I have a feature up at Religion News Service on the broader communications overhaul going on at the Vatican -- a reform effort that was given impetus by the series of gaffes and PR missteps in this pontificate, and the recent "Vatileaks" case:
So how is the overhaul going now that things are settling down?It's a work in progress, said Greg Burke, the Fox News reporter who the Vatican hired last summer in an unusually high-profile move. I'm just aiming for baby steps at this point, trying to get things moving in the right direction. And I think they are.Vatican officials say Burkes hiring he is a member of the influential and media-savvy Opus Dei order and he works in the office of the secretary of state, the Vaticans West Wing is one of the biggest of the baby steps. It has been followed by a number of other actions designed to make the Holy Sees communications a priority rather than an afterthought.For example, the Vatican has started using mock press conferences to prepare for tough questions from the media, and made some of its younger, mid-level officials more available to journalists. Even though they may deliver only background briefings, these officials tend to relate to reporters better than high-ranking cardinals for whom the media is a necessary evil and fax machines a novelty. (Thirty-something curial officials like to joke that the Vaticans motto should be Yesterdays technology tomorrow.)
Now, if they can just get the press office to stay open past 3 pm Rome time, they'll be cookin' with gas.Yes, it's nice that the Holy Father is on Twitter. Hey, half a million "followers" and he hasn't even sent a tweet yet. Not too shabby. But the other, broader media effort is important. Changes in structure are one thing, changing the culture is another. There's no better communications strategy than having a good product to sell, and being open and accountable.