SO this little film (or rather long film, whichever way you look at it...) has been causing some debate in the blog world, particularly on the rather fantastic blog of Lesley Fellows. The complaints against it are plentiful but the main one being: who is this video aimed at? So rather than rant before knowing the purpose or the brief I checked out the CofE PR dept. So yes, they do have one, well to be correct they have a 'Communications Office' which isn't quite the same thing but a step in the right direction. The website says: The Communications Office at Church House, Westminster, provides a 24-hour, seven day a week service on behalf of the National Church Institutions, including the Archbishops' Council, the Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board.
It doesn't actually say what they do 24/7 but it's reassuring to know that any time of day or night you can contact the Communications Team about an urgent, erm, well something urgent anyway... So I emailed them to ask them about this vid and to be fair to them I've included my questions below:
I am just writing in relation to the video on your website home page entitled ‘Introduction to the Church of England’. You may be aware that it is promoting some debate in the blog world, and it has raised a few questions. So I wonder if you would mind if I asked a few questions about it? Could you tell me what was the purpose of the video? Was there a brief? Is it just for the website or is it being shown elsewhere?
Actually I was rather impressed that I got a reply very quickly (how very un-CofE -like) from Peter Crumpler, Director of Communications who was very ammenable to me quoting him on the blog. He said:
It's not a new video, but a presentation that was transferred to video over a year ago . It was designed to communicate basic information about the CofE that we found few people knew. We linked to it when the site first went live last weekend. We're looking to see how best the key info could be expressed in a simpler, shorter format.
So to be fair to them it does follow their brief to 'communicate basic information about the CofE that we found few people knew'. Of course that does not address why they felt the need to communicate that information or why in such a format. Ron'scomment on Lesleys blog seems to sum up the whole thing:
It's either the wrong medium for the data (a static web page would do) or the wrong data for the message (whatever the message is supposed to be).
It seems that the overall issue is about the method of communication and the message being communicated. I was pleased to see that they are looking at a simpler way of experssing the info and as suggested above perhaps just a list on the website would do! If on the other hand they wish to advertise the church then I think we could all come up with better ways of doing it. Funnily enough I looked at their Youtube page this afternoon only to find a shorter version of the film, obviously uploaded today. So at least they have done something with it!
It's now 3.41 minutes rather than 7, a vast improvement on the original and the music has gone (thank the Lord for small mercies...) although the replacement music, which is initially uplifting, becomes very tedious after 30 seconds and rather remninds me of the 'sky' background music which goes on ad infintitum. However... it still seems to me without focus, amazingly dull and actually not going to reach any one area in particular.
As Lesley said, there is so much talent within the CofE, why don't they ask those within? - so can we do better? Isn't this an opportunity? bearing in mind they themselves say they are looking at a different way of doing it. So what are your ideas? (I will email reponses back to Peter Crumpler - I'm sure he will be delighted...) We've seen a few other videos posted already but what are your key themes for the CofE ? How would you introduce the Church of England to someone who didn't know about it? Is it necessary to site that 3000 clergy are self supporting for example, and what is that shot of the biker bloke in the first frame all about? It's like a big banner, 'hey we can be cool too' but then it's when people try to be cool that they blatently aren't....
So instead of being negative, let's give them something to work with... What would you include if you were making a vid about the CofE ?