In what ways must the success of the Christ in Media Institute depend on the contributions from the Business discipline?

by Dr. Janet Moldstad

Participation of the business discipline must be in support of, and contribution to, the mission of the Institute.  As the Institute “… promotes research and education focused on employing God’s gift of mass media to bring the Gospel message to vast audiences,” business may enable this mission through applied research and practice. The first purpose of business in the Institute will be to provide expertise with regard to business-related questions of users who are delivering Christian media.  A second and equally important purpose of business activity in the Institute is to provide expertise internally that enables the Institute to deliver its mission.

Specifically, “business” may be a resource to users of the Institute through its knowledge and expertise in management, marketing and service leadership development.

Management:  Management focuses and applies human, capital, and physical resources to best support the mission of an organization. Those that are providing Christian media will need strategic, financial and administrative support in three managerial areas.

Strategy formulation and execution: Strategy development deliberately defines goals and resources needed to deliver the mission.  A clear, dynamic strategy will assist users in distinguishing their uniqueness of “biblical Lutheran theology to vast audiences” in a distorted media environment and to effectively and efficiently steward its resources.  Expertise in strategy execution will assist users in developing and implementing initiatives to meet goals and to evaluate use of resources.

Financial management for sustainability: In order for any media or production organization to exist, it must develop a financial model that is sustainable.  This means identifying and procuring viable sources of revenue, structuring costs and managing bottom line with a long-term view.  What is the ideal business model given the organizational form and purpose? Should the model follow the concept of value chain and structure primary and support activities that capture value?  What other models are relevant and informative?

Coordination of structure, people and processes:  The Institute may explore relevant structures to coordinate people and processes. Relevant questions may be: What mix of experienced volunteer and paid knowledge workers best fits the organization’s needs and resources? What are their various roles and responsibilities?  Which external labor constraints must the organization account for?  How should workers be recruited, developed, trained and compensated? What are appropriate governance structures?  In answering these and similar questions, the Institute may assist users in establishing processes that provide leadership, responsibility and to support their strategy and business model.

Marketing:  Marketing focuses on providing a meaningful product or service to a target market.  It also helps provide identity for an organization and can influence awareness and perception of the organization’s offerings. In the context of a Christian media organization, marketing can programmatically match Gospel message, channel and resources to effectively reach various identified audiences. To assist users of the Institute in bringing the Gospel message to vast audiences, the complimentary areas of marketing research and execution are applicable.

Marketing research can inform users of the Institute about the nature of the various audiences and their needs. It can suggest ways to segment audiences to manage exposure effectively and efficiently. Marketing research can also inform crafting and design of messages in written, oral and visual form. Carefully crafted messages will distinguish Christian media organizations and will help them convey the core message of the true Gospel so that it resonates with various identified audiences.

Marketing execution can assist development of audience offerings, create awareness and perception through promotion of messages and organizations, manage the various channels of distribution for media, and determine resource needs to support delivery.   For example, we accept the core message of the Gospel as immutable, but the way it is conveyed to various audiences, and the resources needed may be quite different. The message form (oral, written, visual) and the media channels that convey the message to an older audience may be quite different in form and channel than for a young audience or, perhaps, an audience from another culture.  One of the most significant challenges of media is cost.  The Institute may explore marketing costs and how they might be best managed in a media environment. It may explore new media evaluation methods available for assessment of marketing programs.

Service Leadership: Leadership is commonly understood as influencing others toward a common goal.  Service, or servant, leadership is an orientation that views leadership as a form of service to others.  Identifying, developing and retaining individuals with an orientation toward service to lead user organizations and maintain commitment to Christian media will be critical.

Different types of leaders will be needed at different levels with different competencies and at the different organizational stages of development, growth and maturity.  Expertise in leadership development may be applied to help user organizations develop a pool of service-oriented leaders for when and where they may be needed.

Internally, Business may assist the Institute in answering similar managerial, marketing and leadership questions for its long-term sustainability.  The Institute will need strategic development, financial viability, and coordination of people and processes to exist.  It will need marketing to identify users of the Institute and promote its services to them.  Last, the Institute will need committed, visionary servant leaders as these people will be keepers of the mission, influence all activity in support of the mission, and will sustain it over time.