Tag: Digital Strategy

Transforming Catholic Curias in 100 Seconds

What are the implications of Pride (or competitor Yammer) as a mobile collaboration app? A realtime portrait of the efforts of an entire staff. Imagine 250+ employees in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia collaborating and sharing their work processes in realtime. Suddenly the stars (and the dead wood) become a whole lot more visible.

New media and social communications can transform Catholicism institutionally for the better, helping us return to a focus on community, witness, and evangelization.

Agendas and Programs Don’t Witness, People Do

This showed up in my inbox this afternoon. This is the type of thing Rachel Sterne is doing in New York City as the city government’s first Chief Digital Officer, a position I believe should be ported to Catholicism.

In the Philadelphia Catholic Church we probably wouldn’t want to host a sustainability hackathon. But we might want to host something like it, bringing together self-starters and thinkers to tackle different ways to share the faith, or witness using mobile devices, or help the 250+ area churches improve in some big way.

Actually, bringing together regular Catholics to interact in a non-explicitly religious environment would be a good start. A small example of what the Archdiocese could do digitally is host a hackathon for its own web presence simply asking the question: what can we do better? Then have people do those things.

As it stands, we don’t harness the potential of our people to act or even propose ideas in unstructured ways. We’re still stuck in top-down thinking. For doctrinal questions on theology it makes sense. For the applications of sharing that theology, the living daily witness of regular Catholics among the laity, it makes less sense.

What is the Archdiocese even there for (that local parishes couldn’t figure out for themselves) if not to take advantage of its scale to connect the laity like New York City is doing in civic matters?

A Human Being Fully Alive

I was watching Fr. Robert Barron‘s Elmhurst College talk on Evangelizing the Culture the other day. At the 20:33 mark, Fr. Barron references Saint IrenaeusThe glory of God is a human being fully alive. “Can I suggest,” Fr. Barron asks, that “you could lose almost all the literature of Christianity but keep that one line and you’ve got the heart of it.”

What digital strategy can be for the Church is and rightly should be a means to witness to human beings fully alive in Christ. The torrent of technology, platforms, and new media can be measured for the Church simply by asking whether authentic witness can occur.

We are in the midst of a new age of opportunity for Christ and the Church, and digital strategy can help us fulfill our ever revolutionary calling to share the Gospel promise of salvation, to foster community, to witness, to evangelize, to convey and transmit, to conserve and preserve, to reintroduce and in a thousand ways present ourselves as fully alive.

Our own soulfulness serves as requisite kindling for hearts on fire. Digital strategy for the Church is not about technologies, but rather about human persons and the broader story of our journey together toward Christ.

Lean Government and White House Digital Strategy

Todd Park is the Chief Technology Officer of the United States. (Did you know we have one of those?) Watch the entire talk above if you can for a glimpse at what he and others are doing to apply a lean startup mentality to government. Todd’s energy is infectious.

During his time as Health and Human Services CTO, he was profiled by The Atlantic as “running his part of the massive government agency “like a Silicon Valley company.'” An example of his lean startup approach from his Wikipedia profile:

HealthCare.gov, the first government website that provides consumers with a searchable database of public and private health insurance plans available across the U.S. by zip code. … The initial version of HealthCare.gov, which was deployed on July 1, 2010, was built in 90 days.

Like Todd Park, Macon Philips has been an accelerating force in government for the Obama administration. Macon is the Director of Digital Strategy for the White House and speaks at the ~20 minute mark. He says of the White House approach to new media that the purpose is three-fold:

  1. Amplify the president’s voice; supplement communications and public engagement efforts. As he jokes, the “only person with whitehouse.gov as her homepage is my mother,” so they need to utilize channels beyond that site.
  2. Promote openness and transparency by making information accessible, and speak about White House initiatives in ways regular people can understand. Use new media, videos, and interactive content.
  3. Create opportunities for meaningful engagement and work with other offices to do this. Measure aggregate engagement and also outcomes from those activities.

Four competencies drive their digital strategy effort: teams focus on (a) content creation (editorial, copywriters, video, etc.), (b) engagement (c) outreach (d) platform. The lesson? New and social media doesn’t replace traditional communications, PR, or engagement efforts, but can supplement and accelerate them.

Great lessons here for institutions or companies looking to evolve.

Memory-Driven Marketing

Clive Sirkin of Kimberly-Clark: “We don’t believe in digital marketing. We believe in marketing in a digital world, and there’s a huge difference.” The former involves repackaging your tired, old-world ad campaign and buying Google Ads. The latter involves constructing an entirely new business plan. See: Uber’s On-Demand Cinco de Mayo Mariachi Fiestas:

On Friday, to celebrate Cinco de Mayo (which is actually Saturday, so this is pre-game), if you happen to live in San Francisco, you’ll be able to open the Uber app and request a “fiesta”.

What’s do you get with a “fiesta”, you may wonder?

Well, you get an SUV Uber that pulls up with a mariachi band that will play you a song, give you a bottle of margarita mix, and give you a stuffed piñata.

This will cost you $100 via in-app purchase, so choose your time and place wisely.

Yes, this is real.

Uber is a cab company, except you get town cars and hail your cab via an app your mobile device. Who thinks of something like on-demand Mariachi Fiestas? A company that loves what it does. People like people who love what they do. Marketing in a digital world.

A Catholic Church Map: Visualizing the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Catholics across the Greater Philadelphia area are part of a massive, five-county community of some 270+ parish churches. This sounds impressive. In and of itself, though, data tends to be abstract — not immediately or obviously meaningful.

What does this Catholic community resemble? Where is the presence geographically greatest? Where is it absent? Which communities engage in vibrant digital evangelization? Or simply: what other parishes are in my area?

The Archdiocese’s official parish directory doesn’t present us with anything but raw information. It only shows us parish names and data by county. To answer the above questions — questions I ask myself often in my work with Catholic communities — a visual, engaging presentation of this directory was needed.  So I created one using Google Maps:

In all, I was able to map some 270 churches in a little over seven hours yesterday evening and night. Each listing includes the parish name, its physical location, its main telephone number, and, if available, its website.

At a time when the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is experiencing systemic atrophy of both its churches and schools, a visualization of the real church presence across the Delaware Valley could be a helpful way to truly contextualize news as it unfolds.

To be useful, data must be engaging. To help inform the conversation about the future of the Catholic family across the Philadelphia area, it helps to see where we stand. Literally.

Live Streaming Catholicism

I’m bullish on the Church live streaming the Mass across the web. Not only the Mass, in fact, but also special events, guest speakers, and anything else worth sharing.

Christians can never fulfill the obligation of the Sabbath digitally — the Eucharist can only be experienced in the flesh — but our Masses and events can be streamed to share the style and life of the parish with friends, far-away family, and outsiders who might consider becoming insiders.

Fr. Chris Walsh, pastor of St. Raymond of Penafort in Northwest Philadelphia, has been an early adopter of new media to connect with his parishioners and followers. I helped him launch a “pastoral portal” in January. During this Holy Week he began live streaming his Masses. Here’s today’s Easter Mass:

His church’s Livestream account isn’t yet enabled for HD streaming (which is a pay-for service), but the video quality isn’t bad.

The streaming and archiving of the Homily is, I think, the secret sauce of these live streams. If a pastor is great, this is a great way to archive and share his zeal with constituencies that probably never would have heard him otherwise, or ever considered attending Mass.

Fr. Walsh had what I think is a very high quality security-camera style device installed, which makes the setup functionally invisible in the church. Still, you can start streaming with an iPhone or iPad as a means to try something like this on a pilot basis. Both have 720p HD or better cameras.

If you’re interested, Fr. Walsh’s homily begins at the 29:30 minute mark.

Happy Easter!

‘We Don’t Believe in Digital Marketing…’

“…we believe in marketing in a digital world, and there’s a huge difference.” Clive Sirkin made this distinction in speaking about his new role as senior marketing officer at Kimberly-Clark.

We don’t believe in digital marketing. We believe in marketing in a digital world.

The two sentences taken together represent a sort of Holy Grail for crafting digital, content, and media strategy. Within these sentences exists a finely distilled philosophy.

“Digital marketing” (which, remember, we don’t believe in) produces things like Pearle Vision’s approach to the digital world:

Pearle Vision conducts the same business it did before we became a digital nation. It’s a company that is trying to sell old and basically terrible deals to customers online. It wants to sell us Coach. It wants to sell us $250+ pairs of glasses.

Its entire approach is based upon the pre-digital world, one which presumed information scarcity that let them charge $250+ for a pair of glasses. Pearle Vision’s website looks and reads something like a full-page ad you’d find in the New York Times on Black Friday.

Now, let’s look at an April Fool’s Day example of “marketing in a digital world,” courtesy of Warby Parker:

A chasm exists between Pearle Vision and Warby Parker. Warby Parker offers $100 designer-style glasses. They’ll mail five pairs to you for a week to try at no cost and no risk. And they’ve got a sense of humor about themselves — one which, coincidentally, will generate conversation and drive consumer decisions more radically than Pearle Vision’s “Buy One, Get One” approach.

We don’t believe in digital marketing. We believe in marketing in a digital world.

Warby Barker? Now I want a new pair of glasses and a puppy.

The Digital Marketplace is the Marketplace

Jim Brady is one of the wizards behind Digital First Media, America’s most pioneering 21st century news media company. He has some golden advice for any tradition-bound, print-driven business:

Brady, now editor-in-chief at Digital First Media, is charged with transforming the company’s 75 papers (including the Journal Register’s dailies) into a “digital first” model.

Brady says you have to make editors aware of the “business rationale” for going digital. For digital first to work, “you have to go into the newsroom and explain how these tools work and how they perform. If you don’t connect it to the work, no one is going to buy it. You’re never going to win that war.” …

In revenue terms, Brady believes publishers can kiss print revenue good bye. “A lot of newsrooms ask why we’re going to Digital First if print is 85 percent of the revenue. One of the answers is that if print is 85 percent of the revenue, then you’ve done a terrible job selling digital.”

The lesson here is not limited to news publishing or journalism alone. It’s a critical lesson for any institution hoping to survive (not to even begin talking about whether it will remain relevant) in the new digital marketplace, which is really to say simply, the marketplace.

Think about this in relation to the news that the Encyclopedia Britannica is going digital only. Within a generation, we’ve witnessed a massive swing — from their peak print-sales year in approx. 1992 to being dead by 2012. This is the definition of a revolution. And the lesson here is that the Encyclopedia Britannica survives as an institution:

Already about 85 percent of revenue comes from selling curriculum products in subjects like math, science and the English language; 15 percent comes from subscriptions to the Web site, with about half a million households pay a $70 annual fee for the online subscription, which includes access to the full database of articles, videos, original documents and to the company’s mobile applications.

The relevancy of printed materials and traditional media is vanishing at a truly astoundingly rapid pace. We continue to preface words like “media” or “content” with “digital,” but it’s basically the standard at this point. How soon before we instead have to clarify when we’re speaking about “analog media,” or “legacy content”?

The “digital marketplace” is the marketplace. There are still many institutions that refuse to internalize this. There’s still a lot of room to lead the pack even now depending on your niche.

What A Brand Ecosystem Looks Like

Last month in Fast Company’s Co.Design Cliff Kuang wrote about what it is about the Apply mystique that makes us fall in love with them as a company.

The company has become so synonymous with both good design and minimalism that most people assume those two things are one and the same. … The fact is, minimalism has been a business strategy for Apple–and maybe their most successful business strategy of all. While just-in-time manufacturing and a stand-alone retailing have earned it hundreds of billions in sales, minimalism built the brand that made their gadgets lust-worthy to begin with. Let’s dissect how that works.

Every Gadget Sells the Others

One of the best features of Apple’s gadgets hides in plain sight: Each one looks closely related to the others. The Apple TV interface isn’t too far different from that of iTunes; iTunes itself borrows the basic feel of the Apple OS. Meanwhile, the gadgets themselves take up that same sort of family feel: The iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and iPhone are all radically different devices but they’re immediately recognizable as cousins thanks to their shared detailing and material palette.

To appreciate how unique that is, simply look at some of their competitors. While Microsoft’s new mobile OS is remarkably well designed, its design language has no relationship to the xBox UI, or the Windows OS. Not only do HP, Dell, Lenovo, and Samsung make boring black boxes, but every single black box they make seems to have no relationship with the others. As Apple has proved, that’s a massive missed opportunity. Each one of Apple’s gadgets quietly sells the others, every single day you have it. When you buy an iPhone, you’re buying into the Apple design language, and the little details you come to appreciate are details you know you’ll find in all their other products–from the laser-etched buttons to the stunningly beautiful screws to the dead-simple UI layout. When you finally decide to buy another Apple gadget–say, an iPad or a MacBook Air–you’ve already been primed to love it.

“When you buy an iPhone, you’re buying into the Apple design language.” This is an insight that bears repeating. Applying this notion of brand as a signal of coherence, of a consistent aesthetic, is powerful. The Salvation Army and American Red Cross both have this type of brand — the donor is buying in to a lifestyle language, if you will.

Cliff Kuang has helped us understand the real, tangible meaning of “brand” in a great way.