Author, latest, The Last TV Evangelist (Conversant Media Group, 2009)
Author of nationally known email newsletter, Ideas for the Change Revolution
Production and consulting company, Cooke Pictures
Appearances on MSNBC, CNBC and CNN
Work has been profiled in NY Times, LA Times and the Wall Street Journal
Many projects placed in permanent archive at Syracuse University
Ph.D., Theology, Trinity College and Seminary
Phil Cooke: Christian Media for the New Millennium
THE LAST TV EVANGELIST
Phil Cooke has worked both sides of the fence. He has produced programming for major networks including PBS and has even worked with famed Hollywood producer (noted for X-Men 3, etc.), Ralph Winter. He has more than three decades of experience in both faith-based and secular media, but Christian media is where his passion truly lies.
“I have been fascinated by the history of religious media for a long time,” he said. “When it comes to movies for instance, the gap between film and faith for most Christians is wide and historic. But what most Christians fail to realize is that during the birth of the movie industry, the church was actually one of the largest producers of movies in America.”
Phil’s company, Cooke Pictures, produces and consults with some of the largest media ministries in the country and around the world, and works specifically with non-profit and religious clients. As a founding partner in the commercial production company TWC Films, Phil has produced national advertising for some of the largest companies in the country, giving him a unique perspective on both religious and secular media issues.
“We love what we do, and we love our clients” he said. “Our passion is about navigating the changing media universe for our clients and helping them create programming that connects with an audience.”
For example, he’s produced two TV commercials for Super Bowl 2008 and unveiled the Chevrolet Volt in the national broadcast of the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics in China. He’s also produced for Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer ministries. Phil doesn’t consider his company a “Christian” production company, but as a group of people who are Christians who produce programming and create media. “Our faith informs everything we do, and we want it to be organic within our projects,” he said.
Phil is the author of The Last TV Evangelist: Why The Next Generation Couldn’t Care Less About Religious Media And Why It Matters. He works in an industry that he critiques, and he believes that the media will be a significant part of reaching the next generation.
“Few people today know that Hollywood itself was actually built as a model Christian community,” he said. Phil says that media matters and that simply sharing the gospel message inside the walls of the church isn’t enough anymore. “We simply have to have a voice in the media,” he said. “It’s time for the church to take ministry to the next level.”
Phil speaks to issues related to faith and the media, and has been interviewed extensively during the controversy surrounding subjects like the release of The Da Vinci Code, Christians who boycott Hollywood, the moral issues surrounding network TV programming, the place of values and meaning in media, and much more. He brings a new perspective to the issues of faith in the media and public square.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Phil says that today, plenty of Christian media organizations are feeding the poor, helping end poverty or human trafficking, but younger audiences are more likely to be drawn to a similar – though purely secular – effort because of the celebrity names, the creative branding or the perceived ‘hip’ factor.
“That doesn’t mean we have to shift our work to issues that happen to be ‘hot’ in the culture,” he said. “But it is important to examine what is attractive about some of these efforts and see if elements can be applied to your project or ministry.”
Phil describes how it’s important to relate your message to something that matters to people. “Today, media is about personalization,” he said. “The mass audience isn’t interested in the same thing anymore, they tasted customization and there is no going back. On my digital music player, I have classic rock and roll, bluegrass, praise and worship, Frank Sinatra, Broadway, southern gospel and even opera. I’m not interested in what radio stations think I need. Now, I can customize my own playlist.”
So what does it mean for those of us interested in sharing our faith or selling products through the media? Phil says, it’s time to wake up to change.
“In turbulent times of change, the old rules don’t apply, the new rules aren’t written, and the current rules are changing,” he said. Here are a few of Phil’s recommendations in context of the current media landscape and how it could impact organizations:
- Refocus on your mission.
- Be open to change.
- Sell the change to your congregation, audience and/or donors.
- Keep growing personally.
- Tell better stories.
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