“PINO really helps bringing out the best in ourselves”

Sylvia Lafourcade | Communications advisor at the High Water Protection Programme

The 21 water boards and Rijkswaterstaat are working together on the largest-ever dyke-strengthening operation in the Netherlands as part of the High Water Protection Programme (HWBP). At least 1,300 kilometres of dyke will be reinforced and 500 locks and pumping stations improved. A lot of contact with each other and the sharing of knowledge and innovation is therefore essential. But where the community normally meets annually with about 700 dyke workers, corona turned the world upside down this year. Nonetheless, the HWBP was more in touch with dyke workers than ever before.

For nearly five years, PINO and the HWBP have jointly organized Dyke worker’s Day. So the basis for a good cooperation had already been laid. During the corona year 2020 this collaboration was intensified with a podcast series, several talk shows and a new concept: Dyke workers On Tour. PINO had a conversation with Sylvia Lafourcade, communications advisor at the High Water Protection Programme, about this great partnership.

How did the HBWP experience last year?

‘2020 was a special year for the High Water Protection Program. With pain in our hearts we saw that due to corona the Dyke worker’s Day could not take place. We then asked ourselves: what does this mean for the connection with the community? Because our enormous task is complex. How do we share that knowledge if we are no longer allowed to meet? During a brainstorming session with PINO the idea for a podcast series soon arose. They encouraged us to be creative and take necessary steps. This gave us the confidence to take up and improve this idea together with the knowledge of PINO. And how did it work out? By just doing it!

After launching the first podcast series, how did you move forward?

‘The logical follow-up to the podcasts was a talk show, then people are able to see you too. And when it was possible again in September, we introduced Dyke worker’s On Tour. The programming for the Dyke worker’s Day was already complete. When this could not go ahead we realized: there is plenty of room on the dyke. Can we bring the Dyke worker’s Day sessions literally to the dyke? Yes! In the end we organized 11 Dyke workers On Tour sessions with up to 30 participants on the dyke. We had a cycle and walking tour and had interactive moments on the dyke.’

PINO is very proactive and thinks along with you about format and content.

What is typical PINO?

PINO is very proactive and contributes ideas about format and content. Then it really feels like a collaboration. In addition, PINO knows very well what we want, the themes we work with and the network we are connected to. This is how PINO really helps us to get the best out of ourselves. We couldn’t have done this alone at such a fast pace. We produced 22 podcasts, 3 talk shows and 11 meetings Dyke workers On Tour. That was a mega production for us. It is very important that you mutually know who you are, what is important to you, that you stick to your agreements and take the next steps together.

How did your target group experience this year?

‘We were perhaps even more connected to the community this year than before. The community has also shown its best side in this. We got a lot of positive feedback because we connected so quickly. By mid-March we were sitting at home, the first broadcast of the podcast was April 7. This also enabled us to demonstrate our added value. The real physical meeting is still missed by people, but by making the podcasts and talk shows easily accessible we create more moments to inspire people. We also received very enthusiastic reactions to the Dyke workers On Tour. When handing in their audio set all people said: what fun this was, we hope you keep doing this in future. Precisely because the groups were small and the experience in the area really added something’.

How do you see the future?

We are very satisfied, it has been a good year of communication that has added value within the community and with our own colleagues. We’re going to keep this and look at how we can make these new resources a permanent fixture. For now, we still have to stay at home, so we will definitely continue this!’

Sylvia Lafourcade, High Water Protection Program,

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