CathBlog June 19: The white knuckle launch

CathNews launched its new website yesterday… and things went a little crazy, writes Publisher Christine Hogan.

                                         

I love our CathNews audience. We ask our Subscribers questions in our surveys, and they reply; we invite them to media training days or on Pilgrimage, and they come along with us.

For the past nearly four years, it has been my privilege to lead the Publishing team at Church Resources, and it is rarely dull. (Though sometimes I would like a little more calm!)

The website relaunch we finalised yesterday has been one of the most challenging projects for us – because some of us are not particularly tech-oriented, and still miss our slates, if not our quill pens.

On Monday afternoon, I sent an email to our CN Subscriber base – nearly 16,000 of our readers – alerting that a relaunch was imminent. At that stage I thought it might be a Thursday morning reveal. Turned out to be yesterday!

In that email, I pointed people to our Facebook page for a preview of the look and feel of the new design… and I was astonished to discover that our ‘likes’ on Facebook had gone from 1147 around 3 pm, to 1215 this morning. Along the way, we picked up two more Pilgrims for our trip to the Holy Land in November. (Yes, yes, there was a typo.That’s 2013, not 2012 as I wrote yesterday.)

But more than that… overnight, we had more than 50 emails from our CathNews community reacting incredibly positively to the news of our redesign.

I would like to share some of them with you now….

Thanks for your email and I look forward to seeing the new website. Thanks for all you do, I enjoy CathNews, particularly with this current Pope, there are so many good news stories when he is involved. Peter

Good Luck with the launch and work well done. Gil

I would like to join with other subscribers to wish you luck with the innovative changes to presentation.   Bravissimi - and all good wishes from Joan Carden

Every best wish and blessings, Christine and your staff, in your very worthwhile endeavours with this great source of Catholic information. Keep on growing! Robert and Carmel

Good luck with the new website.  Almost all of our province, here and in PNG, check CathNews first thing every morning.  It is a tremendous service and you have our thanks.   Tom cp (FYI,Tom is the Provincial Superior!)

Sounds like a huge amount of work! I have never had an issue with the present product, but it seems one has to move with the times. I got quite a shock after clicking the link – Christ is certainly in your face was my first thought! Not heretical I hope. It is certainly a big change from the heading I’ve become so used to.  The content is the thing isn’t it? What a wonderful way to begin the day, catching up with so many items of interest – often the only place I read about what’s happening in/to the church from its hierarchy to its body, the layperson.’ Barbara (who came on Pilgrimage with us last year, and was a lovely addition to our trip.)

All I hope is that CathNews will be as informative as ever – and not too difficult for us, the older/oldest generation, to navigate. Good luck, Sue

I sometimes think that the editors of CathNews can read my mind! Your choice of articles seems to fit my interests like a glove. You have a balanced mix of the good news and the bad news - all of which we need to be informed about. Change the format but not the editorial policy! Many thanks, Adrian

Just a brief email from Samoa to let you know how much I appreciate CathNews.  With The Tablet which arrives always a month late and then 4 at the time, CathNews keeps us in touch with important events in Australia and the world.  Thanks for this great service.  Thanks again Christine, Father Nicholas Castelyns, a happy subscriber! 

CathNews is very much part of my life. It opens doors to information, understanding in areas of church and beyond that I appreciate. Please keep up the good work of your team. I know so many people who say did you hear... and where did you hear or read about that.. ..CN ! Thanks, Kevin

I am very impressed with CathNews and I know what you do will make it better. All the best, Michael

From Rome, Sr Angela wrote: Just had a look at the preview of the new CathNews and it looks really very exciting and congratulations.  As I am in Rome and have been for the past six years, it has been a great source of information and keeping me up to date with Australian news etc.  But further to congratulating you, I notice that today you have included St Emilie de Vialar (17th June) and she is our foundress (on CN Facebook as Saint of the Day). That was a wonderful surprise; we are usually are very obscure.  God bless the team and the effort you have put in to continue to make CathNews a source of information and spiritual help. God bless.

There were a couple of Subscribers, like Marie, who are not firmly in the grip of the new social media: Just as long as you continue to email the News and not Facebook it, Christine, she wrote.

And this, from Laura: I am afraid that my age (80) gets in the way.  I liked things just the way you have been doing them and I doubt I will access the CathNews new look.

Shirley wanted just a little change:  I have been a Subscriber for a short time, but  let me tell you, CathNews is one newsletter/information format/newspaper/magazine, that I have received that I actually READ.  I congratulate you for the impartiality of your presentation, for the variances that you project and for the general layout of your data.  I write some articles for our Aurora in the Newcastle/Maitland Diocese and am on the editorial board of that magazine.  We have a good monthly input into the activities of our diocese, but yours is a different presentation for different reasons and of different facts.  Don't change too much!

From John on Facebook: New site looks clean and fresh! Love it. CathNews keeps me in touch with my Catholic Faith, which I love. Congratulations.

There was a little confusion in at least one quarter: I watched the new show this morning.  NO THANKS!!  Needs to be more serious and less lighthearted and cute.

We are doing Mass on Demand, which is as close as we get to a ‘new show’ (even though that is something which has been going on for some time!). Not a bad idea, though EWTN might have got there ahead of us.

And finally, colleague Dan McAloon did give me a laugh:  That's great news, Christine. To me, CathNews has always been the triumph of content over design.

We were so focussed on getting the new website live, and the new newsletter out, that we really hadn’t thought about ‘what next’. We pretty soon discovered what it was, though… we fell victim to our own success!

Everyone wanted to have a look at our website, and after 10 am and the delivery of the newsletter, many people clicked on to see. And the wheels started to grind slowly, then froze up. People were slingshotted off into other parts of the web until we opened up the server ‘pipes’ and allowed a greater flow of traffic.

Apologies for the problem. Thank you for your patience. And thank you too so much for being part of our CathNews community. We work on CathNews every day for you, and are always so heartened when you come back to us so quickly, and with such love.

Please write to me and tell me how you think the new site is going – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . I am looking forward to hearing from you. And may God bless you all.

Christine

- Christine Hogan is the Publisher of faith-based communications for Church Resources, and moderates the discussion boards ofCathNews

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From St Mary’s, North Sydney. The first Mass of the day on YouTube

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