six youtube film styles that work in the public sector

We know deep down that video is content too but often we struggle tro get it right. So, how can we do it better? In this post we look at how different styles work.

by Steph Gray

With some jolly clever chums, I’ve been running training for public sector audiences in social media skills for three years now.

In our courses, and increasingly through our new Digital Skills Gym, we go through the how and whys of the big channels, showing inspiring examples and providing some practical tips. When we get to YouTube, we’re frankly a bit stumped for what to say. Everyone knows what YouTube is, pretty much, and most people have got some personal benefit from it. “I learned to change a wheel from a YouTube video,” someone told us once.

“I watched that galloping guy” someone else admitted, complete with the moves.

So we conclude that in public sector terms, there are two kinds of YouTube films that work: useful or funny.

But I reckon there’s actually a few more than that:

1. Bring a big speech or announcement to life

Maybe Americans are just more direct than Brits. But this film from Vice President Joe Biden on infrastructure investment somehow keeps you gripped. It’s nothing clever really – some Ken Burns effect on photos, a few shaky cameraphone shots, and a vital helping of clarity on the core message, rammed home with some overlays. It’s not your tedious politician-next-to-a-pot-plant YouTube film.

2. Explain something visually

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency are masters at this – useful, jaunty films that describe something practical that people want to know about. And, like the White House, they’re not afraid to promote them across the social media channels so people can find them.

3. Go behind the scenes

Still one of the great examples of social media innovation in government for me: David Miliband, in his early days as Foreign Secretary, asked his private secretary to film his reflections on his meetings in Romania, unscripted in the bank of the car. It’s rough and ready, and is much more credible for it.

4. Tell an important point through silly stories

A brilliant bit of PR by DVLA, finding a new angle on getting people to renew their car tax on time. Animating the “10 top excuses people give for renewing late” was a masterstroke.

5. Adapt a cult classic

Local Government is full of heroes, keeping services running on the front line in adversity. Worcestershire County Council brilliantly adapted a bit of Sinatra, but this film from Torfaen pips it to the post for sheer comedic, rough-and-ready charm.

6. Play it again, Sam

In fact, songs are basically a great idea for public sector comms. Stop people from going to A&E with trivial ailments, or even smarter, write a song about poo so catchy and cheeky your kids will be pestering you to keep playing it to them for days on end.

Steph Gray is managing director at Helpful Technology and Social Simulator.

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