South England Conference Communication Department Report 2013
This year’s large communications project has been the launch of the new, UK-wide Adventist website. Our department has worked on creating a lively, engaging and interactive South England section of the site. sec.adventist.org.uk
In recognising the need for a new and professional website for the Conference, the department’s director set out to work with the British Union Conference (BUC) on a web strategy for the Church in the UK.
2013 saw the launch of a large new web platform for the Adventist church in the UK, with areas for all the BUC’s conferences and missions. The website has made our South England Conference (SEC) section more visible as part of the corporate identity of the Adventist Church in the UK.
The web strategy identified the following goals for a new website:
- Corporate identity
- Modern, 21st-century look
- Easy to find on search engines
- Responsive, adaptable to mobiles and tablets
- Easy to navigate and share
- Outward-looking, while still serving the membership
These goals were achieved with the new website, which has made the site more attractive and easier to navigate. Ensuring it was responsive means that it keeps current with the recent trends of climbing Internet usage, especially on mobile and tablet devices. The search engine Google shows that we are now at the top of the search results when people type the word ‘Adventist’, here in the UK.
Statistics from 2013 show that there are nearly double the number of visitors to the site as compared to 2011. We can also see that they stay longer, and visit more than one page. Regrettably, there are no statistics for the old SEC website from 2012, but those from 2011 show an average of almost 4000 visits per calendar month.
Websites today can gather figures and trends from those using the site. These figures suggest that three out of four new visitors to one of our Adventist churches will have visited the website first. Therefore, having a website is crucial for all churches, especially the churches that rent facilities.
Churches have been made aware of this through training, and more churches are setting up websites every year. The challenge lies in the continual updating of their site to ensure that current and relevant information is available. The SEC and BUC subsidise church websites through the ‘NetAdventist’ platform, and provide training in managing this system.
The news section continues to expand, and the department is constantly ensuring news coverage of various events throughout the Conference. As a result of training, both at the SECmedia Academy and through local church programmes by the director, there has been an increase in churches submitting news stories on their local events. During the 2013 Camp Meeting the website was updated daily, with news stories from each day.
There is also continual training of communications leaders to help them fulfil their role for their local church, and for churches to understand communication as an evangelistic tool. Ultimately, the better trained the communications leaders are, the better enhanced the local churches’ communication and media will be.