CE: How did you get started in Catholic communications?
KP: After nearly 10 years working in circulation and business development at USA TODAY, I began my career in Catholic communications in 2011. I learned about the opportunity in the St. Louis Review, our archdiocesan newspaper, and I felt called to serve the Church in a new way.
CE: How do you approach marketing for the Church?
KP: Marketing for the Church ties directly to evangelization. Just before I was hired, Archbishop Robert Carlson promulgated a communications strategy that offers a clear mission to “proclaim the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.” Our primary goal is to help people get to Heaven through an integrated marketing approach. We strive to be fully present through all available platforms: print, television, radio, Web, social media, etc. Since the implementation of this new holistic structure, the Archdiocese of St. Louis continues to rely heavily on our weekly newspaper, the St. Louis Review, to keep the Catholic faithful informed. In 2012, we launched a bi-monthly magazine, Catholic St. Louis, which is delivered to every Catholic household. We maintain a strong presence on social media, oversee a vibrant archdiocesan website, administer an archdiocesan blog, offer live stream for specific events, collaborate closely with local Catholic radio, and manage an in-house video production studio. The Church must be approachable to succeed in her mission. In St. Louis we strive to meet people where they are through this unique, multi-faceted approach.
CE: What have been some successes with social media efforts?
KP: The Archdiocese of St. Louis is very active on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. We are a leader based on number of followers in the Catholic diocesan “Twittersphere,” and we continue to build our Facebook presence through themed contests and interactive engagement. We have found particular success in our use of video. An example comes from the early stages of the fight for religious liberty: a pithy, 16-second video titled “It’s that Simple” reached over 70,000 views after aggressive marketing through traditional and new media.
CE: Why is print so important to Archbishop Carlson and the archdiocese?
KP: As the communications industry evolves, new media is an appealing platform to explore. While I agree it is important to utilize a variety of media to keep people informed, print continues to prove itself as an extremely effective means of communication. In a recent survey of our St. Louis Review readers, we found that 88 percent of those surveyed prefer print publications. Together with an already successful weekly newspaper to which he contributes a regular column, Archbishop Carlson has launched a bi-monthly magazine and published two pastoral letters in his first five years in St. Louis. The written word – the print format – appeals to multiple generations and supports the integrated communications approach adopted in St. Louis.
CE: What is some advice you have for communications directors wanting to get better at social media?
KP: Social media has become a powerful platform for communications. I believe if you do not create and manage your own accounts, someone else will do it for you. Although the return on investment may seem difficult to measure, the opportunities it provides to network and reach a new audience instantly are valuable. Be strategic and vigilant with your approach.