The winners of the Central Communications Board's 2016 Communications Competition for the best newsletters/magazines, websites and innovative use of social media by parishes, dioceses and church organisations were announced on Saturday 14th May, by the Most Revd Pat Storey, Bishop of Meath and Kildare and Chairman of the Central Communications Board, at the General Synod held at the Royal Marine Hotel, Dún Laoghaire.
The competition was run by the Church of Ireland Press Office but externally and professionally judged. This year, the prizes in each category were very generously sponsored by Ecclesiastical Insurance.
There was praise for all the entrants for their efforts in communicating within their own contexts in each category, with convincing evidence of communication work of a high standard across the island.
In the Parish magazines/newsletters category, there were many entries in various different formats, either for weekly or monthly publication:
1st Prize: The Columban (St Columba's, Knock)
The judges described the magazine as having a striking title' and commended its Thought for the Month feature. The magazine was well designed, informative and professionally produced.'
Runner-up: Union Focus (Naas Union of Parishes)
A good, bright and informative' publication. The monthly magazine seeks to enrich the parish through encouragement, provide an opportunity for everybody to be involved, and to discover and use their talents.
Highly Commended: St Gall's, Carnalea, News & Parish News (Tamlaght O'Crilly)
The St Gall's entry was creative and informative - a well-produced newsy publication' with a good reflection in the rector's letter as an editorial. Tamlaght O'Crilly had produced a really good and engaging publication' containing quizzes, cartoons for kids and a prayer diary.
In the Diocesan magazines category:
1st Prize: n:Vision (Dioceses of Derry and Raphoe)
The magazine stood out with an excellent design with creative layout that could easily be given to non-church goers'. It contained good reflective pieces and general information'.
Runner-up: Clogher Diocesan Magazine
A well-presented and focused' publication. The judges very much liked the children's page.
Highly Commended: Connor Connections
The entry featured great stories' - especially a report on a parishioner taking the initiative to help people affected by the Nepal earthquake. Photography was used effectively to break up the content.
In the Other/Affiliated organisation magazines category:
1st Prize: Cathedral Digest (St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast)
A good pocket-sized publication with an easy layout and good standard of photography,' the magazine received praise for its informative and clear design with a reader-friendly format.
Runner-up: In Touch (Connor Mothers' Union)
The judges found this publication to be very nicely formatted' with a good spread of information.
Websites and Social Media
A wide variety of examples were entered for the websites category the external judges looked for innovation, freshness, quality of design and layout and outreach potential.
In the Parish websites category -
1st Prize: Bangor Parish Church (www.bangorparishchurch.org.uk)
Runner-up: St Mary's Church, Killarney (www.churchofthesloes.ie)
Thirteen extremely diverse websites and styles were presented, with the winner and runner-up commended for using contemporary designs and strong communication tools to express their message despite being very different types of parishes.
In the Diocesan websites category -
1st Prize: Meath and Kildare (www.meathandkildare.org)
Runner-up: Connor (www.connor.anglican.org)
Highly Commended: Derry and Raphoe (www.derryandraphoe.org)
As with all online experiences, less is more'. The winner and runner-up each had simplicity and clarity' along with a contemporary design and feel.
In the Other/affiliated organisation websites category -
1st Prize: St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast (www.belfastcathedral.org)
Runner-up: The Graveyard Shift (www.thegraveyardshift.rocks)
St Anne's website was commended for being well-maintained with very clear navigation and a wealth of information'. The Graveyard Shift example was extremely innovative and interesting'.
Social media and blogs
Here, the competition was looking to see how churches, church organisations and members engaged with innovative developments in social networking. Twenty-three social media entries featured, ranging from Facebook and Twitter to Instagram, podcasts and e-zines.
1st Prize: St Gall's, Carnalea (www.facebook.com/stgallssummer.fete)
Runners-up (joint): Church of the Pentecost, Mount Merrion (www.facebook.com/mount-merrion-church-214743481884578) & Killiskey Parish Church, Dublin (www.facebook.com/killiskeyparish)
St Gall's facebook page stood out because of a post which engaged Northern Ireland Assembly members regarding climate change. There was superb use of tagging to enter into conversation with politicians on a relevant issue' and this was an excellent example of the potential for social media to engage with the wider community.' Both of the runner-ups seem to really understand how Facebook works with regular posts and strong interaction with their audiences.'
The most engaging blog was by the Dean of Belfast, the Very Revd John Mann (http://belfastcathedral.org/news/deans-blog), described as a worthy entry' due to the consistency in posting new items.