United Methodist marketing seems to stick

I blogged a few days ago about a new “state of the church”:http://www.umc.org/site/c.lwL4KnN1LtH/b.2733523/k.258/State_of_the_Church.htm report from the United Methodist Church, which dealt largely with the ever-present challenge of growth.

Back in 2001, the UMC — the largest mainline Protestant denomination with some 8 million members — started a pretty aggressive marketing campaign aimed at non-church-goers. It was built around the line: “Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.”

Now the UMC says the campaign is making headway. According to “new research,”:http://www.umc.org/site/c.lwL4KnN1LtH/b.2454759/apps/nl/content3.asp?content_id={7C981391-65AB-4CA9-862A-4BF582C5ED6E}&notoc=1 30 percent of people surveyed in 2006 were aware of the campaign. It’s steadily increased from 14 percent in 2001.

More than 1,200 people from six test markets (Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Des Moines, Roanoke, Springfield, and Tallahassee/Gainesville) were surveyed about the marketing campaign and the UMC in general.

“The impact of the advertising is that awareness is growing from year to year,� said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications. “The research also indicates that our messages continue to be believable and important to the audience—and they are effectively shifting people’s attitudes about the denomination in a very favorable way.�

Respondents who had seen the advertising were 47 percent more likely to have a favorable view of the UMC. Seventeen percent said they would definitely or probably visit a United Methodist Church over the next three months.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.