Media Training Tip: Preaching to the Converted

by PR Coach on July 27, 2011

Pastor Joe Nelms, preaching to the NASCAR converted

Once in a while you come across a brilliant TV clip that provides useful public relations insight and valuable media training tips. Today, our lesson comes from Pastor Joe Nelms of the small Family Baptist Church in Lebanon, Tennessee.

Nelms was giving the invocation before a weekend NASCAR race in Nashville and he did so with humor, flair, passion and a bit of good ole boy marketing. Much to the delight of tens of thousands of racing fans. Take a moment to watch his WGN-TV clip here. It’s too good to miss.

In case you want to read it, here’s the script for his prayer:

“Heavenly father, we thank you tonight for all your blessings. You said in all things give thanks. So we want to thank you tonight for these mighty machines you brought before us. Thank you for the Dodges and the Toyotas. Thank you for the Fords and most of all we thank you for Roush and Yates partnerin’ to give us the power we see before us tonight.

Thank you for GM performance technology and R07 engines.  Thank you for Sunoco racin’ fuel and Goodyear tires that bring performance and power to the track. Lord, I want to thank you for my smokin’ hot wife tonight, Lisa, my two children Eli and Emma or as we like to call ‘em, the ‘Little Ees.’

Lord, I pray you’ll bless the drivers as usual tonight and may they put on a performance worthy of this great track. In Jesus’ name. Boogity Boogity Boogity, amen.”

What a performance!

Media Training Tips

All humor aside, there are some valuable media training lessons here for speakers, presenters and spokespeople:

  • Have clear, concise key messages.
  • Know your audience.
  • Deliver your speech with passion.
  • Keep it brief and keep it simple.
  • Be yourself.

It was a masterful set of messages for an audience he clearly understands. Pastor Nelms delivered his invocation with passion, humility and a great sense of humor. Like any great presenter, politician, PR pro or Pastor, he also remembered to thank important people. The NASCAR sponsors must have been thrilled. The drivers and audience watching were delighted.

In an AP interview, Nelms showed his down home savvy, indicating he knew exactly what he was doing:

“I tried to spice it up a little,” Nelms said Monday.

Nelms, 35, pastor at “a small country church,” said he believed it was appropriate to have a little fun with the invocation.

“I put in some driver lingo,” he said from Destin, Fla., where he was on vacation. “The Bible says laughter is like a medicine, and I wanted people to see that side of religion.”

He drew from the stock car-themed movie “Talladega Nights,” which he has seen a couple of times.

The story has already generated more than 230 Google News items. Nelms’ invocation has also gone viral on at least 45 YouTube clips with more than 1.5 million views in just five days.

For speakers, spokespeople, PR pros and parsons, it can’t get better than that. I’m willing to bet that for the next few Sundays, Pastor Nelms’ little country church is filled to capacity.

What do you think? Was his presentation appropriate? NASCAR fans clearly loved it and organizers plan to have him back next year. Would the good Lord be pleased? Your comments are welcome below.

We’ve got many more media training tips and speaking/presentation resources in the PR Library. And don’t forget to sign on for our blog or get these posts delivered in your favorite RSS feed.

Author: Jeff Domansky is Editor, The PR Coach

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