Last week Account Executive Ceyda Dag hosted a digital engagement session for Cadent’s upcoming work on South Ealing Road. Adapting to the new way of life during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic means supporting our clients to try new ways to keep communicating with stakeholders.

Communicating during the crisis

In order to adapt to these unprecedented times and as an alternative to a face-to-face information session, the Copper team hosted two webinars consisting of a short presentation outlining the proposed works followed by a Q&A session. The webinars aimed to support key construction workers so that they could keep doing their job in a safe manner and ensure that local communities, including the local authorities, were well informed and understood why work was continuing.

The gas industry is among those listed by the Cabinet Office and DfE as a critical sector under ‘utilities, communication and financial services’. Key to our communications message was highlighting that our network is critical national infrastructure and that it remains essential that the gas supply network continues to be maintained safely by workers on site.  We assured customers that the safety of the public and the team is a priority for Cadent and this helped us successfully reach our stakeholders.

A great success

Project manager Trevor Trent said: ‘The digital engagement webinar was a great success and proved to be a very efficient way of engaging with customers – I think that these would also add great value once things return to normal.’

Why? The questions and answers were more structured, different stakeholders with the same concern could input collectively and follow-up actions were properly defined. The main issues and key concerns became apparent very quickly and a solution or compromise was found, with a course of action agreed.

Stakeholders expressed their concerns in a constructive manner. Because of the structured format of the webinar and the fact that all parties were able to hear individual responses, discussions were arguably more efficient than those within the format of a typical public exhibition and this resulted in tangible outcomes which the client team, assisted by Copper, can now help to implement.

Eliminating concerns

Concerns around potential technical faults were minimised by carrying out various test runs prior to the official webinar. Contingency plans were put in place in case any one of the project team was affected by technological issues. For more information on how to plan an effective digital engagement session, please check out our blog here: LINK

Our concern that non-tech-savvy stakeholders might not have been able to participate in online platforms was also eliminated at the offset. Stakeholders less comfortable with using the technology were offered tutorials via phone to ensure that they felt confident to join the webinar. Additionally, we followed up with stakeholders personally and provided them with the information on a one-on-one basis.

What does the future hold?

Webinars are by no means a replacement for real life engagement, but they can certainly add value to a communications strategy if implemented correctly. The structured nature of webinars allows for focused engagement, achieving a desired outcome in a relatively short time.

Webinars are not only a cost-effective way of engaging with customers; they also tend to be more convenient as they can be designed around a client’s – and most importantly stakeholders’ – busy schedules, helping stakeholders to participate with minimum impact and generate more efficient direct engagement.

For more information about Copper Consultancy’s digital services, please see our Digital Engagement white paper.