Update on the Communications Survey

Being hired as the Chief Communications Officer for the Diocese of Arlington was a tremendous joy and an honor. Having served Bishop Michael F. Burbidge previously in a similar role, I knew that he would have big ideas and a solid vision for his new diocese. After I arrived in August, he and I agreed that a comprehensive communications survey of the faithful and the priests would be essential to knowing our current audience better, identifying baseline needs and opportunities for growth in the work of communications and evangelization.

Last month, the diocesan Department of Communications, which oversees the Catholic Herald, launched a communications survey that included an online option as well as a print insert that was included in the Catholic Herald. The response was tremendous. Three individuals were selected randomly to receive a gift card.

We received 6,614 total responses via the English and Spanish online survey, and 950 through the print survey. While I prayed that this survey would be well-received and thought we would get good feedback, I did not anticipate such a thorough response. It is a blessing that the faithful are interested in offering advice about current and potential communications initiatives.

Due to the various audience segments — age, language, religious participation, etc. —  it has taken some time to compile the responses into a format that is easy to analyze and present. I will summarize our findings in January. But a preliminary review of the data has been helpful to identify audiences we are reaching effectively as well as those we could serve better.

With Bishop Burbidge’s encouragement, the information we received will be shared with the diocesan Priest’s Council since it will be relevant to their parishes and will help guide their counsel to Bishop Burbidge in the work of the diocese.

These days, communications is more than a vehicle for providing information to the community. People are actively engaging with social media, videos, podcasts, and more. So these tools have become a form of ministry. The content we create is important, and so is the professionalism with which we present it. Good content presented poorly will not have the impact it should. We will continue to uphold the high quality of content and production you have come to expect from the diocese and the Catholic Herald.

The future of the Department of Communications will build upon our sturdy foundation of producing news, videos and social media content to an expanded media program with the highest level of professionalism.

The communications survey is not the last time we will seek information to help guide our efforts. This survey was a starting point. We will also study census data, reports from third parties that poll Catholics and study the Catholic Church, and actively seek input from the Catholic faithful, priests, deacons, and consecrated religious. Your feedback will be critical for us moving forward. Please feel free to reach out anytime to let us know what you think of our current efforts and to share any ideas you have for us to consider.

The ultimate goal of communications is evangelization; meaning, we work to help bring people closer to God and to serve His people. Following the leadership of Bishop Burbidge and working to assist him in his ministry of teaching and sanctifying, the Department of Communications and the Catholic Herald are committed to finding new and creative ways to spread the truth and joy of the Gospel and share news, events and stories of faith.

May Our Lord continue to bless you and those you love.

Atwell is Chief Communications Officer for the Diocese of Arlington.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017