Keys to Targeted Community Relations

Engaging with your audience is key to establishing a brand identity

With the rise of digital marketing, social media and targeted ads to attract eyeballs and grab attention for your business or cause, many tend to overlook the power and efficacy of a crucial, old-school concept: community relations.

Done correctly and intentionally, community relations can reach your audience in an entirely different way. It directly connects you with the people in your area, which allows your brand to present its best possible face and personality up close and personal. This was the perfect solution for University Christian Church of Austin (commonly known as UCC) when they came to us to increase the size of their congregation.

Conveniently located on the University of Texas campus, UCC  is a dynamic, inclusive place of worship that actively lives out Christ’s mission through worship, service and growth. We knew such a place would appeal to a variety of people across Austin, so there was plenty of opportunity to be seized.

UCC with fountain in forefront and capital in background

Before getting started, it was important we took a look at who the congregation was and whom they wanted to attract. In marketing terms, this meant seeking a deeper appreciation of their current audience, whom they want their future audience to be, and understand their greater goals such as growing church membership, increasing service attendance, and partnering with like-minded organizations.

To begin this process, we decided to survey the current UCC congregation to gain insight into how they viewed themselves: their personality, their likes, dislikes, and interpretation of the church’s vision. The results revealed UCC’s community presence could use some improvements. So, we got brainstorming on what such a strategy could be.

For us, our plan began by taking the location and the current congregation into consideration. From there, we researched and sought out partnerships that would be a good fit for the church, events and ideas that could enhance their presence with residents in the surrounding vicinity.

For example, one of UCC’s goal was to attract a younger audience. In order to do so, we implemented a strategy to partner with a local high school, University High School, to host a lecture series. The series was moderated by UCC’s pastor and discussed topics related to addiction. The event was hugely successful and enabled UCC the opportunity to get their name out in their target audience and allowed for people to engage with UCC’s pastor.

Next up, we decided to capitalize on Austin’s live music scene through a concert on UCC’s lawn. We snagged partnerships with local organizations such as Steel City Pops and Sway Water to touch and engage their audiences. Additionally, UCC partnered with local charities such as Casa Marianella, Mobile Loaves and Fishes and Micah 6 Austin, offering them an opportunity to share space with other organizations to reach one another’s demographics.

Rev. hands out roses to parishioners

Lastly, we came up with smaller internal events throughout the year to help re-ignite the excitement of the internal church community. A few examples included Donuts for Dad, UHS sober tailgate, Thankfulness Day and National Give Something Away Day. All were opportunities for us to partner with local organizations, get in front of the community and further spread UCC’s mission.

As a result of the various hyperlocal community relations we implemented, UCC was able to grow its congregation, form lasting partnerships with local businesses in the area, and attract a younger audience. Ultimately, these initiatives allowed UCC’s rich history and modern approach to span across Austin and advance their mission.