The Pensacola District of The United Methodist Church
Saturday, September 22, 2018
A Message from Mary Catherine Phillips
Mary Catherine Phillips, AWFC Communications Director


Dear Church Administrative Assistant,
First off, I have had the pleasure of meeting some of you but hope to meet many more of you in the coming months. I appreciate all you do in your church and helping us spread the word about important conference information. I spent part of last week in Nashville, TN participating in crisis communications training. One key component in that plan is the initial response when a crisis happens. Below is a brief list of how to handle an initial call as well as a  "hold statement" that I thought would be very helpful to you. I would recommend taping this to your phone or computer for easy access. Also, some of you have volunteer church members who answer the phone on rotation. Please pass this along to them. Obviously we hope these situations are minimal, but we must be prepared. If I can help any of you with more information about this topic, feel free to call me at 334.356.8014 [or toll-free 888.873-3127].

Mary Catherine,

AWF Conference Communications Director
(888) 873-3127
Handling Telephone Calls From Reporters
  • Take a written message (don't transfer to voice mail without taking message)
  • Get reporter's name, media outlet, direct phone number and deadline
  • Ask for topic of story
  • Explain that the church spokesperson will return call
  • Don't answer questions yourself
  • Be polite, but firm
  • Keep a log or written record of media calls
Suggested Hold Response
"I want to make sure we give you the most accurate and up-to-date information. Our [conference communicator] or [pastor, if appropriate] can best help you. If you give me your contact information, deadline and topic that you're calling about, I'll have that person return your call as soon as possible."