When faced with an unprecedented global news event - the last Papal abdication in 1415 doesn't count - it creates a great opportunity to communicate. That said, opportunities can easily be missed, botched or fail to connect with a target audience.
It is not known how much, if any, warning the PR team at The Vatican had of Pope Benedict's announcement of his imminent abdication. The enormity of the task could easily have become too much resulting in an unfocussed narrative being allowed to form about the Catholic church. Instead the character of the new Pope has been communicated, a new direction for the Catholic Church outlined.
The nature of the period between Pope Benedict's resignation to the announcement of the new Pope is of secrecy and uncertainness. The Papal Conclave is not a meeting conducive to the 21st century global, integrated news stream. This created further pressure.
Recognising this the PR team at The Vatican have carefully merged tradition with the modern; every type of communication channel has been utilised.
As well as the dramatic pictures of Pope Benedict flying by helicopter from The Vatican, Pope Francis has conducted a select few photo-opportunities to keep the TV news content.
This high-profile work has been carefully supplemented by background briefing to settle in the minds of the faithful the character of Pope Francis. This briefing has included his reasoning of choosing Francis as his name (to honour Francis of Assisi who fought for the poor); tid-bits about the kind of shoes he wears (plain slip-ons not Papal fancy red ones); the news he had checked himself out of his hotel the morning after his election and that he won't let anyone carry his bags.
Pope Francis himself has embraced Twitter, has uttered a witticism or two in his initial sermons and has kissed babies and the sick in St.Peter's Square as he has shunned the 'Pope Mobile' to go on 'unofficial walkabouts' as they are quietly briefed.
For all this I make The Vatican my Communicators of the Week.