Reverse Town Hall

“A View From You” Reverse Town Hall – Case Study

A View From You is a series of live broadcasted and interactive “Reverse Town Hall meetings” hosted by Dr. Larry Schooler where the public is the focus. We recently participated in one of these meetings where citizens were able to call in and provide feedback to their local government representatives on how to manage recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A View From You” is a new ongoing broadcast series that differs from other traditional town-halls, in that the format encourages public officials to ask questions of the audience rather than the other way around.

Location

This broadcast was held completely virtually to address multiple cities across the United States. Citizens were able to view the broadcast on YouTube, television in the City of Austin, Texas and television in the City of Grand Rapids. They also provided a toll-free phone line with both English and Spanish to give all citizens an easy way to have their say.

Goal

During a difficult time, viewers were encouraged to participate by texting answers to multiple choice questions and open-ended comments, posting comments online and via social media, and calling in to have their questions and their opinions aired to the group in order to receive answers or feedback directly from the City government representatives in real time.

Background

Governments across the world are facing numerous decisions on a myriad of fronts, and many (if not most) of those decisions have major impact on the public.  “A View From You” works to fill a void in public engagement by giving a large audience and cross-section of the population a chance to weigh in on and affect decisions that will affect them.  The broadcast complements tools like Social Pinpoint by enabling participation via “lower tech” like telephone, television, and text messaging, and the simultaneous bilingual broadcast, along with a dial-out to a sample of the population, helps dramatically broaden the reach of typical public engagement strategies.

Challenges

The national scope of this broadcast made it a challenge to promote compared to a broadcast in a single metro area. The broadcast was limited to one hour which allowed for limited feedback which could have gone on to fill multiple hours.

Outcome

Many small business owners are feeling paralyzed when it comes to making decisions on how to reopen and want to better understand guidance, rules, laws and recent legislation as they pertain to reopening. The City was able to provide them with answers, but also received valuable input from stakeholders who the pandemic has effected. The feedback received will help inform the City on how to better assist citizens recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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