Mercer Island Provides Resources for Community during the Economic Uncertainty of COVID-19

AT A GLANCE

The City of Mercer Island used online engagement software to provide a constant stream of information regarding COVID-19 to their community. The information is updated daily, sometimes hourly, to reflect what is happening at the county and state level. They are also providing resources for struggling local business owners and those who have found themselves unemployed during the pandemic. 

PROBLEM ADDRESSED

As communities around the world are dealing with the global pandemic, the City of Mercer Island needed a way to mitigate disinformation, provide an outlet for residents to share their ideas and concerns, as well as provide a comprehensive location for COVID-19 related resources to support community needs.

 

SOLUTION USED

Accessibility of information is a priority for the City of Mercer Island and EngagementHQ online consultation software was the comprehensive solution for City leaders. The city has created buttons to guide various target populations to factual information created for them.  They stress multimodal communications as the norm and utilize the City Council and Police Chief to convey the most urgent and serious messages to the community. All messages are done with compassion and connection to create a sense of partnering.  Online pages have a mix of documents, links, videos, and infographics but are designed by topic and population for easy access. The city highlights closures and cancellations, business resources, small business support, and multiple links on how to manage unemployment during the economic crisis of COVID-19.  Let’s Talk Mercer Island serves as a hub of all types of information with easy to find video broadcasts, media releases, and public process for city council continuity, all stored in this inclusive online space.

OUTCOMES

  • Community Support. COVID-19 Information was built as a one-stop hub for all information regarding public safety and to help those economically impacted.
  • Segmentation. Customized Buttons for specific groups were implemented, allowing target groups to quickly access important forms and information, such as small business owners.
  • Timely Information. Regular updates, daily and sometimes hourly, provided the most recent information from county and state leaders. 
  • Resilient Community. Through the COVID-19 information project, powerful, positive stories have been shared, such as volunteers handing out homemade masks to those in need.
  • Increased Site Traffic and Inclusivity. The COVID-19 project has generated new traffic, giving visibility to other consultations held on their site.

Lessons

  • Empathy and Compassion. All message and information sharing is done with the audience in mind, demonstrating that local leaders care about the well-being of the community.
  • Multimedia Usage. In each update or new page created, officials made sure to include videos and engaging pictures to make the information more digestible. 
  • Fighting Misinformation. Misinformation is rampant regarding COVID-19, and Let’s Talk Mercer Island provides a source of truth for their community. 
  • Transparency. With officials so accessible through this platform, and reopening plans being posted, people can feel more comfortable knowing what their leaders are doing to keep them safe.
  • Building Relationships. Relationships are built over time, and Mercer Island has been able to reach their community now because they’ve been engaging long before COVID-19. Trust matters. 

WHO SHOULD CONSIDER?

Any government organization that wants to effectively execute resident engagement efforts for better project planning, to build trust within their community, and to communicate progress to stakeholders.

Published Date: 20 May 2020

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