The user group: Our thinking on reaching new audiences

Next Friday, the 23rd of November, sees our long-awaited user group. We posted a while back that this would be about boosting viewing figures and reaching new audiences – and I said then that I’d take the time to explain a bit more about our thinking as soon possible. Well, that’s now…

Making more of webcasting in the context of a changing relationship

Webcasting is a portal into our clients’ worlds and, while boosting viewing figures has an obvious transactional value, the real aim is to make what they do more transparent. That sounds good, but it can mean much more if it is linked to a more coherent philosophy.

As we said in the invite, we think that the future of public services lies in creating a better relationship between citizen and state. For our local government clients, in particular, this means digital tools like webcasting should be used to produce a more democratic, collaborative, flexible and co-productive future. At its heart, this will be about reaching out to people – rather than expecting them to come to you – and sharing what you’re thinking and doing with them. We talk a lot more about this is in the posts we’ve written about Open Network, the approach to community engagement that the Democratic Society, OCSI and Public-i have been developing.

Of course, we have clients outside local government for whom concepts like transparency carry a different meaning. Nonetheless, some of the principles that extend out from this are useful to everyone.

Getting to the audiences

As I’ve said, webcasting is an enormously valuable way of allowing more people to see your meetings. But learning how your content can be made more directly pertinent to those people can ensure that they are more likely to watch, share and comment on your content. In the past we’ve talked about how webcasts can be tagged, so that they are more relevant to specific audiences. But in this user group we’re going to start to look at how it might be possible in a variety of ways to develop a strategy for reaching those new audiences.

Some of this will be about using the Connect and Connect Social services we offer in new, innovative ways – but it might also be about how the council can use its own promotional assets. It will, of course, link back to the way in which this can be used to develop the relationship our clients have with their users or citizens. The list below is just a short starter on some of the things we’ve been thinking abuot:-

  • Using the website to promote the webcasts: Edinburgh (among others) is advertising its webcasts on its front page. While it’s a simple thing, it would be interesting to find out what people’s experiences of this kind of promotion have been.
  • How CoverItLive live chat can boost audiences: Clients, including Cornwall and Bristol, are using the liveblogging tool to allow their audiences to take part in chat about meetings. We know already this has had an impact for some on viewing figures.
  • Promoting meetings on Twitter and other social networks. There’ll be experiences, we’re sure, of how these have worked for people and what works and what doesn’t.
  • Planning application notices: This is something a little from the left field, but we’ve been talking about whether public notices could include (where it’s relevant) information about a meeting to be webcast.
  • Last but by no means least (and as we’ve hinted above) we’re also keen to talk about the way that you can use social media and the webcasting together, to promote agenda items to very specific audiences.

I’m sure we’ll find many more ideas on Friday next week. I’ve included Jane’s details if you’d like to come in person, but you will also be able to join the debate online. Details to follow!

If you’re interested in coming, please contact Jane Purcell (01273 821 282 or jane.purcell@public-i.info ). Look forward to seeing you there.

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