The weekly bulletin. A staple in parish life, it’s been used for years to form and inspire parishioners and visitors alike to dive deeper into Catholic life. But in a world that’s becoming increasingly digital, churches need to find new ways to keep the bulletin relevant. Following are some ideas to freshen the bulletin concept, such as …
Making the Bulletin an Invaluable Resource
Choose a week — perhaps right before spring break or the Sunday before Thanksgiving — and ask the businesses that advertise in your bulletin to give your parishioners a limited deal. Maybe it’s a 2-for-1 admission to the local museum, a free sandwich with the purchase of a meal at a local restaurant, or 10% off your final grocery bill. The only catch? The need to bring in the bulletin for the deal.
Think about those entertainment fundraiser books that schools sell each year. A valuable resource that people can use throughout the year, it’s a coveted item that people look forward to having every day. The same can be done with your bulletin. Advertise the “exclusive” bulletin in the weeks leading up to publication weekend by highlighting some of the savings that can be found. And make sure that the “coupons” included are available for use for a number of months (ensuring that the bulletin will be kept close at hand for a good amount of time).
The parish isn’t the only organization that benefits from these types of incentives. For one, the business not only gets new patrons who redeem the coupon, but it also lets them know just how beneficial it is to advertise in your bulletin.
Keeping It Attractive — Visually and Content-Wise
What we see matters! Attractive bulletins feature beautiful imagery that draws in the reader. They are neatly laid out with complementary colors and fonts and with content that explains the Gospel in compelling and thought-provoking ways. Is your bulletin the best it can be? If not, maybe it’s time to take another look.
Instead of placing announcements wherever they fit, organize pages or sections by category. People are creatures of habit, and as such, your content should be kept in the same place each time. If you usually keep parish contact information and Mass times on the front page, keep them there. Likewise if you always include a Gospel reflection or a “thought of the week” from the pastor.
Do you utilize color in your bulletin? If not, it’s time to reevaluate your design. When confronted with two bulletin options — one in black and white, the other in full color — which one do you think parishioners will be compelled to pick up? The more attractive the bulletin, the more likely people will take it.
Making It Available Whether You Make It to Church or Not
It’s happened to all of us. We plan on attending Mass at our home parish, but things get in the way. A child gets sick, you need to pick up an unexpected shift at work, perhaps you find a Mass time at another parish that just works better. Whatever the reason, just because you don’t make it to Mass doesn’t mean you have no reason to still have access to a bulletin.
For example, some parishes publish limited information on their website, instead choosing to put the essential information within their bulletin. If people rely on the bulletin to find out when the committee meetings take place, they need to be sure to have access to it. You can avoid that situation by making your weekly bulletin available online each week. Be sure to include a link to your bulletin publisher’s platform, or see if there is a snippet of code you can use to have it appear right on your website.