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The winners of the Central Communications Board 2012 Communications Competition for the best newsletters/magazines, websites and innovative use of social media by parishes, dioceses and church organisations were announced today, Saturday 12 May, by the Archbishop of Armagh at the General Synod in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.
The competition was run by the Church of Ireland Press Office but externally and professionally judged. There was praise to all the entrants for their efforts in communicating within their own contexts in each category, with clear evidence of communication work of a very high standard across the island. Constructive feedback is available for all entrants – please get in touch with the Church of Ireland’s Press Officer, Paul Harron.
In the Parish magazines/newsletters category, there were many entries in various different formats: some were straightforward monthlies, modestly produced, while others were produced quarterly and very professionally designed and produced.
- First prize: Shankill Parish Church, Lurgan: ‘FOCUS’
This magazine is in its infancy, having so far produced issues for Christmas and Easter (with these well tied–in to those seasons); however, it stands out as an exciting initiative and a superior product. The quality of design and production is exceptional, happily matched by very strong content drawn from a variety of sources with good photos. The focus on people’s stories is exemplary and the content and design will cleverly appeal to all age groups. It is always good to hear the stories of people’s lives before reading their obituaries! This magazine meets the needs of the church community but also shows evidence of wider community engagement and should prove to be a strong outreach tool.
- Runner Up: Celbridge & Straffan with Newcastle–Lyons: CSNL News
Here is a very modestly produced bi–monthly magazine which does its job most effectively. While the design and layout could be enhanced in some ways, there are very good editorial ideas and a strong sense of enthusiasm about the parish. Most importantly, the structure works, with good content and with a strong sense of looking forward rather than just back over events. Pictures on the front cover all correspond to stories inside and focus on people and the stuff of life. If it came through the door it would be easy to pick up, read and get a good sense of parish life – it would also encourage the reader to get involved in church life.
In the Diocesan magazines category –
- First Prize: Connor Diocese’s Connor Connections
This is designed and produced to an excellent standard with a very good use of pictures and well written articles. The cover is effective – cleanly designed with a strong title and clear and striking cover image. Most importantly, the magazine is very much centred on the people of the diocese, capturing a sense of a ‘diocesan family’. Overall, it has been very well edited and enjoys strong headlines and interesting stories and features.
- Runner Up: Derry & Raphoe Dioceses’ N:Vision
The magazine continues to be a really top quality, attractive publication which is well designed, colourful and lively in feel. The parish–by–parish round–ups help to foster diocesan news interests but are balanced by articles on a wide range of faith–focused themes.
In the ‘Other’ organizations Printed Publications category –
- First place goes to In Touch with Connor Diocese Mothers’ Union
This magazine sustains its strong position, doing just what it should. It packs a lot of information in, uses all the space fully and imaginatively and is clearly produced by people who have an eye for a story. It is a zesty and enthusiastic publication in which text and images relate exceptionally well.
- Runner Up: CMSI for its In Mission magazine.
This is an attractive and informative magazine: a good size, readable and colourful with useful material which works well as a useful way of keeping supported up to date. An accompanying prayer diary is smartly produced and well laid out, consistent with the image of the main publication.
In the Websites category the external judges looked for innovation, freshness, quality of design and layout and outreach potential. The standard of entries was notably very good with strong entries from a number of parishes, dioceses and organisations.
In the Parish websites category –
- First place: Lisburn Cathedral
This website (www.lisburncathedral.org) impressed both visually and in its content which was up–to–date and with clear staff and vestry information. The menu stays helpfully on the screen for ease of use and there are regular blog postings and podcasts. The front page is clean, strong and colourful without being overly busy.
- Runner Up: Holywood Parish
This parish website (www.holywoodparishchurch.co.uk), previously successful in this competition (winner last year), continues to be a great site. It is colourful, up–to–date and includes a good ‘I’m new here’ feature, tweets and good pictures. Another advantage is that the user doesn’t have to scroll down the page unnecessarily.
- Highly Commended: Willowfield Parish
In recognition of the stiff competition in this category, it was felt that a Highly Commended prize was also required, which goes to Willowfield Parish Church, Belfast for its site www.willowfieldchurch.co.uk. This site is very good, with easy and effective navigation and strong use of pictures.
In the Diocesan websites category –
- First place: Down & Dromore
The Down & Dromore diocesan website works extremely well, giving a good impression of lively diocesan activity while being informative, engaging, unstuffy and – crucially – current. Its highly impressive variety of content is cleanly presented. www.down.anglican.org
- Runner Up: Dublin & Glendalough
This site is informative and colourful with good up–to–date information about upcoming events as well as lots of recent news and images. The prayer cycle and links to parishes were felt to be effective, the latter especially so for visitors who might want to find a church to attend in the diocesan area. www.dublin.anglican.org
In the ‘Other’ affiliated organizations website category –
- Equal First place: Down & Dromore Youth
- Equal First place: St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin
Down & Dromore Youth’s website (www.ddyc.co.uk) is informative, useful and friendly in appearance in a way which will appeal especially to its target audience – with lots of colourful icons and links.
The website for St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin (www.stpatrickscathedral.ie) is handsome – just what one would expect of a large cathedral wishing to appeal to various audiences from those interested in worship and music to tourist visitors and those interested in Christian heritage. The colour palette and simple arrangement of content is elegantly handled. A particularly notable and innovative feature is the live link to Sunday services.
- Highly Commended: St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork
This site (www.cathedral.cork.anglican.org) is bright, engaging and welcoming with current information on services and events which will appeal to worhsippers and cathedral visitors alike. The welcome video is a useful introduction to the life and history of St Fin Barre’s.
Finally, the 2012 competition again invited entries for the most innovative use of ‘social media’ over and beyond websites. Here, the competition was looking to see how churches, church organizations and members engaged with the manifold developments in social networking. Reflecting increased activity in this arena, we have first, second and highly commended awards:
- First Place: The Dock
The Dock Church in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter does an excellent job in bringing together website, facebook, blog and flickr with lots of great images and video clips. It is an enticing way into engaging with this venture, overflowing with energy and enthusiasm. The posts to the blog are regular and the other elements have frequent updates. www.thedockchurch.org
- Runner–up: The Good Book Shop, Belfast
Here is a church–connected business which is making commendable efforts to build up a community of book–buyers in a challenging market. The link–up between website, facebook and twitter is well done and savvy. www.goodbookshop.com
- Highly commended: Holy Trinity Rathmines, Dublin
This church community has linked up all its social media to strong effect. The look of the various channels of communication is good, with an appeal which will work for all ages. www.htrinity.ie
The full list of winners is as follows:
Communications Competition Winners:
Winner: Shankill Parish, Lurgan – ‘FOCUS’
Runner Up: Celbridge & Straffan with Newcastle–Lyons: ‘CSNL News’
Winner: Connor Connections (Connor)
Runner Up: N:Vision (Derry & Raphoe)
Other Organizations Magazines
Winner: In Touch with Connor Mothers’ Union
Runner Up: CMS In Mission
Winner: Lisburn Cathedral (Connor)
Runner Up: Holywood Parish (Down & Dromore)
Highly Commended: Willowfield Parish (Down & Dromore)
First Place: Down & Dromore
Runner Up: Dublin & Glendalough
Other Organisations Websites
Joint First: Down & Dromore Youth
Joint First: St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin
Highly Commended: St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork
Winner: The Dock, Titanic Quarter
Runner Up: The Good Book Shop, Belfast
Highly Commended: Holy Trinity, Rathmines, Dublin