Three weeks from today, I’ll be back at the neighborhood commuter train station, offering ashes again as people hurry to work and get started on their busy Wednesday. This is the time to recruit your team, if you haven’t already, and to think about publicity.
One of the gifts of “Ashes to Go” is that the church becomes visible in new ways, and one of the best ways to enhance that is to share your story with local media. Ashes to Go can be very photogenic, so many local media will appreciate the story. This is a good time to begin the contact with local reporters. Find out who covers religion, community events, or your particular neighborhood, either by calling the media outlet or surfing their website for similar stories, and let them know that something interesting is coming up on February 13.
A sample press release, meant to be adapted to your own context, is available on our resources page. If you’ve done Ashes to Go before, share a photo or a compelling story about someone who received ashes. If someone has begun to come to your church because of Ashes to Go, share that story – it bucks the usual trend of church stories.
Some smaller local papers will be happy to print your press release and photo; for others, you’ll need to provide reporters with a succinct couple of sentences to sell your story – novelty, trends, and tension help make a story appealing. Good media relations means making sure that everybody gets something useful from the encounter.
It’s worth investing some thought and time in how your Ashes to Go story is told, as media coverage reaches more people with the good news of the church coming out into the world than you’ll ever see at the coffeeshop, train station, grocery or street corner. And you never know – the person you’re doing this for could be the sitting in front of their TV or reading the morning paper while you’re out on the street!
So reach out, pray for all the lives you’ll touch, and get ready to go.