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Saturday, March 12, 2005

A denomination embraces blogs.

Let's tip our hat to the United Church of Christ's outreach on the Internet. Their "church bouncer" TV ad — rejected by CBS and NBC — generated a lot of sympathy from liberal blogs late last year, giving the church's publicity campaign some real momentum. The denomination capitalized on that burst of interest by targeting some of its subsequent media outreach directly to blogs as the UCC challenged the broadcast licenses of two network-owned TV stations back in December. (I was among a dozen or so bloggers invited to participate in a conference call with UCC officials when they announced they were challenging the broadcast licenses, and I've received a handful of press releases over the last four months.) Then the denomination very cleverly responded to Focus on the Family's anti-Spongebob Squarepants campaign by issuing a press release welcoming the cartoon character to the UCC, essentially creating a Web-only media event.

The purpose of all this publicity, of course, is to introduce the United Church of Christ to people who haven't heard of it before or who have no clear idea of the denomination's distinctive values and traditions. By focusing some of its outreach efforts directly on the Web, the aging mainline denomination is reaching out to much younger people. It's a very smart approach. And in the first few weeks of the publicity campaign, the UCC reported that more than 137,000 people visited its find-a-church Web page.

The UCC has now purchased ads on fifty of the most popular blogs across the ideological spectrum — apparently the first time a church has purchased blogads. The blog ads have proven sufficiently popular that other bloggers have offered to run them for free. Now that is some successful Internet publicity.

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 12 March 2005 at 11:17 AM

Previous: Evangelicals take on bigger, broader goals.
Next: There's no such thing as TV 'news.'

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2 comments:

Scott Wells:

March 12, 2005 04:30 PM | Permalink for this comment

Wha' Philo -- no trackback link?

Well, do read my response at http://www.universalistchurch.net/boyinthebands/archives/ucc-and-blog-ads/

Joseph Santos-Lyons:

March 13, 2005 03:01 PM | Permalink for this comment

Thanks Christopher for your review of the UCC efforts. They seem to be able to stay on the edge of so many current event issues and are winning some excellent publicity. Was the Spongebob UCC press release on FUUSE.com accurate? Seems like they are taking some high profile but perhaps risky steps? With Bill Sinkford now recognized as one of the most influential African-American leaders, what is the UUA potential for continuing to step out more on current affairs? It has been good to read about Bill and his activism with Sudan, on Gay Marriage, and so on. Is there another edge the UUA needs to crank it up a notch?

I am going to the National Council of Churches Young Adult Ministry Team meeting in April, I'll mention this post specifically to them! Be well, Joseph



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