Looking for the silver lining in a pandemic

As Australia adopts isolation in a bid to halt the spread of COVID-19, the community engagement industry is grappling with how to involve the community in decisions that matter when our go-to method–face-to-face–is a no-go. 

It would be easy to say the sky is falling and retreat to our home offices until the pandemic has passed. But the crisis has afforded us opportunities we rarely get – so let’s embrace them while we can.

Finding the silver lining

  1. Now is the time to take risks and innovate.
    As my virtual personal trainer tells me daily – “it’s about progress, not perfection”. Had to cancel your information session? Try Facebook Live instead. Has your stakeholder meeting been postponed? Go online and use a virtual whiteboard to get people engaged.

  2. We get time and space to think creatively.
    The daily grind of sleep, meet, eat, repeat has been interrupted so there’s more opportunity to make time for creative thinking, brainstorming and planning for future projects.

  3. We can be connectors.
    If you consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, once people are safely isolated and have toilet paper, they will look for opportunities to connect with their friends, families and communities. And we are uniquely placed to provide opportunities for them to be meaningfully engaged with each other.

  4. We get to sharpen our digital skills.
    If, like me, you learnt to type on a typewriter and can remember the sound of dial-up internet, you’re going to have to sink or swim in the wave of digital engagement that’s coming. Embrace it and learn something new.

  5. The move to online engagement gives us the chance to be smarter with data.
    Capturing feedback in an online environment is far more structured. So if we use this opportunity to improve the way we ask questions, the result will be better answers that are more easily analysed and that can be used to make sound decisions. And we can transfer those skills back to face-to-face engagement when the world is out of hiding.

  6. We get a jump start on planning for the rest of the year.
    Events postponed? Usual comms channels limited? Use the time to get a head start on researching and planning future projects. You’ll never have another chance to be so organised!

Of course, there will always be things that can’t be done genuinely and rigorously online, and these may have to be postponed or cancelled until the pandemic is behind us. But we don’t have to down tools just because we’re socially isolated.

Check out more #digitalpivot insights from our team here>>

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