There are better ways to speak to the people these days than a wave from the papal apartment balcony.
So the Vatican's communications department has asked business-transformation specialist Accenture for help in simplifying and unifying its digital communications.
The Secretariat for Communications of the Vatican (its ministry of communications) has appointed Accenture Interactive to set up a new channel called "Vatican News" to better communicate and engage digitally with the faithful. Accenture's mission as "global experience agency" is to help the church define a consistent, clear digital communications strategy under one portal. Previously, the Vatican's communication channels were separate and independent.
A beta launch of the "Vatican News" site went live over the weekend. The site shares news about the Pope, Vatican, Church and world in six languages, and lets visitors explore the pope's upcoming agenda, peruse the "Saint of the Day" or scroll through Pope Francis' Instagram feed (which this week shared a photo of him enjoying a 13-foot-long pizza for his 81st birthday).
Many see the Catholic church's current leader, who began the papacy in 2013, as a progressive force. Pope Francis has pushed for the church to improve communications to people of different cultures using new media. Over the weekend, he said journalists are essential to democracy and warned them not to push incomplete, biased and untruthful reports.
In its previous iteration, the Vatican's communications department had separate teams arranged by language and medium (including a site for its radio station and another for its newspaper). Accenture has been working with the group for about a year to redesign the teams to ensure communications are consistent, says Max Cremonini, content and creative lead at Accenture Interactive in Italy.
"They felt the need to have one single voice," Cremonini says. He also hints that there's more to come, saying "this is just the first step of their reform."
Accenture Interactive's typical client is a company that might be looking to boost sales or improve other key performance indicators. But the Vatican isn't a typical client.
"What we [began] to discover when we started to work with this client is that their KPIs are radically different in some ways," Cremonini says. It's more about spreading a message -- and it doesn't always have to be spread that widely. As an example, he said that if the Vatican can reach a single person in a tightly controlled country like North Korea, that would be considered a success.
The Vatican is "trying to communicate a message to as many people as possible, but especially to those that are in countries where this message cannot be heard," he says.