Strategic communications aimed at letting people know about your video should start during its production and then continue throughout various stages of distribution.
Starting outreach for your video only after it is ready for release will result in missed opportunities for building awareness and excitement, getting buy-in, or for creating engagement around the issues addressed in your film.
Impacts of Outreach:
- When you communicate with members of a larger movement about how to use video for their own actions and community engagement, your video will fit better into the social movement to which your initiative is connected.
- Partnerships for distribution, engagement and action on the social issues in your video can start to form through the outreach phase.
- You can bring new team members from the community or movement into the initiative, which helps builds the communications capacity of both the team and the community.
- Working on outreach can help you test and refine your message(s) and how you will deliver it to targeted audiences and partners.
- Creating excitement and buzz around your video builds potential audiences. The more people who hear about and see your content, the more likely it is you will encounter people with influence to move an issue forward, or convince people who were either disengaged or previously opposed to a community’s perspectives.
Distribution is the process of placing your videos on platforms or venues —offline and/or online — for screening to audiences.
The initiative’s form of content will affect the distribution strategy. For example, some initiatives will use interactive and immersive media (such as virtual reality or augmented reality), web-based content, social media-based content and exhibition (artistic) pieces, instead of or in addition to video.
Each of these forms may require different distribution strategies than video. (For more on this, see the Resources section.) But there are some commonalities in distribution strategies among all content forms, which this section explores.
The strategy and process of distribution should also begin during the pre-production phase of the video, with the film team, movement members or community starting to think about distribution methods that are appropriate for community members and target audiences. Your target audience will be determined through the process of developing your Impact Statement.
Impacts of Distribution:
- Civil society and community-based organisations who work on related issues can plug into your distribution strategy, whether they work directly with you or not, and gain new opportunities to invite their communities and partners into discussions.
- Distribution allows the video to come to life in front of audiences, and presents story and issues to your communities and partners, and to audiences that you and the affected communities may not have the power to reach otherwise.
- Online or offline distribution allows for the release of related supporting materials, such as discussion guides, talking points, position papers, etc.
- Constructing a distribution strategy creates another point of dialogue and collaboration with communities and partners about the messages in the film, how to get those in front of audiences, and the impacts you want to see.
Stopping at distribution — that is, simply asking audiences to view a video — limits your ability to transform audiences from passive viewers to advocates and activists. Even though viewing the video may elicit a strong emotional reaction during the viewing or even when thinking about it later, that’s not often enough for the video to have an actual impact.
This is where the engagement stage comes in. There is a period of time after an audience member has viewed the video (or clips, if you are engaging viewers during the production process) that you can ask audiences to commit to targeted actions. Often audiences will ask what they can do to act on the issues. It is crucial to have a set of actions and further learning opportunities that you can suggest to audiences.
Impacts of Engagement:
- Targeted engagement activities enable audience members to join a social movement and act individually and collectively to move an issue forward. This will depend on how much your audience already knows about and engages with the issues in your Video for Change initiative. Audiences often fall across an engagement spectrum, from completely disengaged and unaware of the issues to completely immersed in them. Audiences have the chance to contribute their resources, connections, skills or time, and often they are very willing to act when they are inspired to engage with an issue.
- Calls to action benefit greatly from being collaboratively designed with community members or partners within the social movement or issue area. These include civil society organisations, student groups, individual activists and members of the affected community. This engagement and consultation will generate buy-in and build champions for your film. It will also help you tune your messaging.
- Engagement activities benefit community members and partner organisations because the social movement(s) or the networks of people they represent can offer targeted actions to a group of people that they don’t always reach. They can use engagement activities to:
- activate their existing audiences or bring new people into their work
- raise funds
- educate audiences
- connect their work to personal stories that illustrate how the issues affect human beings.
Engagement activities deepen and strengthen relationships by asking people to collaborate on common goals related to the core story (particularly the emotional aspects of the film). It’s often more “human” and relatable to work collectively when inspired by a story than when activating against policy or data and statistics alone.