How to not be a grumpy data cat

By Nadine Monn

Tips from workshop leader Heidi Thompson

In her workshop, “Drinking from a Hydrant of Data and Using It Wisely,” Heidi Thompson presented the philosophy she follows to make sense of the data she receives in her publishing and communications work. Though she loves numbers, Thompson admits to occasionally resembling Grumpy Cat when confronted with the overwhelming amount of data that modern communication tools like Google Analytics, Facebook, and MailChimp can yield to communicators.

First is to know your goals. The path you follow is different if you want to increase engagement in a campaign versus increasing revenue for a publication. Only when the goals are clear can you determine what is working, what is not working, and what your next steps will be.


You will have a crisis so prepare in advance

By Brian Gray

Katherine Kerr Kabatzky leads the Crisis Communication workshop.

Photo by Jacqueline Fuller.

It’s not a question if your organization will have a crisis, but rather when it will happen. So best be prepared in advance to handle whatever comes.

That was the message of Katherine Kerr Kubatzky, APR, during a breakout session on crisis communications during the Religion Communications Council and Associated Church Press joint conference in Chicago.

Kerr Kubatzky, who owns Polaris Non-Profit Communications in Georgetown, TX, described a crisis as “anything that threatens the operations and /or reputation of an organization.” The crisis need not be a world-shaking event. On a local level it could be prompted by inappropriate behavior, vandalism, an accident or assault or by natural causes such as a flood, hurricane or fire.


Religion Communicators Council honors 22 for work during 2018

Wilbur Award winners receive a handcrafted stained-glass trophy and national recognition for their work.

2019 Wilbur Award winners

Photo by Cherilyn Crowe

CHICAGO — Wilbur Award winners represent a diverse, but exclusive group of communicators who have thoughtfully brought religious issues and spiritual themes into the public discourse.

The Religion Communicators Council (RCC) announced 22 Wilbur Award winners April 12 at the annual convention celebrating the professional association’s 90th anniversary. The awards honor excellence by individuals in secular media – print and online journalism, book publishing, broadcasting, and motion pictures – for communicating religious issues, values and themes during 2018.

Fr. Jim Gardiner, an experienced communicator from the Catholic Church who understands both ancient liturgy and the demands of the digital age, was host for the awards presentation.


#MeToo – Bring empathy, passion and conviction to discussions

By Julie Brinker

Dr. Glory Dharmaraj, Dr. Karri Whipple, and Dr. Sarah Macharia

Photo by Julie Brinker

While the #MeToo movement may seem like a difficult topic to discuss openly, three scholars were able to speak to this, not just with empathy, but with passion and conviction at the second plenary of #RCCACP2019.

The #MeToo movement has created a platform calling for change around gender issues in nearly every sector of society. This panel took an intersectional approach to exploring and challenging the present state of gender representation in media and media production. The panelists, all engaged in a range of ongoing efforts to raise awareness about gender disparities, were Dr. Glory Dharmaraj, U.S. coordinator for the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) of the World Association for Christian Communication; Dr. Sarah Macharia, global coordinator of the Global Media Monitoring Project; and Dr. Karri Whipple, a speaker, writer, and activist who promotes transformative justice work within communities.


Getting faith news into secular media

By Eric Shafer

Ryan John Koch leads Media Relations for Managers workshop.

Photo by Julie Brinker.

The focus of this workshop was getting faith news into secular media. Presenter is Ryan Koch and it all took place at the recent Religion Communicators Council National Convention meeting in Chicago.

Ryan John Koch is the LDS Director of Public & International Affairs in NYC which means he is their voice at the United Nations. In his former life, Koch worked for the U.S. State Department at embassies in Sweden and the Ukraine as a press officer.

He began by talking about what makes a good story – qualities such as uniqueness, connection (all news is local), relevance, timeliness, attention getting, fits larger trends, conflict. He noted that a good story idea must have support of your supervisor and be of interest to a news reporter and his/her editor.

Much of this is based on having an ongoing relationship with the news media, regular contact so that they know you and trust you and vice-versa. That way when there is a difficult story you can be proactive rather than reactive.

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