Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta Struggles with Transition to Digital

Organizational Challenge

In October 2012, the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta consecrated a new bishop,  the Right Rev. Robert C. Wright, the first African-American bishop the diocese had ever had.

Bishop Wright was the new leader of this then 106-year-old, 56,000 member church with 109 worshipping communities and various ministries in Middle and North Georgia. His immediate objective was to “to draw the circle wider” in this ninth largest of the 110 dioceses of the Episcopal Church closer. He saw communicationsparticularly digital communicationsas a way to make more people comfortable in the Episcopal Church.

But, because of limited financial and staff resources coupled with senior staff and stakeholders struggling with the transition from paper to digital media, digital communications were faltering. Opportunities to engage new audiences, especially younger ones, were getting lost as older, longer-term members held tightly to traditional communications methods.

Bishop Wright hired my firm conduct a communications assessment that would become the basis of a new strategic communications plan focused on digital.

Approach

Using my business acumen and marketing fluency to conduct this assessment, I first determined what the long-range objectives were for the diocese. Then, I learned what resources the institution had available for me to measure its effectiveness with its current strategies and determine the deficiencies that kept it struggling to move entirely into the digital age.

Early in the process, I decided that surveys and interviews with key stakeholders, those who significantly influenced the institution’s communications strategies, were essential. Without access to focus groups, enterprise level measurement tools and analytics and other resources that might be available to large corporate clients, I used what I had on hand to conduct the assessment. That included a standard survey tool available within email marketing services, a hand-drafted questionnaire sent by email and telephone interviews.

When I completed the report for the communications assessment, I cited those limitations of evidence of the organization’s inhibited digital communications effectiveness.

Outcome

Despite the limitations, I was able to produce a 35-page report that gave the diocese a clear direction to take to create a robust digital communications strategic plan. The best way to describe my success is with the client’s words:

Dahna came into our organization and conducted a communications audit that was robust, comprehensive and complete. We had been struggling with how best to proceed with a brand revision and with gaining insight on how well we were communicating with our numerous stakeholders across one of Georgia’s largest institutions. She was able to manage and incorporate the different issues and perspectives–from the Bishop’s to the lay advisory board–effectively into a document that provided a roadmap to our new, formal communications plan and clear direction on how to implement our new branding across digital media and even offline. We’re grateful to her for her help. Nan Ross, Communications Director, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Working With Me

Today, I only offer similar digital communications assessment services to established professional and industry associations in the financial services and wealth industries that don’t experience similar resource limitations.

To conduct higher level communications assessments, it’s essential organizations can commit financial resources not only to competitive, market-rate consultant compensation but a robust suite of tools and tactics, like focus groups, formal surveys, extensive interviews, and digital analytics.

If that describes your professional or industry organization, please contact me today. I offer a complimentary 15-minute introductory phone call about which you can learn by visiting “The Thrive Business Engagement Process.”