, then go have a lovely time.

Have your own tips for summer content? Log in and share them below.

Ali Symons

About Ali Symons

Ali formerly served as senior editor at the Anglican Church of Canada. Her work included writing news articles, producing multimedia pieces, and helping people figure out how to tell their stories. "Zoom in: I fix em dashes. Zoom out: I help share the Good News."
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