LIVE COMMS: 35 things you can use live video for

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More than a fifth of Facebook users have used the new live feature and the numbers are growing.

Back in 1952, the BBC used every camera at their disposal to cover the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Today, it would take one person with a smartphone to start a basic coverage of the occasion.

For the last two years, I’ve helped deliver video skills for comms training. Just lately, we’ve also offered skills and advice on how to use live social media broadcasts. It’s been fascinating to think how this can be used.

1. For election results.

2. For a behind the scenes tour of the art gallery.

3. For an advance view of the new exhibition.

4. For a Q&A on why you should apply for a job here.

5. For a first hand realtime walk through a scenic beauty spot.

6. For a tour of potential redevelopment sites with planning and regeneration sites.

7. For a trip to the top of the bell tower with a local historian.

8. For a public open day where you are demonstrating what you do.

9. For a public meeting with an opportunity to ask a question.

10. For a workshop on how to complete an application for a school place.

11. For consultation with residents in a geographic area where something new may happen.

12. For an explanation of what things you can do as a carer of a loved one who is struggling to get about.

13. For an explanation about what keep fit moves you can do in the comfort of your own home.

14. For a press conference.

15. For a talent competition.

16. In an emergency to keep people updated.

17. For a behind-the-scenes tour of a fire station with some fire safety advice.

19. For the view from the top of a mountain or hill.

20. For an event in a park.

21. For an event in the street.

22. For a street party.

23. For a tour of the museum stores.

24. For a an author visit to a library.

25. For a tour of the farm or urban farm.

26. For a chance to hear what the budget may entail.

26. For a Q&A on what council services a new parent may need.

27. For tips on how to encourage wildlife in your garden

28. For a walk around the town centre with a history expert.

29. For musical performances as part of a talent show.

30. For an explanation about what bin to use for recycling.

31. For a civic celebration.

32. For a tour of the Mayor’s Parlour.

33. For an update on what work has been done to protect a community from flooding.

34. For a tour of a river that’s been improved for wildlife with a wildlife expert.

35. For a chance to meet and ask questions of a senior politician, official or police officer.

Workshops in Skills You Need for Live Video will be held in Leeds on June 20, Birmingham on July 18 and Edinburgh on October 19.


GO LIVE: Tips on shooting live video on election night

33119281300_6808a2594b_bYes, you will have to think about live video on election night

Yet again, the most important night of the year for local government comms is almost upon us… election night.

Get it wrong and the whole world sees.

Get it right you can breathe a deep sigh of relief and the politicians will be impressed.

It’s also a night where you can push the boat out a little and try new things. Facebook made its debut in 2009 as an upstart. Now results on social media is expected. Lately, there’s been experiments with whatsapp and other channels.

If you want to experiment with a channel this is the night to do it.

What you need to know about live video

Live streaming has taken a massive leap forward in recent months. A fifth of Facebook users have used Facebook Live. An audience of 102,000 watched the  multi-faith vigil in Manchester in the wake of the city’s bomb attack. More than 200,000 watched while bomb disposal experts worked to explode a 500 lb Second World War bomb. Another 9,000 watched the Birmingham City Council Leader talk about budget proposals. All of those are local government issues.

Anyone can broadcast live. All you need is the Periscope app for Twitter or a Facebook account, a smartphone or a PC with a webcam. This could be a journalist, a political campaigner or a council media officer.

If you’re NOT thinking of live video… others are

One time, a broadcast journalist turned up at the count I was working at as a comms officer. He demanded to take pictures for his website too. Blindsided, the Returning Officer refused and a heated row took place. The journalist was within their rights to ask. The Returning Officer was entitled to point the individual to the spot where he could take the pictures.

The incident taught me that forward planning on election night can be invaluable.

You may not be planning on using a live video. Bet your bottom dollar a journalist will be. Only they’ll turn up on the night and want to start filming.

Here’s what they’ll want to know:

  • Where will they be allowed to film?
  • Is there a WiFi signal?
  • What are the acoustics like?

So, forward plan. Do this ahead of time not on the night. You’ll talking to journalists for accreditation. Talk to the elections team. Check out the venue. Have the answers to the questions. Invite journalists to arrange a test broadcast ahead of time to check a few things out.

If you are thinking of live video…. Plan ahead

We’ve started to offer Live Video skills training with Steven Davies and Sophie Edwards and its got me thinking about how local government can use it.

Don’t make election night the first time you use a live broadcast. Try it out at something vanilla. A library author visit. A guided walk around a beauty spot.

Pick which channel you’ll use. Where are your audience? If you have a massive Twitter following and only a handful on Facebook think about the channel. How can you best reach people?

Get the tech right. You’ll need at least one fully charged smartphone that’s logged into your channel of choice. You’ll need to rely on robust WiFi and I’d be tempted to take your own. A phone hotspot or a MiFi can do the job. Don’t trust the venue WiFi. The world and their dog will be trying to get on it. Take a power bank too just to be on the safe side.

Talk to elections. Where can you physically stand to broadcast yourself? At the back of an echoey hall? Or at the front next to people shouting? Negotiate a place where the sound quality works.

Test it out. Take your phone and your WiFi hotspot and try it out a few days beforehand. Does it work? Is there a data blackspot which kills phone signals? You can broadcast live to yourself. Set the audience you want to reach before you go live.

Sound will make or break it. Poor sound and people will be confused and irritated. Sound is even more important than pictures. See if there’s a place you can sand that can be the best it can be. Next to a speaker? Can you use an audio jack from the venue sound system?

Have someone covering your back. As this politician found out to their cost, an organised group of trolls who each complained there was no sound scuppered a Periscope broadcast. Have someone trusted watching to give you the thumbs up. Or let you know if your thumb is over the lense.

Be clear on what you’ll do and won’t do. If you go for it, brilliant. But set out ahead of time what you’ll do and won’t do. Yes, you’ll live broadcast the result and acceptance speeches. No, you won’t be doing one-to-one interviews with candidates who can use the platform to take down / praise the Government. Set this out ahead of time. In writing. Plan for this.

One long broadcast or individual ones? At a General Election its straight forward. There’s often just the one result. But local elections are more complicated.  Me? I’d be interested in the ward where I live. Other wards? Less so. Multiple clips would work for me. What do your residents think?

Tell people you are going live. One tip from Facebook and Twitter is to tell people and big-up the broadcast. Tricky in an election when there’s a third recount. But see if you can give a broad estimated window. Check our Facebook from 2am onwards is fine.

Think safety and security. The BBC have guidelines for live broadcasts which takes account the safety of its staff and security. Here, may you face the risk of an uninvited person going on an unscheduled tirade at your camera? It’s possible. Would having a colleague with you as you film help? Be prepared to stop the broadcast if you are cornered.

Live lives after you’ve been live. Once you’ve finished, promote the heck out of it in the morning to catch those people not awake. The audience after the event is often bigger than watching it live.

Live is going to be an important part of how election results are communicated. The technology is there. The audience too. It’s worth learning the lessons early.


LIVE MESSAGE: Now Facebook Live has come of age

Late Saturday night just as I was going to bed somethingremarkable happened.

Shortly after midnight, my timeline was filled with people sharing live streams from US airports. Pop-up protests were taking place. People angry about a ban on people from hand-picked Muslim countries were making their voice heard.

As a former journalist and as someone is interested in the changing media landscape this was fascinating. Protest has made Facebook Live come of age just as protest in Iran eight years ago helped embed Twitter.

An unscientific snapshot at the time showed short clips and commentary on Twitter and live streaming on Facebook.

For previous generations the route for moving images was TV news. Now, protestors as well as online media were just filming what was going on. In this case, they look like they were using their own web-enabled devices rather than an outside broadcast truck.

This one stream from Rewire News recieved 1.2 million viewers within 24-hours. You can watch here:

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The live experience is different

While the footage viewing back on Facebook Live above looks clean and straight forward the livestream on mobile was also showing a feisty battle in the comments box between those in support and those against. You can watch here:

Mainstream media picked-up the footage

Channel 4 news in the UK picked-up the footage and repackaged it in an edited short news video. You can see it here:

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Ten thoughts

  1. It’s ephemeral. A day after the live footage was hard to track down on Facebook and on the Periscope Live. Once it’s gone, it’s pretty much gone.
  2.  Your smartphone is like an outside broadcast truck in your pocket. Live streaming is powerful and an instant way to beam pictures so long as you have a good WiFi connection.
  3. It can spread the word quickly. By plugging into the networks of social media the link with the video can be widely shared.
  4. The experience live and later is quite different. With live viewing you get the cascade of likes and comments. Looking back later once the broadcast is over you don’t.
  5. The role for mainstream media is as aggregaters. With dozens of streams and lengthy broadcasts the role of the journalist is to spot, share then aggregate and explain.
  6. The quality of the footage doesn’t matter... the value is to see what is happening at that particular moment in time.
  7. The echo chamber still exists. As widely shared as it is it is still likely to be shared within a network of like-minded people.
  8. The corporate comm, policy maker and emergency planner needs to keep man eye on what is going on. Live insight is needed to help shape decisions.
  9. There’s a lesson from history. Public mood turned against the Vietnam war after protests at Kent State University saw protestors killed. What happens next will be interesting to see.
  10. Crisis comms and emergency comms need to take account of Facebook Live – and Twitter’s Periscope in their forward planning. 

Dan Slee is co-founder of comms2point0.


TRAINER TALE: What a student’s Adidas advert can teach the public sector

There’s been a trend for story telling by video that packs an emotional punch.

The Polish Christmas commercial and the John Lewis advert are things I’ve blogged about.

There’s been a second trend of students making ads in the style of these. The lad who made the pastiche John Lewis ad which was so good it was taken for the real think springs to mind.

Another one has dropped into my timeline. It’s beautiful. It’s an old man in a home whose yearning to break free is awoken when he re-discovers his old trainers. You can see it here:

It’s lovely. It’s emotional. But stop. Adidas don’t need the extra help.

So much of what I do is in the public sector.

So, what story telling can be made of things in the public sector?

The child whose imagination comes to life through a trip to the library?

The widower who has discovered a new lease of life through a regular visit?

So many potential stories.

What stories could you tell if you tried harder? And communicated differently?


CONTENT TIPS: Six laws for content that works on the web… Ooo! Aaah! Wow! OMG! And I didn’t know that!

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Six laws for content that works on the web… Ooo! Aaah! Wow! OMG! And I didn’t know that!

Every day we read, write, be amazed, shout, laugh at and share content online.

We do it after we wake-up, go to work, get to work and get home from work. The we do once we’ve kicked our shoes off.

Research would say we see 285 pieces of content every day. I’d say when I’ve got time on my hands it’s a lot more.

As communicators we are every day trying to compete with content that is shouting more loudly. Nobody is waiting for your press release. Or your video.

But how do you make yourself heard over the din?

I think it starts by looking at what works. What works for you? The meme? The 10-secondfd clip? The image? Think for a second.

It got me thinking how if I can catagorise the stuff I see that works. For me, it boils down to five words of phrases… Ooo! Aaah! Wow! Ha! And I didn’t know that!

Sometimes, if you are clever you can tick several of these boxes.

If you are not ticking any of them you need to think if that man in a suit against a wall for 20 minutes is going to fly. The chances are it won’t.

Ooo!

This is the spectacle. The arresting sight that makes you stop and stare.

Colourflow 3 #ColourflowProj #davidmcleod

A video posted by David McLeod (@david_mcleod) on Jan 4, 2016 at 1:58pm PST

Aaah!

This is the story of the dying dog’s last walk. Or the cute child. The thing that tugs on your heart strings.

Wow!

This is a spectacle. The sight that makes your jaw drop slightly.

 

OMG!

This is the one that makes you stop and plays on your fears. Like the RNLI breath test produced to try and persuade people not to swim out-of-their-depth in the sea.

Ha!

This is the funny one. The one that makes you want to laugh and share it with your friends so they can laugh too.

I didn’t know that!

This is the helpful one. The YouTube clip of the Indian student telling you how to fit a new cricket bat grip or the American showing you how to change a tyre. You look it up to help you. You’re amazed at how easy it is to follow and how complex the written instructions sound.

So, if your content isn’t any of those, should it be content at all?

Picture credit: Andrea Levers / Flickr


STORY TELLING: How video can deliver a family’s story to help make a difference

You may know that for the past 18 months or so I’ve been helping to deliver video skills workshops via comms2point0. The aim is to give people the skills to plan, shoot, edit and post video using a smartphone or tablet.

They are a joy to deliver. Steve and Sophie who I deliver them with are good people to work with. I love doing them and seeing people go on a bit of a journey from unsure to taking their first steps. Then later on I may see them blossom into a sprinter and marathon runner who are travelling to amazing places.

One such blooming dropped into my Twitter timeline from Chris Bentley. Chris works at Acorns Hospice which is a hospice in the West Midlands that specialises in looking after childern.

He shot the following video here:

You don’t have to be a parent to get the humanity and dignity of this story. It’s beautifully told.

While you know I help deliver video skills workshops you may not know that I lost my own mother 12 years ago. She died in a hospice surrounded by many of her family. I don’t know how it feels to lose a child as the Harvey family have but I painfully know what it’s like to lose a loved one in a hospice. I wish that when it is time everyone has this.

I’m quietly proud that a workshop that I’ve been involved with may have played even a small part in delivering such an effective video. It’s a video that doesn’t stand alone. It is part of a fundraising campaign to carry on the hospice work. Good communications can seem cold. Find out the business objective. Tell stories and create content that helps that. Evaluate by seeing if the business objective has been reached. But for the coldness of this, what makes it work is the warmth of the storytelling as Chris has done here.

The truism that good PR and comms can make a real difference is never truer than it is here.  I can’t wait to see the results of the campaign and will be chipping in with a donation here.  I hope you, if you can, do too.


ON SWITCH: Updated optimum video times

I’ve updated the optimum times for video content with two platforms being removed altogether.

Gone are the six seconds of Vine and gone too is the livestreaming Twitter application Meercat.

I’ve edited the  comms2point0 ever updated video resource here and the chart is here:

video-chart

So, what do the changes say?

Both are Twitter applications, so not all that much.

I’ve also updated the Facebook Live and Periscope optimum length to 10 minutes. This is emerging as the best length of live video.

Luke Watson, in this excellent Search Engine Journal post, makes the point that Facebook page posts reach single digit numbers. But Facebook Live at the minute is free, so it’s worth experimenting with before it costs.