By: Christa Meland
In November, the Minnesota Conference will begin disseminating stories and columns exclusively via digital communications—a move that’s based on several factors and that will allow more resources to be funneled into telling stories through videos.
The October issue of The Northern Light will be the last. The conference joins many others throughout the United States that rely on digital communications.
There are several reasons for the shift. One is that it will enable the conference to deliver content in a much more timely fashion. Given the amount of time it takes to edit print pieces, design the publication, print it, and mail it, stories are about three weeks old by the time they reach readers. By disseminating stories through the conference website and via every Thursday’s Northern Bytes e-newsletter, major conference developments, local church success stories, and important opportunities will reach you immediately. Stories and columns will be written throughout the course of each month and featured on the website and in Northern Bytes as soon as they are ready.
Additionally, in a communications survey that roughly a third of Minnesota churches completed last summer, the majority favored moving to digital communications. One of the reasons they cited was cost, and indeed, the cost of producing The Northern Light has risen more than 15 percent since The United Methodist Reporter—which designed, printed, and mailed the monthly publication—shut down in May of this year.
One of the key benefits of moving to digital communications is that it will free up resources to tell stories through video. The conference doesn’t currently have dollars from the annual budget that are dedicated to video—but that will change in 2014. Minnesota Conference staff received an overwhelmingly positive response to the “breakthrough” videos that guest speaker Rev. Sue Nilson Kibbey shared at the 2013 annual conference session. The conference communications team will be able to produce similarly powerful videos of its own starting next year—along with special messages from Bishop Bruce R. Ough, the district superintendents, and other conference leaders.
In conjunction with the shift to digital communications, the Minnesota Conference communications team is in the midst of redesigning the Northern Bytes e-newsletter. A fresh-looking e-newsletter, with new features and a new name, will debut later this year—so stay tuned.
*If you’re not currently receiving the conference’s e-mail communications (which currently include every Tuesday’s Minnesota Bulletin Board, every Thursday’s Northern Bytes, and occasional special announcements from the bishop or the conference office), subscribe on the home page of the conference website and encourage other members of your congregation to do the same.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church