Communicating in an Isolated World

With the COVID-19 pandemic, communication has never been more critical and new communication channels influence change.


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Everyone — and that is not hyperbole — has been affected one way or another by the COVID-19 pandemic and communication has never been more critical. At the time of this writing, 42 of our 50 States were under a shelter-in-place/stay-at-home order. Some people are working from home. Some are essential and still going into their place of business while maintaining social distancing and cleaning like crazy. But, in all cases, our channels for communication have been altered. The channels we are using now were always there, but they are being used differently — or actually being used — while we navigate the “new normal.”

Online, Online, Online

Can you imagine what stay-at-home would have looked like without the internet? I had a brief glimpse when my home internet went down in the middle of a work day. My day came to a screaching halt. No emails, no access to files because they are all on the cloud, no meetings. Talk about isolated! 

Many people have had to upgrade their home internet. Web cameras became a rare and sought-out communication commodity. My son-in-law, who manages an office supply store, said he couldn’t keep laptops in stock. Priorities changed quickly — I’m not even going to go into the toilet paper panic — and it became critical for people to figure out how they were going to maintain communications from home. 

Online Meetings Influence Change

At PMPA Headquarters, we have a Monday Huddle where we all get together in the conference room to talk about our week and collaborate. With the Ohio stay-at-home order, our Huddles went online with GoToMeeting and each meeting looks like the opening of a Brady Bunch episode. I even repainted my home office so the background looked nice! GoToMeetings, Zoom and Houseparty have become everyday apps that we use for business and personal communication. It’s the best way to see people, be able to read body language and feel less isolated.

But some great ideas were generated because of the now-necessary online meetings. At PMPA, we started New Member online meetings using GoToMeeting. Now we can meet our new members face to face, instead of just sending emails back and forth, and eventually putting a name to a face at a PMPA meeting. From our perspective — and hopefully the member perspective — it felt good to welcome them to the community and be able to have a live conversation.

We also launched Technical Tuesday Webinars. Because our membership is spread throughout the United States and Canada, online educational programming had been on our list of things to do. There was a lurking concern about people’s willingness to go online for education and the familiarity of webinars in a COVID-19 world took care of those concerns. Now, PMPA members and non-members have access to precision machining education in the comfort of their shops. (Non-members pay a fee, but members have access for free as part of their benefits.)

PMPA even launched a podcast! We had the studio set up and had a couple of episodes in the can, but the stay-at-home situation made for a compelling reason to record more and launch early. Now, PMPA’s podcast Speaking of Precision: Monday with Miles is available with new episodes releasing every Monday.

How did your communication change with the crisis? Will the new channels be used more? Did something new develop? Share with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with #PMPA.

About the Author

Carli Kistler-Miller, MBA, has over 20 years of experience with communications, event/meeting planning, marketing, writing and operations. Email cmiller@pmpa.org