Local News

2016 survey leads to changes for OND, diocesan communications

By Katrina Genereux/Staff Writer, OND

Changes are coming to Our Northland Diocese, including a new design and increased web presence for the newspaper and the Diocese of Crookston.

On July 1, Janelle Gergen was named Communications Manager for the Diocese of Crookston. Gergen will graduate with a Master of Science in Communication from Purdue University in August. She brings more than 12 years of combined experience in marketing, publishing, design and full-time parish ministry to her new role. She is beginning her fourth year of work with Our Northland Diocese and diocesan communication efforts.

“I am hopeful the Diocese of Crookston will find new ways to benefit from these areas of expertise I am able to offer. From a more practical standpoint, my employment background gives tactical and hands-on experience for navigating our upcoming expansion into digital news and social media,” Gergen said.

Our Northland Diocese’s revamped website will launch the beginning of August at www.crookston.org/ond. The new website will feature content that is sharable through email and social media. The website will host local, national and international news stories; commentary columns and photo galleries. Gergen said it may also expand to include audio and video files from diocesan events.

The digital content on the website will also be shared through OND’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ournorthlanddiocese) as well as the OND Twitter feed (@ONDiocese).

“This means readers can email links of news stories to other people or engage with the content by ‘liking’, ‘sharing’ or ‘retweeting’ the information with their own social media accounts,” Gergen said.

The August issue of OND will feature an updated look and will provide several ways for readers to engage the newspaper’s digital content.

Gergen will also launch a social media presence for the Diocese of Crookston in August, highlighting the work of diocesan offices and events.

“With a social media presence, the Diocese of Crookston will be able to create and deliver messages that are timely, coordinated, consistent and relevant to Catholics in northwest Minnesota,” Gergen said. “The content delivered on social media will leverage the teaching and expertise of the Church in order to address issues and trends that are important to and affect people today.”

The diocesan social media presence will include daily Scripture, upcoming event notices, and apologetics and faith formation resources.

These changes began taking form in the fall of 2016 when a Communications Taskforce was created at the request of the bishop. Several diocesan staff members, including Gergen, Deacon Mark Krejci, AJ Garcia and Msgr. Mike Foltz gathered to assess both internal and external communications in conjunction with evangelization efforts.

“The group quickly realized a survey was necessary in order to take stock in the methods that are effective, the methods needing improvement and for evaluating ways in which the Diocese of Crookston can communicate with increased efficiency,” Gergen said.

The communications survey was sent to the priests, deacons, parish secretaries, school principals, directors of religious education and youth ministers from all 66 parishes of the diocese. Nearly 50 percent of those solicited participated in the survey.

Questions were posed about communication channels including OND, the diocesan website, social media and the diocesan General Mailing, a bi-monthly e-newsletter sent to clergy and parish staff members.

Responses showed that people enjoy reading OND, but have a desire to share content, such as articles, online. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they would like to see OND increase its digital footprint.

More than half of the respondents said they would like the Diocese of Crookston to maintain a social media presence on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Respondents said they would like to see the following items on diocesan social media: daily Scripture, upcoming events, apologetics content, national and international Catholic news, faith formation resources, video presentations or messages from diocesan staff and resources available through the diocesan website.

“A primary hope is that a focused effort in communication management means the Diocese of Crookston can expand its reach through engaging not only the dedicated faithful, but also the fallen away,” Gergen said. “This is possible through a commitment to the oversight of print and digital collateral because information gathering and dissemination becomes streamlined, integrated and efficient.

Gergen said through these changes, OND will remain committed to its mission, which is, “publishing Good News for strengthening and furthering the reign of God in the Diocese of Crookston.”

“Electronic delivery of news and messaging is complementary to the work of the Holy Spirit and does not take the place of the personal encounter in evangelization,” said Gergen.

“However, an ever-changing communication landscape, punctuated by digital methods, means opportunity exists for the newspaper and the diocese to further and strengthen God’s presence in our local Church through online engagement. In techy-church language, this attempt is called content evangelization,” she said.