Media & religion - faith on- and offline

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This presentation was a keynote address that I gave for the annual Episcopal Church in-house meeting. It explains the current converged relationship between faith in the "real world" and in the digital space. I also address issue of brand hijacking and content marketing.

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Media & religion - faith on- and offline

  1. 1. Converging faith on- and off-line: What the church can learn from the “real world” to aid in missionary work Episcopal In-House Meeting January 15, 2014 Mara Einstein, PhD Queens College, City University of New York
  2. 2. “And Jesus said to Peter…” 2
  3. 3. Today: No separation between media & religion Religion and the media seem to be ever more connected as we move further into the twenty-first century. It is through the media that much of contemporary religion and spirituality is known….The realms of ‘religion’ and ‘media’ can no longer be easily separated. -- Stewart Hoover, Center for Media, Religion and Culture University of Colorado, Boulder 3
  4. 4. Agenda  Changing relationship between media and religion  Special impact of digital media in changing relationships between producers and audiences  Case studies integrating media and religion  Best practices – What sacred can learn from the secular 4
  5. 5. Convergence of Media and Religion 5
  6. 6. Convergence of Media and Religion Religion Media • Advertising, websites and social media are used to communicate with followers Media Religion • Remains a popular topic across media platforms 6
  7. 7. 7
  8. 8. Non-Fiction/Reality Series 8
  9. 9. Digital Media Has Changed the Relationship between Producer and Audience 9
  10. 10. Digital media impact  Digital natives move fluidly from online to offline  Need to find a way to fit into people’s lives, not disrupt it  Millennials expect to “come as you are”  How is church going to help me live my life?  Content producers—sacred or secular—no longer control the message (“brand hijacking”) 10
  11. 11. #Fitchthehomeless 11
  12. 12. I'm Joy. I'm The 2008 Longboard Champion, Love Jesus Christ & I am a Mormon Video 12
  13. 13. 13
  14. 14. 14
  15. 15. Mormon.org 15
  16. 16. Ex-Mormon 16
  17. 17. Mormon response: More content, more online missionaries 17
  18. 18. 18
  19. 19. Video 19
  20. 20. Video – Spiritual Technology 20
  21. 21. 21
  22. 22. Catholicscomehome.org 22
  23. 23. But….  None of these insert themselves into people’s lives  The perspective is from the POV of the institution, not the audience served  Producer-to-audience mentality 23
  24. 24. Online Communities  Create ways for people to come together  People spend time with things they love and care about  And, they tell others 24
  25. 25. Nutella 25
  26. 26. Media as Competition, or is it? 26
  27. 27. Media is Pervasive  1.19 billion monthly active users on Facebook  73% of American adult Internet users use at least one social networking service  42% use multiple sites, including FB, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn  78% watch videos online  1-2 hours/day one mobile devices* * Little agreement about exact figures 27
  28. 28. (Religious) Media as Competition  Convenient  Provides choice  Anonymity  Democratized 28
  29. 29. Questions to consider:  What are religious institutions doing or not doing that makes people turn elsewhere for this content?  If religious institutions can present their message via a converged media-religion hybrid is that necessarily a bad thing? 29
  30. 30. 30
  31. 31. 31
  32. 32. 78% of Protestant churches have a website, less than half use them for interactive purposes (Lifeway, 2011) 32
  33. 33. 33
  34. 34. 34
  35. 35. 35
  36. 36. LifeChurch.tv Case Study 36
  37. 37. LifeChurch.tv  LifeChurch.tv, also called Life Covenant Church or "Life Church“  Multi-site evangelical church (14 + Second Life)  32,000 members  Stream services over 50 times each week (audience: 80,000 unique computers).  Shares content with 52,000 other churches (open.lifechurch.tv). 37
  38. 38. LifeChurch and Media 38
  39. 39. 39
  40. 40. LifeChurch.tv on Second Life 40
  41. 41. YouVersion—Bible App 41
  42. 42. 42
  43. 43. Hillsong Case Study 43
  44. 44. HillsongNYC  Pentecostal megachurch started in Australian  NYC “satellite” church founded 3 years ago  Approximately 6000 weekly attendees over 6 services 44
  45. 45. 45
  46. 46. 46
  47. 47. 47
  48. 48. From presentation to practice 48
  49. 49. Best Practices  On and off line are not mutually exclusive. Find ways to enable this rather than fight against it.  Find ways to engage current members and prospective congregants instead of talking at them  If members become online missionaries, support them in their passions.  Stick to your knitting; find out what your provide that no one else does and do it—really, really well. 49
  50. 50. Questions to ask:  Who are you?  Who do you want to be?  Who do you want to join you?  How can you reach them? 50
  51. 51. The question of marketing  Little separation between media and marketing (branded video and branded journalism are the biggest trend for 2014)  Are marketing and branding consistent with religious values? YES – Marketing = Evangelizing 51
  52. 52.  Book: Brands of Faith: Marketing religion in a commercial age  Email: mara.einstein@gmail.com  Twitter: @MaraEinstein 52
  53. 53. THANK YOU

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