Moving a Church From the Yellow Pages to Online Marketing | Kristi Jacobsen

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Kristi is the Director of Communications at Vinyard. She has transitioned through different senior pastors and shares from those experiences.

Podcast Notes

Careers at Missional Marketing


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Podcast Transcription


Jason Hamrock: [00:00:00] That’s one way to grow.

Bart Blair: [00:00:01] Yeah, there’s always a good way to grow and a not good way to grow, and that’s not the good way to grow. OK.

Jason Hamrock: [00:00:09] Christie first.

Bart Blair: [00:00:11] Christie first, OK? And I am recording I’m going to stop the recording between the two so that I have two different files. OK, OK.

Bart Blair: [00:00:23] Well, welcome to the Missional Marketing Church Growth Interviews podcast, I’m Bart Blair, and as always, I am joined by my friend, my colleague, and my boss, Jason Hamrock, the CEO and chief coach at Missional Marketing. Jason, how are you doing today,

Jason Hamrock: [00:00:39] Hey, Bart, I’m doing fantastic. Thanks for asking. How are you doing today?

Bart Blair: [00:00:39] You know, all things considered, I’m actually doing pretty well. You and I were just talking before we started recording a few minutes ago about some of the great opportunities that we’ve had to work with some new churches, trying some new things with churches as we’re helping them increase their digital footprint in the communities. And I’m just really excited about the opportunities that we’ve had, and I’m excited to introduce the guest that we’re going to be introducing today.

Bart Blair: [00:01:12] Hey, before I get to that, I actually have I have something I wanted to point out. As our listeners are listening to this podcast, if they’re subscribers, they might have noticed that we missed a week or maybe they didn’t notice that we missed a week, but we missed a week.

Jason Hamrock: [00:01:29] We hope they noticed, and they’re concerned.

Bart Blair: [00:01:30] Yeah, yeah, and I hope you noticed that we missed a week, and I hope that you’re concerned. The reason we missed a week is because Jason and I have been too busy, and the reason that we’re too busy is because at Missional Marketing, we’re slightly understaffed. And that is my lead in to pass things over to you, Jason Hamrock, because we’re hiring, we’re looking at adding some new team members to our team. Why don’t you talk about that for just a second?

Jason Hamrock: [00:01:54] Oh, I’d love to, thanks, Bart. Yeah, we are expanding and growing, and God is good, and he’s blessing us. And what’s really cool is the churches we get to serve, I’m just seeing them really excited about 2021 because they’re back in person, and more and more people are coming back, and yet their online numbers are staying there. And so churches inevitably then want to do more stuff, right, they’re like, hey, we’re ready to go deeper into Facebook, or we’re ready to start to do sermon snippets, or whatever it is they may want to do that we work with them on. It’s caused our team to have to grow, and we’re bringing on lots of new churches around the country these days. And so Bart, and myself, and a bunch of us, are like a digital coach to churches. We meet with our church partners regularly, and we serve them, and we go through all the different products that we’re working on with them. And we talk about their analytics on their website, we talk about what’s happening on their Facebook or Instagram, or if we’re running Google Display ads, or using the Google grant, we look at all of that, and then we start to look at their website. And so as a coach, it’s really a lot of fun, I like to say that we get to work for the church, not necessarily in the church, if you know what I mean. And so we’re expanding, we need more digital coaches. So if that’s somebody, if that’s you, if that’s if you think about, oh, I’d really love to work for the church, not necessarily in the church anymore. Go to our website.

Bart Blair: [00:03:30] Anymore…wait, wait, wait, he’s not trying to get you to quit your job. And we also have a number of of of technical, there’s also a number of technical positions and we’re looking to hire as well, web developers, graphic designer, SEO specialists, you name it. So our website, do you remember the URL for it?

Jason Hamrock: [00:03:49] Yes, it’s OK, there you’re going to find, yeah, you’re going to find that we’re looking to hire graphic designers, videographer guys, full-stack developers, WordPress developers. certainly, as I talked about the digital coach, we’ve got a lot of positions to fill around Missional Marketing.

Bart Blair: [00:04:07] Ok, cool, I will put that link to that page in the show notes for this podcast. So if you’re watching, or you’re listening, and you’re interested in that, check it out. There’s a way to contact us there, and we can start a conversation to see if it might be a good fit for you.

Bart Blair: [00:04:21] All right, Jason, because I mentioned this because we recorded this interview with Kristi Jacobson several weeks ago. And part of the reason that we weren’t ready to publish it on the week that it needed to be published, is because we hadn’t recorded this intro, and we tried and then rescheduled because we were busy meeting with churches and doing other things. So that’s kind of why we fall behind, this podcast thing, although I wish this was what we did for a living and this was the main part of our job, this is just kind of the fun stuff that we get to do when we’re in between church meetings.

Jason Hamrock: [00:04:54] Recess.

Bart Blair: [00:04:56] Yes, like recess, yeah, it’s kind of like recess. So why don’t you share a little bit about Kristi Jacobson? She’s at Vinyard, Cincinnati. And why don’t you just kind of do a little brief intro, and then we’ll roll the interview?

Jason Hamrock: [00:05:09] You bet. So a little about Kristi, she is the Director of Communications, and she’s been in that role for almost 20 years, she’ll actually get into those details. Now, the thing about Kristi, she’s super smart. They do a lot of advertising, and they use Rock as their church management system. Kristi has literally, over the last five or six years, she’s transitioned to several different senior pastors and she has learned a ton from those experiences. And so we’re going to talk about that today, I hope you learned something from Kristi about that. If that’s you, going through some leadership transitions, yeah, you might want to reach out and talk to Kristi because she has navigated those waters and she’s done it very, very well. And so we talk about that, we’re going to talk about what’s been going on at Vinyard, and you are going to be blessed by this podcast.

Bart Blair: [00:06:00] Awesome. Here’s our interview with Kristi Jacobson.


Bart Blair: [00:01:10] Kristi Jacobson, welcome to the Church Growth Interviews podcast. Jason, I’m really excited to have you with us today.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:01:18] Thanks for having me, I’m glad to be here.

Jason Hamrock: [00:01:20] Yeah, well, Kristie, we’ve been friends for a long time, and it’s been great to be able to serve you guys. And I’m really excited because I think a lot of our listeners might be new to the communications world. And certainly, there are a lot of churches these days where they’re moving staff, so the staff person who was a youth pastor for all these years has now got the call to be in the communications department, maybe even being their online pastor, or running communications, or some kind of digital strategy. Every time I talk to a church it seems like somebody new to the role, they’re not maybe due to the church, but they’re new to the role. So share a little bit about your background, and what you’ve been there for 20 some years, so give our listeners a little bit of your story.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:02:10] Sure. So I was a volunteer, which is where everybody starts, I volunteering in the hospitality team and passing out programs when people would come in, and I got recruited by the director of hospitality to create a newsletter for the hospitality team just on a volunteer basis. And I was like, I shouldn’t say yes, then I said, yes. I was like I’m going to have no time ever for anything. So I started doing this newsletter, and I also got connected to the communications director at the time, and she brought me in for some volunteer meetings they would have. So I was just happily working somewhere else and volunteering here, and I thought, that’s great, I can volunteer, that’s a good role for me. And then she was moving internally into an alpha director role, and she’s like, Kristi, we need somebody temporary part-time to work at the Vineyard in my role. And I was like, I don’t want to work at a church, so let me think about it.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:03:07] So my other job just like ended, and then I said, OK, I’m available, so I started working temporary part-time. And after six months, my director was like, you’re still temporary, let’s make you permanent? So that’s how I joined the staff. Like, I have a degree in public relations, so that’s my background, so I had a little bit of the skills and knowledge, but I had no idea what I was doing for the first two weeks. And then reflecting on that, I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing sometimes. So, you know, imposter syndrome is real and I’ve been working here for 20 years and you’d think I would have been more like, oh, I know what I’m doing. But things are…

Bart Blair: [00:03:52] Thank you, thank you, for the honestly

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:03:53] Things are changing so much, things are changing all the time, so you’re constantly learning. So you have to be really a learner to be in this role.

Jason Hamrock: [00:04:00] Yeah, you’re right.

Bart Blair: [00:04:01] Thanks for the honesty there. That takes a lot of guts to say publicly, on a call that’s being recorded, that you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:04:09] Everybody feels it though, everybody I talk to, they’re like, oh yeah, I know, I have the exact same feelings. So, I’m just saying, if you feel that way, trust me what everybody else does.

Bart Blair: [00:04:20] What I find in the church communications space is that you don’t, to be an expert in church communications, you don’t need to know everything, you’re probably just the person that knows slightly more than everybody else. And you’re just continuing to stay one step ahead of everybody else because you have to be a perpetual learner, right? Communications, digital media, all the things that we work in, in the church in communications, it’s changed so much. In fact, I’d like for you to talk a little bit about how much has changed in the 20 years since you joined the staff of the church. What was the stuff that you were doing when you first started, and what are the things that make up, obviously, your role has changed a lot, but just in terms of the communications process and what you’re doing as a church, what are some of the big changes that you’ve seen in the last twenty years?

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:05:09] Well, when I first started, we were faxing press releases. I don’t know if we even have a fax anymore. About like, around 2010, we really started a shift toward social media, so we had to become experts in social media because we were all publishers. We used to put out like multi-page newsletters, like it was all in print. And then slowly everything has shifted online, so we do a whole lot less fewer brochures, and a lot more online. And I learned how to program, I’m decent in HTML, this is stuff that I didn’t really learn in college.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:05:51] So, social media. and then just I had a year where I was like, this is going to be my year of the e-newsletter, and I really learned how to do e-newsletters. I kind of have a thing a year that I learn, and I’m like, I’m going to get good at this, I’m going to really focus on this, and then I go on to the next thing.

Jason Hamrock: [00:06:08] How do you balance that? Because as Bart just said, you have to be a perpetual learner. You’re constantly, you have to learn because, technology, everything’s changing constantly. Yet, you also have a lot of repeat, like Sunday is always coming, there are those things in the church world that just happens over and over and over, and so you have to be able to balance the two. How have you been able to learn this stuff while keeping yourself grounded, knowing that every week you’ve got services, and you’ve got events, and year after year it becomes the same?

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:06:46] Yeah, I think it’s just making time for that. I love learning, so that’s not like a big issue for me. but finding the voices I’m going to listen to is important. I get like, I stay in touch with PR industry, things like PR Weekly, so I’ll read their newsletter. And I just, you just pick up things just by making it a daily habit of scanning that, and being like, oh, OK, so that’s the thing now, I should probably look into what…Oh, what’s the new audio-only thing that people are doing? It’s…I’ll think of it later.

Bart Blair: [00:07:20] Clubhouse, it’s Clubhouse, right?

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:07:21] Clubhouse. I was like, oh, we should be on Clubhouse. So, that’s a new thing that I’ve heard about. You know, just Facebook was the thing for a while, and then it’s Instagram, and then we tried our hand at Snapchat, we’re like, you know, we just need to focus on, like, two platforms. So I guess just being a constant learner, constantly talking to people, having kids helped me a lot. My son, he was 11, he wanted to set up a YouTube channel. So I was setting up a Youtube channel for him, and I learned so much about what The Vineyard should be doing, that I started doing a lot of that stuff for us just from that process.

Jason Hamrock: [00:08:01] Wow, that’s yeah, yeah, so if there’s some advice for those who are kind of new to this role, there is a way. I think you have to be able to find rhythm, it’s really important to have rhythm, but you also got to be able to keep your mind and ears open for what’s new, and be able to absorb that, and how you can implement that in your career.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:08:28] Well, I started putting things in my calendar, so like the things that are the weekly rhythms. So like every Friday at 11:00, I have a time slot in my calendar to do like, update our events webpage and update our program content. So like scheduling those into my life, that’s important for the weekly rhythm.

Jason Hamrock: [00:08:49] Hmmm, talk a little bit about the staff that’s under you, how have you been, in leading them?

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:08:58] Sure, so we have, on my team we have graphic design and digital content manager. So our area oversees all the web, and all the graphic design, and all the signage, and all the video that we put online, all the social media. So, I lead the graphic design team, I know enough about graphic design, I did it for a couple of years, I think kind of poorly, so I can lead that. But I think what I understand is how to lead a creative person, because I’m a creative person, and I know what really annoys them. And that’s like being micromanaged, told how to do things a certain way, so I just lead people how I would want to be led. So I’ve had really good consistency on our team, and they’re really great, they know so much and I really rely on them a lot. But sometimes I’m like, can we start doing this? And I’ll have to do a lot of training on a certain thing, and then they get it, and they just run with it.

Jason Hamrock: [00:10:06] Wow. So you guys have had, let’s shift gears, because you guys, you’ve had some leadership transitions, I mean, you’ve been through it. So kind of walk us through what was that like, and what did you learn if this ever happens again, or what advice would you give somebody who’s going through a leadership transition?

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:10:24] Sure, so when I first started, we were on our church’s second pastor, and so we had him for a while and then he retired and we hired another pastor. And at that point, it was sort of like our church, I was like, oh, it’s kind of like I work for a second church. So it’s like my office stayed in the same building, but over time, our church kind of became different. And I was like, if I think of this as more of like my second church I’ve worked for, it’s a lot easier than trying to be like, well, it’s not exactly like it used to be. And you have to let go of what you used to be, and just look to the future. So then last year, right around April 1st, we had another pastor transition, and so now I’m working for the third lead pastor. Oh, all summer long we had an interim pastor, and she is somebody who, she heads Back to Back Ministries, which is an orphan care ministry. And so she was a guest speaker a lot, and so she was our interim pastor. And then we hired a full-time pastor in October, and so that’s been going really well. we are looking toward revamping kind of our mission and vision statements a little bit. Just looking to the future, I think, not looking to the past at what you used to do is really important, and just being flexible.

Jason Hamrock: [00:11:53] You said something that, you can’t take this personally, because any time you have a leadership change, you’re going to have to churn. Right, some people are going to leave, they’re going to be maybe even angry, you know, and you just have to take all that in and just let it come in one ear and out the other because don’t take it personally. Is that what you learned?

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:12:17] Yes, it’s important. Like, I’m a feeler, so I often tell myself, you know, it’s just business. And that really helps me a lot just to say, you know what, it’s not really about me. it’s really about where the church is going. So just taking myself out of it, and really working together as a staff. As a team, you know, we’re on this mission together, so that’s just keeping the main thing, the main thing. Also, I always think, like, I have my own personal mission. Like, I remember going here, this church, and really getting connected at one point. You know, there was a young adult ministry, I was a big part of that, I was leading groups. And I think about a lot, like how did I get connected in that group? And my goal is to help other people get connected in the same way that I did, so that’s like my personal mission. And if you keep that, then you’re not going to be affected by other things around you changing so much.

Jason Hamrock: [00:13:16] Interesting, yeah, yeah, that’s a real, I mean, something that I think we maybe lose sight of is having your own personal goals for what you want to achieve. And they have to be in balance to what leadership wants to do, it’s not like you go in opposition to them. But I think to your point, you’ve, and you’ve done it a couple of times now, you’ve had to kind of have a mindset shift of, OK, now this is the direction that leadership wants to go, all right, we’re going to fine tune everything to follow in those footsteps. And I think when you’re in that, if you’re in that harmony, you find a good rhythm.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:13:57] Yeah, exactly.

Bart Blair: [00:13:57] Kristi, so you’re talking about really leading your team, leading your department, to really help the church fulfill its overarching mission. You’re obviously serving a lot of different people, and a lot of different ministries, within the context of the church. As a leader of your department and of your team, how do you define wins? What are the things that you would celebrate with your team as your, week in, week out, quarter in, quarter out, season in, season out, what are the things that you would look to and go, we win here when we accomplish these things? What are some of the ways that you would define that for your team?

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:14:33] Sure. So, you know, there are certain things that we have control over, so we have control over like how much we can get the word out about certain things, we don’t have control always over if the event is perfect. So like, we celebrate things, for example, we have a big fundraiser here every year, it’s called The Hunger Walk, and it supports our food pantry. We have the second-largest food pantry in the area, it’s huge, it’s got its own building. So we promote that among our congregation, and we raise like sixty thousand dollars a year with that. And last year it was a virtual walk, and so people couldn’t actually go in person and walk downtown, and we still raised, we almost reached our goal. And that’s like a win for us, we’re like, oh, yes, you know, what we did was worthwhile, and it made this important. I think, you know, I look at numbers still, just seeing like how many people watched our YouTube video. I love looking at that, I know it shouldn’t define us, but, you know, sharing that with my team, like, hey, this was a good thing. And if we have a social media post that did really well, we celebrate that, those feel like wins.

Jason Hamrock: [00:15:52] Yeah, that’s important. I remember doing that, it’s important to celebrate that stuff and take a moment. Because it just becomes, it becomes a blur, you know, and you go through these seasons, and it’s like it never stops. I’m sure like when you started out, it wasn’t as intense, at least it wasn’t as intense. As time went on, and we had bigger ideas and bigger dreams, it just became more and more intense. I think it’s important to take time out and celebrate those wins with your team.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:16:23] Yeah, and I’m not always the best at that. But we’ve had some projects that we finish up, like the annual report, or year-end giving, and we just all go out afterwards and just say, you know, this was great, we accomplished our goal, we did our part, and now it’s in somebody else’s hands to finish it off.

Jason Hamrock: [00:16:41] Now, when it comes to how your guys are growing, reaching new people, and engaging new people, you know, you mentioned this earlier in your 20-year career, you’ve had to make some shifts, right? It was all the traditional ways that we used to advertise, I remember running print ads, and billboards, and all the newsletters, and the mailers, all that kind of stuff. So that’s all shifted, what are some of the things that you’re doing these days that are helping the Vineyard grow and win? And what’s that look like? Because I know you guys are using Rock, as well, as your church management system.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:17:18] Sure. Well, when I first started, I was the Yellow Pages ad coordinator as well, so all the money we used to spend on Yellow Pages, it’s like shifted over the years to online. And there’s just a really nice thing about online advertising, you can just see like, you can see numbers behind what you’ve done. So if somebody read the Yellow Pages, you would never know if they actually called you, there was no instant results.

Bart Blair: [00:17:43] Sorry, sorry, I have to pause, I have to pause for just a second because there are a lot of people that are listening to this podcast who don’t even know what Yellow Pages are. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, and I can remember the first church that I was on the staff of, managing the Yellow Pages ads, was one of the first things that I had to do, and I was blown away by how stinking expensive they were. So just to clarify, for those of you who don’t know what Yellow Pages are, there used to be, way back in the olden days, these great big fat books, catalogs, made of yellow paper that had…

Jason Hamrock: [00:18:21] Phonebooks.

Bart Blair: [00:18:21] Yeah, it’s like a giant phone book with business listings in them. And as a church, I’m sure you did the same thing, I’m sure both of you had to do this, we would create ads and pay the YellowPages people to print our ads in these giant books.

Jason Hamrock: [00:18:41] Do you remember how stressful it was to put together an ad that you know is going to run for 12 months? So you couldn’t put service times in, because what happens if they change in a month? Oh, my goodness.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:18:55] Yeah. They would say, call for service times.

Bart Blair: [00:18:58] Yeah, and it’s black grey ink on yellow paper. That’s the worst part too because if you’ve got any visual design background and you want the ad to look good, you always have to imagine that this ad is going to be printed on yellow paper. So anyway, sorry, sorry, sorry, I interrupted you there, I just wanted to make sure we mentioned Yellow Pages that people all know and understand what Yellow Pages are. So you can continue on. Sorry, Kristi.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:19:25] We have a graphic designer who’s like 15 years younger than me, and so we’re always asking him, hey, do you know what this is? And he’s like, no. Then we have to explain it, and we’re like, OK, we can’t use that reference. So we were doing Yellow Pages, and we were doing Cincinnati Enquirer ads, things in the newspaper, things in the local newspaper.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:19:48] And then when online came around, we’ve always had a Web presence, in fact, we were pretty early in having a Web presence. So people just Googling, where are you? And I find that I do this too, like, I don’t go anywhere unless I look them up online. So just making sure your Web presence is something that you’d want to run across if you’re going to purchase your product, or visit your church, or whatever, that’s highly important. So that’s a little bit of what’s changed is just, obviously, it’s all gone from print to all online, and the results are more instant. So what I love about like when we run Christmas and Easter Facebook ads with Missional Marketing, we can see exactly what photo did the best. And we’re like, nobody is really caring about our Easter brand, but they really care about this image of the stage with the lights because that’s what people want to know, they want to know what they’re going to experience, and if they can picture themselves in your service, and those are the ads that do the best for us.

Jason Hamrock: [00:20:59] Yeah, you’ve learned a lot over the years, and it’s been fun to kind of work with you guys because you get it, and you are a creative church, and it’s been neat to see that that happen. You know, because you guys you got a good handle on SEO. So we often talk about that. You’ve got a good handle on using social platforms. You know, is that something that…Like what kind of advice would you give to a church that’s been tinkering? In fact, I was just on a call with the church, they said, Nah, we don’t really do YouTube. I’m going, why? You know, kind of a different conversation. But explain some of the, you kind of explained a little bit the reasons like it’s fun to see that stuff, but how have you seen that grow the church?

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:21:48] Yeah, so we could have sent out like fifty thousand postcards in the past and not know, what do you have to offer that they can bring their postcard in and turn it in, what, for a free cookie or something, like that’s always hard to track. And we’ve gone over that, I’ve talked about that with you, like, how do you track a postcard. Well, let me talk about YouTube for a second, so for like two years, YouTube was on my list, like make our YouTube channel better. So when everything was shut down last year, we had a month where all of our videos were watched so much we had like a huge overage bill with our streaming provider, and was like, man, we really need to be on YouTube more. We always had, we’ve had our videos on YouTube, but just like, we just uploaded them and let it go, we didn’t really concentrate on the channel. So I would go on to Life Church on their YouTube channel, I would’ve gone to Northpoint Church on their YouTube channel, and see how they organized it. And it was just like, oh, I can rearrange stuff on my YouTube channel, I can have playlists? And when I set it up for my 11-year-old, I was like, oh, I can set up different logins. So I changed on the back end how we can login as a church, so now we have like different staff who can go in and do different things, that’s huge for us. I was watching your video that you put out, it was like six tips on. I can’t remember, on how to improve your YouTube presence.

Jason Hamrock: [00:23:23] Bart did that. Yep.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:23:24] Yeah, yeah. It was really good, and there some stuff on there that I have started because I watch Aussie Dave have you ever heard of him? And I think he used to work for Northpoint, and he was just talking about retitling your pastor’s sermons, and I was like, I can do that. Yes, of course, I can do that. So in the last six months, I’ve started retitling my pastor sermons that were [inaudible].

Bart Blair: [00:23:48] We were just talking about Aussie Dave in a team meeting a couple of days ago. I’ve been trying to get him to come on our podcast, but he’s not responding to my request. So Aussie Dave, if you happen to be listening to this, we’d love to have you on. If anybody’s listening to this and they know Aussie Dave passed my email address along, we’d love to have him on. Yeah, he’s fantastic. I will link to Aussie Dave’s channel in the show notes for this podcast because he does have some really great stuff. And he’s been focusing a lot on YouTube with some of the content he’s getting lately, I think he’s just copying mine, but I’ll…I’m just kidding, I don’t think he’s doing that, he’s a pretty smart guy.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:24:25] Yeah, he is. He makes me anxious when I listen to him too, of all the things that he does. I’m like, I not doing that, I’m not doing that, I should be doing that. So anyway, your video that you put out was just fantastic on that. So growing your YouTube channel, just put some effort into it. Like, don’t put it on the shelf like I did for two years, you can learn from other people who are doing YouTube. But once I got it, I was like creating thumbnails and I was like, oh, this is so much fun, I just had fun with it. And we started a children’s YouTube channel, I started a whole a channel for our children’s ministry, made fun thumbnails. You know, you don’t want to have the default thumbnail of somebody looking weird, so really putting some effort toward what your thumbnails look like. What was your other question on? There was another side of your question, Jason.

Jason Hamrock: [00:25:13] Well, so you’ve had to convince leadership, hey, we need to go into space, I don’t know if that was hard or not? So I’d love to hear your thoughts on how hard, or how difficult was it, to convince leadership that you should put resources, not only your time but also money behind moving into a digital space? What was that like for you?

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:25:36] Yeah, so we used to do postcards, and then we would like not do them, and then they would cycle back up, like the conversation was happening. Like, should we do postcards again? I’m like, I’ll do postcards, but I don’t think we should do them. And so there was this transition phase of like four or five years of us like doing one, and the next Easter we wouldn’t do one, and we would do one. Postcards are not the worst thing, it’s just that you need to focus somewhere. So, I think just being able to show results, and saying these are the people who are finding us through search, and that’s really key. So I’ve put together a couple of presentations and explained it, and once they see the why behind it, it’s a pretty easy sell. So always use numbers, so if you’re a person working at a church and you’re like, I think we should do this, try to get some numbers behind what you’re saying. You can go on your Google Analytics account and just see, like, how many people are new visitors who are hitting your church. I’ve talked to Chuck, on your team, a lot about new visitors and returning visitors. And we just have a lot, I think it’s like 60 percent of people are new visitors and 40 percent are returning, so it helps us focus our website strategy toward just new people, that’s our main audience.

Jason Hamrock: [00:27:00] You know, wow, so you kind of mentioned some people that your tuning into,I think this is really important, because I think if you’re kind of new to this role, and you’re new to the church communications, it’s a different animal, like it’s a different animal from like retail and corporate communications. So you’ve mentioned, Aussie Dave, you also tune in to our podcasts and stuff that we do. Where else do you find inspiration? And who, you mentioned a couple of churches, because I think this is a copycat world, it’s like [inaudible] plagiarism isn’t a big deal when you’re coming to the church because you want to learn and then just kind of reproduce what people are doing that’s successful. So what are some areas that, or who are you following, and what are you reading?

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:27:49] And yeah, I love podcasts, I listen to them all the time. I’ll take my dog out for an hour long walk and just listen to a podcast while I’m walking, so that’s my time to listen. I listen to ChurchPulse Weekly, that’s the Carey Nieuwhof and Barna collaboration, I love that one, it just kind of keeps me like a weekly updated. At The Table with Patrick Lencioni, and he also did something recently with Working Genius that I think is fantastic. Let’s see, I wrote down a couple more. There’s one called FOMO Sapiens, the guy who invented the word FOMO, I’ll sometimes listen to him. The Accidental Creative, he’s a Cincinnati based guy and he just kind of an expert on how to lead a creative team, ao I like him a lot. I listen to Annie Downs, she’s got a good podcast. I like listening to Danielle Strickland, just, you know, I listen to some other women out there, because you can find a lot of guys, so I try to make an effort to listen to some women. There’s one, it’s from the U.K., it’s called Unbelievable. It’s an apologetics podcast, and they’ll do like a debate between an atheist and a Christian. And I’ll listen to select ones of that, because I’m just really interested on why would somebody not believe the Christian message, like what is holding them back and I just want to know this. And that got me into another one, there’s a podcast called the Side B podcast, and that’s from the C.S. Lewis Institute, and she does an in-depth interview with somebody who used to be an atheist and how they became a Christian. And that’s just putting me in somebody else’s shoes, like I’ve been a Christian a long time, and I just want to know, like, how did somebody come to find God? And that’s important for my role, I think. So that’s, I mean, I listen to a lot, I don’t listen to them all weekly.

Jason Hamrock: [00:29:44] I think it’s super important. I mean, because you’re building content, and you’re creating messages, and to be able to put yourself into somebody else’s shoes, I think as much as you can, is really important because you can’t just Christianese everything, that’s not going to work. You’ve got to think like what they’re thinking, if you want to be effective at reaching them and engaging them, so, yeah.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:30:10] Yeah, we’re moving, you know, it’s more of a posst-Christian culture than it was 10 years ago or 20 years ago. And we’re still in the Bible Belt, like Ohio still is. But, you know, there’s a lot of people who just aren’t aren’t there, and the culture is shifting.

Bart Blair: [00:30:25] I have conversations with churches daily, and one of the things that I bring to their attention all the time, and just taking a look at the website, taking a look at their social media channels, is to just challenge them, to ask the question, that if a person who is far from God, who doesn’t know what you know, and doesn’t believe what you believe, they land on your website, they land on your social media channels, what do they see it? How does it make them feel? And ultimately, we tend to argue sometimes that people will make decisions based on fact. but more often than not, people make decisions based on the way that they feel. I think if you watch the political landscape, there’s a lot of storytelling that goes on in politics. There are some people that like to fight with facts, and then there are some people that like to fight with story, and more people resonate with story than they ever do with facts. And so as a church, it is important for us to hear people’s stories, to know people’s stories, to tell people’s stories, because stories are going to move people forward, draw them in better, than facts ever will. And your website tells a story, your social media accounts tell a story, the pastor’s messages and all the additional content that you’re creating, it tells a story that communicates something. And so having that filter of understanding where people who…I ask the same question, Christi, how can people not believe this? How can people look at people like, you know, Tim Keller, and Dr. Tim Mackey, and some of the most brilliant people, I look around the Christian world and the landscape and see all these amazingly brilliant, smart people who’ve staked their lives on what the Bible teaches us about God and who Jesus is. And then there are a lot of really smart people that that push against it, and don’t believe it, and I ask myself the same question. But the best way to get to the heart of that is obviously to listen to their stories, and hear what they have to say. So I applaud you for that, I think it probably really makes you more effective in what you’re doing, and I think that it’s encouraging to hear that you’re doing that and I hope more people will do it.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:32:43] Yeah, yeah, really just look at your website, and just kind of go through and look at what kind of Christian words you’re using. Like we call our auditorium, the auditorium, you know, we don’t have words like [inaudible] and things like that. So just, you know, just reading it critically, like if I had no idea what this church was, would I know what this meant? Well, and we’re not perfect, we still get it wrong.

Jason Hamrock: [00:33:06] Yeah, well, we’ve shared this. I tried to also encourage churches as they optimize their website, the reason you do that is you want to be found, you want that page to be found. We were just talking yesterday as a team in our analytics, and we have a blog post that is, I think it’s the third most visited blog post on our website. We have a lot of traffic to missional marketing, and we went and looked at that blog post, it’s a good blog post, but it didn’t have really any good called actions. And I was sharing with our with our internal team, I go, you know, whenever I talk to a church, I go, hey, that marriage page that you put together, maybe even the children’s page, you got to sometimes consider that if somebody lands on that page, that could be their very first impression of your church. So from that lens, that’s kind of their home page, in a sense, are you proud of what you put out there? And you’re just like, no. Yeah, you could you can have a lot of great engaging information, but also stories, because you want people to feel that they’re valued, and that they’re welcome, and they are invited. And a lot of our pages don’t do that, and so through that lens, you’ve got to take that approach.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:34:30] And our advertising too, like we’ll do the Facebook advertising and Instagram, and the ones that do well, just show somebody walking into the building and somebody greeting them. And I think a lot of people just want to see that smiling face, and they are also looking at what they’re wearing. Is that person wearing a suit? Are they wearing shorts? Are they, how are they dressed? Because if you’re somebody who’s never been to church before, these are going to be questions that you’re going to have. So pick images that just show everyday people that are smiling, smiling happy people sell things, that’s a Donald Miller phrase, and I love it. So just pick people that they can picture themselves in their shoes. And also, you know, pictures of diversity too, don’t just, you know, you’ve got to put people out there who want to be, so that’s important for us as well.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:35:22] So when I do advertising with you, that’s kind of where I’m thinking, is like what kind of images can we pick that would get people indoors? And something that you do for us, is that you bring, you put the words to the ads. And I know that you’re looking at all the other churches that you’re advertising with, and you’re picking the wording that has been a best practice for you. So like this Easter, we did an ad, and it was Find Hope This Easter. I don’t think I would have chosen that myself, Find Hope This Easter, but that was something that your team is like, yeah, this is doing really well, and we’re going to use this wording. And it did well, because that’s what people are looking for. So just, you all bringing that whole big picture, church knowledge, to our church is really important for us.

Jason Hamrock: [00:36:09] Yeah, yeah, thanks. Yeah, and I’ll tell you where, you just mentioned social media, and as we kind of wind this down here, another platform, listeners, that you should go tune into is your Google My Business. So make sure you have access to that, and then you just Google your church, you’re going to see your Google My Business profile, click on photos. Because if you think about that, if people are looking for a church and they they find your church and they click on those photos, that’s their first impression of your church are those photos. Often when I look at that with a church, they’re kind of shaking their head, going, how do we get rid of these photos? Because it’s not what, it’s not who we are. So start right there.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:36:52] Yeah, I have a weekly reminder on my calendar called update Google My Business, and we can put a new post out there every week, otherwise we will never do it.

Bart Blair: [00:37:04] Kristi, you win the prize, because I can’t tell you how many times I have a conversation with the communications director and I say, you really, at least once a month, need to be getting in there. And they’re like, well, it’s just kind of that one thing that just kind of falls off the radar, it’s on the back burner. And there you go, Kristi, that was the best advice, put it on your calendar. Put it on your calendar to go and check your Google My Business page, update your Google My Business Page, post something.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:37:31] It fell off of our calendar, and we didn’t update it for like six months. And I was like, oh, my gosh, so it’s back on the calendar.

Jason Hamrock: [00:37:37] Yeah, I would love to see Kristi’s calendar, wouldn’t you? Because I just would imagine that it’s like, it’s just organized incredibly well.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:37:48] Sometimes I ignore some stuff, I get too many notifications, so I’m starting to ignore things, so I have to curate my own calendar sometimes.

Bart Blair: [00:37:55] Yeah, I get that. Hey, we do need to wrap this up. We really, really appreciate your time, we know that you’ve got a lot going on, and you’re really busy. But at least you’re really well organized, and were able to get us on your calendar, so that we could actually spend this time together today. Thank you for not ignoring this notification.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:38:13] Oh, no worries.

Bart Blair: [00:38:14] If we have any listeners that would like to reach out to you and connect with you, pick your brain, ask questions about some of the things that you’re doing, what’s the best way, easiest way, to connect with you.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:38:26] Well, you can email me, my email is or you can, if you guys want to send me a text, my number is (513)259-7000, (513)259-7000, and send me a text and I’ll try to get back with you. My favorite thing to talk about is how to just, if you’re working at a church and you’re just kind of overwhelmed, like how can you get a handle on project management so that you can think more creatively that this stuff can kind of run itself?

Bart Blair: [00:39:00] Awesome. Thank you again for your time with us, we really appreciate it.

Jason Hamrock: [00:39:04] Good stuff, Kristi.

Kristi Jacobsen: [00:39:05] Thank you. It’s an honor to be on your podcast, thank you.

Bart Blair: [00:39:09] All right, cool.

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