Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast

Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast
Communications Commission

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

John Strange Reflects on July 15 Meeting

reflect. Picture of Grand Canyon Arizona

Reflections on Communications Commission Meeting July 15, 2014
John H. Strange

I have attempted to categorize the items discussed in yesterday’s meeting. In several cases I have added comments and/or questions of mine. in some cases I have specified actions which I think should be taken and in a few instances I have indicated whom I think has the responsibility for carrying out these actions. None of what I have written reflects, or is intended to reflect, the thoughts or positions of anyone at the meeting except where indicated. I do hope it will help structure further discussions however.

  • Journal
  • Coastline
  • Green Sheet
  • Bishop Notes
  • Web Site

For each of these publications it would be important, I think, for the Commission to be specific about some or all of the following:

Intended Audience
Content (Nature of)
  • Text
  • Data
  • Pictures
  • Video
  • Messages
  • Announcements
  • Solicitations/Invitations (for conferences, camps, etc.)
  • Editorial
  • Sermons
  • Locale (International, National, Diocese, Parish, Individual)
Source of Content
Frequency of Publication/Modification
Distribution Methods (See below where Distribution Methods are considered as a major topic)
Editor/Author/Manager in Charge
Authors of all parts of the publication
It would also be useful to know:
Usefulness of content to target audience (and how determine)
Quality of content (and how determine)
Actual Audience vs. Intended Audience
Distribution “Success” in reaching target audience
Impediments in reaching target audiences
Costs associated with specific publications

Distribution Possible/actual methods Web Page Blog Facebook Twitter Email Print and mailed Print at distribution source (local parish)
  • Stack for pickup
  • Include in mailings
  • Include in other materials (Bulletin, etc.) as insert
  • Include in other local parish publications as content
We should know whether and how these methods work (or might work) and for what audiences. We also need to address what changes/improvements in distribution methods might affect Distribution “Success” as well as how that might be measured. And, like in all other cases, we need to identify distribution “costs” by types and by “success” rates.

Data are an issue throughout the topics covered here and differ depending on the issues being considered. I’ll make a stab at categorizing the data and the relevant issues/questions attached to each type.

Personal Contact Data
Names, addresses, emails, telephone numbers of all members of every parish by parish.
Other information might be helpful: offices held, activity level, age, sex, interests (primarily to develop potential contacts for activities, conferences, camps, preferred contact method (maybe even by “publication”).
It was suggested in the meeting Tuesday that we currently have only 6,000 data sets that are useable out of 20,000 total individual members in the Diocese. This seems to me to be a problem that is critical and for which a solution must be found.

Convention Data
Names, addresses, emails, telephone numbers of all delegates.
These data as well as other data end up in the Journal but seemed to be a critical need for Dwight. Perhaps I should add that the method of collecting these data was intertwined with questions of Tools (see below) and Resources (see below). I understand that Dwight is working on a plan which will address/raise/clarify the immediate problems he faces as well as raise issues that speak to several of the topics I list here.
Other Journal Content
  • Resolutions
  • Minutes
  • Canons as Revised
  • Clergy Lists
  • Fiscal Reports/ Budgets
  • Bishop’s Message
  • Attendance Data (and other Parish data which is normally included)
  • And whatever I have left out.

Three main issues arise for me:
1. How do we get and maintain a master membership/contact list for the Diocese?
2. How do we integrate data collection efforts so we do not repeat the same requests over and over again?
3. In what format(s) should the Journal be published.

Over ten years ago, when I was Chair of the Communications Commission, I pushed to have the Journal published and distributed electronically. I lost. I still advocate that position. I think it is a policy that is appropriate for the Communications Commission to decide.

Registration Data for Conferences, Events, Camps, etc. The main question here is how can these data collection efforts be structured so that they support the central data collection efforts of the Diocese?

Tools Three major tools were discussed (at least briefly) in the meeting on Tuesday:
1. Digital Faith (web host)
2. ACS (data collection/management I think)
3. Constant Contact

The brief comments/discussions were limited and I am unable to formulate a set of intelligent questions with regard to any issues that may relate to these tools as individual tools or issues that may stem from duplications or weaknesses of any tool itself or any combination of tools in use by the Diocese.

I did sense that, at least on the parish level, common tools such as Google Forms (no cost) and Google Sheets (no cost) could be used successfully to address some issues that were hinted at in the meeting. But the discussions in this area were so brief and so limited that I really should not comment. There were some hints that a better understanding (or a resource where it could be done) of how to convert data in one form or one application to the needs of a master data base could solve some problems that may exist. Since the discussion was so limited I have to use a lot of weasel words here. I think these issues/problems/opportunities should be addressed at some level but at the level of the Communications Commission?

Goals of Communication Efforts
Not directly discussed yesterday but I think this is a central issue about which the Communications Commission should be clear. Several questions floated by me during the meeting:
What is happening in the Diocese?
What is the Diocese doing?
What are the parishes doing?
What are the parishioners doing?
What are the issues being addressed or that should be addressed?
How can we connect with each other?
Who wants to connect and why?
Does the Diocese need to communicate anything? What? Why? How?

Role of the Communications Commission
Two widely different positions were referenced but not discussed:
1. The Committee should set broad policy and goals for Diocese Communications and seek to secure resources to achieve those goals
2. The Committee should offer counsel and advice on administrative issues, organizational structure, help select specific tools for staff use, advise (and maybe consent) on administrative structures related to varied communication efforts, act as volunteer staff to accomplish specified tasks for which no paid staff are available or to duties which have not otherwise been assigned.

These two views of the Commission are radically different. I think it is appropriate to try and clarify what role(s) the Commission should/must take at this juncture in the history of the Diocese.

At least six “Help me’” signs were raised or at least briefly waved:
“Can you/will you help? The Convention is coming.”
“Help! I can’t reach the audience I need to reach.”
“Help! Nobody pays attention even when we communicate.”
“Help! The computer system is down. Again!”
“Help! Needed resources are missing.”
“Help! I need (we need) better/more effective connections among ourselves.”

And I’ll add my sign: “Help! I do not know the best way for me to help!”

Comments? Questions? Reflections? Objections? Complaints? Roadmaps? Suggestions?

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