Page 19 - Alabama 811 Magazine 2020 Issue 3
P. 19

This Year’s APACT Program Had a Little Different Feel
By McKay Lyvers
Damage Prevention Education Manager/APACT
Preparation for the annual APACT Program usually begins in January with typical communication about the previous year’s documentation, request for contact changes, and other items. Damage Prevention Coordinator, Hayes Vinson, and Damage Prevention Education Manger, McKay Lyvers, started the process as usual, and also initiated a new plan that included new yearly commitment form.
Usually around the first of March
we’ve moved on with the initial items, and started booking meeting facilities and caterers. We had several facilities booked, contracts signed, and deposits paid before APACT, like everything and everyone else, got thrown for a loop.
When the shutdown began due to COVID-19 restrictions, we quickly realized that we were going to have to adapt our large meeting setup which typically includes a catered buffet. That just wasn’t going to work with the new health guidelines.
After some initial brainstorming, searching through the public awareness requirements, and communications with the APACT member pipeline operators, the plan quickly changed. The decision was made to move to a targeted
mailing that met all baseline messaging requirements, supplemented with a series of webinars to be held around
the same time as the typical face-to-face meetings. It may not have been the most ideal, but we felt it was the best way to move forward considering the circumstances.
Alabama 811 began detailed work on a plan derived on how to provide a
quality product, meet all the baseline messaging, and ensure that the pipeline safety and 811 message was communicated to as many people
as possible. The Public Service Commission Gas Pipeline Safety Division was also informed of the plan, and an education session was held to all the inspectors to be a little more in the know, since it was such a big change.
Several hours were spent learning
all the intricacies of the virtual web presentation software, how we could make it work for our needs, and how we were going to implement items such as ensuring we still provided a pre/post meeting survey, document all attendees, provided the same quality presentation, still administer incentives/door prizes, and other required items.
One of the biggest goals through all of this, was to try and absolutely ensure that the pipeline operators had as
much information as possible, were communicated to regularly on the entire process, and felt in the loop on any and every decision that was made. Starting about a month and a half before the first scheduled meeting, weekly updates were sent out each Monday, providing all operators with a progress report.
During the following weeks the presentation was developed to include webinar functions, transitions, launching polls and video. Once everyone was comfortable enough,
it was first provided to the operators a sneak peek and allow them an opportunity to provide feedback.
Beginning the first week of August, ten webinars were conducted successfully. Nearly 600 individuals attended the
sessions, with a much larger percentage attending during the daytime scheduled meeting. There were $1,000 in American Express gift cards given away at each meeting, and the annual ER door prizes were continued but were increased from $500 to $750. Even with the increase in these give away costs, the program for 2020 is looking to be a significant reduction in cost for each operator. Face-to-face catering costs are typically by far the largest portion of the billing each year.
The feedback for the webinars was overwhelmingly positive, and we
were able to also provide all required documentation that we have provided in the past.
Out of these meetings, other positives arose as well. We had such a large attendance during the daytime
sessions, that in future years, even if we transition back to face-to-face meetings, we will look to additionally supplement the program with scheduled webinar times after the face-to-face session, in order to provide an even more well- rounded program.
A big thank you to all the pipeline operators for being flexible and open to new ideas, understanding, and supportive. Post program evaluations show that the 2020 APACT program was still able to provide a quality product for the operators, and for the invited guests. The APACT program serves a big purpose of pipeline and 811 safety and education to emergency responders, public officials and excavator every year.
Stay safe, and thank you!
2020, Issue 3 Alabama 811 • 17

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