January 2016




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Communication Leaders Discuss Branding and Technology

Story by Celeste Ryan Blyden
Photos by Kelly Butler Coe
Group Photo by Christine Greene

How do your publics prefer to get information? Do you have a healthy dose of push versus pull? What experience are you providing for your consumers through your communication efforts? These are just a few of the questions Kumar Dixit asked attendees at the annual Columbia Union Conference Communication Advisory held last week at the union’s headquarters in Columbia, Md. More than 20 gathered for a daylong meeting hosted by the Communication Services and Visitor staff.

While last year’s meeting focused on all things editorial, this year’s meeting focused on technology and branding Adventist organizations and schools. Dixit, pastor of Chesapeake’s New Hope church in Fulton, Md., and an adjunct professor of public relations classes at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md., has done a lot of research on the topic of branding. “Some brands sell their features and attributes, some brands sell their benefits, but good brands sell idealogy,” he shared. Each attendee received a copy of his recently published book, “Branding Faith,” which talks about communicating the gospel in the post-Christian era.

They also enjoyed a presentation by Bryant Taylor and Chip Dizard, co-hosts of an online show called “Tech Talk.” Taylor, communication director for Allegheny West Conference, shared some of the new gadgets he uses for ministry, including the AirStash, a wireless flash drive, and a small video camera that provides “quality HD recording of church services, camp meetings and other events.”

Dizard, a Baltimore-based computer consultant and founder of the company Absolute Presence, told directors they need to make sure their conference, church and school addresses and phone numbers are correctly listed on Google Maps. With Dizard’s instruction, some of the leaders were able to check and make corrections on the spot.

In the afternoon, leaders from each school, conference and union-based organization shared a report about a project they worked on this year. Some shared how the recession has impacted their organization, others detailed how they handled communication during a crisis and others summarized how they handled their constituency session. Jim Greene, executive secretary and communication director for the New Jersey Conference, shared a video tour of the conference’s new office complex and talked about his role in managing the building process. The conference is planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening celebration December 5.

In addition to Dixit’s book, the communication staff gave each attendee a copy of Ellen White’s Counsels to Writers and Editors with their names engraved on the cover and the new Eye-Fi wireless card reader.