Late September, Pope Francis will visit the U.S. for the first time. The Pope’s visit comes at a crucial time, as the number of Catholics in the U.S. has declined by three million since 2007, according to a PEW Research study.
Pope Francis is hoping to remedy this significant slide by demonstrating that he is willing to directly address the controversies faced by the Catholic Church. According to a PR Week article, the Pope will focus on anti-discrimination messaging, which is expected to resonate well given the current racial turmoil in the U.S. He will also address global warming and use his Argentinian heritage to connect with Latino and Hispanic populations.
With his open position on homosexual marriage and his active participation on social media platforms, Pope Francis seems like the right man to secure a younger Catholic audience’s approval and support once more. The major issue is balancing this modern-day thinking with traditional Catholic beliefs. PR experts predict that the Pope will emphasize broader topics, such as the launch of new charitable programs, instead of the touchy social issues that tend to split and cause tension among Church members.
The question is: How do you select messaging when you need to target multiple audiences? The obvious answer seems that you should prioritize one audience over another; however, in the case of the Catholic Church you are faced with two completely different points of view. On one hand you have the more conservative, older Catholics who have been with the Church forever. On the other, you have a younger generation of Catholics who many not agree with all of the old beliefs.
What campaign messages and strategies would you enact for the Pope on his trip to the U.S.? How would you help the Pope present a cohesive message, while still relating to two completely different, but equally important audiences? Or do you think one audience should be prioritized over another on this U.S. trip?