When it comes to strategic communications, begin at the end

By Susan Gottshall

Heidi Thompson leading workshop at convention

Photo by George Conklin

The smallest details so often tell the biggest tales. In the case of the Communication Research and Planning workshop at RCC’s 2019 annual conference, it was the punctuation in the featured PowerPoint’s title that gave it up.

That punctuation, an exclamation point, in Heidi Thompson’s presentation – “One Page Communication Plan!” – made it clear that, above all else, the plan’s the thing.

The one-page plan is “getting back to basics,” but it’s much better than staring at and starting from a blank page of paper, said Thompson, an organizer, marketer and publishing executive with 25 years of nonprofit experience.

“Get agreement on the ‘Big Stuff’ up front,” Thompson said, and you have something to refer to throughout the process. That ensures everyone working on a project is on the same page, and it forces the team to set priorities because there’s only one page for all major aspects of the plan. Keeping the plan to one page also keeps it accessible to everyone.


Religion communicators convene to see in new ways

By Brian Fesler

Judith Valente speaking at the RCC/ACP 2019 Convention

Photo by Julie Brinker

More than a hundred journalists, editors, publishers and other communications professionals convened April 10 at the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago for the combined annual conventions of the Religion Communicators Council (RCC) and Associated Church Press (ACP).

Entitled “Seeing in New Ways: Possibilities and Perceptions,” the convention brought together two of the oldest professional associations in the field of religion communications. RCC, formed in 1929, is the oldest interfaith professional organization in the world and has the mission “to provide opportunities for networking and professional development for people working in communications for a wide variety of faith-based organizations,” while the ACP, tracing its origin to a 1916 meeting, is brought together by a “common commitment to excellence in journalism as a means to describe, reflect, and support the life of faith and the Christian community.”


Engaging on social media - remaining relevant in a crowded newsfeed

By Kathy Williams

Matt Preven leads workshop at RCC/ACP 2019 Convention

Photo by Julie Brinker

Matt Preven, sales engineer at Sizmek, absolutely delivered a home run with his workshop presentation on the importance of engagement in social media on opening day of RCC’s joint convention with Associated Church Press (ACP) in Chicago.

This ten-year veteran of digital media and advertising’s overall message was, “Let’s focus on the good that social media can provide to our organizations.”

Preven focused specifically on Facebook and Instagram in his talk. He stated, “In 2019, you need a social media strategy. Shared experiences define our lives, and social media makes it easier to share these experiences.”


RCC recognizes, awards excellence at yearly convention

Three of the 2019 DeRose-Hinkhouse Award Best of Class winners (L to R): Heidi Parsons, Brilliant Star / Bahá’í National Center; Jeff Huett accepting the award on behalf of Aaron Weaver, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship; and Rae Grant, accepting the award on behalf of Tara Barnes, Response magazine, United Methodist Women.

Photo by Julie Brinker

CHICAGO — In 2019 the Religion Communicators Council (RCC) presented more than 90 total winners of the DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards recognizing quality and achievement in about 60 categories of communication and public relations on Wednesday, April 10 at the annual convention.

Active RCC members, who demonstrate excellence in religious communications and public relations, compete for the honors every year. These peer awards are named in honor of the late Victor DeRose and the late Paul M. Hinkhouse who were leading lithographers in New York City and longtime supporters of RCC. A strong interest in and a concern for excellence in communication were shared by the friends and business partners.

This year’s judges included professionals from educational institutions, religious organizations, and private advertising and marketing teams. News, feature, promotional and other materials in all forms of media – print, electronic and digital – with either local, regional or national reach, were recognized.

RCC members represent a variety of communications disciplines, including editors, writers and designers, photographers, videographers, broadcast, social media, web developers, marketers, fundraisers, project managers ad, of course, students.

RCC received more than 200 entries in the competition this year. Each entry was judged on overall quality, including concept, writing, design, creativity, style, use of color, appropriateness of material for intended audience, creative use of resources, and effectiveness in achieving its purpose. Three award categories are given: Awards of Excellence, Awards of Merit, and in each of the nine classes, a Best of Class.

The 2019 DeRose-Hinkhouse Award Best of Class winners are:

Class A — Periodicals: Best of Class to Tara Barnes: Response, Daily Assembly Edition, United Methodist Women

Class B — Periodicals, Single Issue: Best of Class to Katherine Branch: Pathways Magazine, 2018, Green Gate Marketing

Class C — Writing For Publication: Best of Class to Donna Frischknecht Jackson: "Rural Realities” series, Presbyterians Today, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Class D — Specialized Writing: Best of Class to Aaron Weaver: A Baptist Vision of Religious Liberty & Free and Faithful Politics – The Words and Writing of James M. Dunn, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Class E — Graphic Design, Art, and Photography: Best of Class to Emily Sajewski, Adlai Amor: Working for the World We Seek for 75 Years: FCNL Annual Report 2017-2018, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)

Class F — Audio and Video, Non-Broadcast and Cable: Best of Class to Paul Seebeck, Michael Fitzer: JuJu Skateboard Ministry, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Class G — Public Relations Materials: Best of Class to William Nunnelley: Samford University Beeson Magazine, Samford University

Class H — Public Relations/Advertising Campaigns: Best of Class to Teresa Mader and Bryce Wiebe: 2018-2019 Presbyterian Giving Catalog Social Media Campaign, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Class I — Digital Media: Best of Class to Amenthel Parel-Sewell, C. Aaron Kreader, Amy Renshaw, Heidi Parsons: Brilliant Star Online, Brilliant Star / Bahá’í National Center

The complete lists of award winners are published on the Religion Communicators Council DeRose-Hinkhouse Awards page.

The Religion Communicators Council, founded in 1929, is a professional association whose mission is to provide opportunities for networking and professional development for people working in communications for a wide variety of faith-based organizations. RCC recognizes and cultivates excellence in communications of religious faith and values, as well as advances the public’s religious literacy.


Registration for RCC members still $395

This is NOT an April Fool joke! RCC is still accepting convention registrations for $395 – the early bird continues! Registration is open.

The Religion Communicators Council (RCC) and the Associated Church Press (ACP), two long-established professional associations serving the religious communication community, will meet for a joint national convention in Chicago on April 10-13 at Fourth Presbyterian Church on the Magnificent Mile. RCC celebrates its 90th anniversary as an interfaith organization in 2019 and ACP comes in with 93 years of supporting the life of faith and the Christian community.

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