One thing that COVID-19 has by necessity pushed the aggregates industry to do is develop ways to reach out to customers and members using digital means. Early on in the pandemic that effort was a little rough, with e-mail and Zoom taking center stage. Since that time, much more sophisticated platforms have emerged to generate outreach, resulting in more effective communications.
For instance, more than 415 aggregate industry leaders participated through a special digital platform to attend the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association’s (NSSGA) 2021 Annual Convention. The event, which spanned from March 1-9 to include a schedule of committee meetings, networking and educational content, provided NSSGA members the opportunity to connect through a digital platform to attend wherever they were – in the office, at home or on the go.
“This Annual Convention marks one-year since the COVID-19 pandemic began. From the beginning, NSSGA has adapted and flourished to bring our members greater and greater value,” said NSSGA President and CEO Michael Johnson. “Our ability to provide digital events during this period have created a path to greater engagement by our members than we’ve ever seen.”
Throughout the meeting, attendees could visit collaboration rooms and digital lounges, which provided virtual opportunities to connect and “run into” each other in the digital hallways.
I predict that even when we go back to in-person meetings, the effectiveness of the digital platforms that have been developed, and the ability to view on-demand content after the event, is going to result in a continuation of this form of engagement as an ancillary component of conventions and trade shows.
NSSGA was very effective in its use of technology for outreach, and manufacturers are doing so as well. Recent virtual press conferences from Metso Outotec and Sandvik allowed those of us in the trade media the ability to view new product introductions, listen to equipment experts, hear customer testimonials and ask questions. And other manufacturers are scheduling similar digital events for the coming months.
That old adage, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade, certainly applies to the brave new world of high-tech personal engagement. I guess we can thank COVID for something anyway.
Mark S. Kuhar, editor