All Tiered Up

February 4, 2016

Three Keys to a Three-Tiered System

Tiered communications is a strategy we all use on a daily basis, even if we don't call it by name. We don’t call everyone we know when we have important news. It would be time-consuming and unrealistic. Nor do we text everyone we know to tell them we're running late for basketball practice.

Every day we constantly match our tiers with our tools. We call, text or post on social media based on who our audience is and how we best communicate with them. We share news about topics we consider important with people who would likely have interest in the same topics.

Tiered communications in the church isn’t really much different. When and where you share your messages should be based on what you find important (i.e., your mission) and what your audience finds important (i.e., their interests/connections).  

Here is a quick definition of the tiers and three important keys to using them successfully: 

The Three Tiers

Tier 1 = Your most important messages that are for the whole congregation.

Each week, you’ll select one or two major churchwide messages that reflect the church’s priorities. They are emphasized in all top-level communications.

Tier 2 = Messages of secondary importance, typically tied to your key ministry areas.

Each week, you’ll select a few second tier messages to include in your church’s main messaging tools and some of your more targeted tools.

Tier 3 = Targeted messages, for your smaller, specific audiences.

Each week, you’ll fill in your third tier messaging with communications that didn’t match tier 1 or tier 2. (This doesn’t mean these messages are unimportant. Usually, they are simply messages for smaller, more targeted audiences.)

The Three Keys

Key 1 = Train yourself to think in tiers.

Constantly ask the question, “Who is this message for?” The quicker a messaging opportunity is placed into a tier, the quicker decisions can be made about what communications tools will be used to share that message. This will make your entire process more efficient and effective.  

Key 2 = Match tiers with tools.

Once you’ve considered your audience, the next question becomes, “How would that group prefer to receive messages?” This question will focus your efforts on which tool is best for this messaging opportunity. Don’t just use a bulletin announcement because it’s a tier 2 message. Instead, use a bulletin announcement because it’s a tier 2 message with an audience who pays attention to the bulletin.

Key 3 = Explain yourself.

Get in the habit of having strategic reasons for the communications choices you’re making. If a ministry is frustrated because they weren’t featured on the website or given time during in-service announcements, you want to be able to explain the strategy behind the tools you chose. Assure them you want to help them reach their audience and that communications plans are being carried out with all ministries in mind as well as the overall mission of your church. 

When your messaging is tied to your mission, you prove you are serious about your purpose as a church.

Want to learn more about how to effectively incorporate the tiered communications strategy? Click for more information on Fishhook University’s TeamSpeak Course.

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Jamie Shafer

Communications Strategist