There’s a benefit of equipping frontline people with the tech, the skills and the permission to use video.
They can come across all sorts of things in their line of work. Some of it serious. Some of it not.
A gang in Sowerby Bridge wanting to cause bother 😁😁😁 pic.twitter.com/2kj2WhI3fT
— PC Saif Khan (@WYP_PCSaifKhan) January 2, 2018
What’s the benefit of this? It shows that police are human. It builds followers on a site. It allows you next week to talk to more people because you were human.
There is something about the festive season that gives comms people free licence to be more creative.
The season’s cheer means that people are a bit more relaxed about the content they put out. As a result there’s been a slew of engaging content.
Some of it has a call-to-action while other content is a more relaxed human approach. A timely reminder that the people who work there are human too.
So, in the style of the Radio Times Christmas edition, here’s a quick run-down of some of the may clips that caught my eye.
Sussex Police’s domestic violence drama
Police would steer clear of domestic violence a few years ago. That’s changed. This video focusses on a child getting ready for Christmas under the shadow of warring adults. A call to the police leads them to come around.
Staffordshire Police’s Carpool Karaoke
A few years ago, Dover Police captured a singing cop while on patrol. It showed a human side. This Staffordshire Police video updates that. There’s carols. There’s also a conversation about the dangers of cybercrime. Why does it work? Because it’s just people talking. It’s brilliant.
West Sussex Council’s 12 days of Christmas
Christmas comes but once a year but grittimng can be four times in a 24-hour window. This light hearted clip shows the 12 days of Christmas with recycling and other messages. Excellent.
Bath & North East Somerset Council’s recycling singing
Mountains of wrapping follows Christmas and it’s always as well to get the message in quickly.
We also have a special recycling message from one of Santa’s little helpers! pic.twitter.com/SyMcZhWOgG
— B&NES Council (@bathnes) December 19, 2017
Derbyshire Constabulary’s Road Safety message
The is unusually affecting. The transcript of a potential road traffic collision is played out by children’s voiceover and toys. ‘Stay with me, stay with me,’ one child shouts as the victim loses consciousness. Drive safer is the message.
New Forest District Council’s location lyrics
Everyone loves a Christmas carol. The singing plays as council staff point to different parts of their district to pick out the key words. Merry Christmas.
Dorset Police’s Christmas pop hit
Taking inspiration from Carpool Karaoke is Dorset Police’s singing staff who make the clips on their lunchbreaks. There’s even a dog joining in.
West Midlands Ambulance Service’s epic fail
In amongst the more light-hearted clip is this excellent short clip from an ambulance service that flags the perils of driving with snow and ice on the roof. A block of ice falls froim a car in front and spins crashing into the windscreen of the following car.
You’ve probably seen what can happen if you don’t clear the snow off the roof of your car before you set off. If you haven’t been out since the snow came, make sure you leave time to clear snow off all of your car #safety #thelaw pic.twitter.com/7lQtSSa113
— WMAS (@OFFICIALWMAS) December 11, 2017
County Durham & Darlington Fire & Rescue Service
Proving that firefighters are not that great at singing but very good at joining in the seasonal cheer are is this example. Happy Christmas. And switch off your fairy lights.
This is good work. The trick now is to take this creativity into the New Year to shoot warm human footage that engages then too.
Full disclosure: I’ve helped train people in video skills from Durham and Darlington Fire & Rescue Service, New Forest District Council, Bath & North East Somserset Council and West Sussex Council.
Scrolling through Twitter a question struck me. From a PR perspective who wins when the national government’s riot police storm the local government’s polling stations?
At the weekend, footage was posted from Catalonia of police looking to seize ballots from an independence referendum. You can see it here:
— Clara Vera (@ClaraVera14) October 1, 2017
There was much more disturbing footage online. But it was the prosaic backdrop of an election centre that caught my eye.
Elsewhere, the internet was full of stories. Firefighters acted as human shields to protect voters. A girl getting her fingers broken by the police. All of these were told through video posted to the internet.
In law, the regional poll was declared illegal so the national government held the high ground.
But in PR terms, sending in the police to act aggressively feels like a monumental own goal. Why? Because it plugs into a narrative that even small children can grasp. In the story of the Big Man versus the Little Man, it is the instinct of the passer-by to side with the Little Man. It is the instinct of the tribe under attack to be politicized.
Any independence campaign would need the majority of the population from the area looking to break away in support. From the wider Spanish population it would need grudging acceptance.
As a student of history, this weekend may yet prove to be an even bigger own goal. I’m reminded of the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin. History shows that a population filled with revulsion at acts carried out by the country’s government moved to side with the revolutionaries.
At an event at Reuters earlier this year it was mentioned that people trust words only a little, pictures a little more and video most of all.
In Catalonia and Spain, history isn’t defined by video clips as the 19th century was by war and diplomacy. But the campaign for independence is being shaped by the 30-second clips on the internet.
There’s always moments when a new digital platform comes into its own.
In 2011, it was Twitter that really came into the mainstream during the London riots. It was where middle managers in the organisation and the public could find out what was happening.
Twitter and Hurricane Irma
In 2017, Twitter is the bread and butter of emergency communications. The US Government department FEMA have been using it and have been using this and the web to shoot down rumour.
— FEMA (@fema) September 8, 2017
In 2017, live video and Hurricane Irma seems to have made a similar transition.
Both platforms allow you to use your phone as an outside broadcast unit and stream to the internet.
Both platforms end up feeding in the media by providing eye-witness reporting from the scene. In an environment where fake news has undermined trust in text, video is hugely important for communications people.
Case study #1: Behind the scenes news room tour
A journalist takes a tour of the TV news room that is keeping people informed of what is taking place.
Case study #2: The calm before the storm
Residents took to walking around deserted streets to show what was happening.
Case study #3: The eye witness
Views from the balcony showing the hurricane as it is striking.
Case study #4: The professional storm chaser
In the US, storm season is met with enthusiasts chasing down tornados and extreme weather. People like Jeff Piotrowski have been using Periscope to connect with people and give a realtime sense of the storm.