A Catholic geek retrospective + How ministries should approach media and marketing
Last year was the first one I’d missed. I actually shed tears.
My loyalty to SQPN (Star Quest Production Network) has been unwavering since I first binged on Catholic Insider podcasts while running laps around the living room.
As a high school senior, George Leite of the Catholic Rockers podcast nicknamed me the “Street Team President.” It was a no-brainer for George: I spent my free time and late nights designing websites and album art for Catholic musicians, writing for Grapevine Magazine (about Catholic musicians), and discovering the uncharted worlds inside Catholic musicians’ heads via online bulletin boards and chats.
Most of them were making music on a volunteer basis. (They had day jobs.) All their vacation time was spent driving or flying across state borderlines bringing papist music to the masses (and/or Masses). None of them had big bucks to market their music ministries properly. Even if their music was great, they hardly stood a chance compared to their counterparts: Justin Timberlake, Fergie, Plain White T’s, J-Lo and the like.
Marketing without Money
So here I was, a kid in college…a dreamer. How could I let these gifted musicians go unhelped? I had some blossoming talents in design. I’d grown up around music ministers (Dad plays guitar), so I understood their hearts and craft.
Finally, I asked myself the big question for the first time: Why don’t Catholics learn how to market their product like the other guys do, but better?
The big, scary Business School became a place I frequented at my university; I chose marketing as a concentration within my communications major. Rather than fall asleep during lectures on business strategy, my brain translated everything into Catholic language (no, not Latin). In other words, everything I learned – from the classroom to volunteer projects and internship hours at a local ad agency – I translated into valuable lessons for Catholic ministries, religious orders, and churches.
Meanwhile, I attended every single Catholic New Media Celebration (now the Catholic New Media Conference). My RSS Feed Readers were clogged with insights from secular, Protestant, and Catholic sources on new media, business, entrepreneurship, graphic design, web development, marketing, advertising, and beyond.
I’d found my passion.
Untangling the Web of Insights
Early in my senior year of college, I knocked on my advisor’s office door. Dr. Dennis Bautista, SM, is a Marianist religious brother and professor in English-communication arts, who outside the office wears flip-flop sandals and plays ukulele – a native Hawaiian. I pitched him my senior thesis topic, and this generally-excited man’s face became brighter. Bingo! We have a winner.
“New Media, New Evangelization: The Unique Benefits of New Media and Why the Catholic Church Should Engage Them” was published by St. Mary’s University in 2010 just weeks before I crossed the stage summa cum laude. (Hey, I worked hard.) Brandon Vogt read it, and the rest is history.
While I hope to fine-tune and update that document, I cherish it as an infant testimony to what I believe should continue to be the basic model for Catholic new media endeavors. That thesis my attempt to untangle and make sense of the many ‘webs’ I’d stepped into – Catholic, Protestant, secular, business, ministry, design, media production, etc.
How Every Catholic Ministry/Entity Should Approach Media and Marketing (In a Nutshell)
1. MAPPING THE VISION
A. What is our message? What is our goal? How do we want to execute it?
B. What does our faith say about media & communications?
C. What does our faith say about putting the two together?
2. USING THE COMPASS
A. What can we learn from the business world about achieving our goal?
B. What can we learn from Protestant brothers and sisters about achieving our goal?
C. What can we learn from fellow Catholics who have similar goals?
3. BUILDING THE NETS
A. Re-evaluate goals
B. Re-examine strategy
C. Determine action steps
4. CASTING THE NET – Implement action steps and get messy
5. SORT THE CATCH – Sort, keep and throw away
A. What are we doing right?
B. What are fellow ministers and competitors doing right?
C. What could we be doing better?
6. LISTEN TO THE MASTER’S VOICE
A. Incorporate prayer and prayerful attitude into each step
B. Consecrate yourself and your efforts to the Holy Spirit
C. Be open and docile to the Holy Spirit’s action; Learn to recognize and discern His action
7. REPEAT and REPEAT and REPEAT
A. Never stop researching secular, Protestant and Catholic endeavors
B. Never stop asking, “How can we do this better?”
C. Continue to allow God to develop your goals, methods and mindsets toward His purposes
Praying I Can Attend CNMC 2012
Because SQPN and the CNMC have been such an integral part of and companion on my journey with new media, I am praying that I will not be at home for the second year in a row when August 29 arrives. The CNMC 2012 speakers were just announced today, and I couldn’t be more delighted. Say a ‘Hail Mary’ for my husband and I, that money and circumstances won’t become obstacles to our in-person participation in this outstanding conference.
I’m praying that we’ll see you there!