As coronavirus restrictions were implemented in March 2020, all in-person events were quickly cancelled. However, clients still wanted attention for their campaigns and to move public policy priorities forward by continuing to connect with key influencers and decision makers. It soon became clear that new ways of doing business were needed for as long as it was difficult to hold events and conferences in person.
PA Cooperative (PAC) saw that online events could work for our clients and identified the fundamentals needed for those events to be effective. PAC realised online events had to be well-organised and smoothly-run, on a reliable platform. All participants had to be well-briefed and the event had to be clearly-focused, high-quality and maintain a good pace, to retain the interest of an easily-distracted online audience.
For PAC client Confor, trade association for the UK forestry and wood industry, this meant creating high-quality, relevant webinars for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Forestry. It also meant, early in the lockdown period, working with Confor staff to deliver webinars for its 1500 member businesses, including an early event on how Confor was supporting those members. PAC built on this success by helping to deliver Confor’s Annual General Meeting.
Despite business disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, communication with Confor members and parliamentarians has continued without interruption. The webinars have complemented the creation of the Confor website as a Covid-19 online hub for the forestry and wood industry (also supported by PAC), alongside a greater emphasis on using video for communication alongside social media platforms.
Confor has maintained its campaigning focus during lockdown and, through the APPG on Forestry and Tree Planting, engage with more people on the key issues. Engagement with high-profile politicians, including UK Government Ministers, has been enhanced and online audiences have been large and diverse. The APPG continues as an effective, high-quality online forum to raise awareness of forestry and tree planting issues.
PAC has used its experience with Confor to hold webinars for other clients, forestry business Scottish Woodlands and Co-operatives UK, which worked with PAC on an online meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Co-operatives.