Event Cancellations during COVID-19: How Cranberry Township Uses Data to Craft their Communications Strategy
With summer approaching in a “new normal” of COVID-19, municipalities across the United States are facing cancellations for their summer events season. When Cranberry Township officially canceled their Community Days festival, a 3-day fundraising event scheduled for July, the Township’s communications team turned to Zencity to track the response amongst residents. This year will be the first time, since this major fundraising event first premiered 45 years ago, that it will be cancelled. Real-time data collected by Zencity showed that the cancellation was picked up by several media outlets and that residents were expressing significant negative sentiment.
As Cranberry Township faced the potential cancellation of future events, such as the opening of a water park and Camp Cranberry, municipal leadership wanted to be able to better shape the narrative and generate positive sentiment and solidarity within their community.
The Zencity Solution
Cranberry Township used Zencity to assess the aggregate resident response to the Community Days’ cancellation. The insights from the community’s reaction raised key questions regarding the source of the negativity and how the Township could improve related messaging. Why did residents respond negatively to the initial cancellation? Did an explanation of the logistical reasons for canceling help reduce negative sentiment?
An analysis of the data showed that the negative response stemmed from sadness towards the cancellation and frustration that the event was canceled in April, despite its official event date being in July. The communications team in Cranberry Township chose to pair the cancellation announcement a few hours later with a post highlighting a positive initiative – hundreds of meals brought to the Public Works Department by volunteers, with pictures of free food and masks. To assess the effect of this strategic messaging, the Communications Team referenced Zencity’s real-time tracking and saw a spike in positive sentiment among community discourse.
The Township then proceeded to share another initiative – lighting up the Municipal Center each night in red, white, blue, and gold on alternating days to show support for frontline workers. The sentiment continued to be predominantly positive as residents were asked to join the Township in this initiative by lighting up their own homes and businesses in similar colors and submitting photos to be shared on social media. This was done in an effort to bring the community together in a shared campaign to show appreciation for first responders and health care workers.
Using Zencity, the Township saw that its messaging focused around positive initiatives despite event cancellations helped to actually boost resident morale and support for the city. As they continue to utilize Zencity, Cranberry Township will be able to actively monitor resident sentiment and the impact of their messagings, as the township will likely encounter additional event cancellations.