I only know him as Father Ian, as he approached me after a speaking presentation I was giving yesterday in Lake Macquarie on 'The Power of Personal PR,' and after this brief discussion I was soon in another and he was nowhere to be found.
What impressed me so much was his humility. I'm not going to go into religious or spiritual views here, that's not what this blog is about. This is about the branding, marketing and sales for you and your business.
But this is what Father's Ian question was to me.
'Listening to your presentation,' Father Ian said, 'I kept trying to work out how we could give the church some better PR. But I was stumped. So tell me, in your honest opinion, what do you think is wrong with the church today? Don't hold back. What do you truly think?'
I told him a few things I thought they were having challenges with purely from a PR point of view - this is business remember.
And then he said, 'so how can we change that perception?'
It was a big question so I decided to ask a couple of questions of my own, such as 'what are some of the good things your doing in the community?' He instantly had answers, and the work was indeed good. So I told him to start sharing those stories beyond the parish. Blog about them, tell journalists about them, get a newsletter happening and get people to circulate it. Let people know. Get it out there. Tweet about it. Facebook, Google Plus it.
But that's not the point. That's marketing 101.
The real point, what struck me the most, was that someone was willing to come up and ask a stranger for brutal truths about their organisation. Not just 'how can you help us?' which is a good question, but 'what's your perception of what we do?'
A tougher, braver and more humble question to ask.