School holidays. To engage or not? When it’s appropriate and why it’s usually not.
As a general rule the school holidays are best avoided when planning community engagement activities because people are generally harder to reach and disengaged from reality during holiday periods. This is especially so at Christmas when everything tends to get that little bit more crazy.
Many organisations either shut down or operate with minimal staff during the Christmas holidays so the risk of low engagement is worth considering.
For example, trying to engage with university students during the end of year break would be problematic and most likely result in poor engagement outcomes.
However, like most rules, there are some exceptions including:
- Engagement activities targeting school children. Late last year Articulous designed and delivered a film competition for Brisbane students that ran during the December January holidays (https://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/planning-building/planning-guidelines-tools/plan-your-brisbane/111-film-competition).
- Engagement activities occurring in a tourism hot spot – giving both locals and visitors an opportunity to contribute to place based discussions. Engagement for this purpose is best planned during holiday periods to maximise engagement results.
It’s always important to consider who you’re trying to engage with, why, where and how and even more so during holiday periods.
It might be a time to avoid or a time to embrace engagement depending on your audience and the purpose.