Which would you rather hear?
“Hey, how did you know our pastor was going to be profiled in the paper?”
“I’m surprised you didn’t link to that article about my ministry that was in the newspaper a few weeks ago.”
I don’t hear the second one anymore because I’ve been using Google alerts to find out immediately when my pastor, parish or website are mentioned in the media. The alerts are easy to set up. Once in place, you’ll get an email and a link whenever your topic of choice is in the news online.
My local Diocesan paper usually gets delivered on Thursdays or Fridays, but I receive the alerts on Wednesdays when my church is mentioned in an article there — sometimes before it can be found on the newspaper’s main page. I add a quick link and a blurb on my parish home page and now my visitors can have the latest news.
Here are some good topics to get alerts for:
- Pastor’s name
- Your church’s name (include variations if you don’t have a pithy name like St. Muffy’s) and city name
- Your parish’s domain name
- Church school; and major school programs that don’t already include your parish name, such as a homeless shelter
- Other prominent staff or committee members
You may need to tweak yours at first, depending how common your pastor’s name is or if you are getting false positives on your church’s name. Once in a while I get a St. Charles Borromeo Seminiary (Pennsylvania) listing instead of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church (Virginia). We’re located in Arlington County, but that doesn’t always help differentiate news results for seminarians from the much larger Diocese of Arlington. But those are the exceptions.
In part 2 we’ll look at other options for receiving alerts when your church is in the news. I’d love to hear what topics you think should be on your church webmaster alert list.