Engagement

Tips and Strategies for Blogging

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Blog letters pinned to white wall

I’m sure this has only happened to me…  but, have you ever had the order come down from above (think more corporate, less angles) that you need to write a blog post on (x) by (x)?

If you’re like most people the first thing that escapes your lips is a whispered “how am I supposed to get this done?”.  Well, relax it might just be easier than you think!
Here are a couple of tips and strategies that might just stir the creative writing process for you!

Step 1 – Read

The first step in writing a great blog post is to know your topic and chances are you’re not the first one to ever write on your subject.  So, why reinvent the wheel?
Solomon said it best “there is nothing new under the sun”.  There is no need to make things more difficult then that have to be.  Go online and find other blog posts on your subject and gather ideas.  Notice how other bloggers have organized their thoughts, and begin to formulate your own ideas on what you want to write about.

Step 2 – The Outline

Begin putting together an outline;
  • Create a topic headline
  • Brainstorm, and develop key points
  • Write an opening and Introduction
  • Write your thoughts on the subject
  • Conclusion
The mechanics of writing are pretty simple it’s the content and your personality that give it life!  I would suggest that you include quotes from the blogs that you checked out at first (for research of course).  Then, top it all off with a call to action.
It sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but after all when you post online it pretty much stays there forever! (no pressure)

Step 3 – Pen to Paper or Voice to Text?

Even if you’re not the most skilled writer in the world chances are you know how to speak.  That being said, the good news is that through the use of some very handy technology you now have an advantage over most writers in history past.

The Smart Phone

Most smart phones come with some type of voice recorder, and if not, there are plenty of apps you can download.  Record yourself talking on the key points that your blog needs to touch on, and then write or type out the content.

Dragon or voice to text software

There are more and more apps and technology that allow users to simply talk and type content directly to the page.  Budges vary and so does software cost, so be sure to take a look around and do some research.  Is this a one time deal, or have you tapped into your passion for the written word?

Elance or Fiverr.com

Too lazy to type it out, or not tech enough for talk to text?  You can always outsource the typing to someone who can.  There are plenty of people willing to transcribe your audio and even organize your outline into a proper format (for a fee of course).  Same thing as before, do your research and see if this will work for you.

Conclusion

Times are changing and many professionals will be heeding the call to blog more often.  What we make of the experience and the process will ultimately be reflected in the content we create.  So, why not enjoy it!

Nathan Gist

PAR Director of Social Media Engagement
PER Production/Imaging Director
PER Afternoon Drive Host

Morality Radio vs. Gospel-Centered Radio

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gospel centered

I’m a fan of Andy and Barney.  Millions love the Andy Griffith show and its iconic whistling theme song, including myself.  The show is clean, moral, fun, humorous and non-offensive.  Filmed in the 1960’s, Griffith was once asked about the family-friendly, clean-cut view of the world the show presented.  He said, “We were trying to reflect the morals of the 1930’s.”

Those are all well-intentioned qualities.  Yet, they fall short.

One of my greatest fears is that Christian radio is the Andy Griffith show.  We’re “safe for little ears”, positive, uplifting, encouraging, moral, clean, humorous and good.  But that isn’t enough.

It isn’t enough to be morality radio.  It isn’t enough to be the station that doesn’t use four letter words.

We must be gospel-centered.

Morality never rescued anyone from his or her shattered self-image.

Family-friendly never offered the solution to a broken marriage.

Safe and clean never delivered someone from the crushing weight of guilt.

The gospel does.

At Positive Alternative Radio we have begun a quest.  Our goal is to be gospel-centered.  We want to live our lives in the light of the gospel and in so doing share our struggles, failures, and successes with our listeners and allow them to see us being changed by Jesus.

At this moment, program directors who are reading this post are about to set their hair on fire.

I’m not saying we bring in Rev. Fred and give him the microphone for 30 minutes and let him scream his guts out.

I am advocating we have authentic conversations with our audience.  And never doubt that your audience WANTS and DESIRES authentic interaction.

Continue to be funny.

Keep doing the “What’s the worst pet name you’ve ever heard?” bits.

But – there are times when life demands you be authentic.

Share your parenting struggles – because your listener is struggling as well.

Talk about how Jesus gives us a new identity – because those who listen to us need to be reminded that they are not defined by their past but by the cross and the resurrection.

But do it in an authentic and relevant manner.

One final thing, we have made a commitment to be more intentional with the gospel.

When it is appropriate and natural, we will share the gospel on-air.  We won’t preach.  But we will simply share the message of Jesus in 60-90 seconds and invite those listening to follow this Jesus that has transformed our lives.

Jesus said, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?”

I say, “What does it profit us as Christian media if we have 1 million in weekly cume, and never share the gospel?”

Let us be authentic.

Let us be unashamedly Christian.

Let us be gospel-centered.

 

Brian Sanders

Positive Alternative Radio

Executive Vice-President

Why We Choose to Grow Organically

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When first starting out in social media it’s easy to look at the “pros” and wonder how they do it.  Then, after staring at the mountain of media, we take our first steps;

  • We create a profile
  • We start to “Like” other pages in our industry
  • We begin adding content
  • We comment on other posts

After the initial excitement wanes, we begin to wonder why it’s taking so long for our likes to grow.

Certainly, this is not a Facebook only problem, it reaches across just about every social media platform from Twitter to Instagram, but for the sake of this article we’ll stick with Facebook.

So…

There’s gotta be a better way!

We’ve all seen ads that read something like this: “Guaranteed Facebook Likes” or “Get More Likes Fast”.

Buy-Facebook-Likes

Despite the advertisers “best intentions” for your company, or small business there’s always the nagging thought of “is this legit”?

When hiring an outside source to help build up “Likes” on your Facebook page or any other social media platform, here are some things to consider;

  • Many of these “Likes” come from fake user accounts
  • Some programs deceive users into liking pages through false actions, such as clicking on a video or article.
  • Some intermediary companies literally pay people to “Like” pages on Facebook
  • Facebook is now deleting fake “Likes”

Now think about this, you’ve spent hundreds, if not thousands of dollars learning your demographic and target audience.  For example the target demo for Positive Hits PER is a 30-35 year old mother of 2 who lives in northern or central Virginia.  When you purchase “likes” or systems that promise to deliver a huge audience you have to consider who they are, and where their coming from.

If I purchased a 1,000 or 10,000 “Likes” on Facebook and they’re not within PER’s listening audience, and they’re mostly older or younger men, then I have wasted my money.

Also, when it come to these quick “Like” programs there is no relationship built, no connection made, and no telling if the audience you picked up even knows if they’ve ‘Liked” you.

Finally, purchasing “likes” may end up costing you money in the long run.  Prime example, if you try and engage with your audience through a “boosted post” or Facebook ad you are essentially paying Facebook money to promote to a fake audience.

Try explaining that to cooperate!

Organic Growth 

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Organic growth is growth that comes from a company’s existing businesses, as opposed to growth that comes from buying new businesses.”

Growing your brand organically is a much slower process, but it brings a massive advantage when it comes to audience engagement.

Such as;

  • Audience rapport with the brand.
  • The audience’s expectations of the kind of content you’ll be posting
  • Your audience is more likely to comment, share, or like your post

Think tortoise not hare!

Grow your audience through posts that connect, conversations that inspire and inform, and show that you are more than just simply another brand.  Become a friend!

In closing, organic takes time, and your numbers may look low, but ultimately, the relationships you build and the content you share will give you the win!

Be Blessed!

Nathan Gist

PAR Director of Social Media Engagement
PER Production/Imaging Director
PER Afternoon Drive Host

Pictures Tell a Story

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pictures worth a 1000 words

“A picture’s worth a thousand words…”

When you get home tonight, look around your house at the many pictures you have hung up.  If you are at your desk right now, look around at the pictures of your friends and family.

Those pictures tell a story.

They tell of family vacations, graduations, a loving union, a birth of a child, etc. Whatever the picture is, it says something to you. A picture conveys much more than you could ever say in words.

As humans, we are visual creatures. We like to look on the beauty of what God has created, and we want to somehow capture it.  In a picture, something right in front of us, we’re able to keep seeing it.

So human beings love to take pictures and look at them… what does that have to do with our websites? EVERYTHING!

When someone visits your website, your home online, you have the opportunity to grab their attention. But you have a short period of time to do that and limited space too. So what is the most effective way to get them to buy into your web presence?

Pictures and graphics!

What kind of pictures should I post?

The message in the picture should match the message you are trying to get across. Recently, our Spirit FM team hosted diaper drives for several local pregnancy centers. Instead of using a banner with simple text on it, we used a picture of a mom and a baby. This picture set the tone for our drives, related to the lives of our listeners and told a story that spoke volumes.

What did the picture of the mom and the baby say?

  1. Your donation is helping moms care for their babies.
  2. Remember what it was like to have little ones?
  3. Remember how much diapers cost?
  4. You could be a blessing to this young mom.
  5. There is no greater love you can give a mom than to help her take care of her baby.
  6. You’re helping a mom say yes to life.

To each person that picture said something different, something we could have never conveyed in words alone.

When choosing a picture for your website or social media:

  1. Make sure it tells a story.
  2. Make sure it fits the tone of your printed words.
  3. Make sure you have a high quality picture.  It should be clear, not grainy, and it should fit correctly physically, etc.
  4. Make sure they fit your stations demographic.  Just like we analyze on-air breaks and how they could relate to “her” better, do the same thing before posting a graphic.  Make sure it’s something that would connect with her.
  5. Make sure it fits your stations story.  Every word spoken on-air, every status on Facebook, every graphic on the website is a continuation of your stations story.  Make sure the graphics continue that story!

As radio stations, we are always thinking about the on-air product but sometimes forget about the other media we produce.  Remember your website is a part of your station, it’s a representation of it.  Graphics play a huge role in the success of your website, so pick wisely!!!

~Colleen Larkins

Assistant Manager Spirit FM, PAR website coordinator

JUST GET IT DONE!

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clocking in

A passion for what you do is critical to achieving excellence consistently.  It is the difference between one who is all “In” and another who is just “Clockin In.”

If audio production is not your “passion” and youre charged with that responsibility at your radio station, it can be an overwhelmingly heavy weight.  In small market radio and many medium market stations, you may wear multiple hats.  Someone must be in charge of production.  Tag, youre it!

Okay, so audio production is not your passion.  Perhaps you are proficient with the administrative side of this vital area of operations, but you lack some of the skills to really do masterful audio work.  A few pointers of how to approach this creative and subjective craft could help develop the “must do” part of your work into a real “passion” for it.

Isaiah “Izzy” Knight, Afternoon Host and Media Director at Spirit FM in Roanoke/Lynchburg, Virginia, has some tips that just may be what the doctor ordered.

Knight says, “Creating efficiencies and working smarter will provide you time to create a more effective and compelling product.”  Heres what he recommends:

TEMPLATES

“Audition CC and CS6 have a feature called ‘Templates.’  It is an easy way to have your toolbox of SFX and Beds automatically loaded with your rack presets ready to go.  Just set up your session and export it as a template.  If you have an older version, just set up a blank session and save it to your desktop.  Just remember to hit ‘Save As.’

PRESETS

Set up a rack for each voice-over person you have.  Unless theyre voicing a spot in another studio, you should never have to tweak their audio again after it is set (unless youre going for a new effect, of course).

BATCH PROCESSING

Have a voice tracker or other outside dry voice audio?  Batch process their files using your settings to give them a bit more punch and match your station.

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES

There are several ways to approach this workflow.  It needs to be simple, provide accountability and include enforceable deadlines for each person in the process.  Knight prefers paperless.  If budget is an issue for you, going digital can be done FREE by using Google Docs.  Create a form with the fields you need and it will automatically populate the spreadsheet.  This operation is working very well at Spirit FM.  If you have a budget for third party vendor software, Vcreative is a good tool at www.vcreativeinc.com.

POLICY

Make these deadlines, presets and templates standard operating procedure. Standardizing your work flow will save you time in the long run and the continuity will make your station(s) sound significantly better.”

You never know…what is a “just get it done” drudgery to you now, may grow into a passion you never dreamed of, bringing all your hidden creative talents into full bloom.  And thats excellence!

 

Marc Tischart

General Manager

Spirit FM

The Future of Radio

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music streaming services

If you ask anyone where the future of the radio industry is going, they will answer with a resounding response of “On the Internet of course”.  I don’t think we have to convince anyone of the Internet redefining the way our world interacts.  However, the radio industry is not always the quickest to adopt new technology.

The Internet gives us an ability to connect with listeners in ways that the inventors of radio or television could never imagine.  Where the radio industry has always been the “talkers”, the Internet has given us the ability to listen.  Our industry has to evolve to survive in an interactive world.

Many terrestrial broadcasters have dabbled in the Internet because that’s what others in the industry have told them to do.  They want an online web stream because the other radio stations in their market are doing the same and they believe they will be left behind.  The same goes for their website, Facebook, Twitter and mobile applications.  Those terrestrial broadcasters don’t really understand why they are on the Internet.

We have the ability to utilize the Internet to connect with our listeners in a profound way.  How do we do this? — here are some practical ways that we can create experiences and connect with listeners with existing technologies.

Websites – Change our websites to provide the information that our listeners need in their communities.  Provide the information that they need to grow in their love of Christ, serve others and help them in their daily lives.  We need less information that serves the interest of the radio station and more information that serves the interest of the people who listen to our radio stations.

Social Media - Let’s create a social media site to promote the radio station — wrong!  Social media is a convenient medium with a large base.  We can provide uplifting messages in large-scale fashion.  However, we must interact with others on social medium.  We can’t just talk — we have to interact and listen as well.

Online Web Streaming & Mobile Apps – We must excel in the manner in which we provide online web streaming and mobile apps.  We can’t expect to gain and keep the interest of our listeners by providing a static product.  We have to provide additional content besides the audio from our radio stations.  We must provide information on our radio personalities to form a connection for our listeners, on the artists who provide music that encourages, and anything that helps our listeners in their walk with Christ.

To succeed in the radio industry of the 21st century, we have to interact with our listeners.  These technologies allow us many new avenues to reach more people for Christ.

 

-David Hodges, Director of Engineering, Positive Alternative Radio

The Power of Insight…

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I’ve heard a lot of talk about the ‘core listener’…listener’s age, predominantly female, soccer mom, stay-at-home mom, etc.  Honestly, I admit that hadn’t fully sunk into my brain as deep as it should…until this one call from a donor…

I received a voicemail from a lady who wanted to update her declined credit card.  She asked that I please return her call that day, or she’d try and fit in a time to call me back later in the week.  I happily called but got her answering machine.  In the middle of me leaving a message, an out of breath lady answered the phone, “Hi! I’m so glad you called but can you hang on a minute, please?”  I told her, “of course, no problem.”  Then I overheard her talking to her child; giving instructions on how long to walk the dog, how far to go, to hold the leash tightly, etc.  She apologetically returned to our call and began explaining what had happened with her credit card.  We were partway through updating her card info when another child entered the conversation, “I’m hungry!  Can I have a snack?”  …Mom responded with a list of reasons which included, “No, it’s close to dinner time; go comb your hair we have to leave for rehearsal soon.”  After giving further instructions on what she meant by “comb your hair”, she once again returned to our call and apologized profusely for all the interruptions.

In that momentI realized this mom was taking precious time out of an insanely busy (perhaps normal?) day to update her card information with us so that her gift could resume.  I realized what a huge inconvenience this call was for her and yet she was determined to get this done, even while juggling many tasks and people that yearned for her attention.

I have always been deeply grateful for our donors.  After speaking with this dear lady, I feel as if I got to climb inside her world a bit and it makes me that much more thankful!  I won’t pretend that I always get it right with every call but I’m so glad that I didn’t sound impatient or annoyed with this lady.  I even took a moment to thank her for making time for my call.  Each time I answer the phone now I am reminded of this sweet mom and how precious time is for our listeners and donors; how awesome it is that they carve in time to speak with us!

 

Kayla Sanders

Director of Partner Services

Working for God

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Work for Jesus Sign

You were created by God.

He fashioned you. You are the result of His skill and care.

But the wonder and the drama of our existence doesn’t stop there.

There’s an often skipped verse in Genesis.

These overlooked words can help bring purpose and joy to your daily life…your daily work life. No matter if you’re a stay at home mom who home-schools the kids, a factory worker who clocks in 8 hours a day exactly, a doctor who works limitless hours or the leader of a major company these words grant you amazing perspective.

The scripture reads, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden to work it and keep it.” (Gen. 2:15)

God created the man.

God gave the man work to do.

That verse screams we are to work. We are not to waste our lives in idleness chasing after the cheap thrills from the edges of life. We were made to make an impact.

Work is from God. Folding the laundry, selling advertising, building cars, feeding the cattle on a dairy farm – this work comes from the loving hand of our God.

God “put him in the garden…” God gave the man a vocation. God gave the man a talent and a task. The task God gave the man matched his talent.

Whatever you’re good at…whatever you’re passionate about…God gave that to you.

Then there are the words “work” and “keep”.

The man was to work. He was to labor.

Your job isn’t a burden. It isn’t to be seen as a necessity to pay the bills. Our work is a gift from Him. I can write that with 100% confidence because the talents we have to perform our work come from our Lord…and talents are not to be wasted.

That changes my perspective. I now can now say that I get to work where I get to exercise the gifts Jesus gave me. I’m not there just to earn a paycheck…I’m there to honor Him with the skills He gave me.

You’re not there just to wipe noses and change diapers…you’re there to honor Him with the talents He gave you.

Finally, there’s the ‘who’.

  • God put the man in the garden.
  • God gave the man the task to work the garden.
  • God gave the man the talents to do the tasks.

God.

What we do reflects His glory.

I can delight in what I do because I delight in the One who gave me the talent to do it. I have joy in what I do because my joy comes from the One who put me in this “garden”.

The mandate also becomes bolder and clearer.

I’m not here just to build great companies. You’re not here just to do data entry, prescribe medicine, adjust spines, sell cars, or build houses.

You’re here to honor Him…to give Him glory…and to give Him glory and honor THROUGH what you do.

Whatever garden you are laboring in – you’re there because God put you there.

Tend it well.

For the garden belongs to Him.

Brian Sanders
Executive Vice-President
Positive Alternative Radio

Planting the Gospel

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gardening picture

GARDENING 101

Well, it’s that time of year. It’s time to get out in the sun and get in the garden. I have never had much of a “green thumb”. I’ve never tended a garden personally, but I do know that it takes a lot of work. As a matter of fact, as I researched the topic for this post, I was shocked at all the info and tips that were available. I read tips on picking the best soil. I read instructions on how to know if plants were “shade-tolerant” or “sun-loving”. I even brushed up on how to deal with “immature root systems”. I have come to the conclusion that, like anything, once you have a basic understanding, the proper tools, and practice…growing plants still takes work. What? You thought I was going to say “it’s easy”?

Now you may be wondering what this has to do with radio. You may be asking how this applies to you, your work, Christian radio, and the Gospel. I’d like to compare a few steps it takes to have a successful garden with some steps we can take to have a successful experience in our work.

Readers BEWARE… Many metaphors ahead!!!

Prepare your Soil

Soil is the most important element in a garden and probably one of the most overlooked by “first-time” gardeners. Soil supports plants physically and provides them with water and nutrients. Now I will ask you, “In what kind of soil are you rooted?” I have found sixty one verses in Scripture that have to do with being rooted. They speak of being deeply rooted in the Word, in love, and in truth.

You see it matters what type of soil we are standing in. We preach the Gospel! We talk about Jesus and His love for us, but where does that knowledge come from? Are we simply relaying messages that we hear in church? Are we just passing on information we gather in small groups, or are we taking time to root ourselves in scripture? If I’m being honest, I really struggle with this. I overuse the excuse of being too busy, and at the same time running the risk of spreading a false gospel on our radio station.

That’s something to really think about. Are we rooting ourselves in the Truth? Soil matters. Actually it matters most.

Care for Your Garden

Even if you are without a “green thumb” you still understand that gardens take work. You have to care for the seeds you sew. I found it interesting how watering your plant actually helps it grow. It is not the water itself that is beneficial but the fact that the water flow dissolves the nutrients in the soil and helps transport those nutrients to and throughout the plant. I’ve also read that plants don’t necessarily need sunlight to grow but of course they grow stronger and are better produce having had it. But there’s something else that your garden needs that’s just as important. Yes, this is the part where I tell you that you need to weed your garden. You knew it was coming, right? You have to work. You have to care for your garden!

So how do we care for our work? Well we “weed out” distractions! (No pun intended)…It’s easy for me to get distracted. I come in each and every morning fired up and ready to do the best I can and by 9am I have already lost focus. Maybe it’s my phone or perhaps it’s social networking. The internet can be a big “weed” for me. But going a little deeper than that I would say work becomes a distraction to my work. If I am focused on too many things then I am not focused on just one thing; therefore, that one thing suffers. Also, piling on too many tasks can lead to feeling overwhelmed which then drains your passion and leaves you just “working”. We do so much more than just clock in and out each day.

Let’s be sure and care for our work. Let’s be sure to weed out those distractions. Learn to say “No”. Remember that the details make up the bigger picture. Stay focused on what we do, and that is to inspire people to live passionately for Jesus!

It All Takes Time

Proper timing makes all the difference when it comes to planting your garden. If you’re like me you want results today! If you’re like me you want to be finished with a project before the sun goes down. Radio is such a “right now / moment to moment” environment, but let’s be sure to remember that goals take time. Getting yourself rooted in the right soil takes time. Getting in the habit of caring for your work takes time, but it’s all worth the investment. I’ll leave it at this:

-Get rooted in the Word

-Grow what you love

-Don’t let it stress you out

-Enjoy the fruits of your labors

 

Happy Gardening!

 

Jeremy Wolfe / Walk-FM

Facebook’s 20% Text Rule

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Most of the time I try to stay positive…. when dealing with Facebook’s 20% text rule I have to admit I went the other direction for a temper tantrum or 5!

So, what is Facebook’s 20% rule?

Via Facebook:

“Ads that have more than 20% of text in their image won’t be approved to run in News Feed.”

Seems simple enough right?  Yeah, not so much…

The rule itself is understandable, last thing we want to do is to clog up people’s News Feeds with endless post that look like spam or want ads in your local newspaper.

Here’s why the rule makes me crazy:  It’s not consistent and you never know if it’s actually going to be enforced.

This week I began a Facebook ad campaign for Positive Hits PER.  We are a listener supported station, and the purpose of the ads were to drive listeners to click on the image and be directed to our “giving” webpage.  Here’s one images we used as a boosted post.

Don-&-Happy

I micro-targeted the ad to specific listening areas, specific interests for our demographic, set the budget, and VOILA!  

As far as I could tell the boosted post was up and running, and just about the time I was about pat myself on the back… I noticed that the ad after 3 hours had only received 701 views… did you hear the tire screeching sound?

After reviewing the ad here’s the message I received:

Not boosted because

First of all, there is the annoyance of thinking that for the past 3 hours my ad was running and changing the world (you can always hope)!   When in reality, it was simply sitting there taunting me…

Second, this same image worked perfectly fine for other Facebook ads, why not for this boosted post?

The Grid

Facebook created a grid that you can upload your photos to and find out if you are using too much text or not.  You can find the grid tool Here.

The problem with the grid is that it measures whether or not the text is more than 20% of the grid, and not whether the text is really more than 20% of the photo.

So, even if you don’t actually have more than 20% text… text size, and even text placement can kill your photo’s chances of making through the gauntlet of Facebook’s approval.   Oddly enough, sometimes (depending on how long you run the ad) it makes it through and does the job.

With a little bit of editing, and a lot more hope, we submitting the following post.

Don-&-Happy-Ad

Approved and running! Whew!

Recommendations:

  1. Use the Grid!
  2. Keep most of your text in the status of the post rather than the picture.
  3. Whisper a prayer or two!

We may not like the tools we have to use, but adaption comes with the territory in social media.  Our craft, and the art of what we do shows itself in the work we create, and even recreate!

Be Blessed!

Nathan Gist

PAR Director of Social Media Engagement
PER Production/Imaging Director
PER Afternoon Drive Host