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How to waste the next four hours

Visit the Academy of Motion Pictures web site, and you can't watch "No Country for Old Men." Visit the Grammys site, and you can't listen to full downloads of winning songs. But visit the site for The Webby Awards, and you can visit every winner for the past several years. By cruising the best of the best in a variety of categories, you can gain a lot of insights into how great communicators are using the Web in innovative ways. So look them up, and if your boss asks why you are browsing "Paper Critters," truthfully reply, "Um, research."

POSTED: May 6, 2008 | David Winfrey, Proposal Writer, SHPS - dmmwinfrey@gmail.com

A bold new step for BCA

I wish you all could have been with us for the recent officers' meeting in Nashville. Not only did we plan for a spectacular workshop in April and handle the usual activities required to keep an organization like BCA moving. We also brainstormed about how BCA can use 21st century tools to serve members.

BCA is best known for its annual spring workshop, which combines education and networking to inspire and prepare members for the varied communication roles they fill. One of our challenges has been to continue that networking and encouragement throughout the year.

That effort got a major boost last year, thanks to Cam Tracy with the launching of this new Web site. But while it is an excellent took for spreading information, we didn't yet have a strong tool to facilitate conversation among members. The flow of information could be one sided, from BCA to the members. Now, with the help of new technology, I think weve finally found a way to connect members and start dialogues about our work that can spread around the country and beyond.

If you haven't joined Facebook, please do so. Then search for "Baptist Communicators" and ask to join the Facebook group. Because it is a closed group, available only to members, you won't have to worry about who will be sending you messages.

One of the reasons I'm excited about this is because it finally gives us a way to talk about our work with other communicators who share the same passion for our messages and our audiences. A lot of BCA members work in small shops and wear a variety of hats. (Let's see, there's spokesperson, photographer, video specialist, web master, writer. Need I continue?) This networking tool will allow us to bounce ideas, share resources we've found and discuss the topics that are important to us.

The exciting part of this during our officers' meeting was the way new leaders were using Facebook and other software, applications and Web sites as a springboard to further the mission of BCA. I believe the future of BCA is strong because of the forward thinking leadership represented in that room. I hope you will do your part and get involved with Facebook and any other resources we use to connect you with your peers.

This is your organization. It only works if you take part. Go to Facebook and check it out.

POSTED: Nov 6, 2007 | David Winfrey, Proposal Writer, SHPS - dmmwinfrey@gmail.com

Don't be a plastic communicator; tell someone about BCA today

We all use it. It's in our kitchen cabinets and sits in our refrigerators right now. Our mothers swore by it. What is it? TUPPERWARE® - of course! Patented in 1938, the company's product was not welcomed in stores at first and the company was criticized because many consumers didn't know how to work the lids. The company pulled the product from store shelves and resorted to home demonstrations and word-of-mouth to boost sales. By the mid-1950s a phenomenon had been created. According to their web site, the Tupperware® company now does $1.2 billion in sales each year and a product demonstration starts somewhere in the world every two seconds.

Like Tupperware®, BCA depends on our associates to hold in-office gatherings to spread the word about our association and its benefits. The greatest benefit new members experience is a network of over 200 individual communication resources that come in the form of co-members.

We're confident that once individuals experience the annual workshops and begin utilizing the BCA-network, they'll understand what a difference BCA can be to their communications ministry.

"To me, BCA is a constant reminder that I'm not alone. I'm part of a circle of friends and co-laborers walking along the same pathway, who constantly provide me encouragement, insight and strength," said Doug Rogers, Communications Coordinator for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions. "Whether it's through face-to-face contact at the annual workshop or quick emails and phone calls through the year, such opportunities for interaction have had worth to me beyond measure. I know I am a more effective communicator because of BCA."

Don't let your membership spoil by never sharing the benefits of our association with a colleague. Become a member who takes pride in preserving Baptist communications. Tell someone about BCA today. How to Join

POSTED: Nov 5, 2007 | Keith Beene, Administrative Coordinator, Baptist Communicators Association - bca.office@comcast.net

Says vs. Said

Did you hear the one about the guy who walks into a psychiatrist office and starts screaming, "I'm a wigwam, I'm a teepee, I'm a wigwam, I'm a teepee!!!" The psychiatrist takes one look at him and says, "You need to relax, you're two tents!!"

I relay that joke because as a writer I often find myself getting a little stressed out about which tense is appropriate. I encourage you to read the following column from the Poynter Institute's web page regarding "Says vs. Said" dialogue tags.

Ask Chip: Says vs. Said

POSTED: Aug 28, 2007 | Keith Beene, Administrative Coordinator, Baptist Communicators Association - bca.office@comcast.net

Gooooooo Team!

I took my son to a minor league baseball game the other day. It was his first real baseball experience. When we arrived, he wanted to walk around the stadium and see everything. "Where do we buy the ICEEs?" he asked. "Can we get one of those big, foam fingers?"

We found our seats as the public address announcer read the starting line-ups. "Wow Dad. You can see everything from here!" he said. It didn't take long for the home team to score the first runs of the game. Erik did a celebration dance in his seat. Whenever one of the opposing players struck out, he transformed into a mini-umpire shouting "Yer out!" while jerking his thumb in the air.

I'm a life-long baseball fan, but this game was special. Seeing the game from my son's perspective made it brand new again. We talked about what various abbreviations on the scoreboard meant and he couldn't believe we could put peanut shells on the ground under our seats. "Is this really okay with Mom?" he asked.

During the game, I noticed a few people who weren't there for baseball. A man two rows in front of us talked on his cell phone through several innings. A woman nearby kept her nose buried in a crossword puzzle.

Sometimes as communicators we forget what the game is all about and telling the story just isn't fun anymore. Dont turn into someone who just sits through the game. Become an active participant in the Baptist communications community by interacting with other communications professionals like yourself and by sharing your expertise.

If you're new to BCA, it's ok to look around the "stadium." There's plenty to see here. One of the biggest benefits you'll enjoy is learning from others. Like my son, be willing to ask questions. One of our officers or myself is happy to help you understand those tricky BCA "abbreviations."

If you're a BCA veteran, you can add much to our organization. Remember, the "history" of the game is just as important as the current superstar. Maybe you'd like to mentor some of our rookies. We're always looking for links to add to the resources page. Or maybe you can write a "how-to" article that we can place on the site?

Whatever your position on our team, BCA is here to help you knock the ball out of the park. Play Ball!

POSTED: Jul 26, 2007 | Keith Beene, Administrative Coordinator, Baptist Communicators Association - bca.office@comcast.net

Walking The Red Carpet

It's a relief when you receive that "Congratulations! You're a winner..." e-mail from Keith Beene the end of March. You don't know what you won, but you know you will get to walk up in front of everyone and accept that certificate. Pretty cool.

Even better -- you get to tell your boss that you won. I don't know how it is where you work, but in our department having something that shows your work has been recognized by an outside entity means something.

Once you know you're a winner, it's time to start subtly asking around your office to see who else got the coveted e-mail from Keith. That is, unless you work in our office, where we shamelessly yell, "I won something!" to the whole department!

So, those who get to go to BCA pack something nice to wear for the awards banquet and hope for the best. Granted, we don't do the red carpet thing, but I bet most of us check out what everyone is wearing. You practice your gushing & Jesse, great tie! Lisa, your pedicure is perfect! Sue Ellen, your wrap is stunning! Great shoes, Brooke!

This year, it was extra exciting for us at LifeWay. Everyone in our office who submitted an entry won something. That makes the celebration even better ... not to mention so much less awkward! Kelly, Kent and I hardly let our awards cool off before we were up in my room calling our co-workers to tell them the great news.

When Stacey Hamby asked me to write a short piece on winning, I thought, "Is there any way to do that without sounding arrogantly self-promoting?" Well, no! So, here goes... deep breath... I love winning!

I do. I love to win.

I completely understand that with human judges there is a certain level of arbitrariness. In fact, what I thought was my best work was awarded - how do I put this - nothing. But, someone does receive the best scores in each category, and honestly, I'm glad it was I in mine! Yeah, there it is, my friends. I'm thrilled that I won a Burkhalter Award.

POSTED: May 8, 2007 | Polly House, Freelance Writer/Editor, - polly.house.bca@gmail.com

A First-Timer's Perspective on BCA

"Welcome to Mobile, Alabama. The local time is 4:10 p.m. The weather is sunny and the current temperature is 72 degrees. Please remain seated until...."

As the flight attendant gave us the arrival announcement, I found myself getting more and more nervous about attending the Baptist Communicators Association (BCA) workshop. Frequently we hear from inspired workshop attendants who have had a life-changing, perspective-changing or simply great experience. However, I was a little bit skeptical. Although I was excited and looking forward to attending the workshop, I could not deny the fact that I felt inadequate and lost.

I am a native of Indonesia. I am fresh out of college. This is my first job as a communicator - a Baptist communicator to be specific. I did not know anyone. These factors contributed to my feelings of nervousness and inadequacy.

I have just returned from this four-day trip which involved putting aside what I already knew about communications and learning to look beyond what I do on a daily basis at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. It was my first experience attending a professional workshop. But my nervousness and inadequacy did not last long. I may sound like those inspired workshop attendants I mentioned earlier, but it was definitely one of the greatest experiences I have ever had in my life.

My experience can hardly be summed up in words. This workshop experience has enlightened me. I learned so much about myself and my responsibilities as a Baptist communicator. From reading the work of other writers and learning new techniques for understanding them, to taking pictures and translating into words the stories told by images, to creating a Web site that not only works, but also captures the target market: all of these activities helped to make my individual experience at the workshop incredible.

I feel blessed and convinced that my personal and professional growth as a Baptist communicator is a direct result of what I have learned from the 2007 BCA workshop.

I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with such dedicated, caring and responsive Baptist communicators with whom I felt comfortable sharing the questions and challenges I encounter in my job. I also met people with whom I shared so much in common.

I have been encouraged and challenged to be more creative and try new approaches. As a person, I have gained confidence and wisdom. A community of Baptist communicators truly brings together such compatible people who can understand one another at a level that cannot be found in any ordinary group of communicators.

I have learned about the communication practices and culture of America and the Baptist community.

I am also thankful for the scholarship I received to attend this year's workshop. I once thought that I could never afford to go to the BCA workshop, not only financially but time-wise. Now I am convinced that I cannot afford not to go to BCA workshops in the upcoming years.

POSTED: May 3, 2007 | Amelia Hendra, Director of Communications, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary - ahendra@mbts.edu

4 Things We Need From You

If you attended BCA's annual workshop in Mobile, there are 4 things this organization and your fellow Baptist communicators need from you:

  1. Talk back. Fill out the evaluation form for the Mobile workshop. Tell us what you liked most from the program Doug Rogers and his Alabama team put together. Let Elizabeth Young and her team in Arizona know what you want to see next year. Every year, workshop organizers try to develop the right mix of inspiration and education. If you're really ambitious, give us at least one idea for workshop topics on the technical skills as well as the broader issues we face as communicators.
  2. Stalk someone. Chances are, you made some new friends in Mobile. But if you don't talk to them until the next workshop, what good did it do you? Every month, for the next year, why not call or e-mail someone you met through BCA? Talk about life. Talk about work. Talk about projects. Ask for ideas or for a peer review of a piece you're working on. Expand your circle of influence, and it will benefit your work and your psyche.
  3. Get published. Not in a publication, but on this BCA Web site. Cam Tracy at Union University had done a great job of building a site that's designed to help BCA be a professional development organization throughout the year. But it won't reach its full potential if you don't share what you know.
  4. Pull a pre-emptive strike. If you have return to work from Mobile and have never shared what you learned, your boss has no idea that your membership in BCA is worthwhile. Please, before the day is done, write a one-page memo outlining two or three things you learned at the Mobile workshop that will improve your performance at your current job. Then, when the Phoenix workshop comes around next year, you already will have laid the groundwork for getting approval to go.

POSTED: Apr 26, 2007 | David Winfrey, Proposal Writer, SHPS - dmmwinfrey@gmail.com

New Glasses, Same World

For people who need them, eye glasses are the most constant, consistent identifying article they wear.

I've worn glasses since sixth grade and keep them bed side at night because I cannot find the floor without them.

Unlike a shirt you change every week, jeans you wash every month, or styles you change each season, you wear your glasses every day. Same glasses. They go with everything. With every shirt, coat, tie, speedo, or oxfords, you wear the same glasses.

Finding the right glasses hurts more than watching a fat girl in a bikini shop. You look for a frame to match your personality, to set you apart - but not too far. And they're expensive, especially the progressive trifocals some of...um...ya'll must wear.

Then, you don the glasses, walk proudly into the world expecting to turn every head with admiring glances and&no one notices.

You think you've changed your entire presentation and personality. You're chic instead of dowdy. You're hip, not hopeless. You're cool, with it, trendy, higher on the speed dial. And no one notices.

Not that this happened to me. When I got new glasses recently, three people out of the first couple hundred who know me intimately noticed almost right away. At least the quizzical look on their faces indicated they thought something was different. Haircut? Clean shirt?

Meanwhile, from my side of the glasses, you all look the same.

You're aging. My grass still needs to be cut. The neighbor is still a stranger. My desk is still cluttered. Your dog still pauses too long in my yard.

I guess the world doesn't change because we look through a different lens. It's just there, deteriorating patiently, hoping Christians like me one day become less concerned for the lenses through which we see the world, and more concerned for the world we see.

POSTED: Mar 15, 2007 | Norman Jameson, , - normanjameson@gmail.com

Interactive Booth Guidelines

To encourage our state convention teams to have interactive exhibits at the annual meeting, I initiated three years ago the Director's Cup, awarded for the top interactive booth. After a very subjective judging lap around the exhibit hall, my finger in the air and my ear to the ground (don't try THAT yoga pose at home) I award the traveling cup at the next staff meeting. Frankly, it's become coveted by those who treat seriously their design and staffing efforts.

This year, when the church planting team won for the second time, someone from an...ahem...non-winning team, asked me to put into words what it is that I saw in the winner, as a learning experience for the also rans.

I did, and it might be helpful to pass among your teams that prepare for exhibits at various meetings you hold.

Keep in mind, my top operating principal is interactivity. Here's a couple things in this highly subjective competition that stand out.

  1. Those who cover the booth are on their feet. Their physical stance invites passers-by to stop and it welcomes questions.
  2. Staff members are not huddling, talking to themselves, creating an atmosphere that says a visitor is "interrupting" if they ask a question.
  3. They offer a giveaway significant enough to merit a person's signing up for a chance to win.
  4. They require and record personal information when signing up for the giveaway.
  5. Signing up requires much MORE than filling in a form. The booth/signup/registration is interactive. Vital information about church planting is posted at various, prominent places around the booth. The signup requires the registrant to answer four questions about church planting. The answers are posted, easy to find, or, one of the engaging cover persons happily provides the answers.
  6. So, the visitor goes away with some knowledge about church planting and having been engaged personally by a church planting staff member. They leave infused with some small measure of the enthusiasm church planting team feels for their mission.
  7. While we spend lots of time and money designing attractive, magnetic exhibits, remember that it is the personal, engaging, enthusiastic presence of the people in the booth that provides the best visitor experience.
  8. They give me money.

POSTED: Jan 29, 2007 | Norman Jameson, , - normanjameson@gmail.com

A Message from Wilmer C. Fields

It is an honor, always an eye-opener, and a great pleasure for me to continue a long 48-year treasured connection with BPRA/BCA through the annual awards competition. My partnership in the group began in 1959, when BPRA was five years old. I resonated with this bunch from the start. I was completely in the dark, and blindsided at the 1986 meeting in the mountains at Glorieta, NM, when Stan Hastey made the announcement that the group had secretly voted to name the awards program after me. I think I swallowed my bubble gum!

It is a delight to sense the creativity and professionalism revealed in the entries every year. What an excellent way for members to mark your own growth, by being judged among the best of the best. And so very many, striving for superior workmanship! My connection with this skillful, productive new generation of dedicated people makes me feel like a lion in a den of Daniels. I hope 2007 is your best year! For one and all.

POSTED: Jan 24, 2007 | Wilmer C. Fields, Retired, SBC Executive Committee - wilcfields@comcast.net

Learning to say "NO"

This week, I joined the "CRACKBERRYS" of the world by purchasing a PDA.

My handy-dandy personal digital assistant can ...

  • Send e-mails about BCA business to Keith Beene in Nashville.
  • Hold digital photos of Jake after trying to feed him rice cereal and mashed sweet potatoes.
  • Store all my friends - and contacts - phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
  • Keep my personal and office calendars from scheduling me in two places at the same time.
  • Remember my wife's birthday (while reminding me not to mention how many).
  • Transport documents between work and home.
  • List of all the tasks I have at work and all the chores I have at home.
  • Call my wife to tell her I've missed the bus because I was too distracted playing with my PDA.

Whether I become an addict is yet to be determined. What already is evident is that my faithful paper-based "organizer" is no match for the multitude of meetings I have to keep up with.

Time management specialists will tell you to keep only one calendar with all your appointments. That explains why I was losing the battle trying to keep straight a paper-based organizer and the Microsoft Outlook calendar on my work computer. I never remembered to combine the things I'd said "Yes" to at work with the other things I'd said "Yes" to at home and elsewhere.

Now every day my PDA will "synchronize" my appointments from work, home, church, BCA, a non-profit board and the commitments I make to friends and others, assuming I don't misplace it.

One thing it won't do, however, is tell me when to say enough is enough.

I have to decide to quit trying to pack more into my day and instead remember to leave time for Mary Marcia and Jake, as well as the time to recharge my batteries with rest, reading and casual pursuits.

I was in my first year of grad school when a professor gave me some of the best advice of the whole program: "You need to decide now what you're going to say "No" to, because you can't do it all."

She was right, and it helped me set boundaries for my two years of study, focusing almost exclusively on work, school and family.

Now I'm finding that I need to rediscover that ability to say "No."

Maybe you're finding yourself in the same boat. If so, join me for my next few blogs, as I'm going explore a few ideas on how to get ones schedule under control.

POSTED: Jan 23, 2007 | David Winfrey, Proposal Writer, SHPS - dmmwinfrey@gmail.com

Attention BCA'ers: It's time to play ball!!

The 2007 Wilmer C. Fields Awards Competition is now underway. You can download the Call for Entries here. The theme for the competition this year is "Field of Dreams." With apologies to Kevin Costner, we are hoping that if we hold a competition, you will come! This year there are some new categories for podcasting, adjustments within existing categories, as well as some enhancements in how to prepare and submit news writing, feature writing, and photography entries. The entry fee is the same as last year: $40 per entry. The deadline for postmarking your entries is January 31. We are setting up the judging to be complete by the second week in March. Send me an email or give me a call if you have any questions about the competition. I look forward to seeing everyone at the BCA conference in beautiful Mobile, Ala., April 11-14!

POSTED: Jan 5, 2007 | Brent Thompson, Associate Director of Communications, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary - bthompson@swbts.edu

Calling all church communicators

When I started working in Baptist journalism a decade ago, it never even entered my mind that I'd end up in church communications. In fact, 10 years ago, I'm not even sure the words church and communications were put together in the same sentence. But, today, it's a different story. Churches are waking up to the fact they need people with expertise in writing, graphics, websites and printing, and I know there are church communicators out there, but we're rarely connected with each other. So, I'm interested to know where they are. Will you take a moment and answer these questions for me?

  1. Does your church have a communications staff person(s)?
  2. If yes, paid or volunteer?
  3. What is your church's average worship attendance?

But I'd like to take it a step farther than just statistics. In BCA, we've got a gem of a resource to offer church communicators - resources, training and, most importantly, the opportunity to connect with others like us. Serving on the church level often can lend itself to being something of a "lone ranger." So, this year, we want to invite more church communicators to participate in the workshop. There are a few of us already, but we know there are others out there. I know they are just waiting to find out how they can get help for their ministry. (I know because I am one.) I was blessed to be a part of BCA already when I began serving on a church staff. But there are many others who are just waiting for someone to call and say, "Here is something great for you."

Why don't you be that person? Think about why you like BCA and then think about the person at your church who handles communications. Wouldn't he or she benefit from the same fellowship and training you receive during the workshop? You bet! In fact, I feel so strongly that BCA will benefit church communicators, too, that if you'll send me the name of the communications person at your church and the phone number, I will call him/her and offer a personal invitation. I'm happy to do it. I love to talk with others who serve in the same position... we "get" each other. You can email me at stacey@pleasantvalley.org. Or, you can give him/her my contact information.

If it wasn't for BCA and the connections I have been able to make locally with other church communicators, it would have been much more difficult for me to navigate my three years in church communications. So help us reach out to other church communicators... they deserve the same opportunity.

Stacey Hamby - BCA Communications VP
Director of Communications
Pleasant Valley Baptist Church
Liberty, Missouri

POSTED: Dec 11, 2006 | Stacey Hamby, Director of Communications, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church - shamby@pleasantvalley.org

Tell Colleagues About Us

BCA is currently in the midst of a membership drive and we're asking you to help us unearth qualified Baptist communications professionals. All we need you to do is make us aware of people you think may have an interest in BCA. Member benefits include: a newsletter/web site, placement registry, workshop and awards competition. Is there a church staff member you know or even a young person at your agency who would benefit from the networking help and career development? Send us their name, mailing address and email. Email me at bca.office@comcast.net. Learn more about BCA membership at http://www.baptistcommunicators.org/membership/join.cfm.

POSTED: Nov 7, 2006 | Keith Beene, Administrative Coordinator, Baptist Communicators Association - bca.office@comcast.net

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