The Church Needs PR Too
Organizations, leaders and individuals must monitor their PR by being aware of their public footprint and reputation. For this reason, I do not understand why many churches feel they are an exception.
Lost souls are counting on the church to rescue them, but many churches are not equipped to save their own reputations.
Something has to be done.
Last week, Bishop Eddie Long, Pastor of the New Birth Baptist Church, was accused of soliciting sex from young men in his church. The four men claim they began having sex with Long when they were teenagers. Allegedly, Long bought them expensive gifts such as cars, expensive trips, celebrity access and college tuition. To make matters worse, Long preaches adamantly against homosexuality. Also, photos of Long posing in muscle shirts and workout attire were released to the public. These photos, sent to at least one young man, are causing further speculation concerning his innocence.
First, a good PR team may have told Long that a televangelist should not be sending photos of himself in skin-tight spandex shorts and a muscle shirt to anyone, especially not his church members. He would have known that everything sent to another cellular device, done innocently or with sinful intent, is traceable and could be used against him.
Second, they may have warned him about giving expensive gifts such as cars to young men. Their guidance may have led him to publicize the gifts or set up ways the young men could earn the gifts. This would have dispelled any bad PR concerning the gifts. Sadly, the church was aware of what was taking place and knew he was giving gifts to these young men. Nothing was said because they were his “sons” in the ministry. If he is innocent, it still just doesn’t look good.
Third, instead of accusing the plaintiffs of being money hungry (his spokesman did), they may have instructed him to take a humbler approach.
We must realize that old-school ways of handling situations in the era of new technology and social media are not good enough. As one can see, if the church continues refusing to hire a good PR team, eventually many will not even trust leaders of the faith and be turned away from Jesus Christ. Is it worth the risk?