Providing vibrant, interesting, and engaging information in your Sunday bulletin is no easy task. Ted Hatfield, bulletin production manager for Bartleby Press, has been publishing bulletins for 25 years. He receives bulletin copy every week and transforms a word document into a professionally designed bulletin.
“The longer you edit church bulletins the easier it is to fall into a world of routine because, at times, it feels like a thankless task that your community and pastor take for granted.” He says. “Receiving an edited word document makes all the difference in the world to how your bulletin will finally take shape. Strong headlines and succinct straight to-the=point copy allows for more images that make the pages breath–easier to read.”
6 Deadly Sins of Bulletin Editing to Avoid
Arrogance: Anyone can fall victim to thinking their way is the only way. Church bulletins have a limited space and ministry submissions can be lengthy, redundant and offer far too much information that dilutes the weekly event. Sometimes an editor may have to curtail verbosity to create space and the writer might feel that such action is draconian. Try to keep in mind that you are editing the work of a person. Justify your edits in a way that is not rude or unsympathetic. Offer a remedy by reminding them that they can enter more information on the website and reference such action in the article. If you are sensitive to the needs of the writer, the writer will be more responsive to your needs.
Assuming: Just as you expect the writers to make sure that all of the dates, times and facts are correct when they are writing content, you should also check the copy when you come across something that isn’t clear to you. Always double-check their work. A schedule check or phone call ahead of time when you come across an area that is unclear is better than assuming the copy is correct. If you allow a mistake to slip through, you will catch the brunt end of the error. It can save you from one of those insensitive phone calls. The end result will be better for everyone.
Complacency: Creating a positive impression of the ministries and services that engage community is not an easy task. When a bulletin editor doesn’t care about the bulletin, it shows in your work. I have been accused of being passionate about my work to the point of obsession. That is not a bad attribute because if you love your job it is not work. The importance to take care of the bulletin content makes sure the church is correctly represented. It is a great responsibility. Remind yourself daily that you do make a difference.
Carelessness: Read every article with the same passion and thoroughness as the first one even on days when you have late entries, phone ringing and unlimited interruptions. Refrain from becoming lazy because that will only lead to sloppiness. Check for content, correctness, conciseness, clarity, and consistency, every single time. If you don’t, you may miss glaring errors.
Ignorance: Know your subject matter and if you don’t, research, or call your source and find out. As the main source of information to your parish it makes sense that you should have a grasp on what is going into the bulletin. You also have to understand that you need to have some familiarity with the subject matter before you can review it for consistency and accuracy.
Obstinate: There is a difference between being steadfast and being stubborn. A person who is steadfast is loyal, consistent, and true. A stubborn person believes that his way of thinking is the only way of thinking, and no amount of information will ever change his mind. Reviewing and adjusting to the benefit of the community is your ultimate goal.
The way we communicate is rapidly changing and adapting to that change may be difficult at times. Knowing how to use the bulletin, the website and social media is essential to an active church community. A bulletin editor is fast becoming an informational specialist and has to be thorough, detail-oriented, and consistent.
Thomas Miner • President of Bartleby Press • www.bartlebypress.com