The COVID-19 Community Survey Playbook

Local governments everywhere are dealing with the health and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

So Polco / National Research Center experts have prepared a suite of surveys to help local governments monitor community health and respond to the current coronavirus pandemic. The surveys are pre-loaded in Polco as drafts ready for you to review, publish, and promote.

Watch How To Publish The COVID-19 Surveys on Polco

Or read the written version here

Once you are logged into Polco, you’ll see several surveys available (and more coming soon):
  • COVID Resident Impact Survey: This should be the first survey you deploy. This will help you assess the current state residents’ physical, emotional and economic health, including questions on prevalence of symptoms, state of knowledge and information sources.
  • COVID Resident Ongoing Check-In: This survey repeats three questions from the COVID Resident Impact Survey. Share every few weeks to provide a quick snapshot every few weeks to see if there are changes in residents’ physical, emotional and economic health.
  • COVID Prevalence Ongoing Check-In: These are also included in the first survey – Many communities are weeks into managing the pandemic and have yet to have prevalence testing. This survey can be used to identify, to the best we can, the number of households that have experienced COVID-like symptoms and MAY have experienced the disease.
  • The Business Survey: This survey was developed to measure the effect of COVID-19 on businesses. It assesses the current and anticipated economic impact on employment, supply chain and business models. We suggest this survey be published by whatever entity (City, Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Authority) has the best connection with the business community. If that entity doesn’t have a Polco profile, please direct them to www.polco.us to get one set up.

Tips on Promoting Your Published Polco Survey

First and foremost, consider best practices for remote meetings as well as overall engagement principles and strategies. As with any successfully persuasive communication, make sure to briefly explain why the survey matters and how you will use the results. Prepare to deal proactively with negativity online that may come as a result of your communication. Use a variety of different types of outreach. Here are some ideas below:

This video, originally broadcasted in 2017, provides tips on key ways to publicize your survey.

Write a Press Release

If you are already in the habit of sending out press releases, consider sending one out about your survey. A strong press release gives local newspapers, television and radio stations a jumping-off point to report about the survey and drive awareness.

Utilizing Existing Mailings

Does your community have a regular newsletter? Use that as a vehicle to promote the survey, what its purpose is, and where residents can go to ask questions or take the survey.

City Website

Your website is the first place people go to get more information about your community. Make the survey announcement visible and the details easy to find.

Share on Social Media

Many residents follow their city on social media and use their feeds as a source of news. So it’s a good idea to post about the survey on social media. Share details such as when to expect the survey and how the results will be used. If you conduct an online survey open to all residents, you can share that link on social media too. Consider best ways to use a hashtag and to tag posts, as well as other important digital marketing tactics more generally.

Produce a Short Video

Market researchers have called video the language of the internet in 2020. Video is a major form of quick information sharing and driver of digital engagement right now. Having city management elaborate on camera how the survey will help the community can be beneficial for garnering participation.

Collaborate with Your Communications Department

Your communications professionals are essential staff in the event of a crisis. They are in-tune with how to best share important information with your community, and will be a top resource and ally for leadership moving forward.

For more information about how Polco/National Research Center is supporting local governments during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit this COVID-19 blog post.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to us for support during these trying times. We are partners in helping you communicate meaningfully with the people you serve.

Related Articles On Promoting Community Surveys


For up-to-date, accurate information on COVID-19, please visit the official website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

For more information regarding local government’s role with the Coronavirus pandemic, please see resources from:

This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not replace direction from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local public health departments, or providing healthcare practitioners.


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