10 Tips For Planning An Effective Human Rights Campaign On YouTube

Web video has become an increasingly effective way to fight for human rights and spread the word about various issues. However, before you start making a human rights video there are several things you need to think about. The following ten tips serve as a guide to not only help you get started on your human rights video campaign, but also to help you make sure your campaign is a successful one.

YouTube has been working hand-in-hand with WITNESS, a human rights advocacy and training organization, on a new blog series about human rights advocacy and web video. Their latest post reveals some interesting tips and techniques to help you effectively create human rights videos. We’ve compiled the tips from YouTube and WITNESS into a simple guide, bringing you everything you need to get started making your own human rights video.

1. Have A Goal In Mind

Before you can get started on your video you need to determine a clear and specified goal about what you want your video to achieve. Define the issue that you want to focus on (i.e. human trafficking, specific war crimes, treatment of women, etc.) and also set goals for what actions you want to get your audience to take (i.e. sign a petition, attend a protest, etc.).

What do you want to achieve and how do you plan to achieve it through your video? If you don’t know the answer to this question before you get started you will have a difficult time making an effective video.

2. Tell A Story That Elicits Emotion

When it comes time to decide how you want to tell your story, the most important thing to remember is that if your story elicits emotion your viewer will be more inclined to act after watching. Tell a story that makes the viewer feel engaged, outraged, sympathetic and inspired to do something to help. When you do this, your viewers will be a lot more inclined to act when you tell them the different ways that they can help out.

How do you tell a story that will elicit a strong emotional response from your viewers? The best way is to have people that are actually affected by the issue at hand talk about and explain the issue and how it has affected them. Listening to someone talk about their own personal experience in an internment camp, for instance, is much more powerful than listening to a professor or scholar that has never experienced it himself describe what goes on in these types of camps. Choose subjects that have stories with strong emotional appeal and you will have a lot more success than if you simply explain the issue in a purely informational context.

3. Include Facts & Context-Setting Footage

There are two sides to every human rights story. Therefore, if you want to assuage the opposition it is important to fill your video with as much hard evidence as you can that shows that your side of the issue is the right side. The best way to do this is by providing concrete facts that illustrate the full scale of the issue at hand. For instance, saying that 42,000 people were killed in a specific incident is far more powerful than saying “many people were killed”. You should also provide video footage of people, places and events whenever possible, to back up your story and show viewers the human rights conflict in its actual context so that they can get a well-rounded view of what is happening.

4. Call Your Viewers Into Action

Once you have presented your viewers with a strong story and gotten them emotionally invested in the issue it is extremely important to present them with a call to action. Tell viewers what they can do to help directly in your video – if you are using YouTube you can even add annotations and links within the video to send your viewers to online petitions and informational websites.

When calling your viewers into action it is important to use strong action verbs. Saying things like “Stop Abuse!” or “Pass This Bill!” are very effective calls to action. Give as many options for ways people can help out as possible, whether it be to donate money, donate time, sign a petition or simply share the video with their friends. Remember that the purpose of creating your human rights video is to get people to do something to help your cause, so this is one of the most important steps towards creating an effective human rights video campaign.

5. Assess The Risk Involved In Your Production

Before you even think about picking up a camera, it is important to assess the risk involved in making a video about the issue you are planning to make it about. Many human rights violations and crises around the globe are kept hidden by governments and police and if citizens try to protest or broadcast these violations to the rest of the world they are arrested, or worse. Therefore, it is important that you weigh the risks involved in your production and do what you can to minimize these risks.

If you know, for instance, that if the human rights violators you are exposing find out you were involved in the video then you will be in grave danger then you will want to be sure to publish your video anonymously and keep the identities of all those involved and features in your clip anonymous as well. Additionally, keep in mind that even if you and others involved won’t be in grave danger, you may be ridiculed by people recognizing you as well as in video comments and elsewhere on the Web. Think about the repercussions your video could have before you begin to shoot and do what you can to protect yourself, your video and others involved.

6. Adhere To The Principles Of Informed Consent

You aren’t the only person who needs to be informed about the risks involved in your production. The people featured in your video need to understand the risks and benefits as well. When you are looking for talent for your video explain that by participating these individuals are helping to spread the word about important issues to people all over the world. However, make sure you also let these people know that they could suffer consequences by making their identity known in your video. If the issue at hand is serious enough, you may opt to protect your participants by concealing their identity by disguising their voices and faces. Have all of the people who participate in your video sign a consent form saying they understand the risks and the benefits of their participation.

7. Title And Tag Your Video Correctly

YouTube says, “Titling and tagging your videos correctly is the best way to add context to your videos.” It is important to write strong tags and descriptions not only to help viewers find your video in a search, but also to let viewers know exactly what it is that they are watching. YouTube suggests using keywords like “human rights” or “police abuse” so that they, and viewers, can gain an understanding of the context of the video that you are uploading.

In your description, try to answer questions about who is in your video, where it is filmed, what is going on, and why this is happening. Provide action links as well to direct viewers to more information about how they can become an active part in change surrounding the issue.

8. Know Your Local Laws

YouTube must comply with laws within specific countries around the globe. Therefore, if your video breaks certain terms that must be upheld in these countries then YouTube may have to remove your video. For instance, Nazi-sympathizer videos are not streamed in Germany and videos that denigrate the Thai King are not streamed in Thailand. If there is a specific country that you want to be sure your video can be viewed from then make sure that you aren’t breaking any terms that YouTube has with this country.

9. Know Your Copyright Laws

If you want to make sure that your video won’t be taken down from YouTube then it’s also important to familiarize yourself with copyright laws. If you use copyright music or somebody else’s video footage in your video then you may face removal of your video from YouTube due to copyright violation.

The best way to avoid copyright issues is to make sure your video is created 100% by you, with totally original material. You can also use Creative Commons material, although be sure to credit the creator if that is part of the deal. You can read more on YouTube’s copyright policy here or check out the WITNESS guide below.

10. Make A Plan

Once you have ironed out all the basics for your video – which issue you are going to cover, how you want to cover it and how you want to tell your story – make a plan. Decide who you are going to interview, what events you want to shoot (if you don’t already have the footage), how you want to present it, and when you want to release the video to the public.

Some videos will be more urgent than others. For instance, if you have footage of an important event or occurrence then you’ll want to get it up as quickly as possible and you may not have time for fancy editing. However, if your goal is to create a video to get the issue out to the public then you may want to spend more time on it, making sure you do a good job of covering the issue and reaching people in the best possible way.

Image Credit: Osocio.org

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