What's in this session?

  • The Church Communications Facebook Group thread (0:21)
  • #1: Photo release disclaimer (1:45)
  • #2: Red wristbands (2:28)
  • #3: Disclaimer statements (3:24)
  • #4: Signs (4:27)
  • #5: GDPR and active opt-in (5:59)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

Alex Mills: Well, hey there, and welcome to Pro Church Daily, the show where in 10 minutes or less you’re gonna get a daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus while we try and navigate the biggest communication shift that we’ve seen in the last 500 years. I’m your host, Alex Mills. Joined, as always, by the boss man. It’s Brady Shearer. And today, we’re talking about how real churches are obtaining photo release forms.

Brady Shearer: I saw a thread in the church communication’s Facebook group, which if you are not yet a part of definitely join. It is amazing. And the thread was … started off with a question that read the following, I’m currently redesigning our church website, and one thing we don’t have is good pictures of our church life. Do you make every member of our church complete a photo release? Our youth and children do, but as of right now our adults do not. Is this something that we should do before snapping pictures? What are other rules that I should know before bringing my camera out? Thank you in advance.

Also, in advance, as a disclaimer. I am not a lawyer, so what we’re about to talk about is what other churches are doing, and you should cross reference these ideas with a lawyer. We are living in a world where the privacy policies are changing pretty quickly with the advent of GDP and others. And so, what we’re about to share with you is five ideas, and five things that churches are doing to obtain photo releases, some of which may be enough, good enough for your church. Use them as ideas, but make sure that you clear them with a lawyer that is regionally located where you are to make sure your good.

Alex Mills: Yeah, and this is a very timely episode. Yesterday, on episode 177 we talked about one of the ways for your church to step up their digital game is to put real photos of real people on your church’s website. And so, talked about that yesterday. And so, today you’re thinking, “Okay, this Sunday I’m gonna get going.” Well, there’s another thing you have to think about, and that’s photo release forms. So, here’s five ways real churches are doing it.

Brady Shearer: Way/Idea number one, add a photo release disclaimer to your kids check in process. So, this is work especially, and exclusively for children. In the check in process that you have add a checkbox or whatever is necessary. Again, consult a lawyer in this instance. To add a photo release form to a checking, so when a kid does check in you can get that photo release for them right then and there. It’s probably the most convenient time to do it. Otherwise, you’re gonna chase people down, call people up, and that’s when it gets really difficult. You wanna do it at the most opportune moment. And for kids, this really is the best time.

Alex Mills: Okay, so what happens if somebody comes to sign in their kids, they read through the form and say, “Okay, I wanna check my kid, but I can’t check this box. I don’t want their photo taken.” What do we do with that?

Brady Shearer: Right, so that leads to idea number two for obtaining photo release forms. And this is, if you don’t get the release form from a parent for their child, it’s unlikely that’s gonna change in the future. But, until it does you need to make sure that you can identify those kids as a photographer, or at the least as a photo editor so that if a photo was taken where you don’t have license for the kid, you don’t then publish it publicly.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: So, what one church recommended was getting wristbands, not to dissimilar from the brackets that I often wear, bright red, and if a kid opts out, if a parent opts out for their child’s release form for their likeness and image in a photograph, put a red wristband on that child so that a photographer or a photo editor can identify that kid and realize, “Okay, we don’t have the rights and legality to include that child in this photo. I’m going to ask them to step out, frame it differently, crop it differently.”

Alex Mills: Smart.

Brady Shearer: A good way to stay safe.

Alex Mills: Smart.

Brady Shearer: Idea number three, add a disclaimer statement to your bulletin and, or website letting parishioners know that photographers may be present at church and at church events, and if they want to opt out for a person to visit the table at the lobby and let the church know.

So, this kind of puts the responsibility and the burden on the person in your church to take action, and go to the lobby and say, “Hey, I saw this in the bulletin. I’m really not comfortable with my photo being included, so I’d like to opt out.” What’s interesting is that the person that made this comment said that they have actually never had somebody ever opt out. So, they put it in there to cover themselves, but they’ve actually never had someone go out of their way to say, “Hey, don’t include my photo.”

Alex Mills: Right. And this is a static disclaimer. It’s always on your site. It’s always in your bulletin. You just set it and forget it. And, like you said, you’ve done your part. You’ve assumed your responsibility, and now it’s up to the person whose attending your event, or attending your building to respond and say, “Yeah, I’d rather not.” But, like you said, it hasn’t happened for that church. And so, that’s great.

Brady Shearer: Idea number four is to have a sign as you enter the auditorium, and if you’re watching this episode of Pro Church Daily there was an example image that a church posted. And so, if you’re listening, I’ll read out what it says. It says, “You are in an active recording environment, and your likeness may be captured in photographers and videos. By entering, you acknowledge giving consent to take, own and use images containing your likeness at it’s sole discretion in perpetuity for this church. If you do not wish to convey this consent, please contact a staff member immediately.”

So again, this is the active opt out method where an individual has to go out of their way to say, “Do not include me.” One way to make this work for people that don’t wanna be included is to also have a section in your auditorium that is recognized as an area that no one will film.

Alex Mills: Okay.

Brady Shearer: So, for adults this would be similar to the red wristband.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: Where in the ride side in the back of the auditorium, if you don’t wanna be included in the livestream, in the [IMag 00:05:21], in photos and videos, that’s where you should sit, and if you do we’ll know not to include you in any photos or videos.

Alex Mills: Yeah, and this sign in this example, it looks permanent. It looks like it’s constructive metal and hangs from the ceiling. In our church we … Actually, when were building our new site one Sunday we were just taking a bunch of photos for the whole service.

Brady Shearer: Sure.

Alex Mills: So we just made a few of these signs on paper. We just printed them off, and posted them all at the doors. They’re just very temporary, had them up for one week, took them down when we weren’t taking photos, and that’s another option if you’re not doing photos every week. But, if just one … We know on this Sunday we’re gonna be taking photos of the whole service, you can do a more temporary solution like that.

Brady Shearer: Final idea and thing that you need to consider is, with the advent of GDPR, which was a Britain, or United Kingdom, or … No, all of Europe rather, European Union new privacy initiative. The difference between opt out and opt in has been identified. So, if you’re a European church and you have something like this sign that says, “If you don’t wanna be included you have to opt out,” that may not be the case anymore.

Alex Mills: Okay.

Brady Shearer: Because, what GDPR and similar privacy initiatives like it, I believe similar to the one that was signed and will be going into place in California in the next couple of years, you don’t have to … The burden does no longer lie on the person to opt out, rather it lies on you to get them to opt in.

Alex Mills: Okay.

Brady Shearer: So, the children check in process where they give an opt in to use their likeness, that would be fine. But, the disclaimer on the website, or the disclaimer on the church door that says, “Hey, if you don’t wanna be included just let us know, otherwise it’s gonna happen.” That would be an opt out and that is no longer sufficient.

Alex Mills: Okay.

Brady Shearer: So, if you’re in a European nation where GDPR is in effect make sure you look into that. But also, for everyone else listening in North America and beyond, maybe GDPR isn’t in effect with us yet, but it’s likely a sign of things to come.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: So, just be aware that you may not need to have someone explicitly opt in at this point, but you might in the future.

So, for instance, at Pro Church tools we had to go in and change every single one of our opt in forms to explicitly say, “You’re subscribing to our newsletter, and you will get emails from us in the future.” Before we would say, “Hey, download this free resource, and we’ll send it your email.” And when someone would download that free resource we would add them to our Pro Church Nation newsletter. That was no longer sufficient for those in the European Union, and I had no way to identify them. I’m not gonna go IP and identify.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: So, I was like, “Let’s just change it completely,” and now every subscription, like on the Nucleus blog, it’ll say, “Subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll send you this free download.”

Alex Mills: Okay.

Brady Shearer: And it was just this subtle change, but that way it has opt in language rather than no language at all about opt in.

Alex Mills: There you go.

Brady Shearer: So, those are the five different strategies to consider. Another strategy that we wanted to highlight is the featured resource for this week of Pro Church Daily, it’s the central hub strategy, how one church saw an increase of signups, 53% in one year. We’ve been teaching the central hub strategy for a couple of years now, and we’ve got some real churches that have been using it for a while, and the huge results they’re seeing. We wanted to share these results with you to show you have effective this strategy is, how easy it is to implement, and how you can do the same. That resource is linked in the show notes. It is free, check it out.

That’ll do it for this episode of Pro Church Daily. We’ll see you next time.



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