NEW YORK — Earlier this year, the Communications Office conducted a readership survey of both HNP friars and their partners-in-ministry as a way to gauge the attitudes of newsletter subscribers. More than 330 people shared their feedback. Of that group, 28 percent were friars and 72 percent were partners-in-ministry – an average response for a survey of this scope. Friar and partner-in-ministry responses were collected separately and compared for similarities and differences between these two groups.
Overall, the feedback was positive. Readers who responded to the survey appear to be satisfied with the contents of the newsletter and to enjoy reading it, though they also see room for improvement. The vast majority of respondents indicated that they were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the newsletter as it currently stands. More than half indicated that they feel “fairly connected to the Province” after reading HNP Today.
Evaluating Reader Feedback
Friars and partners-in-ministry indicated that they’re most interested in receiving updates from the Provincial Administration, stories about individual friars, and activities and news from HNP ministries – which makes sense, given the newsletter’s purpose.
When asked what topics they would like to see featured in the newsletter, friars responded that they would like to read more about the postulants and student friars, events and people from other OFM provinces and Franciscan entities, partnerships among friars and laypeople (especially in projects related to justice, peace and integrity of creation), and the retired friars’ lives and ministry.
Partners-in-ministry requested more stories about individual friars, including friars who are involved in non-traditional ministries. Readers also expressed an interest in more articles about friars’ vocation stories, as well as articles about retired friars. Other commonly requested topics include parish programs and lay participation and empowerment, ministries that work directly with the poor (like St. Francis Breadline and St. Francis Inn), postulants and student friars, activities of Secular Franciscans and Franciscan sisters, OFM and Provincial history and traditions, the Franciscan restructuring and revitalization process in the United States, and brief reflections and meditations.
The majority of readers indicated that the length of the newsletter is “just right.”
The suggestions received from the survey were helpful to the Communications Office staff. The majority of readers support the use of more photos in the newsletter. Some readers indicated that the newsletter’s format can be technically challenging, saying that it’s difficult to navigate, it requires too many clicks to access information, and it’s not easy to print. Other readers suggest broadening the number of friars included in the newsletter, as sometimes it appears as though the same friars are mentioned repeatedly. The Communications Office staff will be taking this into the consideration as it plans for the future.
“On behalf of the Communications Office, I thank everyone who took the time to share their thoughts with us,” said Jocelyn Thomas, director of communications. “The feedback that we’ve received is extremely helpful. Anyone with additional ideas is more than welcome to contact the Communications Office.” Questions, comments and story ideas can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Our audience is broad,” said Thomas. “We aim to appeal to all of our readers whether they be HNP friars or laypeople or religious from outside the Province.”
Recently, HNP Today and the Communications Office staff members received several awards from national communications groups. Thomas and Maria Hayes, communications coordinator for Holy Name Province, received five awards from the Catholic Press Association, all in the “Best Feature Article: Newsletter” category. Hayes’ story “Virginia Parish Raises $19,000+ for Georgia Parish’s Summer Program” was awarded first place and was described as “a lighthearted and engaging piece on a small effort with big impact.” Hayes also received second place for “Photo of Franciscan Fire Chaplain Praying Rosary Goes Viral,” which was described as “a haunting and hopeful account of a person dedicated to keeping others safe via physical and spiritual care.” This story also received a merit award from the Religion Communicators Council.
Thomas was awarded third place for “John Heffernan Celebrates Mass for Community,” which judges called “a joyous account with a diverse lens on the traditions of marriage and communities coming together to celebrate. Thomas also received honorable mention for two stories: “Friars Take Part in Polar Plunge to Raise Awareness, Funding” and “Friars Celebrate St. Bonaventure University President.”
Editor’s note: A summary of the results of the 2017 Readership Survey was distributed at last month’s Provincial Chapter. Any HNP friar who would like to obtain the document is invited to contact Maria Hayes or Jocelyn Thomas in the Provincial Office at 646-473-0265
- “Announcing the HNP Today Survey” – Feb. 15, 2017, HNP Today
- “Communications Staff Receives Awards from CPA, RCC “ – June 29, 2016, HNP Today
- “Communications Office Marks 40 Years of Ministry” – Feb. 3, 2010, HNP Today