8 Tips for Good (Print) Communication

1. Remember "the who." They're not just a band, "the who" is also your audience. And if you don't have them in mind every second you're creating printed pieces, you're wasting time. When you put things in print, this is not the time to think about you, it's the time to think about them.

2. Print adds legitimacy to your message. Whenever something is put in print—whether it's proper or propaganda—it adds some legitimacy to what you're saying. It's great to see and hear, but when you can touch or take away something it makes the message stick a little more and creates a reference point.

3. Ask if what you're sending is worth passing on to others. Everything you print should be so relevant that people want to pass it on to someone else.

4. Don't forget the call to action. Ask yourself what is it that you want people to do as a result of receiving and reading your print piece. Do you want them to attend an event? Spread the word? Give? Smile? Pray? If you don't know what you want people to do, how will you ever know how to get them to do it?

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5. Web content does not equal print content. Just because something is online doesn't mean it needs to be in print. Words online are much cheaper. Because you know your audience better with print (i.e., who is getting the piece), it should be easier to have your messaging be direct, pithy and poignant.

6. Be careful with pre-designed templates. Stock photography and template-ish stuff can look a little cheesy sometimes. I'm not opposed to using them, but be careful. If you're doing a short run with a limited audience it's easier to get away with it. But if you have a citywide mailer going out, think twice before using the cookie-cutter multiethnic families with all smiles, genders and ages represented.

7. Have it proofed twice more than you think you should. Tyops are so easee to overlook. But not everything is so obvious. Once you think you have your stuff proofed enough, send it by one more fresh pair of eyes.

8. You + Computer + Photoshop = Very Bad. This is a lesson for all you wannabe designers. To all of you entrepreneurial creative leaders with a computer and illegal (or legal) copy of Photoshop, give it up. Chances are pretty good God didn't call you to be a designer, so stick to what He called you to. Not only does it probably take you 10 times longer than anyone else to create your pieces, you're also never satisfied.

Brad Abare is the director of communications for the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, founder of the Center for Church Communication, and president of Personality, a communication and marketing consultancy.

What if church marketing materials were communal? At the Center for Church Communication (cfcclabs.org) , they are. Far from just an open-source online community, the Web site also offers fresh resources, ideas, networking, ministry "labs" and more.

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