D.C. chapter learns keys to an effective news pitch

By Will Brummett, BJC intern

Paul O’Donnell speaking at RCC D.C. Chapter meeting in November 2019

Photo by Rachel Jones/BJC intern

How should your organization pitch an idea for a news story or op-ed? What are common pitfalls to avoid? Paul O’Donnell, Opinion and Features Editor for Religion News Service, offered his editorial expertise and insights on how to make effective pitches to the D.C. chapter of the Religion Communicators Council during the November meeting.

Some communicators may assume that the most appealing pitches to editors are graphically-designed, perfectly formatted pieces expertly written and ready to be published. O’Donnell cautioned RCC members to refrain from sending pitches that are pre-packaged, solely focused about their organization, and sent repeatedly or too frequently. It’s key for those pitching to avoid a common blind spot of not knowing the history or context of an issue beforehand and thinking something is new when, in fact, the issue is the same old story repeated years later.


D.C. chapter explores the benefits of a one-page communication plan

By Will Brummett, BJC intern

Heidi Thompson describes her one-page communication plan to RCC D.C. Chapter members

Photo by Rachel Jones/BJC intern

Set your next project up for success by starting with a simple one-page communication plan, which can make all the difference. Marketing and digital strategist Heidi Thompson shared her experiences and insights on crafting this tool with the D.C. chapter of the Religion Communicators Council for the September chapter meeting.

Thompson drew on her varied experiences to discuss the power of designing simple, one-page communication plans for future events, campaigns or product launches. Many communication professionals have experienced being left out of the planning of major events or campaigns until the last minute. So, what do you do when, once invited to the planning, you realize the projects you’re being asked to promote lack a clear set of communication goals or are depending on gimmicky outreach tactics? Coming to the table with a simple plan allows you to define success, choose clear priorities, identify key audiences and collectively decide on the best strategies and tactics from the outset, bringing all the stakeholders together. This also can lead to crucial buy-in from the rest of the staff, allowing a higher chance for success for everyone involved.


Internationally recognized leaders to speak on communicating religious documents

RCCongress 2020 panel will include representatives from four faith traditions

Pictured from left to right: Rev. Susan Hayward, Jim Winkler, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi

Religious communicators are influential leaders in determining how individuals and communities come to understand, conceptualize and practice religion. Religious communities frequently release statements and declarations based on authentic theology to support peaceful and inclusive societies. Religion communicators play a key role ensuring these religious declarations are integrated into the daily practices and programming of religious institutions to promote cohesive societies.

On 20 March 2020, representatives from four faith traditions will explore implications of such statements on religious freedom next March in metro Washington. Rev. Susan Hayward, Senior Advisor for Religion & Inclusive Societies of the United States Institute for Peace; Jim Winkler, General Secretary and President of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States; Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union of Reform Judaism; and Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi, Executive Director of the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, will discuss the importance of communicating and promoting religious declarations during a plenary panel session at the Religion Communication Congress 2020. More than 100 faith-based organizations are sponsoring the once-a-decade international gathering and over 500 religion communicators are expected to attend.


DeRose-Hinkhouse Award deadline: Jan. 17, 2020

2020 DeRose-Hinkhouse Awards – Open for Entries

October 2, 2019

Dear RCC members,

The DeRose-Hinkhouse Awards entries are open! We are excited to celebrate your accomplishments and hard work!

As Ryan Koch, DeRose-Hinkhouse chair shared,

“Last year, the 2019 awards surpassed my expectations. Although we had a multitude of entries from a multitude of religions and faith backgrounds, the caliber across the board continued to exceed expectations. I am consistently awed by the quality and personal dedication of the RCC members. You strive for perfection, and often attain it. I encourage all members to submit their work for the 2020 DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards, not only so that you can receive recognition for your hard work, but so that I, and the rest of the RCC board, membership, and all Congress participants, can be inspired and improve our own communications efforts!”

As you look back over the past year, think about the great work you have done this past year and enter it for an award:

  • What projects are you most proud of?

  • What resources did you design that were really helpful?

  • What was your most creative, innovative communications tool of 2019?


Entry period opens for 2020 Wilbur Awards

Religion Communicators Council to accept submissions until Jan. 24.

Wilbur Award trophyNEW YORK — The Religion Communicators Council is accepting entries for the 2020 Wilbur Awards. Secular communicators have until Jan. 24, 2020, to submit work produced during 2019 for consideration in one of the oldest recognition programs in religion communication.

The council has presented Wilbur Awards annually since 1949. They honor excellence by individuals in secular media – print and online journalism, book publishing, blogs, radio, podcasts, television, and motion pictures – in communicating religious issues, positive values, and themes.

Winners in 2019 represented CBS News, The Associated Press, Vanity Fair, CNN, American Public Television, and several creative independent contributors, motion picture producers, bloggers, and journalists. For a complete list of 2019 winners and to access information for the 2020 awards, visit the Wilbur Awards page.

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