We have had a quite busy five months at Publications and e-Media. I thought I’ll share some of our projects:
The whole universe regarding video products has changed forever with the emergence of YouTube, as you all will be very aware. It suddenly got very difficult to create video products that can be monetised. Lenois and Dan are experimenting with three different new product formats:
- Video clips: They are making short videos that could be used in worship services and prayer meetings. These could be used to guide a liturgical moment. They are shooting beautifully drone footage to use as background for prayers and psalms. We hope to make these video clips part of a larger strategy of a platform for congregational resources.
- Teaching input: They have also teamed up with Dr Tinus van Zyl and are doing in-depth interviews with different theologians. These are then cut up into smaller clips to use in teaching settings. The idea is that these clips can be used to start conversations about themes of faith.
- Product clips: We have also developed short inserts from writers of congregational courses. These inputs can be used along with our Bible studies and are made available free of charge for people using our Bible study books.
Here Adele have been maintaining our existing network of sites as well as doing exciting new development work:
- We have partnered with MERGON to build an extensive database of (all) the Christian NGOs in South Africa. We started with our own product The Christian Handbook and then did data mining to expand it to include as many service organisations in as many sectors as possible. We are going live within the next month. Adele needs our prayers and support on this project.
- Adele and Ilse-Anne have in the meantime also kept our own website up and running. It provides a platform for each of our departments to have a place on the web to promote the work they are doing. The main purpose of this multi-site it to enable our wide range of marketing and promotional emails. At the moment we are sending out almost 200 000 emails a month. Ilse-Anne and Amanda is doing wonderful work promoting our range of services and products.
- Adele also built and promoted a new venture we have: ngkerk.net. Here we hope to host all the different synod webpages. In providing this service we also get the opportunity to tell them of other ways they could partner with Bible Media. We are holding our thumbs, but it seems as if Adele has managed to convince all but two synods to use our platform. Now the hard work of transitioning their sites needs to be done. It will keep her busy for some time.
Bible Media is exploring the use of the web and web tools to spread the Christian content we and our partners are producing. At this stage Lenois is busy with different projects:
- In the last year he has built a few apps to publish content. These range from the Liedboek-app to a Web App for # Imagine. This gave us the idea to integrate an app facility with our Sunday school material for high school learners. We are thus refreshing Real Lewe 1 and integrating it with an app and notification facility for next year. The people on the Jeugfokus team are helping us with this. I am visiting them next week to work further on this project.
- Lenois has also been keeping our current apps online. Google and Apple often change their minds and we need to update and resubmit stuff.
- Furthermore has he been exploring ways in with we can build a database to integrate all our Christian content across platforms. In this way our contributors can create ‘naked’ (stripped of all formatting) content that then can be used by LiG, Jeugfokus and books.
- We are also exploring ways of selling our content in a bundle (subscription model) rather than the individual products. We are of the opinion (and it seems that the world-wide market is moving in that direction) that electronic content are the best sold in this way.
The team at publications are focusing on three types of products:
- Youth focus: We are on the last stretch of a six-year period of publishing (and now revamping) Real lewe and LP3. The whole curriculum is now packaged. As noted above, we are integrating Real Lewe with an app. Furthermore we have began to redo older products (our blue, orange and green catechism books). We have done one third of them.
- Congregational resources: We are nurturing a new and exciting partnership with the church and their Continuous Ministry Development (VBO) program. Like other professional people, pastors are required to stay informed about the field of theology. We have partnered with the national VBO forum. They will continuously teach pastors and we will develop congregational resources that these pastors can roll out in congregations.
- Books: As always, Hester and Natascha is quietly producing the one book after the other. These books are a mix of theological books (like the one that won the Andrew Murray prize recently), books for personal reading (like our Kleurgebede), more popular general Christian publications (like Creatively Mindful), resources for synodical projects (like the Season of Human Dignity products) and Bible studies. They are running a well-oiled machine. Our new focus is to do more networking to explore new markets and develop younger writers.
- Lastly, we have seen the advantage of moving towards a print-on-demand system. In this regard Natascha is doing an enormous work of systematically, as we run out of copies of old books, re-setting them and putting them on the Print on Demand system. In this way we are still making money out of books that we would not have been able to do previously.
In the last few years we have been integrating all the different music-related ministries under one roof. This is a wide ranging field and we have the services of Faani to help us (although only two days a week for now). He has been busy with the following:
- Faani has been representing Bible Media at the meetings of VONKK (Voortgestette Ontwikkeling van Nuwe Klassieke Kerkmusiek). They have formed a wonderful new partnership with the Hervormde Kerk.
- We (working with Jan) have done a whole list of reprints of different hymnals. This is more work than it sounds. These works were set and printed in a time when technology was still much more primitive than today. Sometimes we don’t have adequate files to use or we need to do corrections under difficult technical conditions. Our thanks to Faani and Natascha again in this case.
- One of Bible Media’s biggest assets is our music. Faani have been on the front end of protecting our interest around copyrights and licensing. This is a murky field and we are still feeling our way around. We have had good success with our Liedboek en VONKK licences, but are still struggling to get what is due regarding Flam.
After we have published products there are a few processes that need to be managed continuously:
- Complementary products: Ilse-Anne has a very efficient system in place to help us keep our commitments to provide writers, national libraries and copyright holders (like the Bible Society) with their mandatory copies.
- Furthermore Amanda uses her networks and creativity to tell people more about our new babies. Without getting the word about our products out there we will make them in vain.
We have much to be thankful for in the previous five months. May what we produce make a huge difference in all the churches we try to serve.
Head of Publications