Alex Hilleary • November 10, 2017
In my day-to-day conversations, I chat with communications directors, public information officers, municipal clerks, IT directors, and city managers about how to use live streaming to increase citizen engagement and transparency in public meetings.
In those chats, a few questions appear regularly. Below, I’ll address the answers I give to the most common questions I get asked.
A lot of times, the local governments I talk to are focused on streaming their main council meetings, but realize that there are opportunities to stream smaller commission meetings and other various events occur in the community as well.
My answer: Absolutely. At BoxCast, we want to provide a tool that helps your community engage with its residents in as many ways as possible. We do not limit the number of events that you stream, allowing you to broadcast each and every public meeting you conduct.
Additionally, we offer a mobile solution that you can take out into the field for community events that might occur outside your city hall (think parades, festivals, etc). This can be a great way to showcase your city or town.
This is a tough one. If you are in charge of any part of social media for your local government, you’ve probably engaged in many conversations on this topic. The biggest question will always be ‘how can we ensure that everyone feels they have a voice, but also properly deal with trolls?’
My answer: Be proactive about about your approach to this topic. Don’t wait for an incident to occur to figure out how to tackle this. If you don’t have the staff to monitor a Facebook Live comment thread, then maybe you should limit your streaming to an embedded player on your website without a comment box. If people have feedback, you can give them an email address for questions and concerns.
If you decide to stream to a platform like Facebook Live, where you cannot get rid of the comment box, have a set of community commentary guidelines that allow a monitor to take down posts that are inappropriate or hateful. By having a posted set of standards, you cut down on the possibility of someone accusing your team of infringing on their rights to free speech as a citizen.
Additional Reading: Facebook Live: Is It Good or Bad for Your Local Government?
No one wants to start streaming meetings only to find out that no one is actually going to watch them. Across the country, people are observing low attendance numbers at meetings and wondering if residents care at all (spoiler: they do, and here’s why they might not be showing up).
My answer: When cities and towns start streaming, they are often very surprised at the viewer numbers they get. While it is important to promote the stream and send it to a variety of places where your residents may be (your website, social media, Roku/Apple TV channels, etc.), streaming has proven time and time again to be an effective way to reach your people.
With BoxCast, you will have detailed insight into how many people tune in and how they engage with your video content. You can see who is viewing it live and who is viewing it on demand after the broadcast. You can see how many people tune in and for how long. Once you begin streaming, you will enjoy watching the numbers grow as more and more people start tuning in.