GREEN BAY — Look forward to some changes coming to these pages.
And expect changes, not just on the pages of The Compass, but on its website at thecompassnews.org, its e-newsletter and in its production schedule, as well as the entire Office of Communications for the Diocese of Green Bay.
With this issue, The Compass begins the biweekly schedule it usually follows through summer and into September. However, because the Office of Communications of the Diocese of Green Bay is now in the process of restructuring, this will directly affect The Compass.
For the foreseeable future, the paper will continue to be printed on a biweekly basis. It will not return to weekly production in September.
The Compass’ monthly e-newsletter will also continue — moving toward a biweekly schedule in September — as will many of the features that readers have come to expect. These include Compass in the Classroom (during the school year), Sunday Scripture readings, the calendar of events, columns by Fr. John Girotti, Elisa Tremblay and Julianne Stanz, as well as the Foundations of Faith feature.
The monthly Compass in the Bulletin, sent to all parishes of the diocese, will also continue. Likewise, The Compass will maintain its social media presence on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. Posting of stories to the website will continue, with added emphasis on timely news posted there between the print editions.
Other changes are happening behind the scenes. The overall hope of Bishop David Ricken, publisher of The Compass, is to reach more people in northeast Wisconsin than the printed Compass presently does.
“The Compass is one tool of communication, with a specific audience that we will continue to serve, yet we have to reach more of the faithful,” said Bishop Ricken. “A multi-stream approach to knowing our readers, listeners and viewers is what is needed as we emerge from this pandemic and share our joyful messages of the hope, peace and love that is only found in Jesus Christ with the people in our 16 counties.”
The Compass currently reaches 15,814 subscribers with its print edition, with 1,300 receiving its e-newsletter. Additionally, the newspaper’s website receives a monthly average of 57,300 page views. The diocesan website, also overseen by the Office of Communications, reaches an average of 14,700 page views a month.
“We are called to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with all those living in the diocesan footprint (over 1 million souls), and most especially our 95,000 Catholic households,” said Justine Lodl, director of communications. “Today, through the newspaper alone, we are reaching only a small fraction of that whole and we need to do more. We are called to engage our households and communities of disciples in ways that meet them where they are. The paper is one tool in our toolkit, and there are many more to be explored.”
To that end, a communications strategic planning team has been formed and first met on March 24. The group’s target is to have a total plan for diocesan communications, including The Compass, by the end of the year.
“I have given the communications team the opportunity to dream and plan,” said Bishop Ricken. “I also asked the team’s leadership to tap into Catholic communication professionals from around the diocese to help in these efforts and am pleased with the group that has been assembled to create a strategic plan.”
Lodl said, “This plan will identify content platforms and delivery streams that are currently in use, and those that need to be added or enhanced. It will also address workflows and staffing to optimize current and anticipated talent.”
“How we communicate who we are as ‘the people of God’ is changing,” said Jim Keane, a member of the planning team.” We need to meet people where they are and bring hope, healing, mercy and love to all. We are called as the living body of Christ to be the love of Jesus.”
A first draft of the communications plan will be shared with the executive leadership team in January 2023. (See sidebar below for team members.)
“In the meantime, The Compass will continue biweekly publication,” Lodl said. “The current (monthly) e-newsletter will be sent to subscribers on the paper’s off weeks, beginning in September.”
There will be no increase in the annual cost of The Compass, which remains at $28 a year. The cover price has been raised to $3 for a single issue to better reflect the costs of production.
“One thing that came to mind is that the cost of the paper will remain the same and has not increased in decades,” said Amy Kawula, advertising and marketing manager for The Compass. “The value is that we will still provide weekly news — just digital and print on opposite weeks.”
The changes will offer an opportunity, according to Bishop Ricken. “We are at a pivotal, exciting and joyful time here in the Diocese of Green Bay as we come out of the pandemic,” he said. “Using data from extensive research and discussions with internal and external leaders, it is time for us to reevaluate old ways of communicating for effectiveness, and reach and embrace new modes of communication that will direct our path for the future.”
Editor’s note: See related editorial.
Communications strategic planning team
Janet Bonkowski – Executive Director, University of Wisconsin Green Bay Marketing and University Communication
James Keane – Founder, Spero Group and JNJ Holdings
Diane Roundy – Executive Recruiter, Truity Partners
R. Perry Kidder – Retired, WFRV President/General Manager; Past President at Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame
Mike Hollihan – General Manager, Press Times
Peter Murphy – Diocese of Green Bay, Associate Director of the Curia
Amy Kawula – The Compass Advertising and Marketing Manager
Justine Lodl – Diocese of Green Bay Communications Director