Pope's PR Man is a J-School Graduate

Last Updated Apr 17, 2008 3:36 PM EDT

Will wonders never cease: it turns out that Pope Benedict XVI's press secretary, John Patrick Cardinal Foley, is a Philadelphia native and a 1966 graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

I'm not sure what to make of this piece of news, except to say that as a 1981 graduate of the same institution, I couldn't resist doing a blog post about it.
First, I have to get a cheap PR joke off my chest: I hope that Cardinal Foley knows that it's a cardinal sin for a PR person to lie to a reporter (ba-dum-bum). There, got that out of the way.

According to this article on the Columbia J-School's web site:

Foley has been "the Holy See's lead liaison with the electronic press, the advertising industry, and the world of information technology. Inside the Vatican, he has been a staunch advocate of more transparency and increased communication with journalists."
If Foley is responsible for Benedict's coverage so far on his trip to the U.S., then kudos for a job well done. For a pope with such big shoes to fill, and with a much less attractive public persona than John Paul II, Benedict has certainly come across well: in touch, modern and caring.

Perhaps the other takeaway from this little news item is the value to PR of understanding the journalist mindset -- even the Vatican gets it. For the rest of us, it's a reminder that one of the absolute keys to PR success is to understand the strengths, weaknesses and needs of the media. The better job we do with that, the more overall success we will have.

  • Jon Greer

    Jon Greer has been analyzing media and PR for more than 25 years. He's been a journalist and a PR executive, and has been a featured speaker for many years at the Bulldog Reporter Media Relations Summit, and served as Bulldog's Editorial Director for their PR University series of weekly how-to audio conferences.

    Jon provides PR services including media relations and freelance writing to clients including start-ups, law firms, corporations, investment banks and venture capital firms. In addition, Jon provides spokesperson training. Learn more about Jon's training programs at The Media Bridge.