Your shout: get involved with the Manchester Digital PR working group

Manchester Digital logoWhen I stood as a candidate for the Manchester Digital council, I said I’d “work to massively improve Manchester Digital’s external communications”.

I felt Manchester Digital could do a lot more to improve how it communicated with members and needed to reach out to work more collaboratively with the local digital community.

Therefore, as part of my role on the council, I’ve taken up the mantle to lead the PR, marketing and communications working group. This group will meet to discuss and improve the way that Manchester Digital communicates externally, identifying problems, challenges and coming up with solutions.

I strongly feel that we – Manchester Digital – can do more to engage digitally with our membership and improve our relevance as the trade body for the north-west digital sector. I hope this group will play a key part in making that happen.

Any member of Manchester Digital is welcome to attend. This will be part of a series of meetings, that I will try and move around so as to accommodate varying availability. Also, I hope to open up some of the discussions online, so people who can’t attend can also engage with the process.

Event details:

Tuesday 21 September, 6-7 pm
MDDA, Portland Street (map).

Add to 

Email me technicalfault-at-gmail-dot-com if you plan to attend or have any questions (and please drop a comment below too).

The need for video to deliver your online content

I recently wrote a paper for work about the need for video to help communicate our messages and campaigns. I learned some interesting things along the way, and so I thought I would share some of those with a wider audience.

In this post, I’m going to outline why video can be a critical way to deliver key content and share some stats I found along the way. In another post, I’ll share some criteria I worked up for an on demand video delivery system which I think will be a good basis for many organisations considering implementation of video.

A stats-led approach

In any approach to video, I’d start by looking at the stats for your website. When I analysed these for my organisation, I found a 7 per cent drop in average time on site and an increase in bounce rate to over 50 per cent in the last two months. More importantly though, these were not short-term trends that were not just month-on-month, they were year-on-year (on my organisation’s site).

This is not good news. Despite spending time and effort restructuring content, providing more readable content and improving our SEO, there still seems to be a degree of ongoing disengagement with our (primarily text-led) website content.

Therefore, we need to look at how we actually deliver that content. Using on demand video to supplement and replace ‘traditional’ web copy is a natural solution.

Popularity of and access to video in the UK

In the UK, online video is a massively important medium. The use of video sharing sites like YouTube and video-on-demand services like the BBC iPlayer has exploded over the last few years, becoming embedded in the vocabulary of the nation. In the 12 months to March 2009, UK Internet traffic to video sites rose by almost 41 per cent (Hitwise UK Online Video Update, March 2009).

The iPlayer in particular has brought the ease of online video to the consciousness of even new Internet users, but has also raised expectations about the quality of video that can be delivered. This week’s Hitwise dashboard
shows just how much online video dominates the top lists of popular overall websites, entertainment websites and social networking websites.

The current popularity of video on the web is not surprising, considering the level of broadband penetration in the UK:

  • over 95 per cent of Internet connections are broadband connections;
  • over 60 per cent of those are at speeds faster than 2 Mbit/second (Internet connectivity report, December 2008, Office for National Statistics).

Video is mainstream

These stats show that is the right time to consider creation of online video content as a mainstream method for delivering information, and treat it that way within an organisation of any size, large or small.

Video can be used to produce:

  • supporting clips for press releases (relevant staff quotes, Q&As/interviews);
  • short case studies that could support your work;
  • explanations of complicated processes or procedures;
  • key information in British Sign Language, released at the same time as subtitled/English/Welsh versions; and
  • small to medium-sized event coverage.

Of course, this video doesn’t just have to be destined for online, external-facing channels. There’s a compelling case to use it for internal distribution, through an intranet for example or at staff briefings.

Although not everyone can access video, either due to technological restrains or through ability to access that type of information, it is still potentially a far more widely engaging medium than just web copy. This may be particularly true for users who may be new to your work or those who have a single-issue interest.

Benefits of live video

Producing your own video content gives you the ability to deliver your message to your audience direct and unfiltered – not subject to interpretation through the media. ‘Live’ video is a natural extension of this – enabling important announcements to be communicated to any sized audience as they happen, again, without filtering through traditional media outlets. The ability for video to be re-shared and embedded in other websites, including in social media news releases, for example, is key to spreading those messages beyond your own channels.

As an example, I recently produced a webcast at short notice for a press conference. With simply a tweet on the morning of the conference, we got 21 viewers. Subsequent views raised that to over 600. For the first time, people interested in my organisation’s work have been able to watch complete announcements in our own words. Overall, these are small numbers perhaps, but it shows what you can do even with short notice events and provides a solid platform for growth.

I have already written a lengthy blog post about webcasting and doing it cheaply. Which brings me to…

Falling costs

The falling cost of producing high-quality video brings in-house production within anyone’s grasp. At my organisation, we have already produced a number of video clips in-house, but given the right equipment, staff resource and training, any organisation can expand their video production capabilities to service wider organisational needs. And the bottom line is that if you can reach and engage more people directly with your messages and campaigns, that has a high value of its own.


Producing video to support your messages and campaigns is a mainstream method for delivering online content. The widespread access to broadband connections, familiarity with services like YouTube and the iPlayer, all mean that users are switched on more than ever to watching video online. Now is the time to take advantage of that and switch on your organisation to the importance of video – it will be a worthy investment.