Lindsay Schlegel shares her experience hosting a virtual screening of PRAY: THE STORY OF PATRICK PEYTON in her parish.
The weirdness of the last year has yielded an excellent opportunity: we have a chance to invite our communities back into our churches, and more importantly, to recast our whole vision of community with our churches at the center.
Many people are looking for ways to reconnect with friends and neighbors, having missed out on so much interaction throughout the pandemic. And so now is the perfect time to host a screening of Pray: The Story of Patrick Peyton in your parish.
My event was virtual, and we held it on Friday, June 11, the Feast of the Sacred Heart. My pastor and I planned this a few months prior, and at that time, a virtual event seemed like a safer bet, since we didn’t know how open things would be in the spring. If I were to do it again later this summer or in the fall, I would have encouraged a live event instead.
The licensing process was simple. After getting Father’s okay, I completed this form and soon thereafter got a call from Christina Pineda at Family Theater Productions. She helped me get the rest of my ducks in the proverbial row. I opted to pay the $75 licensing fee for up to 500 log-ins, rather than ask for the funds from my church. My husband and I had seen the film months prior and loved it. I knew I wanted to share it, and was grateful I had the means to do so.
Lesson Learned: If you have the means to cover the fee yourself, it’s one less obstacle to getting the event to happen. If not, you might ask your Rosarians, Knights of Columbus, or other organization to sponsor the event.
I received a bunch of great marketing materials from Christina. She sent me a link to images sized for various social media platforms, copy to use for email and social media marketing, and even poster-sized images that I could print and display.
I used just about everything she offered me, but I wish I’d started promoting the event sooner. I was in charge of another fundraiser ahead of this event, and didn’t want to overload parishioners with information. When I finally opened the marketing materials ten days before my event, the first thing I read was the suggestion to start marketing three weeks before the event. Cue the face palm.
I did what I could as quickly as I could, but I really could have used more time to get things in place. The event only made it into one week’s bulletin, and there were typos. I reached out to other parishes in the diocese (and in the next one over), but didn’t have time to follow up and make sure the word got out.
Lesson Learned: Plan for a full month to promote your event. Ahead of the suggested three weeks, make a list of other avenues you can ask to spread the word. Make sure to follow up with them a week or so after you make contact.
Christina told me that many of the registrations would likely happen at the last minute, and she was right. The Wednesday before the event, we had seven log-ins registered (including me). By the end of the event, we had thirty-four. I did the math for you—eighty percent of our registrations came through the day before the event and the day of. I can only imagine we would have had more if I’d spent more than ten days promoting the event!
I don’t have stats to back it up, but I think one of the best things I did to sell the event, as it were, was to print one of the images in the marketing link as a 20” x 30” poster with our event information and a unique QR code.
I added the text and QR code image in Canva (I have a free account). I printed the finished poster at my local Walgreens, and with one of the promo codes that is always available on the website or app, it cost about $21. Totally worth it!
I used a free QR code creator to send folks to the registration page. I also included a line on the poster that said, “Hover your phone's camera over the QR code to the right to register now” for those unfamiliar with QR codes. It was great to see people stop and check it out after daily Mass.
Lesson Learned: Make it as easy as possible for people to register. Include links to your registration page at every turn!
We hosted a virtual Rosary after the screening, but only a few families came. I think there were a couple reasons for this: 1) the link to the Google Hangout was in the landing page’s Q&A section, and kind of hard to find (which I forgot to tell people; see above on rushing promoting the event), and 2) those with kids were getting them into bed at 8:15pm.
That said, we had one family on vacation in Arizona who tuned in to watch and pray, and for them the timing was good. One of the great things about a virtual event is that folks from anywhere in the world can participate.
Lesson Learned: You won’t be able to pick a date and time that’s ideal for everybody, but those who are really interested will find a way to make it work.
Everyone I talked to after the event loved the film. One woman told me she shared the movie with all of her adult children, encouraging them to watch it too. The event may have been smaller that I’d hoped, but it got the film on people’s radar. Considering it can be viewed any time through a variety of platforms, I’d say that’s a step in the right direction.
Going forward, I can see how a live event would be a beautiful thing. The film is only 71 minutes, but it is so, so powerful. Imagine the conversations had in a light reception afterward or in the parking lot on the way home. The more people see this film, the more people — children and adults alike — are encouraged to prioritize family prayer, especially the Rosary.
A screening of PRAY is an easy and effective way to evangelize your parish and local community. I hope you’ll consider hosting and event and then leave us a comment to tell us how it went!
Copyright 2021 Lindsay Schlegel
Images copyright 2021 Holy Cross Family Ministries, all rights reserved; modified image created by Lindsay Schlegel.
About the Author
Lindsay Schlegel is a daughter of God, wife, mom, editor, and speaker. She’s the author of Don’t Forget to Say Thank You: And Other Parenting Lessons That Brought Me Closer to God and host of the podcast Quote Me with Lindsay Schlegel. Lindsay seeks to encourage, inspire, and lift others up to be all they were created to be. Connect with Lindsay at her website, LindsaySchlegel.com.