The LDS Newsroom website was transforming from just being a resource for news media, to becoming an actual news source in itself. "And it is becoming that more and more," Kirkland said.
The latest version of the website launched in 2010. The focus shifted further towards conversation and context with more commentary added to the site.
Kirkland said the affect of the online efforts, for example, helped shape members' reaction to the 2009 episode of HBO's "Big Love" that showed dramatizations of the church's temple ceremonies.
The February 2011 official statement on "The Book of Mormon" musical on Broadway was short and widely quoted. "Millions have seen that statement," Kirkland said. "It helped to set the tone."
The newsroom blog, launched in 2007, gave another outlet to engage people at a different level. "These different layers of formality allow the flexibility to maneuver in a fast-paced media environment," Kirkland said.
The LDS Newsroom isn't the only place where the LDS Church has used the Internet to reach new audiences. The church's missionary department also uses the power of the web to affect how people perceive the church.
Ron Wilson, is the senior manager of Internet and advertising in the missionary department and manages the Mormon.org website and its outreach to those outside the LDS community. He told the UVU conference about the origins of the successful "I'm a Mormon" ads and videos.
A 2009 study showed that half of U.S. adults knew "virtually nothing" about Mormons, Wilson said.
"That wasn't surprising," he said.
But what was surprising were the statistics that showed that peoples' perceptions about Mormons changed dramatically if they personally knew a member of the LDS Church. "For us, that created the question, 'How do we give people the opportunity to know Mormons?'" Wilson said.
Getting to know 'I'm a Mormon'
This led to a redesign of Mormon.org, which had been created before the 2002 Olympics as an outreach to people who did not belong to the LDS Church. The original site focused on basic doctrines and beliefs. The new site would expand to focus on introducing people to members of the church and how they lived their lives.
That idea evolved into the "I'm a Mormon" campaign that features members of the church in television advertisements and in online videos.
But they were not interested in celebrities.
Research showed that people's ideas of whom Mormons were did not live up to who they really were, Wilson said after his presentation. "We needed to break through that barrier," he said.
The first "I'm a Mormon" ads focused on breaking that barrier — trying to shatter stereotypes by showing a longboard surfer and a Harley motorcycle fan. "We just showed the fact that they did these things and said, 'I'm a Mormon,'" Wilson said.
The campaign is now shifting beyond just breaking stereotypes and is telling unique stories about people with challenges. For example, one of the new ads shown for the first time at the conference looked at Denny Hancock and how he overcomes challenges that came from a brain injury he received when he was 4 years old.
People are found from across the church, Wilson said. Sometimes they are recommended by local church leaders. Anybody can recommend someone to be profiled by emailing ideas@Mormon.org.
Creating a story
The creation of the "I'm a Mormon" ads is simple from most production standards. A shooter visits the person — sometimes alone, sometimes with an assistant — and begins with a simple interview. In the interview, they look for the story arc that can carry the video.
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