Message of hope connects Millennials with Pope Francis

Catholic news site Aleteia uses savvy social media strategies combined with boots on the ground to engage with Millennials for the pope's first visit to the US.

Message of hope connects Millennials with Pope Francis

Blast PR, Sports Media Challenge
Pope is Hope
April - September 2015

Aleteia, a global Catholic news site, developed a successful digital initiative centered on Pope Francis’ recent trip to the US.

Aleteia partnered with Sports Media Challenge and Blast PR to develop strategies and promote the campaign before, during, and after the pope’s visit. This digital campaign bolstered social media engagement and awareness, especially among Millennials, for Pope Francis’ first visit to the US.

Aleteia worked with Charlotte, NC-based Sports Media Challenge to develop the taglines "Pope Is Hope" and "Good Is Winning" - taglines used as hashtags and shared on social media platforms including Twitter, Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest.

"The Pope represents a force for good in the world for a lot of people, but many Millennials didn’t want to have a religious conversation, but rather a human society conversation," explains Jason Deal, SVP of strategy and marketing for Aleteia. "We had to be sensitive to this. We also had to work hard to make sure we were creative, innovative, and not trying too hard."

Aleteia assembled a digital street team to cover Pope Francis’ visits to New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Aleteia hosted a search contest for 60 Millennials from different religious backgrounds to join the team and cover the pope’s visit to the US from September 22 to 27. Contestants were asked to communicate digital content around the idea of "good is winning."

There was a dedicated website developed to accompany the campaign: There was also a dedicated Twitter handle @popeishope.

Campaign staff chose a Philadelphia homeless shelter to serve as a coordination point of activities as Pope Francis made his way through the US. This center was known as the Pope Is Hope Social Listening Center.

Aleteia announced the winners of the team contest on August 18. A number of major media outlets covered the announcement thanks to media relations from Blast PR, including the Huffington Post.

The team went into action with 35 members taking to the street to cover and publish social media content relating to the pope’s activities during his trip.

Aleteia and Blast PR also activated a pope emoji on Mashable, called "Popemoji," to be used and shared on Android and iOS mobile devices. The emojis depicted light-hearted cartoons of the pope visiting famed tourist attractions, crowd surfing, or taking selfies with fans.

Blast’s engagement of key media outlets helped build momentum leading up to the release of the Popemoji keyboard, which had more than 105,000 downloads and 937,000 Popemojis sent around the world. The original Mashable story of the Popemoji release was shared more than 5,200 times.

The hashtag #GoodIsWinning, which the digital street team used throughout their campaign, was referenced nearly 5,000 times from September to October.

"We measured our campaign activity from social engagement to hashtag mentions to site traffic. The word of mouth of the campaign was very large, showing that we were about to reach a lot of people that may not have been thinking about Pope Francis before the final burst on broadcast media." says Deal. "We like to think we laid a foundation among young people to encourage a mental ‘tune-in’ to the pope’s visit."


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