Member Spotlight: Chris Pham, Communications Specialist for the Diocese of Saginaw, Michigan

'Catholic media helps people encounter Christ and changes people’s hearts'

Talk a little about your background and how you decided to work in Catholic media.

I’m a cradle Catholic, but was barely practicing until I went on a mission trip to the Lord’s Ranch in my 20s. The ministry was a lay apostolate serving the poor in Juarez, Mexico.

I encountered the Lord during my mission trip in a beautiful and profound way and fell in love with him. I later became a full time missionary at the Lord’s Ranch for almost a year.

Much of my professional work experience was in sales, marketing and research in the financial services industry.

After my time as a missionary, I wanted to work full time for the Church, so I began my work in Catholic media at CatholicTV in Boston and later at the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw.

As a communications specialist for the Diocese of Saginaw, what is a typical day like for you?

Before I mention my daily grind, I’d like to mention an elephant in the room … [there is an] urgent need for Catholic organizations to focus more on marketing and growth, especially amidst an increasingly secular culture and shrinking Catholic numbers.

Also, so much time is invested by Catholic organizations in producing high quality articles, photography and videos (that help save souls) that more people should see this great evangelizing content. This is why marketing is so important.

I’ve done email marketing for different organizations and I’ve seen individual emails result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations. Effective marketing can have amazing results!

In my typical day, I focus on digital marketing to share our content as widely as possible with an emphasis on measurable impact.

I optimize our email marketing and digital ads so that we can maximize our audience even though our budget and staff size is limited.

I monitor our analytics so that we know what kind of content is resonating with our audiences. We restructure online content and our advertising based on user behavior so that more people see our content. Monitoring our numbers frequently also helps us avoid wasting time and money.

What is your favorite part of your job?

One of my favorite things to work on is research and analytics. I enjoy learning and drawing conclusions from data in order to improve evangelization. The best part is knowing that my work helps more people encounter Jesus and experience joy and healing in their lives.

What is the hardest part?

The hardest part is remaining patient. Sometimes God builds his kingdom slowly. I need to be more patient.

Why do you think Catholic media is important?

Catholic media helps people encounter Christ and changes people’s hearts. If I could only give one gift to someone, I would give them Jesus. Catholic media helps make this encounter possible.

What are your hopes for the future of Catholic media?

My hope for Catholic media is that we be joyful and obedient to God. I don’t think being sophisticated and relevant are as critical as being faithful to God.

Another hope is that we in Catholic media become quicker to adapt. For the average American, their phone is where they spend most of their time. We must be more effective at meeting them on their phones, and we must adapt to changes more rapidly. If we know how to navigate the digital space, we can invite more people to encounter Christ and his Church and to life-changing in-person encounters.

Is there anything else you would like people to know about you?

I love the Lord and his Church. I own a marketing and advertising company called Grow Catholic. My wife and I are going to have another daughter in February. It’s very exciting and my 6-year-old daughter is so excited that she gets to be a sister. Life is good!

A version of this article appeared in the January 2023 edition of The Catholic Journalist.