Pope Benedict XVI posts his first tweet using an iPad tablet after his Wednesday general audience in Paul VI's Hall at the VaticanIn the past decade or two, the Roman Catholic Church has come under considerable fire, says Ronn Torossian CEO of 5W Public Relations. From abuse scandals, to land deals, to questions about the background of Pope Benedict, the church has been steadily fielding one PR crisis after another. But, like many other things, Pope Francis may be changing that. When he was elected, people expected Pope Francis to be a little different. But just how different has been winning him fans, and winning the troubled faithful back into the fold.

From his speeches about social issues, and his direct response to many perceived ills of the church, to his nighttime charity work with the poor around the Vatican, Pope Francis has worked hard to be a one-man positive public relations machine for a church in dire straits. Now, the Pope is on Twitter. Or, at least, someone is tweeting in his name. It’s no secret that church attendance, and religious affiliation among the Digital Generation is lagging. By some surveys, it could be said that religious expression and affiliation among both GenX and Millennials is drastically low… and getting lower. But, someone at the Vatican’s PR team realized one surefire way to reconnect.

Each day, the Pope’s Twitter account sends out a positive, or challenging, or inspiring message. The faithful are beginning to read and share these messages like wildfire. Every time a doubtful believer or a disaffected former attendee sees these messages, they immediately experience a positive feeling associated with the Pope. Eventually, these positive feelings will brand Pope Francis, and as the head of the Church, that branding will spill over. The longer this goes on, the more deeply that branding will set in.

But, is the Pope the only one who can win with that strategy? What is your company’s social media PR plan, and how are you executing it?


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