OLD SCHOOL + NEW SCHOOL  

By: Erin Hudson

When you enter into the world of strategic communications, I guarantee you will hear someone say this phrase: That’s the way we’ve always done it. It’s true, there are certain tactics that are tried and true. However, there is always room for improvement so remove the phrase “that’s the way we’ve always done it” from your repertoire; there will come a time where you will need to adapt to move forward.  

PIVOT! 

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that the ability to pivot was key to surviving and thriving for the past year; tactical approaches we normally would have done in-person or had boots on the ground had to be reevaluated. This showed us that classic methods were able to bend and shift for the current climate. 

One example where we had to bend the rules of the status quo was public involvement. Through public meetings and in-depth stakeholder interviews, we gather some of our most valuable intel on a project; it’s that face-to-face connection that allows us to build better coalitions and establish relationships with key stakeholders for the duration of a project. However, in March 2020, we had to completely change how we were going to implement these tactics.  

By utilizing platforms like Zoom and Teams, we were still able to make a face-to-face connection with stakeholders. The added benefit of using video conferencing services was how efficient in made us. Because we were not having to travel or set up at different locations, we were able to conduct all of our interviews in half the time, saving us on budget and making us more efficient. 

Getting feedback from the public can provide valuable information and insight into what a group really thinks about your project, campaign, etc. Public meetings are normally an in-person presentation; it’s an opportunity to answer questions and for the public the put a face to the campaign or project. But what do you do when being in-person is no longer an option? 

Video conferencing became crucial in 2020 to allow our team to facilitate public meetings and gather feedback from different groups. Interestingly, we saw that more people participated in these virtual public meetings than past in-person meetings. The theory is that when people are able to log in from their computers, not have to travel, and ask questions and provide feedback all from the comfort of their own homes, they are far more likely to participate. 

The past year taught us a lot about how we communicate with groups and individuals in our business. Even if in-person meetings were put on pause, the work still had to be done. Through collaboration, coordination, and a good internet connection, we bent the rules on what had always been done and still found we were successful in our efforts. 

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