Resource review: Style Guidelines for The Episcopal Church
Resource review: Style Guidelines for The Episcopal Church

Style guidelines screenshot

The Episcopal Church recently published a new communication and style guide. It offers a lot more than most style guides, which, to be honest, appeal more to grammar nerds than to anyone else.

Along with nicely comprehensive writing style guidelines, this new release includes “must haves” for church websites, social media best practices, tips for bloggers, and email etiquette. There are also guidelines for dealing with the media and submissions to Episcopal News Service.

If you’re a church communicator, or communication figures largely in your role, this is a good addition to your reference shelf. It’s a helpful tool to have when you are auditing or planning your communications program, offering good insight into major communication areas and how they can be most effective:

  • Consistent branding is vital for people to know who you are. The new style guide offers extensive guidelines for use of The Episcopal Church shield and logo. Do your communications make your Episcopal identity clear? What about your own church logo—do you have guidelines for consistent use? While you might not need to go into the detail offered in the guide, it’ll give you an idea of what you should consider as you develop your congregation’s branding.
  • A church’s website is the “front door” for newcomers and visitors. Most visit you online before they ever cross your threshold. The guide has a list of the basic content you’ll want to include on your site and wisely advises you to “make your website the crown jewel of your communications strategy and keep it fresh with constant updates.” It also offers a practical way to help you capture website visitors.
  • Social media and blogs are important pieces of a communications plan. Are you maximizing your presence there? The guide gives solid advice on how to get your social networks, blog, and website working together.
  • Are you sharing your stories with local news outlets? With Episcopal News Service? The guide has tips for dealing with the media, as well as op-ed and news writing.

While all of the above is great information, I especially hope church communicators will take note of the General Principles for Communications. These six principles reflect how communication has changed in recent years and how we need to respond to those changes. We have to be sharing our stories and enabling viral evangelism. And most importantly, we can’t be afraid to try something new.

So, while it’s not intended to be a communications manual, the new style guide comes pretty close. It should be a very useful tool for church communicators and leaders looking to take their communications strategy to the next level.

Ann Turner is the communications officer for the Diocese of Southern Virginia.

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