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Top Five Video Ideas for Local Government


May 21, 2012 by Tracy Burrows
Category: Public Participation , Information Technology

The digital futurists predict that within three years 80 percent or more of internet content will be via video.  Why is that important to local government?  Citizens are already accessing most of their information about local government via the internet, and there will be a growing expectation that the information presented on your website will be via video.  The flexibility of the internet as a platform for video opens up options beyond the live streaming of city council meetings or the resource intensive productions for the local government channel.  A two to three minute video with an engaging host and an appealing topic can go a long way to explaining local government issues to the public.

There are lots of different ways that local governments are using video.  Here are my video favorites – with an emphasis on those produced by Washington local governments:

1.  Simple  "How to" Videos – I think this category has a ton of potential for local  governments.  Check out:

Mayor Tim Leavitt giving a tour of the city of Vancouver, Washington’s website,

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Lvx5W7AtdA&w=640&h=360]

Seattle’s Mayor McGinn showing how to clean a storm drain,

Sound Transit demonstrating how to load your bike on the bus.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WplF_wxhgzM]

Each is simple and informative.

Now how about a video on the rules for mother-in-law units or how to properly plant a street tree?

2. Spreading Good Ideas  - My absolute top-rated resource for anyone interested in building community are the videos from StreetFilms.  What makes them so great?  Well, Clarence Eckerson, the creative genius behind the films, is just a really wonderful story-teller about everything related to creating livable streets.  From advice from a hard-boiled New Yorker on how to properly lock your bike,

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/12061685 w=560&h=420]

to taking a ride on the Seattle streetcar,

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/12796321 w=560&h=420] these are fun and educational videos.

3. Video Voters Guide - Seattle and King County produce a video voters guide for major elections that's become a really popular way for voters to get to know candidates.  The online Video Voters' Guide makes candidate information accessible and assists voters in making an informed choice.  Each candidate has two minutes to speak, and they appear on the screen in the same order in which they will appear on the ballot.  To get a feel for it, link to the King County Guide from last November.

4. Economic development, hometown booster videos  - These tend to be more highly-produced videos intended to attract commerce.   I like these examples from Tacoma,

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=369d7L-8Zvc&w=640&h=360]

and especially Kennewick,
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/20344479 w=400&h=300]

because the mayors act as hosts, bringing a distinct personality to the hometown pitch.

5. Just Plain Fun The city of Richland wins out here with "Bag it Up," a rap video about dog owner etiquette in city parks,

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXmlP221oIk&w=640&h=360]

and Undercover City Manager, where City Manager Cindy Johnson goes undercover to see first-hand the quality of services Richland employees deliver on a daily basis.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsrZK4KWk9I&w=640&h=360]

This video was the hit of the annual employee recognition event.

And, because I just couldn’t stop at five great ideas, here are some videos with Great Visuals. Transportation wins out here as well.  For history buffs, check out the classic Galloping Gertie, the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.  And for sheer awe, how about this one-minute time lapse video of WSDOT’s demolition of the south portion of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

This just scratches the surface of what’s out there.  I’d love to see your list of outstanding local government video shorts.

MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.

About Tracy Burrows

As MRSC’s Executive Director, Tracy seeks out innovations in local government, tracking trends in management and technology that impact your work. She has over 20 years of local government and non-profit experience, specializing in growth management, transportation, and general city management issues.

VIEW ALL POSTS BY Tracy Burrows

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