Canadian MB Communications Strategy
Breakout Session #2 – October 22, 2015 at 11:00 a.m.
It goes without saying that communication is key to family life. Stories help nurture a shared sense of identity and community among Mennonite Brethren churches across Canada. But how do we best share these stories?
On May 11, 2015, the Canadian MB Conference announced that the MB Herald would cease publication as of December 2015. A new publication would be developed to rally churches around our mission. Amid the resulting outcry, and to discern next steps, the Canadian MB executive engaged 6P Marketing to conduct a communications survey of MBs across Canada. This breakout session included an overview of the results, followed by questions and discussion.
Brent Smith (6P Marketing) presented the results. They used both qualitative and quantitative methods, and there was high level of response. Statistically, the results can be viewed with a high level of confidence. Much detailed information was shared, more than can easily be processed in a 30-minute presentation.
At the risk of presenting an incomplete picture, here are a few pertinent insights:
- Publishing today encompasses much more than text on paper, but print is still a very effective medium
- The most valuable content is stories of Canadian MB Churches, whether challenges or successes
- The Herald name is a recognizable asset
- The Herald is not reaching all age groups (only 1% of readers are under the age of 25, yet 63% of readers are 55+)
- CCMBC communications tends to address more functional issues than emotional issues
- Readers appear to be highly satisfied, but not to the point of actively promoting the Herald to new readers
- Dialogue is an essential component of communication for the younger demographic
The last 20 minutes of the session were devoted to questions/answers.
The first few questions were in regard to research method and whether the responses truly were representative of all Herald readers.
Related to this, were the results skewed as a result of the “unpopular” decision to cancel the Herald? The large sample size of respondents and the survey methods utilized suggest that these results are statistically reflective/accurate of 95% of the readership (plus/minus 3.5%).
To translate this more concisely: the survey results are valid and accurate: the Herald has value and is important to CCMBC. It should be continued.
The breakout session concluded with Mark Wessner, executive board member, asking what needs to happen next in terms of communications within the Canadian Mennonite Brethren context.
One response: diversify. Broaden the delivery methods beyond the Herald, but don’t get rid of the Herald.
Another response highlighted the need for dialogue and for generating conversation around a variety of issues and topics.
My request is that the results will be posted and shared broadly within the CCMBC.
The CCMBC executive board is asking for any and all feedback, whether suggestions or critiques. The hope is to bring a recommendation to Gathering 2016, so we are invited to join the conversation.
From my perspective, let’s dialogue. Let’s agree; let’s disagree. Let’s talk about various options as a response to specific topics, listening to the diverse voices within our conference, remembering to return to our MB understandings and theology. Engaging in a lively conversation around relevant issues will make for much better reading than simple reports and updates. Let’s engage each other in conversation.
—Leonard Klassen lives in Abbotsford, B.C., with his wife and two sons. He serves as an associate pastor at King Road Church. He still reads the Herald from back to front.
Well said, Leonard, and “diversify” and “dialogue” are two great summary words! We can’t have community without communication, so let’s talk. :)
I am encouraged by both the process and results of the “second look.” I am 72 years old, so I am in the demographic that reads the Herald. But I am also a significant user of social media, so I often read key Herald articles on Facebook before my print version even arrives.
The Canadian Conference used to have a bulletin board type discussion forum which required membership in the group and was overseen, monitored and policed by admins. It was a great place for very frank discussion and debate of matters of theology, scripture, ecclesiology, faith and life. We could and did regularly agree and disagree without being disagreeable. It had topical threads that anyone could initiate. There were a dozen or so “regulars” and a variety of others. It ceased operation a few years ago and I miss it. The MB Herald Facebook page is not a replacement.
Facebook is an OK medium for such discussions in a “closed group.” Is there such a thing in existence which I have not discovered? If not, could we please have one?
Thanks, Lorne, my “friend from a long time ago in Prince George”. :) From what I know, there is nothing equivalent right now, but the idea of a “safe and secure” place to talk just might have merit! I think there could be some pros and cons, though, so it would have to be thought through carefully. Thanks, Lorne!