New Book, Facebook Group Helps Churches Leverage Internet for Outreach and Communication

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Katie Allred enjoys helping people learn to share the gospel on the Internet.

It’s a passion and a career she stumbled into – and early on.

“When I was 9, I started a Harry Potter forum with friends on the internet,” she said. “What happened there was that we loved Harry Potter and went online to find people who wanted to talk about it. But we ended up creating a huge community.

The online forum has grown to over 5,000 people, enough to win an award from JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. Allred has moderated this site from 9-16.

“That was before social media even existed,” she said. “We were on AOL and MSN Chat in this forum we built as kids.”

Interesting pastime

It was an interesting hobby, but she was a “completely normal kid” and had other interests like football. She grew up at Mulberry Baptist Church in Maplesville, a place with deep roots for her family – her great-grandfather, Wiley Tucker, built the current church building in the 1950s.

But Allred’s Harry Potter hobby complemented that in a way she hadn’t expected.

“That moment was so pivotal for me to learn how much I love sharing the gospel and sharing the gospel on the internet,” she explained. “They were real people, and I loved them and cared about them and wanted them to hear the gospel.”

Allred went on to study computer information systems at Mobile University, then earned a master’s degree in web development from the University of Florida. She was a professor of marketing and software development for a time at UM, then in 2013 started working with Brentwood Baptist Church in Tennessee as a web content manager.

Expansion

Like its forum, it was a role that expanded more than Allred expected.

“Brentwood Baptist grew from one church to nine churches, and I oversaw social media and websites for them,” she said.

During this time, she also created a Facebook group called Church Communications.

“I knew I loved the online community and had seen it work before. I thought I’d find five people who hate papyrus font as much as I do,” she joked.

Allred found over 31,000. Although his real purpose behind the group is not related to the police at all.

“I just wanted to help people share the gospel online,” Allred explained.

The group serves as a resource on marketing and communications strategies, much like the business she started with the same name.

book release

Allred also has a book coming out August 15 on the topic: “Church Communications: Methods and Marketing.”

“It’s written like a textbook,” she noted. “I was writing it with my students in my class (back at UM) in mind.”

The book covers marketing strategy, branding, crisis communication and public relations. Allred said he offers a starting point for church leaders or volunteers who have no idea what they’re doing, and if he doesn’t offer the answers someone needs, helps generate the right questions.

“And then you can ask the Church Communications community for more answers,” she added.

To learn more about Allred and her upcoming book, visit katieallred.com or churchcommunications.com. To join the Church Communications group on Facebook, visit facebook.com/groups/churchcomm.

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