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More than a Marketing Strategy

Heart Encounters Heart

On January 24, the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, Pope Francis released his annual message for World Communications Day, which will be celebrated on May 21. Each year’s World Communications Day has a unique theme. This year, we are called to reflect on the theme of "Speak with the heart: Veritatem facientes in caritate" (Speaking the truth in love).

This year also marks the one hundredth anniversary of the designation of St. Francis de Sales as a patron saint of Catholic communicators. Pope Francis reminds us that one of St. Francis de Sales’ most famous quotes, “heart speaks to heart,” has inspired generations of faithful, among them St. John Henry Newman, who chose it as his motto, Cor ad cor loquitur.

In this year’s message, the pope emphasizes the essential need for connection in communication. When true human communication takes place, people “attune themselves to the same wavelength, to the point of being able to hear within their heart also the heartbeat of the other.” This space between people can become holy ground, in which the “miracle of encounter” takes place.

As we read the inspiring World Communications Day message, our team has taken several key reminders to heart this year, including:

  • Be Cordial. The goal of all communication is to build relationships in order to invite people to grow together.

  • Heart Speaks to Heart. All conversations should reflect an active, loving authenticity.

  • Promote a Vision of Peace. The right words, at the right time, can help diffuse tension and build a better world than the one we have inherited.

As we reflect on this call as communicators with and for the Church, we ask ourselves: how can we apply these principles to our own communication plans?

  • When we say, share, post or publish something, are we truly ready to receive feedback?

  • Does what we say - and how we say it - create a situation where people want us to be more deeply involved in their lives?

  • Is what we’re writing helping to enkindle the flame of the Holy Spirit in people’s hearts? Is it a balm on their wounds? Does it shed light on their journey toward Christ?

  • Is our message, and our approach, bold and creative? Do we seek common ground for dialogue?

Of course, the Holy Father reminds us that “communication should never be reduced… to a marketing strategy.” Instead, he notes, communication is “a reflection of the soul.” In that sense, each of us is being called to consider how we are applying this year’s important reminders to how we communicate with one another not just in our formal communications plans, but also in our daily personal interactions with one another.

In these common interactions, are we cordial? Do we speak with the heart? Do we daily promote a vision of peace? This should be our prayer.

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