The Future Church - A Church Communications Podcast
Church Media + Communications
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E018 - Managing & Receiving Project Requests

James: When I was a contractor I often had this issue where people would come to me with ideas and wanting quotes on things and every now and then I'd get a lot of requests all at the same time. And that was difficult. But, as a contractor I could kind of just turn down projects that I didn't want to do that didn't have the right budget or the right feel or I didn't have time for. But when you work full-time at a church as a communications person you don't really get the option to say no I don't feel like working with you today because you're trying to serve everybody within the church especially a multi-site church like the one you work at Jo. So how do you manage requests? And what Is the process for saying yes or no?

Joanna: Well I'll talk about the ideal world first. The ideal world is we have a really simple google form that we've created that asks them a bunch of questions. And so Google Forms are free. Anybody can create them. And we came up with a bunch of generic questions that are things we wanted to know about a project. If someone even it was like for example someone who's overseeing all of our welcome stuff they wanted some friendly signs for the parking lot. So they would go in and they will know their name, their contact, what they wanted in the project. You know a kind of an overview of we want some signs that are bright and colorful that say friendly phrases like so glad you're here and here's a timeline ideally for us of when we would want to have those and you can even attach, here's some examples of ones we like from other churches where we got this idea from. And so we get that in our email inbox. Then from there they would get a notice like you know. Thanks. Within 24 hours some I'll get back to you. So from there we look at all these requests and we get you know multiple of these a week and we try and figure out what the prioritization is of that in terms of what else we have going on and if it's feasible. Some people are asking for things they don't even know how much time or money that thing would cost. So that's when we moved from a request to an actual typically either a quick conversation back and forth over what we use is Slack or over email or it becomes we book a meeting with them to talk about the project. Some some things don't require a meeting because they're fairly straightforward and simple and other things would require meeting. And sometimes we even have to say no we'll have to talk about that another day what it looks like to say no to projects. But that's in an ideal world we're using a really simple google form so that people can give us some information it's all in one place and then we can not lose track of all the things that they've asked for.

James: So do you like a contractor build some sort of quote in that you're saying to them here's how much time I think it's gonna be and here's how much budget your ministry or us as a church are gonna have to allocate for this like are you the person that's giving expertise in a way on it sometimes someone will say to you Hey Joanna I'd love a video about this and really what they're asking for is a five or ten minute long video that's gonna be tons of money and tons of time do you give them like some sort of estimation of what that value is so that someone else can make that choice? Like how does that work?

Joanna: Yeah. Good question. I mean maybe a video is a harder one for me to jump in on but when I think of something that I just recently worked on there was a ministry area that wanted, they had this idea that they pitched to us in their form. They had a link to something that was kind of like it was a backpack that you attach a flag to and it was something that you might use it like a theme park or something to promote a brand and you're giving out products and they were trying to get people to recruit people for volunteering in their area of ministry. And so we took what they had as that idea in their request form and we redirected them for a few reasons. One it felt really off brand to us for how we go as a church but also just the cost of it like it didn't make sense for what they're trying to do so we came back with some ideas for them of the same concept of being noticed standing out in a crowd and trying to do that in a maybe coming at it from a different angle. So we sort of redirected them to something that we could afford and felt closer to the brand. That said there are some projects I have to escalate up to my boss and say like there's something like a video project that's being asked for I can't see the whole scope of what's going on in the church from where I sit. But from where I sit it seems like this probably doesn't make sense for our time or our finances right now. So hey boss what do you think of this? Am I off on this? Can we say yes to this? What if we're gonna say yes to this what else are we gonna say no?

James: And in that. Like how do you I mean I don't work at the church but I would imagine that there's from this could probably be some you know interpersonal issues that can arise by people not liking your response. How do you manage expectations and relationships when people can very easily come to you with an idea but it might not necessarily work out the way that they're expecting it to. So how do you as the person who is the provider of all things media and communications how do you manage those expectations?

Joanna: Yeah. Well I think we can talk about that more in another episode of later this week about how to work with your boss but your boss should be and must be your advocate because you don't want to be the person that's stuck in the middle that you feel like you're the bridge keeper of whose projects come and go. That puts a communications person in a really awkward position when they're not the final authority typically in the church that communications person is not the senior leader. And so we all we want to be under sort of their direction their leadership their budgets. And if there's ever a if there's ever a real concern that's ultimately where things get escalated up. So that I'm not the one having to say yes or no to something and also sometimes there are projects that I work in that I like well I'm not sure this is the right idea. But if the boss says this is what we're doing then this is what we're doing and I can respect that. So there are obviously a ton of things that go into the nuances of managing and receiving requests. It sounds like we probably need to do more episodes on how to say no to projects and how to help redirect people who have ideas that seem a little bit crazy or off of what should be done maybe to communicate that project. So we'll talk about that later but now in the next episode we're gonna be talking about how to communicate with our bosses and how to really have them as an advocate for us.