The use of digital media in community development projects in the West of Ireland
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The use of digital media in community development projects in the West of Ireland has experienced rapid growth in recent years. But since the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, community organisations and initiatives have become even more reliant on the power of digital. Community development has long been an integral part of life in the harsh climate of the West of Ireland (Cearbhaill and Cinnèide, 1986), but the pandemic seriously threatened its tried and test methods. A lot of communities adapted and successfully turned to digital media to help raise awareness and raise money to promote the various community development projects in their respective areas. While rural Ireland also found opportunity in the pandemic, with the rise of working from home and subsequent digital hubs creating a new landscape of long-term possibility. The aim of this dissertation is to investigate and analyse in qualitative multiple case study form, how various communities in the West of Ireland are successfully using digital media in their community development efforts, with the aim of creating a policy and strategy of best practice for future use. The findings strongly suggest that digital media, when used correctly, can be a significant tool for communities in the West of Ireland to utilise in their community development efforts and that communities are creating digital strategies both by themselves and by third party digital agencies. The study also finds that more focus needs to put on securing long-term sustainability for digital hubs. The conclusion can be drawn that community development organisations should seriously consider implementing a strategic digital marketing plan to help promote community development, or if they have the resources available, that they should consider hiring a third-party agency to do it for them. A systematic case study approach was employed, triangulating and validating findings in this important study, which proposes some crucial digital media strategies and recommendations for community development organisations, in this period of rapid change.
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