Marketing x Mission: Catholic Schools Edition
Specialty publications are an important tool for strategic communications. At Lansing Catholic High School, a diocesan school in the Diocese of Lansing, an alumni magazine keeps alumni, families, donors and friends of the school connected to the mission and ministry of the school. President Tom Maloney works with FAITH Catholic editors and designers to keep a current, effective school website, and publish Totus Tuus, a biannual magazine. Content Evangelist caught up with the busy administrator to find out how the school’s specialty publication and custom website from FAITH Catholic further the school’s mission of education and evangelization.
CE: Pope Francis said, “every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization.” How do Catholic schools respond to that Challenge?
TM: Our mission calls us to form faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, and, maybe even more than other ministries in the Church, we have a captive audience. We must embrace the evangelical side of our ministry and be that arm of the Church that can reach into society and share the faith in beautiful and profound ways. Catholic schools have an awesome opportunity with young people. When we are able to help our young people give witness to their faith journey, their witness not only impacts their classmates and other young people – it has an immeasurable impact on the larger community. We have the chance to be radically different – both in and out of the classroom – in very profound ways, and to truly be the face of Christ to others. Hopefully, even those who come in these doors seeking a great education leave with a relationship with Jesus Christ.
CE: Practically speaking, Catholic schools also offer an enduring product for the money. Why is that?
TM: Catholic schools still have something that the rest of the world values. An education and a diploma from a Catholic school are known quantities – with an education from a Catholic school, students are successful. Because we hold something that the rest of the world values, we have an enormous opportunity to go beyond our mission of educating students to really evangelize them.
CE: What gives you hope when you look to the future of Catholic education?
TM: The young people we are blessed to serve give me hope every day. When you look at them and engage with them, you see that they are full of life and joy, and they want what is good. My hope is that we can continue to help our young people on their journeys as they discern and discover God’s great plans for them. Also, we continue to be surrounded by faithful, generous families who support our true mission as a Catholic high school. I always say that this place, Lansing Catholic High School (and I’m sure it’s true of other Catholic schools), makes you want to be a better person because you are surrounded with great faculty, staff, students and families here for the right reasons. It should be said that our hope has to be grounded in our mission, and fortified with deliberate intentional actions. In 2016, our mission makes us radically different. At a Catholic school, we can really and tangibly show the world what it means to be Catholic.
CE: You publish an alumni magazine with FAITH Catholic. How has the magazine helped with marketing, outreach and fundraising?
TM: Our magazine, Totus Tuus, is an important marketing communication tool, but first and foremost, it helps us evangelize. Even the name of the publication sets the tone for our publishing goals. Totus tuus was Pope St. John Paul II’s motto – it means “totally yours,” and was his promise to the Blessed Mother. Since he is our school’s patron saint, we wanted our magazine to focus on the very foundation of what we do: guide and encourage our students toward a deeper faith. For that reason, we include witness stories in every issue of our magazine that focus on inspiring members of our school community who demonstrate their commitment to our school, but more importantly, to the Lord. So, on the one hand, just having a professionally produced magazine gives us a vehicle to use powerful narratives that promote the Gospel. On the practical side, sending a magazine to our alumni and to all of those in our school community on a regular basis gives us the chance to keep people updated on our progress, both in terms of our mission and our fundraising. We can highlight the projects we have ahead and use the magazine to appropriately thank our donors. It’s a key tool in our toolbox to get our message out there.
CE: You probably didn’t expect to be the publisher of a magazine when you set out to become an educator, did you?
TM: I didn’t! But the fact is that those of us who are leaders of Catholic schools need to become better versed in the marketing realm, because we compete for students and for charitable dollars. We have to know how to differentiate ourselves and reach our target audiences with the right messages. Fortunately, FAITH Catholic has the systems, people and talent to take our ideas and put them out in a way that works. And even though they create magazines for many dioceses and organizations, ours is completely unique and really reflects the vibe at our school.
CE: You’re also marketing through a new website, which FAITH Catholic helped you create. Tell us about the process of working with FAITH designers on the goals of the site and the layout.
TM: The web is an area that is continually changing, so having FAITH web developers and designers guide us through the website process and teach us what is current in terms of website design and operation has been a great value-added for us. The expertise and the talents at FAITH have been noticeably beneficial – FAITH offers tools like analytics, so we can see how many times people are clicking on which pages. All of it amounts to numerous opportunities to learn from FAITH how to become better at getting our message out there to those we want to reach.