Build Your Own Outreach Plan

Louise Reeve has run this with her own Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Unitarians and Stockton Unitarians assisted by the Marketwise StrategiesAn Agency helping the North East Unitarians Agency.

Marketwise Strategies is a specialist provider of strategic market research in Education, Technology and B2B markets, and in the Not-for-profit sector. Its research helps organisations to assess market opportunities, enhance competitive positioning and get closer to customers and stakeholders. It has offices in Newcastle upon Tyne and London.

Initial Considerations


What is the publicity challenge?

For example:

The focus must be on what we can do for them rather than what they can do for us.

The challenge is in general terms but the goal to reach is specific.

In communicating the message, it is important to relate to the organisation and this means being specific, that is one's own church and not Unitarianism in general. It has to be realistic and based in the present. It should be outward (again about them, what is offered) and hopeful: that present individuals continue to attend and the intention is to add others (more the internal perspective). Look at what existing people do get from what is on offer.

Newcastle's inherited building holds 500: filling it is unrealistic.

One strategy for what is offered is congregational self-evaluationVision 2020. The ten ways of Vision 2020 include such self-evaluation, where each has a rating to give and one way to strengthen such rating for the future (at

Square brackets come from the self-evaluation in the slide show at:

At Unicoms 2016, via jam slices containing dairy produce, nuts and gluton, Louise introduced the first workshop element using her materials. These turned mainly into on-topic and off-topic discussions.


What are the goals to be achieved?

Some ideas are:

What should the publicity achieve in the local situation?

Goals are based on the challenge identified: and then to be specific, realistic and hopeful.

Louise Reeve had presented to a Northern Unitarian Association gathering, where the discussion was on raising the profile of Unitarianism in the North East.

'Understanding' is of itself not 'goal' language, but it can become a goal and measured by such as standing in the town centre and asking a hundred people what they know of Unitarianism and then asking a year later after a publicity campaign.

Being specific is to ask what is good about the church (such as a city centre location, the current age range available).

Existing people can be asked what attracted them in the first place (and a group at Unicoms 2016 went on to design such a questionnaire).

JB wondered what the effect of the ITV drama Paranoid will be for The Society of Friends, in that it includes Quakerism throughout.

Is understanding Unitarianism to say that it is a Do It Yourself religion? Because it is and it isn't. There are unifying and constraining factors in courses, training and in the general acceptance of a limited range of hymn books.

I said that we attract from the already religious. Someone asked if we do "poaching" and targeting the "warm" and the "half way there"?

I contradicted JB's view that evangelicals were growing rapidly. Not in Hull and in fact not in general. Rather, the growth point has been cathedrals. People there can participate and view consistent high quality worship and also be anonymous.

People cannot be anonymous in our churches. People leap upon them. The new folk come along but get out before it is too late, before jobs get landed upon them.

Being given a job was likened to going to a cinema and being given a brush to do some sweeping up, when all that was wanted was to see a film.

As for doing jobs, "Come to church and be a keyholder etc.," there is Voluntary Service assistance with training people to volunteer.

One bugbear for J is that at a rite of passage individuals do not want to be seen picking up a leaflet but there should be basic statements on the walls [Interesting point as I myself responded to a statement on the wall when I came to Park Street for the Bahai meeting.]

At Bury it is noticed that people coming in pick nothing up.

Louise Reeve pointed out that posters contain too much text.

A History of Islam talk (not by a Muslim, by ethnic white) drew a lot of people in but it was too big a leap from that to a service.

Christmas and Harvest services are useful for increased attendance.

Some of what is being offered has been listed as:

(All the above can be offered within publicity material.)

LRs suggested that we are afraid of disagreement; she proposed more challenge and less like apparent consensuses. Discussion suggested that whilst there is an important place for challenge, it should be done in such a way via nuances and caveats that all are included, along with a deliberate use of inclusive language. I spoke of an appeal to a certain religious character with views overlapping Unitarian views.

What is Being Offered?

Ideas from Newcastle-upon-Tyne included:

This needs to be realistic but does not mean something new cannot be offered.

Mention was made of people transferring from existing Unitarian churches as well as the already religious, nurtured in another place and how to accommodate them.

So already offered can be:

LRs said that the National Unitarian Fellowship is 'everywhere' and offers sharing of experiences and viewpoints.

Targetting Audiences: Types of People to Reach

These are people most likely to join in that these people are targets without excluding others.

Marketwise highlighted those people:

Short term goals involve reaching such people first.
The longer term is reaching out to the harder to respond.
In all this equality and diversity issues should be kept in mind.

Ask these questions of the last five people to join: who are they and what do they do?

Leaflets delivered to homes by the thousands do not work as a method of targeting people.

Rather these approaches:

Where they are and What they are Doing?

Marketwise suggested those :

At the same time, do not exclude others.

I referred to many teachers in Unitarianism but that academics prefer core beliefs and complexity around them. My presentation on Unitarianism to Hull and District Theological Society drew the comment from one about baseline plurality that "it wouldn't work".

Gay inclusion is changing alliances in religion (Unitarians are finding themselves involved again among other religious liberals). Gay folk are a 'target' with reference to the Metropolitan Community Church in Newcastle. My information was it is becoming absorbed into the United Reformed Church piecemeal.

Publicity Begins at Home

This means the building and its environs

From Marketwise and the 2015 Unicoms:

The Local Church Website

Take into account the Wordpress Multisite changes proposed:

Some More to Do

Any video online has to be brief. Make it simple, make it audible.

New folk can give critical insights; make sure it is their church as much as of those who are long-time attenders.

Longer Term

These may take longer in setting up and getting established:

Newcastle-Upon-Tyne hosted a heritage weekend in its art deco builkding. There was the speech on Ramsey Macdonald as an extensive Unitarian preacher as well as coalition politician.

There is the issue of the name: more places are dropping "Church", even "Meeting House" and just using the word "Unitarians". The official title can be different from the name registered with the Charity Commission. (Incidentally, 'Divine Unity' was derived from a contrast with 'Holy Trinity'.)

It is all about as often using existing resources and being realistic. Do not overload existing people with projects. Existing people resources can be writers, artists and webmakers.

Careful with terminology. 'Liberal' has several meanings, not least a confusion with 'Liberal Democrats'.

Next Steps and Timescale

It's about who does what and what priority items over say twelve months:

JB commented that lots of effort is put into creating services, but very little effort is put into getting people to attend. I commented that I used to justify the effort that went into services by them being put online for later reading. A person said sermons can be put online but some say the sermon is an event at the point of delivery.


This is part of the process. Keep monitoring:

I added about changing and adding to the website, and that each change should be accompanied by explanation on a blog and a notice on Facebook. On this matter Howard Wilkins recommended softwareClick here for the software website. provides bloggers, publishers and brands a way to instantly syndicate content and expand reach on the social web and into new channels. It makes it easy to manage and measure the flow of content to the audience locations. publishes media, blogs, all your content to social channels, ensuring the audience sees it instantly.

Some things just do not work and are the basis for revision.

The necessity is to both reach out and nurture who already attends.



Louise Reeve original material

Adrian Worsfold

Pluralist - Liberal and Thoughtful