Archdiocesan communications efforts work to ‘Meet people where they are’
April 14, 2020
The Office of Communications, one of 60 ministries supported by the Diocesan Services Fund, works share the Gospel message of God’s boundless love with Catholics and non-Catholics alike, through words of hope, images of Christ’s work and modern communication tools. A recent example was the recording and livestream of the Chrism Mass. (Photo by Jonah Dycus/Herald)
HOUSTON — “Meeting people where they are” is an expression used commonly in communications and ministry. For the Communications Office of the Archdiocese, it means providing information to individuals when they need it via their preferred sources of formats they regularly use to consume information.
According to Jonah Dycus, director of the Archdiocesan Communications Office, “meeting people where they are” is a priority for the office staff, as well as departments and ministries within the Archdiocese.
“Obviously, preferred methods of communications are different for every demographic, every individual — some people prefer reading newspapers, some get all of their information from their mobile devices,” said Dycus. “Whatever the means, the timing of getting the information to people is always important — whether they are seeking news updates or searching for inspiration during a challenging time in their life. With social media and messaging options, the expectations have certainly shifted to a more immediate presence for information and updates.”
One of 60 ministries supported by the Diocesan Services Fund, the office’s mission is to share the Gospel message of God’s boundless love with Catholics and non-Catholics alike, through words of hope, images of Christ’s work and modern communication tools.
Dycus said the Communications Office serves as the official “voice” of the Archdiocese on issues related to the Catholic Church and Archdiocesan events, programs and services. The office also facilitates official Chancery communication with Archdiocesan parishes, schools, offices and departments.
When communicating about a crisis or other important updates impacting the faithful in the Archdiocese, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the Communications Office staff works directly with Archdiocesan leadership and clergy offices to provide pastors and parishes with information to share with the faithful in their respective communities. They also provide updates from the Archdiocese on www.archgh.org and postings on various social media platforms. In addition, the office reaches out to mainstream news agencies to disseminate information.
“With COVID-19, our staff has compiled a resource page with information from the CDC and from AGH administration and ministries,” said Dycus. “Our office also created a page that provides Mass streaming options during this period of social distancing and precautionary measures. I strongly encourage the faithful to follow us on social media and visit our homepage when they are seeking news information or updates from the Archdiocese.”
To effectively communicate with the faithful, Dycus said members of the Communications Office staff have specific focuses and areas of expertise, but ultimately collaborate as needed to inform the faithful through the various channels — whether it be the Texas Catholic Herald, news media, radio or online via the web or social media.
“A primary goal of our office is not only to produce quality content but to share that content through our various channels — getting that information and those updates to the faithful,” said Dycus. “We want to disseminate features, articles and coverage, all content we produce by utilizing and maximizing these various channels. We also use video and other multimedia approaches in our storytelling and coverage but are always looking to explore those avenues more in the future.”
In a recent survey conducted by the Texas Catholic Herald, more than 430 individuals participated and provided important feedback about the office’s overall communication efforts.
“This is our first survey conducted since 2001 and obviously much has changed in the media and publication landscape in the last 20 years,” said Dycus. “We figured it was long overdue for our readers or folks just interested in diocesan news/stories to share their opinion about what is being produced in the Texas Catholic Herald.”
In the survey feedback, Dycus said readers made it clear they are interested in local coverage, something the Texas Catholic Herald has always prioritized in its planning. They also want to know about what is happening within parishes and Catholic schools, with clergy and Daniel Cardinal DiNardo. Specifically, updates directly from Cardinal DiNardo in his column, “A Shepherd’s Message.” The calendar section, “Around the Archdiocese,” is also popular with readers and the office is hoping to better promote these Archdiocesan-wide events and activities via online and social media.
“It seems many of our readers are not familiar with us hosting and sharing most of the local Texas Catholic Herald content online,” said Dycus. “Sometimes, we also have online-exclusive content like expanded-article content or photo coverage, so we are hoping to build awareness of the Texas Catholic Herald’s online presence in the future. We also hope to use the data and feedback from the survey, and future surveys to continue building a better product overall, with both the printed publication and our online presence.”
The Communications Office and the Texas Catholic Herald staff are extremely grateful for the support received.
“Many of those who participated in the survey identified as DSF supporters, and we thank them for their time and feedback during this process,” said Dycus. “We are always looking into new opportunities to ‘Share the Good News’ with the faithful of the Archdiocese, and we appreciate their continued support.”
Although the Texas Catholic Herald survey is now closed, Dycus said the Communications Office encourages the faithful to be on the lookout for future surveys. They also may share feedback and ideas by sending an email to the Texas Catholic Herald at email@example.com or to firstname.lastname@example.org.