Connecting Virtually is the Way Forward
Updated: Aug 4
If there’s a silver lining from the pandemic, it is that much of the innovation that helped people stay connected, is here to stay. For example, take our client Como, a Mexican restaurant in downtown Truckee. I’m sure you’ve seen those QR code menus at many establishments, but Como takes things to a new level. Rather than simply viewing the menu, everyone at the table can scan the code and then add items to the tab. Then, the wait staff brings out dishes and drinks as you order them. It not only streamlines the process, but it’s also a creative way to combat the ever growing challenges that employers face with staff shortages.
Beyond that, Zoom meetings have changed the way we conduct our public outreach work. No longer do you have to rely on people to get in their car and drive to a town hall after work to chime in on issues. Now, anyone can log into the meeting from anywhere which is proving to turn out a more diverse crowd of stakeholders.
“It’s easy to get people who hate a proposal to come out and chime in,” says ERPR director, Shelly Purdy. “The hurdle to overcome was always getting proponents to come out and sit through long meetings and take the podium to speak. Now, it’s much easier for people to listen in on a public meeting. We’ve been told that people are catching the meeting while driving to their kids soccer game, and then catching the rest via YouTube or recorded version. We’re getting a much greater cross section of participants.”
Another big plus of holding Zoom meetings is the flexibility to record the meetings without having to hire a crew to film, edit and upload. “Now we can record with just the click of a button,” says Purdy. “And the costs are minimal. We’re able to upload the file so people can watch the meeting later and review it on their own timeline. It’s turned out to be a big improvement over pre-pandemic days.”
Perhaps the best part, from Purdy’s perspective, is how much easier it makes the life of the moderator (full disclosure: she’s usually the one trying to maintain peace and order during these public meetings). “It just gives everybody an opportunity to speak in a calm and organized way,” says Purdy. “Before, if we were in a town hall, people would start talking over each other, or sometimes grandstanding. Things could get off the rails pretty easily. Now, people know to speak one at a time and if they are having trouble waiting their turn, we can always mute them until the person speaking is done. The online format forces folks to be more civil with one another.”
The innovations forced upon us during the pandemic have now become our go-to communication and public outreach tools. And through experience, we've learned they are highly effective at connecting with that diverse group of stakeholders we're all striving to reach.
This post is part of an ongoing knowledge series from East River PR. Each of our team members have a unique skill-set and background that they bring each day to our work as we hone our craft. We’ve all gained from collaboration with our colleagues, our clients, and jobs we’ve had along the way, so we’d like to pay it forward here.