By Jenny Fujita and Joy K. Miura, Fujita & Miura Public Relations, LLC.
According to Sony Pictures, “The Da Vinci Code” became the second-largest worldwide film release after “Star Wars: Episode III,” grossing some $224 million worldwide. The box office success of the film, along with the fact that Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” novel is a worldwide bestseller with more than 60.5 million copies in print, is a solid example of the size and influence of the faith-based public. Though “The Da Vinci Code” moviegoers and readers were certainly not limited to the faith-based sector, audiences were largely compelled to read the book and see the movie to satisfy their curiosity about the religious controversy the story ignited. As a result, follow-up news stories were done, documentaries were made, and books were written. A lot of folks have ridden on the coattails of Dan Brown’s story since the book’s release.
The PR lesson here is to remember faith-based communities when identifying target publics for your PR efforts. They may not be top-of-mind because religion and personal beliefs are not liberally discussed at work, in public school, on TV, or in social settings, but when it’s appropriate, the faith-based public is a great segment to reach out to and communicate with.
Faith-based communities are large, active, and influential. In many instances, they are well organized and have regular methods of communicating via websites, newsletters, direct mail, and face-to-face interactions. But focusing on these groups must be done carefully and with great respect. Like any other group, learn about them first and only reach out to them when it makes sense and if you have reason to believe that they’ll benefit from or have interest in your product or service. For example, if your restaurant is near a church, make sure your hours and staffing can accommodate parishioners before and after church services, and let the church leaders know you are happy to serve their members. If you are near a Jewish temple, you may want to offer some authentic Jewish and kosher food items. You get the idea.
When communicating with faith-based communities, stay within your boundaries as an outsider. Be sensitive to and informed about the reason that they exist, whether you agree with their principles or not, and be sure your staff follows suit.