In the midst of the reform of its communications operation, the Vatican has launched its first modern YouTube video, titled What is a Synod?
The video, a media “weather balloon” of sorts for Vatican media, reveals that the age-old institution is starting to take modernization seriously.
With just under 3,000 hits in its first 24 hours, the video is not exactly going viral, but it is clearly hitting a hitherto untapped demographic. It also signals a willingness to try innovative means of reaching out to people, an approach encouraged by Pope Francis.
“We realized we really weren’t hitting young people with our message,” a Vatican official told Breitbart, “and we thought this was a good way to start.”
In fact, not only is YouTube the second most popular search engine in the world, having passed up Yahoo in 2008, it is the number one search engine for young people. That means that when a typical young person wants to get information off the web, the instrument of choice is YouTube.
Up till now, the Vatican’s presence on YouTube had been limited to official liturgical events. The new video, explaining the nature of a Church synod, is the first video created by the Vatican expressly to teach a message, with modern graphics and design.
“Many of the journalists covering the Synod seemed to have little idea what a synod was,” the official told Breitbart. “We thought this might be a good way to get the message across.”
Last December the Vatican hired the US-based global consulting firm McKinsey & Company with the stated aim of making the Vatican’s fragmented communications departments “more functional, efficient and modern.”
The head of the Vatican PR overhaul is Australian Cardinal George Pell, who has complained that currently “expenditures within the Vatican in no way correlate to the number of people who are reached.” Some of the newer media are far less expensive to run than, say, Vatican Radio, while potentially reaching many more people.
According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 71% of those 18-29 cite the internet as a main news source, while older people tend to still rely more on television and newspapers.
Just in time for its big summit on marriage and the family, the Vatican has decided to reach out to the young.