How Economic Developers Can Engage and Collaborate with Communities Virtually

How Economic Developers Can Engage and Collaborate with Communities Virtually Main Photo

6 Sep 2021

News, Video, Marketing

For economic developers, knowing how to engage and collaborate with communities virtually is a (new) essential skill. Communities that want to be taken seriously must be perceived as being technologically sophisticated. Having an online presence is no longer only about informing. It's about connecting, engaging, and empowering. Successful EDOs have discovered that in addition to enhancing a community's image far and wide, a solid virtual presence can be a superb catalyst for creating a closer and more interactive relationship with the local citizens, businesses, and organizations. The rules for success in the virtual community are simpler than many people realize because they follow conventional logic.

The fundamental step toward staying competitive is connectivity. Communities that invest in broadband reap the rewards that range from saving money through better efficiency to high self-reliance to high property values, and more. Once the community is online, the sky's the limit!

Engaging and Collaborating With Communities Virtually

1. Virtual Tours

Virtual tours accomplish more than external promotion. Investing in a virtual tour that tells the story of your community reinforces civic pride and solidarity. Building morale and cohesiveness makes community members want to come together to help make decisions and invest in the future of their community. Click here to see our 3 powerful ways economic developers can give site tours in a virtual world.

2. Social Media Platforms

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, and LinkedIn are a quick, easy, and inexpensive bridge that allows stakeholders in all locations, and at all levels, to connect. One of the most simple and powerful uses of social media is to bring 360-degree VR videos and tours to the attention of site selectors, stakeholders, and community members. A stellar VR tour will leave people impressed and eager to "Like" and "Share."

Bite-sized pieces of information paired with strong visuals and posted with a timely, relevant strategy can go a long way on social media platforms. Though moderating and curating social media requires time and energy, it's an unparalleled way to keep your finger on the community's pulse. In addition to getting feedback and sharing information, this regular, quality interaction builds trust and keeps attention and enthusiasm focused on specific invitations when it would otherwise dissipate.

3. Schedule Virtual Meetings

One of the most innovative and fun ways EDOs can hold meetings is to simply ship VR headsets to prospects and meet with them in a virtual setting. This approach eliminates the logistics, time, and expense of travel and lodging, yet allows participants to spend a memorable day getting better acquainted during a tour of the community. The PlaceVR team specializes in crafting immersive tours that tell the story of a community while bringing its plans and "works in progress" to life by way of photorealistic renderings. We've also got our own Virtual Meetings App, available to clients who create videos with us.

4. Utilize VR for Workforce Attraction and Workforce Development

360-degree videos and virtual reality are unparalleled mediums when it comes to attracting skilled, quality workers from far and wide. The Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation partnered with Golden Shovel and PlaceVR to showcase its community's strategic investment in workforce development and professional education. It also proactively created a video for its regional hospital to attract qualified healthcare professionals to the small community. The Lower Sioux Agency Historic Site also uses PlaceVR technology so that visitors can experience the expansive trails and outlying structures at any time of the year. You can view these examples below.







5. Host Webinars, Virtual Conferences, and Events

Communities that thrived under the restrictions of COVID-19 proved that just about anything that can happen in person, can happen virtually. One of the added pluses to these technologies is that they allow virtual events to be recorded. This can be a great time to gain meaningful feedback from participants by eliciting comments or providing a short survey. You can also showcase your community events in your virtual FAM Tours to give viewers an idea of what your community culture is like. You can see an example of those events in a virtual video below.

Economic development organizations that effectively use technology to engage with their communities have three things in common. They make a great virtual first impression, they maintain and update their online presence in a regular and systematic manner, and they invite engagement by making it easy.

Interested in learning more about how economic developers can engage & collaborate with communities virtually?

Golden Shovel Agency and its PlaceVR division help economic development organizations to find new, sustainable ways to use websites and virtual technology to communicate and thrive. We'd love to hear about your current challenges and help you explore new possibilities. Contact us!

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