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Real brothers. Real stories. A real difference.

 

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Campaign presents Brothers as regular men and uses online marketing to attract new Brothers

22/06/2007: United States

After more than ten years of steady decline, Catholic religious communities are seeing a significant rise in the number of candidates interested in religious life, according to new statistics reported by these communities. The Marist Brothers in the United Stares are trying to capitalize on this trend with a new marketing campaign. The campaign differs from traditional religious marketing in its message, tone and heavy use of online marketing venues to reach its target audience of males in their teens through early thirties.

The campaign, entitled “Real brothers. Real stories. A real difference,” features personal stories told by Marist Brothers. Unlike traditional religious marketing, the Marists’ campaign doesn’t use “religious speak” and doesn’t present the brothers as distant and formal. Instead, its tone is honest, direct and down to earth. Its stories feature brothers as regular men with real doubts who, on occasion, even question their calling. But, in the stories, their commitment to and fulfillment from Marist life is always a clear and solid message.

The Marist campaign will depend mostly on online marketing vehicles to deliver this message to the young men they are targeting. In fact, two-thirds of their marketing dollars will be spent online.

The campaign launches with a new website: www.maristbr.com. The user-friendly web site offers answers to the most frequently asked questions about Marist life, and lists upcoming events and activities for those interested in learning more. Site visitors can also communicate directly with the Marists by way of an email link on the site. Echoing the “Real Brothers” theme, the website will include vignettes and written features in which the brothers tell their stories and will soon enable visitors to register to receive an e-newsletter filled with inspirational commentary and practical advice.

To augment the online strategy, “Real Brothers” video spots will be placed on YouTube and podcasts syndicated to iTunes and other venues. Vocation Director, Brother Steve Milan, has also created a profile on MySpace.com to interact with members of this popular web site.

Over the next few months, the Marist Brothers will enhance their web site with an interactive dialogue component and will launch a blog about Catholic life in general and Marist life in particular. The brothers also plan to reach out to young men through the increasing number of online communities frequented by Christian youth.

Brother John Klein, F.M.S., Provincial of the Marist Brother in the United States, took the risk in creating a marketing campaign that is different from traditional religious marketing because he “felt that the ‘Real Stories’ approach very much reflects who we are. We’re part of the church but not part of the hierarchal structure of the church,” explained Brother John. “And the campaign is not such a departure from early religious teachings in which the New Testament uses stories to communicate values.” Brother John also believes that “the campaign’s use of online marketing vehicles should be very effective.”

If the Marist’s campaign is as successful as they expect, the Catholic order should start to reap interest among a growing number of young adults seriously considering, and increasingly choosing, life as a Catholic brother, priest or sister. According to a survey sponsored by the magazine, Vision Vocation Guide, a national trend is beginning to reverse the decade’s long decline, as Catholic religious communities have enjoyed a 19 percent jump in the number of candidates preparing for religious life in the past three years. Religious communities polled also reported a 125 percent increase in the past year in the number of unique readers creating online profiles and requesting information from the religious groups.

According to the survey, eighty-five percent of those potential priests, brothers and sisters want to be involved in active ministry in such fields as education social service, campus ministry and parish work--the very fields that are central to the work of the Marist Brothers.

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