Creating Your Own Online Media

When you are thinking about media outreach, it’s always best to think about where your audience goes to find out about local news and events. More and more people are getting their information online – and therefore so should we! And, more than ever, we can create our own online media.

Use online media to:

  • “Crowd-build” for your event (get more people talking about your event, even before it happens)
  • Attract the attention of traditional media
  • Get the attention of elected officials and community leaders
  • Amplify your message after your event

Ways to use online media to win campaigns:

Blogs. A great way to build buzz for your event is to reach out to folks already active and blogging in your community to get them to write or post about your event! Reaching out to bloggers is similar to reaching out to reporters; try to connect with them by phone or in person if possible, or email them if that is the only contact info you have. Introduce yourself, let them know why you care, and ask them to help promote your event. You can offer to write a guest blog if they are short on time, or give them a ready-made flyer that they can easily post. (Read more about Understanding Journalists.)

Want to really get their attention? Make sure to know what they write and care about before you contact them. Bloggers may write on a range of issues that may be related to what you are doing, so think creatively: they may write on land use, progressive issues, politics, environment, biking, community events, etc.

List Managers. Community organizations, online communities, or even informal community groups sometimes have large email lists. You can ask folks in control of email lists to send out information about your event.

Social Networking. Create an event or page on Facebook, tweet about it, and consider looking into what  online communities your supporters are a part of. ‘Friend’ new supporters on Facebook and follow them on Twitter to keep them updated on your events — make sure they feel in the loop.

Photo sharing. Uploading your photos online after an event provides a one-stop shop for reporters, bloggers, and supporters to pick up images for articles and to send to their friends. A picture is far more powerful than words in describing an event, and can often move folks who didn’t make it to your event to cover it after the fact. (Read more about Taking Quality Photographs.) 

Web sites like Flickr.com allow you to create centralized online albums of photos and to contribute photos to public “pools,” or groups of photos around an event, a theme, a city, a neighborhood, or anything else you can think of. You can send photos to photos@350.org to show up in our flickr feed.  Submit only one photo per email, using the subject line for the title of photos. The body of the email should be the caption you want to go with the picture. Include any photographer credits (if any) in the email body/ caption. Always upload the highest quality photos your web connection will allow.

Video sharing. There are only a few big online video services, the most dominant being YouTube.com. After registering on their site, you can easily upload videos and embed any video in your web page or blog. If you have a high-quality or very large video you’d like to post, Vimeo is also a good service. Video has the added bonus of making your facebook page, blog, or website more exciting and interactive for visitors, and gives your friends and partners a reason to share your content with their friends.

Write compelling emails. Emails are a great way to engage your audience. It can both help promote your action and also recruit people to become active in the campaign.  Some tips on writing compelling emails:

  • Keep your message focused. Keep it short to avoid ending up in the trash. Keep each message focused on one or two action items at the most. Have individual sentences pack their own punch.
  • Make an ‘ask’. Make sure every email you send has at least one clear way someone reading can act on the information you give them. Your success in getting people to volunteer or participate will be much higher when you call or talk to them in person, but email is still a great way to share your asks, remind people of what needs to be done, and get a few extra volunteers!
    Examples of clear asks: Come make calls with us on Tuesday at 6pm; donate money to help fund our next action; join our next planning meeting Thursday at 6pm; or sign a petition.
  • Break up your text. If you must convey a lot of information in a single message, make sure to break it up into small chunks. Avoid long, unbroken blocks of text. Instead, break down the information using bullet points, underlines, and bold formatting.
  • Use a catchy subject line. You only get a few words, and you need to make the most of them. Make it catchy, use a hook, and keep it as short as possible!
  • Double check. Ask a friend or colleague to proofread if you can, and make sure to re-read it for content, spelling, and grammar – and, maybe most importantly, check all your links!

Go Live! Livestreaming an action can draw people into the power of the moment. A good option is to use Facebook Live from your personal account or page. You can also use Instagram or Periscope. Here are some tips:

  • Get your phone ready: make sure you have a back-up battery pack, a good internet connection or plenty of phone data. Ideally get a stand to hold it steady and a microphone.
  • Let people know ahead of time. Let your audience know when you will be live streaming. Tell key influencers to share your livestream and get more viewers.
  • It is best to try and plan your live video when the most crucial parts of an action will be happening. You want to aim to do a livestream between 10-15 minutes. Talk with action organizers and plan when and where you should be.
  • Have a good team: It helps to have 1 person filming and another person narrating the events. With your team also come up with a security plan ahead of time so you can ensure safety.
  • Showcase a variety of activity: Film from far away and then you can go in closer. Try and interview people about why they are there (with permission given before the interviews).

Make a video. Video is an interesting way to get the word out before your event, to document your action, and to increase your impact. Make your video stand out:

  • Make a storyboard or quick outline of your video before shooting. That way you know what shots you need to take, archival footage to find, or photos to include.
  • Focus on what will draw out emotion: what is fun, funny, or what you’d want to watch.
  • Avoid the talking head. There’s nothing less interesting than watching 3 minutes—or even 30 seconds—of a person talking at their desktop computer’s webcam.
  • Choose lively locations for your shoot. Pick places are interesting and play up your local angle.
  • Take steady, easy-to-watch shots. These can be easily spliced with other video.
  • Keep it simple, and edit quickly. In the case of documenting an action, making a simple video that you can edit and upload quickly is key – people want to watch that night or in the coming days about the march they just took part in.  Don’t worry about being perfect – it’s important to get it out as soon as possible!
  • Add some music. Adding a great song over footage can make a video really come together.  Just be sure to credit the artist!
  • You can always upload videos at http://350.org/video.

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