Enlist Laymen for Press Publicity

When I assumed my duties as pub­licity and press secretary of the Glen­dale City church this year, I soon had a story on my hands which I sensed as having great possibilities for wide press coverage.

By DONALD H. HARDCASTLE, Press Secretary, Glendale, California

When I assumed my duties as pub­licity and press secretary of the Glen­dale City church this year, I soon had a story on my hands which I sensed as having great possibilities for wide press coverage. At the first meeting of the church board the pas­tor announced that our total tithes, offerings, and Ingathering for 5948 amounted to more than $250,000.

We made plans for releasing the story on January 22. On that day the Glendale News-Press, the Los Angeles Times, and the Los An­geles Examiner carried the story. The Times heading read, "Adventists Set Fine Record on Finances." As the first line of their story they wrote, -Here is an enviable church financial record."

The story gave several hundred thousand people an opportunity to read about the liber­ality of Seventh-day Adventists. It was imme­diately picked up by the Christian Advocate, of Chicago, which is "The Voice of Method­ism." An editorial in the February 50 issue, titled "Those Seventh-Day Adventists," said in part:

"If it were Christian to be envious, all those asso­ciated with the publication of THE CHRISTIAN ADVO­CATE would be inclined to feel something akin to 'holy' envy toward Seventh-Day Adventist publishers who can get a paper into every home.

"And now comes a report of an adventist church that would make Methodist pastors and superintend­ents envious, too, if it were Christian to be envious. Here are the facts :

"The Seventh-Day Adventist church at Glendale, Calif., with 1,293 Members in 1948, contributed $257,­478, or a per capita giving of $190.

"Tithing was responsible for $184,225, while an added $38,000 was given toward general denomina­tional work and $12,000 was solicited from the public for foreign missions. Church expenses of $23,000 were also collected."

We were gratified to find the story men­tioned in the general news section of another journal, the Christian Century, of February 9. It said, "The Glendale, California, Seventh-Day Adventist Church, with 5,293 members, gave $257,478 to church enterprises last year. Tithing accounted for $584,225. Congrega­tional expenses were only $23,000."

As for radio, our pastor heard our story mentioned on an Episcopalian broadcast, and another member reported that it was used on a Baptist broadcast.

 The interest aroused by this story is an ex­cellent example of what may happen to stories on many features of our work. The Advent Movement is full of news. As the story of Ad­ventism reaches more editors and more read­ers, our local press secretaries are finding it easier to get stories published in the newspa­pers of their communities. This is a work in which both ministers and laymen can have suc­cess from the very start. The important thing is to write the news and get it to the editors.

I believe that all our ministers should be­come as adept and skillful as possible in work­ing with the public press. However, because of the fact that many preachers move about so often, I believe that our press work would be further ahead locally if active laymen could take it up and stay with it for several years. Too often worker transfers cause a break in the flow of news to the newspaper. It is the continuous effort that counts. Most of our ministers are busy with work they consider more important, and the news reporting suf­fers.

There are other Adventist churches which are larger than the Glendale church, and which have even better financial records. But our story received wide publicity because a church press secretary was on the job. It has been amply demonstrated in the West that Adventist churches have consistently had the best pub­licity in those centers where an active layman has taken up the press work and devoted his best efforts to it over a period of years.

May I urge that every pastor see to it that a live-wire press correspondent is put to work without delay in those churches where none is working. This should be done in small churches as well as in the larger centers. News origi­nates in all our churches. If a member hesitates to take up this work, he should be encouraged by the fact that a well-organized press bureau, either in his local or union conference, or in the General Conference, stands ready to help him make a success of his work.

A local press correspondent can report cer­tain types of news without fear that editors will think it is being done just to seek personal publicity for individuals connected with our work. This may be illustrated by the following story which I recently wrote for the Glendale News-Press.

"Mrs. Bertha Walton Fearing, wife of -Elder An-'drew C. Fearing, pastor of the Glendale Seventh-day Adventist church, is author of the lead article, en­titled 'Wife's Place in Conference and Church,' in THE MINISTRY magazine for February.

"The periodical, 'published monthly at denomina­tional headquarters, Washington, D.C., is the official organ of the ninisterial Association of Seventh-day Adventists."

I gave a few high lights of what Mrs. Fear­ing wrote -about the work of a pastor's wife, but this part was cut out, presumably for lack of space. The story was published on the church page.

There is no doubt that the newspapers will print news about Seventh-day Adventist activ­ities. Along with hundreds of other press sec­retaries, I have proved this to be true. I began this work about twelve years ago. Since then I have been successful in getting stories in the very largest and the very smallest newspapers on the Pacific Coast.

The editor of the Glendale News-Press told me, when I introduced myself as the new press secretary, to "shoot the news in; we are glad to print it. We'll do our best for you. We say that to all our churches, but since Glendale is an Adventist center, we like to favor the Ad­ventists as much as possible." He made good on that the other day by snatching from my hand a story about the constituency meeting of the Glendale Sanitarium just seven minutes before the deadline and giving it a good spot in the paper.

I feel that one of the next great forward steps to be taken in our public-relations pro­gram is a better integration of our evangelistic campaigns with our news reporting. In other words, let us fully identify our efforts as Sev­enth-day Adventists, and put an end to this subterfuge and covering up which has gone on so long in our work. The evangelist's advertis­ing budget and the money spent by our press bureaus will bring in far greater returns when this step is taken. I appeal especially to every younger worker to adopt the newer methods. Let us capitalize on the interest created by the hundreds of news stories regarding the activi­ties, beliefs, and teachings of Seventh-day Ad­ventists, and have them constantly appearing in the public press.

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By DONALD H. HARDCASTLE, Press Secretary, Glendale, California

August 1949

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