So many people call our offices looking for advice for getting into religious media, I thought I'd outline some suggestions that might help. Especially for those trying to get your faith-based ministry, project, or idea moving, my first advice is also to get connected to the media industry as soon as possible. This isn't comprehensive, but try these ideas:
First – get involved in the National Religious Broadcasters. I suggest you attend their annual convention, and start the networking machine. There will be hundreds of church and media ministry directors and Christian media professional there and it's a great group for you to meet. They'll also have workshops and seminars all week long. Also, get involved on the NRB's TV Committee as well.
Second, if you're a good writer, consider writing "how-to" articles for industry trade magazines. Examples are the NRB magazine, Technologies for Worship, and Church Production. They don't pay for the articles, but it helps build your brand identity to that audience, plus, the magazines will put a short blurb about you and how to contact you at the end. The key is increasing your perception in the industry. Write the editors of all three magazines and submit some topics. The key is to write articles on what you want to do personally, so you get known for that. Also – Technologies for Worship has a national conference every year that you should attend. You can find all these magazines on the web – just do a name search with Google.
Third – If you have a passion to teach, consider getting a graduate degree. Radio/TV/Film programs are hot on Christian campuses right now, and that would be a great transition for you. But you'll at least need a masters, unless it's a really small school. I got my Ph.D. for that very reason. One of these days when I retire, I would love to teach.
Fourth – Start to focus on only one or two things you really want to do. The higher you go, the more skills you have to let go. I stopped editing, shooting, and managing years ago, and now focus on writing and consulting in the Christian world, and directing only in the secular industry. Steven Spielberg can do anything he wants, but he only directs. That's good advice. Focus – and get better and better at one or two things, rather than being average at a lot of things.
Fifth – "Hollywood Connect" is a new resource in Hollywood designed to help people with questions about Christians in Hollywood, entertainment careers, coming into the industry, making the right choices,and other areas. It's a free service and highly respected by Christian professionals in the industry. HC is a "gatekeeper" for people coming into town for the first time, needing info about how to find housing, an agent, a church or a job, or career advice. If you've considered coming to LA, talk to Hollywood Connect first.
Six – Get the National Religious Broadcasters Directory. It lists all the players in the Christian media industry. Churches and ministries, media buyers, agencies, producers, etc… That will help you strategically target churches and ministries to contact and pursue.
Seven – Buy the book: "Branding Faith: Why Some Churches and Non-Profits Impact the Culture and Others Don't." It will transform your thinking about how to present yourself, how to attract clients, how to understand your perception, and how to market yourself. It's available March 1st 2008. Get that today and start reading. When you've finished that, read everything John Maxwell has ever written. Start with his latest – "Thinking for a Change".
Finally – Stay hip to the culture. If you really want Christians to make an impact in the culture, we need to know what works. Read magazines, watch TV and movies, know what reaches people and why. Know how to recognize "cool" – sadly, most Christians can't.. :-)