The General Conference has hired communications and public relations firm Allison + Partners to help raise awareness of the church and educate the public about its mission, as the church celebrates its 150th anniversary.
Allison + Partners’ work will focus primarily on message development, media relations and social media strategy, according to Greg Dunn, managing director in the agency’s Chicago office and a Seventh-day Adventist church member.
Dunn told PR Week that his agency will help the church engage more with national media, religion reporters and the food and nutrition press. Allison will also counsel the church on social media and provide support for events.
Allison + Partners is a large firm, with offices in many major US cities as well as London and Beijing, and a roster of well-known brand names as clients.
The decision to hire Allison + Partners, and Greg Dunn, came out of a big pow wow held at the GC last year on how to improve the church’s communication and media effectiveness.
“Our relationship with Greg Dunn began at a strategically important moment,” Garrett Caldwell, public relations director at the GC, told Spectrum.
Last September, 80 representatives of church communication and media outlets from all 13 world divisions met for a five-day Global Media Communication Summit. “As the planning committee prepared for this event, we tried to identify people with expertise in various areas who could come and challenge the thinking of this group and bring into focus both our current situation and the opportunities that were before us,” Caldwell said.
Greg Dunn was identified as an expert in public and media relations, and asked to give the keynote address on branding. “His analysis of our current reality was sobering and his challenge regarding what we could accomplish inspiring,” Caldwell said.
During his speech, Dunn said: “If ever there was a time to break out of the mold and to step up our game, it is now. Whether intentional or not, every organization has a brand. . . Whatever the nature of the entity – be it selling soda, air compressors or mattresses, or representing a certain set of religious beliefs – it has a brand. . . We Adventists have a great story. What are we known for today? And what do we want to be known for tomorrow?”
Participants felt the Summit was a watershed event, Caldwell said.
“I’ve only been at the General Conference for four years, but I know that there is an intense longing on the part of many members in our church, that the beauty and joy of what it means to be a Seventh-day Adventist be more widely known,” said Caldwell. “I’m very happy to see the church begin to make several small steps that will hopefully result in removing our light from under the bushel where it currently sits.”
The church’s contract with Allison + Partners will last through the end of the year.
Image from the Adventist Review: Greg Dunn speaks at the Global Media Communication Summit.