“Family Associations 2.0: Language, Methods, and Strategies in an
Internet Society”

was the topic at the Day Seminar organized on Friday, November 23 at the
Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. Three organizations
collaborated on the initiative: Family Associations Forum, InterMedia Consulting and Family and Media.

The heart of the discussion was the family–which is simultaneously a
subject and an object of communication in the media–and how to support
family associations in a way that can help them transmit a proper
understanding of their institution in public opinion.

The first part of the Seminar was an expert meeting on the topic

“Between Research and Experience: Sharing Knowledge to Create
Innovative Strategies.”

The Rev. Prof. José María La Porte (Holy Cross) took part
in the discussion, presenting research on “The Communication of Family Associations” that was carried out
between 2008 and 2010 with a sample of 31 associations. Dr. Pietro Boffi (Family Associations Forum) then presented
research on

“Minors and the Media: A question of Family. Use of the Media among
Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults.”

Prof. Camillo Regalia (University of the Sacred Heart in
Milan) presented third, with research about

“The Challenge of Social Networks in Communication between Parents and

Finally, Dr. Reynaldo Rivera (InterMedia Consulting and
Safe Social Media Project) spoke about research on

“Lifestyles, Media, and Violence among adolescents: Cases in Spain and

The Seminar not only presented research but set the afternoon apart for
discussing practical solutions. Five speakers were asked to participate in
a round table discussion moderated by Francesco Belletti,
President of the Italian Family Associations Forum, on Media Awarenes: Projects and Good Practices that Respond. Each had
20 minutes to describe a concrete problem in the media world or a concrete
solution that currently works to meet a media challenge.

The first speaker was Norberto González Gaitano, a
Professor at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, and
Project Coordinator for Family and Media. A think tank
based in Rome, Family and Media dedicates itself to promoting a respectful
vision of the family in fiction and news media. In this way, helps family
associations to communicate more efficiently. Through research,
publications, and a website offer a significant contribution to the family
and educators alike. By forming the formers, they indirectly work to spread
a clearer, more positive image of the family in public opinion.

Reynaldo Rivera
of InterMedia was the next speaker to contribute to the
discussion. Presenting for the second time, he addressed a question common
to many non-profit communicators: how can my association speak more
effectively with politicians and the media? His answer—with numbers.
Research holds valuable information, but is often too complicated. It must
be “translated” into a language that is easily grasped by the desired
public. “A well placed number,” stated Rivera, “can speak more than 500
pages of research.”

Following was Giuseppe Romano, a Professor of
Communications at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, and
expert in video games. He spoke about why gaming must be taken seriously.
In the world of computers, the famous World of Warcraft is a representative
example, with currently over 10 million annual paying subscribers around
the world.

 Games speak a much stronger language than books or movies,
stated Romano, because they involve a player’s freedom to choose. They
offer more than stories for watching, but worlds for entering as a
protagonist. “If I am being asked to become the Godfather,” stated Romano,
“the dynamic is very different.” In light of this, Romano emphasized the
irreplaceable role of parents in choosing games for their children.

Fourth in the discussion was Rosa Martinez from the
Institute for Family and Social Sciences of Montevideo in Uruguay. Her
topic was the subliminal stimuli found in children’s advertising.
Subliminal means below the threshold of perception, while subliminal
stimuli are techniques, not perceived by an un-aided eye, that nevertheless
provoke an emotional response. Mrs. Martinez chose a handful of children’s
advertisements and played them frame by frame to point out the different
techniques hidden in each one. Careful to emphasize that advertising is not
an evil enterprise, she noted that placing subliminal stimuli at the
service of marketing for children is manipulation.

The round table’s final participant was Umberto Pieraccioni, representing FameBridge, a
private company that specializes in brand management with digital media. He
spoke about how to make the most of networks like Facebook and Twitter for
marketing purposes. Acknowledging the difficulty of working in such a
fast-changing Internet landscape, Mr. Pieraccioni offered four concrete
suggestions that can help. He finished the discussion with a call to
responsibility: the Internet and social networks are immensely powerful
tools for professionals to work with and it is up to today’s communicators
to build the right marketing structures.

The round table discussion ended the day’s events on a hopeful note. After
a series of promising research and practical projects, the discussion’s
moderator Mr. Belletti, President of the Italian Family Associations Forum,
gave the final word. “While we still have open questions, he concluded, we
more importantly leave with ideas for moving forward from professionals who
already have experience in the field.”


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