Is Your Organization Ready for Video?

Washington Institute for Near East Policy video stillby Jeff Rubin

On January 31, our organization will host an event featuring leaders of U.S. industry, the military and medical research who will discuss the benefits of Israeli innovations to the United States in the areas of hard and soft security. No matter the turnout, chances are more people will watch this event on video than will attend the program in person.

Today, online video provides an easy and affordable way to expand your organization’s audience at a time when many of the world’s most powerful people can scarcely afford time away from the office or home – and when the person you may most wish to engage may be thousands of miles away.

Live broadcast of events expands the direct participation of your audience and heightens the immediate impact of the program. Making the video available on-demand through YouTube after the event allows for long-term audience growth, issue impact, and social-media sharing. On-demand presentation can range from the full video of an event posted for archival purposes, to short highlights designed for bite-sized sharing on social platforms.

Creating online videos is surprisingly inexpensive and low tech. Several services are available to stream a live broadcast of your program at no charge. For a relatively low monthly rate, streaming providers offer ad-free video and customizable interfaces and video players. These services understand that the end-user may not be computer savvy so they are easy to use, even for technological novices. Hardware requirements include a video-compatible computer, video camera, optional lights and a microphone. It’s likely that you already have this equipment on hand, but the total start-up cost would be $5,000 or less.

After the event, YouTube provides free tools for editing your video as well as a platform for displaying it on the web. As YouTube and Skype have become increasingly ubiquitous, more and more people understand how to use video editing software, and audiences accept the credibility of videos that previously did not meet network standards. In other words, you already have people on staff who can edit the video, and your audiences will be forgiving if it doesn’t look like it was produced by Steven Spielberg and broadcast on 60 Minutes.

Since our organization has begun putting video content online, we have seen our audience grow around the world. Government officials in Washington and abroad view our events from their computers whenever it is convenient and relevant to their work. Online videos have been used by the press for direct quotes for their stories. We have even received positive feedback from military personnel stationed outside of Washington, D.C.

Video has become an important part of our communications mix. We leverage our social media channels to build audience in advance of an event, and we use our videos to provide content for our online and social media presence afterwards.

Video has also provided an additional way for our supporters to engage with our work. Located across the United States – and across the gauntlet that is our horrible local traffic – many trustees have been unable to travel to downtown Washington, D.C., for a short program. Now video gives them unprecedented access to the events they help make possible.

Online video cannot and should not replace the power of personal, face-to-face meetings to inspire action, to foster debate, and to build community. But it is a valuable tool that can advance an organization in a way that is within the reach of most professionals.

Jeff Rubin is communications director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. To view the January 31, 12 p.m. (ET) program “ASSET TEST: New Strategic and Economic Dimensions of U.S.-Israeli Relations” click here.

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Comments

  1. Yes—video and livestream technology is transforming the ways in which we can reach audiences!

    The JCC in Manhattan recently launched a new series called the Israel Forum (the program launched in Dec with Ambassador Michael Oren and just this past Sunday we had an oversold out house for Ambassadors Dennis Ross and Dore Gold on Defensible Borders in a Changing Middle East. The goal of this program is to provide high level experts on central issues related to Israel and to change the tone of the conversation and create a space where people can be with those who might not agree with their perspective or their politics, but they can exchange ideas in a way that is open and civil.

    This week’s program sold out in less than 24 hours but we decided to not let the number of people who could “come to the table” be limited by the number of seats in the room. So, we ventured into the world of livestream and projected the event in real-time into an adjacent room for an additional 60 people and also made the livestream link available through trusted partners at Shalom Hartman, Israel Policy Forum, Dorot Fellows and to anyone who wanted to registered but was closed out from the event. In total we had well over 200 people “at the table” for what felt like a very intimate conversation with high level experts. We were working with See3 Communications (recently merged with Darim Online), a firm specializing in nonprofit digital communications and with their help we were able to engage in parallel online conversations through Facebook and Twitter with audiences beyond our 4 walls throughout the course of the event. We had questions being sent in from audience members as far away as Munich and from others just up the block. It was a dynamic experience and showed us how technology can provide us access to new audience for limited additional expense.
    The livestream link (the full unedited footage from the event) is also still available on our website and we have encouraged those who were in the room to share it with their networks who they think would be interested:
    http://new.livestream.com/jcc/israelforum
    We have also asked our expert guests to respond via social media after the event to some of the questions that we could not get to that night and we hope to have those answers posted by later this week.

    We are not looking to video or livestream technology to replace the in-person community building experience that we so value at the JCC in Manhattan, but the additional impact we can have by reaching people in their homes is tremendous and we will continue to explore how to use these vehicles well moving forward.

  2. Nate Geller says:

    Kol hakavod! Jeff I especially appreciate your article as we at The Abraham Fund have come a long way since I sought guidance in 2009 about doing our first webcast on Jewish-Arab coexistence in Israel, and now have established TAFI-TV to bring shared society issues to a global audience through online videos.

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