It was only weeks ago when planning a face to face meeting was something we took for granted. But, for the past three months many countries have witnessed that privilege being snatched away. Incredibly, communication remains fluid though; as business has adapted to a world of Zoom, WhatsApp, Skype, Teams, and other virtual meeting platforms, throwing a lifeline to businesses.
Not long before lockdowns began in Europe, BLUE and client SEA-LNG, the multi-sector industry coalition promoting LNG as a marine fuel, were planning a press conference to launch a study commissioned to CE Delft on the availability and costs of liquefied biomethane (LBM) and liquefied synthetic methane (LSM). The initial plan was to follow a similar approach to an earlier press briefing, held in London to launch its Well-to-Wake (WtW) Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Lifecycle Research Study on the use of LNG as a marine fuel where 25 journalists attended. However as it became clear that a physical event was not going to be workable, the decision was taken to hold the press briefing via Zoom.
SEA-LNG chairman, Pete Keller, and his colleague, general manager Steve Esau, were joined on the virtual panel by CE Delft’s senior researcher, Dagmar Nelissen, and aviation and maritime specialist, manager mobility and transport, Jasper Faber, the study leads. Moderated by BLUE director, Amie Pascoe, and other BLUE team members behind the scenes to offer technical assurance, the panel delivered a PowerPoint presentation which took journalists from 13 key maritime and energy titles from across the globe through the aims of the study and its key findings. There was time at the end dedicated to a Q&A session and the recording was made available to any journalists unable to attend at that time.
It’s true that we missed the informal, post-briefing discussion over drinks with those London-based journalists able to attend in person, as well as the opportunity for more general and light-hearted networking. But adopting an online format for the press briefing enabled us to launch the Delft study effectively in a timely manner, while providing much greater depth and interactivity for our audience than a standalone press release could have achieved.
For many, navigating lockdown has illustrated just how much can be achieved virtually. While – as time apart from colleagues and industry friends draws on – there is growing recognition for the irreplaceable importance of face-to-face contact, when we reach a post-Covid world, we are likely to weigh up communications options differently. Virtual, face-to-face, or a combination of both, the technology is now available to support whichever choice we make; where there’s a will, there’s a way!