Going to the annual NRB International Christian Media Convention is always exciting. The hallways, meeting rooms and exhibit booths are filled with energetic, skilled Christian communicators, always looking to enhance their ability to carry Christ’s message.
There are plenty of opportunities, too. The 4-day event is packed with workshops, panels and seminars that provide up-to-date information on the latest communications techniques used by professionals whose calling is to spread the Good News of the gospel.
There are always things to learn, even for those who work in the Christian communications field every day. At the NRB convention, held in Nashville this year from Feb. 23-26, we saw fresh examples of these five key ideas:
1. Build strong media relationships. Changes in the media landscape over the last decade have shaken up many news operations, placing a premium on establishing personal connections with journalists. The NRB convention was packed with Christian journalists, making it easy to strike up conversations that can lead to continued connections after you have returned home. Once you are seen as a reliable, credible source, it becomes much easier to get media coverage and compelling headlines to match.
2. Flexibility is a must. Industry shakeups have left journalists with much more to do today than before. Where once a reporter covered a single beat, he or she will now be responsible for three, causing him or her to make constant schedule adjustments daily. Ministries that want media coverage need to remain good-humored and flexible if a long-scheduled interview gets changed at the last minute — and then gets rescheduled two days later with 2 hours’ notice. It is just the nature of that business, and those ministries that routinely appear in the media know how to adjust.
3. Networking at the convention. Many people are familiar with networking at industry meetings, but the growing use of social media adds a new dimension to establishing connections. At NRB, social media provided a quick way to schedule meetings, lunches and keep track of changing media and learning opportunities. It was also an easy way to follow up with journalists after an interview, as well as to send them additional information.
4. Making the most of the convention. Even before you go, let your local stakeholders, including media, partners and congregation and association members know you are going to be there. Tell them what you expect to accomplish there, and how that will enhance what you are doing now. Let them know you are one of those skilled, energetic communicators.
5. Was it worth it? As God’s stewards, we are responsible for spending our organization’s money wisely. Since conventions are costly to attend, take a moment when you return to determine if the convention was worth the time and money. Did you meet your goals? What else did you take away? Will you consider going next year?
And one extra, free tip: Wear comfortable shoes. All conventions require a lot of walking and a lot of standing. If you want to make it to the end of a four-day convention, don’t forget that basic creature comfort.