Friday 18 November 2016

Unicoms (Again)

On 4th to 6th November 2016 I stayed at The Nightingale Centre at Great Hucklow for what was still existing of the Unicoms Conference. I have now completed all the reports to make of the time there.

My own presentation on using Audio CDs in services was cancelled. There are plans to have it next year. The lengthy comprehensive guide is available now.

At Hucklow I (among six others) participated in James Barry's explanation of moving to a multisite version of Wordpress for a denomination-wide arrangement of websites.

Whilst I quizzed him on preferring directly designed and relevant websites for congregations, highlighting what is important, he said that even as a longstanding programmer (PHP and all that) he can no longer compete with the standard provided by such as Wordpress. (This rather questions going to these firms that offer bespoke websites!) Wordpress detects varieties of devices and browsers and appears to look the same everywhere via up to 40 selected stylesheets from which the detection makes choices.

Then I participated in Louise Reeve's presentation on specific church publicity, continued because it was being filmed for UK Unitarian TV. I took extensive notes, and wrote my webpage from these, the handouts and a glance at a sent set of resources of the original presentation made into one .PDF file.

Some ten or eleven attended that. I have put my piece as a webpage in the Learning Area Business and Organisation Section (because it relates to marketing).

Hucklow also included a walk out for filming towards a Paganism element in Unitarian video, but I did not go to that. I did check out an attempt to photograph a changing sky of stars with a body sat in front. It was on a hilltop at Bretton in the wind-making freezing cold, with the additional benefit of fireworks going off. So we went in the close-by pub.Three of four of us remaining for lunch on Sunday made ourselves useful by designing a questionnaire, which I have put in the Learning Area Business and Organisation Section (because it relates to marketing).

If I have any critique of this, it is tentatively to compare doing marketing with the success that is cathedrals and to suggest only that marketing alone is limited. Cathedrals clearly do marketing, and such thinking does not negate marketing, but what cathedrals have consistently is a management core that allows others to be anonymous by choice, usually within a large number or large distance from the core. You can still volunteer if you want. Cathedrals also produce a reliable worship quality. The theology is also fairly standard, if tending towards the more liberal, and a little high. It usually encourages some reflection and treats people like adults. Can these be reproduced in this somewhat different context? How to test for relevance of these characteristics as well?

Whilst it is right to target the most likely participant types, and to become known, there is much to be said for laying the produce on the stall and attending to: quality and consistency, theological explanation, and a system of greeting and letting be for newcomers with information and contact detailing that gives the new person (or indeed any person) space. Information on the walls is such a good idea, beyond a range of leaflets, simply because it involves least activity for the individual who may not want to read leaflets and booklets. Websites are fantastic for that leisurely, DIY, investigation, and thus so important to get them to be good.

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