The Humane Society of the United States won the 2011 People’s Choice Telly
Award for “The Face of Dogfighting: One Dog’s Incredible Journey,” posted in
November 2010. It has been viewed more than 487,800 times on You Tube.
Document a Need
Senior Director of Video
Humane Society of the United States
“We try to get out as much as possible,” says Mr.
Sisneros. “You’re not going to find those stories often in your cubicle.”
KEEP THE CAMERA ROLLING
You never know what footage you’ll need later or what great moment will happen next.
When producing a documentary-syle video, collect all you can.
Don’t just sit people in front of a camera, follow them as they are doing something
and capture their emotions and reactions then.
WHAT MATTERS MOST
“The big thing is the story,” says Mr. Sisneros. “If you don’t have one, you aren’t going
to have a very compelling video.” —Cody Switzer
News and Politics Manager
EMBRACE THE TECHNOLOGY
High-definition video is becoming the standard, so you don’t have to sacrifice
quality for price. Even the most basic cameras today shoot high-quality video.
KEEP IT SHORT
“If you can’t get your message out in a couple of minutes, you may want to revisit
your messaging,” Ms. Raghavan says.
Don’t aim for a onetime viral video. Build a relationship through your content.
TAKE ADvANTAGE OF THE TECHNOLOGY
A Library Fights Budget Cuts
If you are on YouTube, be sure to use features the site provides for nonprofits,
such as the call-to-action overlay tool that gives viewers an easy way to visit your
Web site for more information.
With Social-Media Campaign
When employees at the Charlotte
Mecklenburg Library in North Carolina learned that the county government planned to slice its support in
half due to a budget shortfall, they
didn’t simply accept their fate.
They logged on to Facebook and
In turn, they managed to enlist
enough support from patrons to persuade officials in their county to alter a plan that would have closed 12
library branches in the 2011 fiscal
year. Instead, the county closed just
two branches and reduced the hours
at others to help manage costs.
“Our patrons, largely through social media, said ‘No way,’ ” says Jeni-fer Daniels, a communication and
marketing specialist at the library.
“We would have never been able to
express that so fully and quickly
without social media. For some of
the other agencies in town, their
voice was silent on social media, and
I think the quality of programming
has suffered because of it.”
The library continued its social
media efforts in 2011 and was able to
extend its hours in September after
the county decided to expand its budget for the 2012 fiscal year.
Here’s what Ms. Daniels says
n GET YOUR WHOLE TEAM WORKING
When the library learned of the
plan for the budget cuts, Ms. Daniels checked to find out who on the
staff had social-media accounts. She
then created formal policies that set
guidelines for how staff members
should use social media and how
they should address questions about
the budget. Those policies were important to help prevent the spread
of incorrect information, but the approach was controversial.
“Most of the staff understood, but
to this day there is still some push-back,” she says. “Obviously, librarians want to freely share information, but we had a very delicate situation. When you don’t have a unified
voice, you have a ‘little bird told me’
scenario running rampant, and we
needed to nip that in the bud.”
n BE OPEN
Ms. Daniels says she and other library officials made sure they were
paying attention to what was being
said about the proposed cuts in social
networks and attempted to respond
to these conversations with quick,
clear, and factual posts.
“We engaged people in the process,
let their voices be heard, and then
we were transparent in our responses and information we shared,” she
says. “We didn’t hide anything. We
put it out on the table that we had
enjoyed a long period of growth and
now we were facing a budget crisis
and some tough decisions would have
to be made.”
NOT JUST ATTENTION
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s
social-media efforts did much
more than rally supporters to fight
city budget cuts. They also helped
raise money. By using social media and word of mouth to let people know about possible spending cuts, library officials say they
raised more than $400,000 from
more than 1,900 donors.
n REPORT THE FACTS
They worked to keep the library’s
supporters informed by providing
live reports on Twitter from county
board meetings that discussed the
“Instead of sending a reporter to
the meeting, the local paper just
started to provide a link to our
tweets [on its Web site],” Ms. Daniels
says. “As I tweeted, I never interjected my views. It was strictly reporting
the facts of what was happening. I
think people who cared about the issue appreciated the transparency.”
n CONTINUE THE CONvERSATION
Even though the library was able
to help guide the decision about how
many branches would close, it is con-
tinuing to build support on social
media. That effort helped the library
push for more money from the county
“This is an ongoing conversation,”
Ms. Daniels says. “What we are doing is engaging people in the next
step and letting them know we are
in a transition stage. It is never going to get back to normal in terms
of how the library used to be, but we
have an opportunity to be involved in
the process.” —SCOTT WESTCOTT