Lately, I've been helping Catholic communicators to make the case for print publications. One important point I have shared is that not all print publications work equally well. Within the category of print media, niche publications — magazines that are created for audiences with specific interests — are growing. In contrast, newspapers continue to decline, with shrinking circulations and dwindling advertising revenue. This trend holds true for Catholic newspapers as well. Yet the Catholic press continues to grow because more dioceses and Catholic organizations have discovered the power of print magazines to reach Catholic audiences.
Readership surveys tell the full story. Our most recent readership surveys for diocesan magazines that follow our proven format show that:
- 88% of readers say their magazine helps them to "feel more connected to my Catholic faith."
- 80% say the magazine "moves me to be more interested in spiritual growth."
- 74% say the magazine "improves my understanding of the mission and teachings of the Church."
- 71% say the magazine helps them "explain their Catholic faith to family and friends."
And importantly, 65% spend more than 15 minutes with each issue of their diocesan magazine. Think about that – we know that fewer than 25% of Catholics go to Mass every weekend. And yet 65% of them spend more than 15 minutes reading Catholic content they would not see if they did not receive a magazine from their diocese that uses FAITH's proven format.
For the vast majority of Catholics, the publication sent by their diocese is the only Catholic content in the home. Even before the pandemic, only 21 percent of Catholics were at weekly Mass. Now, and as we move into recovery, every diocese needs a strategy to keep Catholics connected with their faith, inspire them, and equip them as disciples. What type of diocesan communication does that best? We know from our readership surveys that a news-first approach is less engaging and less effective than an evangelization-first approach.
It's time to put evangelization ahead of news
Since 80 percent of parishioners are not in Church each week, does it makes sense that they would be interested in Catholic news? They aren’t. Instead, the primary purpose of a diocesan publication should align with the primary purpose of the Church – to share the Good News that Jesus Christ is the source of our happiness in this life and the next!
We know that diocesan magazines do this. Our research shows that they work better than newspapers to inspire and evangelize. We know diocesan magazines stay on coffee tables and are shared with family and friends. We know they are tools for evangelization and discipleship.
The Covid-19 crisis has caused many dioceses to rethink how they communicate. Our 2020 research confirms what CARA research showed some years back – that unless a diocese publishes, very few Catholics have access to Catholic content. In fact, 8 out of 10 Catholics would not have any Catholic content in the home if dioceses stopped publishing. Most do not seek out Catholic social media, websites, videos, radio, email or television.
If you are reviewing your diocesan newspaper, please contact me. Don’t stop publishing. Now is the time to publish in a way that helps Catholics re-engage with their faith, equips disciples and, yes, reports Catholic news. Now, is the time for your diocese to have a plan for post-pandemic recovery. Contact me to learn why more than 40 dioceses have benefited by partnering with FAITH Catholic.
I'm happy to talk in more detail about your specific publication. Send me an email and we'll set up a call.