Chicagoland Marketing Initiative Overview
UU Chicagoland Marketing Initiative (CMI)
A program of The Chicago Area UU Council
The CMI was formed by a cluster of Chicago-area congregational leadership, for the purpose of developing marketing and public relations initiatives involving the several congregations of CAUUC.
CMI has engaged in a program of public witness in the greater Chicago area using news media. A consultant skilled in public relations and grounded in UU principles, Mike Murschel [link to Mike Murschel page], works with congregations to turn their work promoting UU values into news stories focusing current social justice issues through a lens of UU values.
The purpose of this program is to support the development of marketing and public relations events, skills, and programs in congregations of the greater Chicago area, in order to
- Make Unitarian Universalism more visible in the world,
- Support values-based work of Unitarian Universalist congregations, and
- Attract people to our congregations who are interested in joining our congregations in order to have a values-based platform from which to change the world.
The UU Chicagoland Marketing Initiative (CMI) grew out of workshops offered by John Hurley and Valerie Holton at the Central Midwest District Assembly in April of 2005. The CMI began meeting regularly in May, 2005, with representation from 8 congregations in the purview of the Chicago Area UU Council (CAUUC). The mission of the CMI was established to raise the visibility of Unitarian Universalism in the world by developing and sponsoring marketing and public relations initiatives among the congregations that comprise the Chicago Area UU Council.
However, it was felt that groundwork needed to be laid and many more congregations brought on board before an effective program of marketing or public relations could be launched. Through FY 2006, CMI staged three workshops in conjunction with a fourth offered by the District. CMI brought together marketing and public relations people from the congregations and offer training in
- readying congregations for visitors through "Radical Hospitality," a workshop presented by District Director for Growth Dori Davenport;
- developing marketing strategies for individual congregations through the workshop, "Marketing 101:Developing an outreach strategy for your congregation" presented by Valerie Holton, UUA consultant for marketing;
- developing possibilities for public relations and public witness through the workshop, "Public Witness for UUs: Engaged Faith, Effective Action," presented by John Hurley and Rob Keithan, UUA staffers for public witness and advocacy.
- Direct Mailing, through the workshop "How to do a Postcard Mailing in 3 Easy Steps," presented by Dan Ashley, marketing committee chair of Second Unitarian Church, Chicago.
Through these events, CMI gained representation from 19 (of 28) CAUUC congregations: All Souls Chicago (15 members), Beverly Unitarian Church (109), Countryside Church (290), DuPage UU Church (301), UU Church of Elgin (150), Unitarian Church of Evanston (440), First Society of Chicago (176), UU Society of Geneva (332), Unitarian Church of Hinsdale (312), First Unitarian Church of Hobart (97), Universalist Unitarian Church of Joliet (91), New Garden Community Church (20), North Shore Church (433), UU Community Church of Park Forest (117), UU Church of Rock Valley (41), Second Unitarian Church of Chicago (223), Third Unitarian Church (114), Unity Temple of Oak Park (401), and Woodstock (206).
Over the past few years, there have been developed effective public relations programs in a few of our congregations, most notably Elgin and Woodstock. Their example has inspired other congregations to look toward developing a program. The UUA has also initiated effective public relations programs, especially the work of Meg Riley, John Hurley, and Janet Hayes, enhancing the priority of UUA president Bill Sinkford to get the UU voice into the national conscience. Our CAUUC congregations stand poised to take advantage of this work. The CMI aims to provide technical support, education, and opportunity for collaboration; through the consultant, we will also provide training in the skills and strategies of public relations work.
The first stage of work for CMI was to arrange educational opportunities for congregational leadership and to engage their commitment to increased marketing public relations work through CMI. The second stage of the project was to engage the services of a skilled public relations consultant to work with our congregations to bring their stories successfully to the news media. To fund this engagement, CAUUC requested from its constituency a contribution of $2 per member to be contributed to CMI through CAUUC for FY2007. In Fy2008, the UUA Funding Program matched those dollars and the program with Mike Murschel.
In FY 2009, CMI continued its engagement of Mike Murschel, but also began work in direct marketing in the greater Chicago area. With CMI funds, CAUUC engaged the services of WebTrax Studio to develop a "Front Door" website for folks seeking the Unitarian Universalist community in the greater Chicago area. The front page features a slideshow of photos from congregational activities, which point the visitor to pages presenting an overview of "what Unitarians do" and a magazine of what is happening in our congregations in the areas of children's education, music, social justice, and spirituality -- the interest areas cited most by visitors. The front page also offers an opportunity to view the UUA video "Voices of a Liberal Faith."
With CMI funds, CMI is also developing a postcard and brochure template that can be easily tailored to a congregation's personality and used for outreach to local communities.
CMI engaged the services of WCPT "Chicago's Progressive Talk Radio" in the greater Chicago area to present a series of 60-second spots in December 2008 and January 2009. The spots showcase testimonials of area Unitarian Universalists and point listeners to the new website. This project is funded by the Central Midwest District and the Clarence Darrow Fund of CAUUC. The spots continued into 2009-2010, at which time WCPT and CMI began to design a larger initiative, an hour-long broadcast of Chicagoland UU worship experiences on Sunday evenings. The program launched a pilot run in March, 2011, withe the participation -- and fiscal funding -- of Third Unitarian Church, DePage Unitarian Universalist Church, and Unity Temple UU Congregation. It continues into FY 2011-12 as an on-going program of CMI, seeking to involve the participation of more congregations and their ministers.