Message in-a-box gives you everything you need to make and distribute your own media.

This book covers A Strategy for Making Media, Print, Images, Audio, Internet and Video. Each chapter includes information, references, links and inspiring case studies that show how the right tools and tactics can be used to make media with impact. The DVD contains open source software tools, video and text ‘how-to’ guides, as well as web and printable versions of this book. This second edition of Message ina-box includes new information, case studies and updated software tools.

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tools and tactics for communicating your cause

message in-a-box


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toolsusing mobile phones for advocacy cause and tactics for communicating your

message in-a-box mobiles in-a-box




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Tactical Technology Collective is responsible for design, coordination and production of this toolkit. For full writing and editing credits please see the credits section. ISBN: 978-81-908821-5-6 First published by Tactical Tech in November 2008. This edition September 2009. Printed in Bangalore, India by Precision Fototype Services on 100% recycled paper. For updates visit This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License Disclaimer: Message in-a-box provides NGOs and advocates with a set of tools and materials that have been selected and tested by practitioners in the field. For full disclaimer information please see Tactical Tech’s other toolkits include: Security in-a-box, Mobiles in-a-box and NGO in-a-box. Tactical Tech’s guides include: Maps for Advocacy: An Introduction to Geographical Mapping Techniques, Visualizing Information for Advocacy: An Introduction to Information Design (English and Russian) and Quick ‘n Easy Guide to Online Advocacy. The development of the toolkit is supported by Internews Europe


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This book was written and produced by Tactical Tech with additional material from the writers and editors listed below. Design Layout Editing and copy-editing Introduction Strategy chapter Lynne Stuart Lynne Stuart & Andrea Willmore Caroline Kraabel & Tactical Tech Caroline Kraabel Namita Singh, Video Volunteers ( & Tactical Tech Based on a guide written by Nilanjana Biswas with additional material by Amy Dalton. Based on the book “Grassroots Comics – a development communication tool” by Leif Packalen and Sharad Sharma (http:// Published by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland, May 2007. Reproduced with the kind permission of the authors. Frederick Noronha ( Jackie Davies, Communication for Development Consulting ( Felipe Fonseca ( This material is based on the eAdvocacy Training materials produced by Aspiration ( in partnership with Radical Designs ( They are used with their kind permission and have been added to and adapted for this book. Sokari Ekine ( Tim Walker Dan McQuillan (http://www. Written by TTC in collaboration with: Participatory Culture Foundation / Miro / Make / Internet TV / / WITNESS / FLOSS Manuals / Social Media Centre / Bay Area Indymedia / Anna Helme / EngageMedia ( How-to Videos: Simos Xenitellis Melissa Bliss Libby Davy, Caroline Kraabel & Tactical Tech

Print chapter

Grassroots comics section

Quick guide to images Audio Intro section

Audio Distribution Plan your website

Plan your blog for activists & campaigners E-mail marketing section Internet strategy section Video chapter content

Material on mobile phone video Additional material for the print, images and internet sections


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1 2 2 7 7 8 18 20 21 25 26 28 29 33 35 37 38 42 44 48 49 54 58 60 65 67 68 73 73 75 E

Introduction Tell us what you think Software and tools A strategy for making media Getting started Designing your strategy for making media Consider copyright Media strategy matrix Further resources & reading Print – on paper & online Select a print format Budgeting & fundraising for print Plan your print production Editing Printing & distribution Evaluation Print case studies Images – photos, comics, guerrilla marketing & more Illustrations, cartoons & photographs Copyright & other legal issues Grassroots comics Guerrilla marketing Simple animation Images case studies Audio – your message in sound Material resources Making an audio piece Integrating audio with other content Audio distribution on the internet Audio case studies

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Internet – global, local and low cost Plan your website Hosting & domains Website maintenance Plan your ‘blog’ or ‘easy-to-change website’ Blogging case studies Twitter & micro-blogging RSS (Really Simple Syndication) Creating search-friendly websites with SEO Social networking & web 2.0 Email marketing Evaluation Video – be seen and heard Planning your video project Creating video Filming Editing Translating video Making advocacy videos without a camera Video security Video case studies Publish video Publish video online Offline distribution Screenings Hybrid distribution Video blogging case studies Over to you... Glossary Image credits

81 82 88 90 91 97 98 100 100 105 108 114 119 120 127 136 138 140 141 142 147 151 155 162 165 168 171 175 179 189

Free toolkits and guides for rights advocates 187


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This book and the DVD that goes with it make up the Message in-a-box toolkit. This toolkit, which is also available online (, is part of a series of publications produced by Tactical Tech to help rights advocates make the best possible use of information, communications and digital technologies in their work. Message in-a-box provides a range of Free and Open Source Software tools and ‘how-to’ guides that will help you plan, make and distribute your own media. Each chapter also contains additional information, references, links and inspiring case studies that show how the right tools and tactics can be used to make media with impact. This toolkit will show you how to start using – or develop and improve the ways you are already using – different media to communicate about your cause. It covers Print, Images, Audio, Internet and Video. There is also an additional section on the Message in-a-box website about creating and sharing content using mobile phones. The next chapter, Strategy, will be useful regardless of the media format you are specifically interested in learning about: this chapter frames the rest of the toolkit by providing a structure through which you can define your goals, set clear objectives and identify target audiences; this will help you choose the right media format for your audiences, and use the right tools and tactics to create and distribute your media. The Print chapter covers planning, developing and publishing print projects, whether small-scale (leaflets, fliers, information sheets) or much larger-scale (books and magazines), taking you through the processes involved step by step. The chapter covering Images looks at how images can be used creatively in their own right; for example, as comics, but it also explores the use of images within most of the other media discussed in this book, and explains how to source and share powerful images. The Audio chapter examines the use of sound recordings and details the equipment and techniques required to capture, edit and distribute audio online or offline, from simple ‘ear-witness’ recordings to carefully crafted dramas. The Internet chapter covers ways of attracting and informing supporters by creating and maintaining static or dynamic websites, blogs and social network site groups, and it considers the most effective ways to use email to support your rights advocacy. Finally, the Video chapter takes you through video planning, preproduction, production and post-production. It looks in detail at the different distribution options and strategies and explains some of the


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technical aspects of capturing video, editing it and distributing it online or offline. Words that are explained in the Glossary, at the end of the book, are highlighted in red the first time they appear in each chapter. Tools and software that are included in the guide are highlighted in grey when they appear in the text, and are listed and described below. TELL uS whAT yOu ThINk Feedback is very important to Tactical Tech. Only with your input can we improve our existing toolkits, develop new ones and provide other support services that meet your needs. Please complete a short online feedback form about this toolkit once you have looked at or used it. The questionnaire is available at SOFTwArE ANd TOOLS Tools and software included in this guide, which are available on the DVD or from are listed below. All of these tools come with how-to guides in written and/ or video format which are available on the DVD and website.

Audacity is a free, easy-to-use audio editor and recorder.

Avidemux is a free video editor designed for simple cutting, filtering and encoding tasks. It supports many file types and is a great tool for converting or compressing video files or making simple edits.

Drupal allows an individual or a community of users to publish, manage and organise a wide variety of content on a website.

Mozilla Firefox is considered by many to be the best internet browser available, particularly due to its security features, the global community of developers involved, and the huge range of add-on products that extend its functions.

GIMP is image editing software. It is similar to Adobe Photoshop for tasks such as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems and is available in many languages.


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HandBrake is a DVD ripper/converter. It allows you to read from DVD/VOB files and convert them to MP4 or AVI files for storage on your computer, use in editing software or distribution online.

Inkscape is a powerful and convenient drawing tool for the creation of logos and illustrations. It is similar to Adobe Illustrator and works on many operating systems.

Joomla is a tool which helps people create, manage and publish content on their websites.

Jubler is a tool to create text-based subtitles for video. It can be used as an authoring software for new subtitles or as a tool to convert, transform, correct and refine existing subtitles.

Miro is a browser for watching videos and subscribing to vodcasts. It allows you to grab webpages (including podcasts, video blogs, and BitTorrent feeds) and watch the videos in them full screen, one after the other.

KompoZer allows you to manage and create websites and is similar to Dreamweaver or FrontPage. It supports WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) editing of pages, making website creation as easy as typing with your word processor.
Open Office includes a word processor, spreadsheet application, presentation manager, and a drawing programme. works with a variety of file formats, including Microsoft Office, and it runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

Scribus is a page layout program. With Scribus you can create layouts for newsletters, bulletins, manuals, reports or any other printed material that requires text and image layout.

Songbird will help you manage your music files and subscribe to podcasts. It functions in a similar way to iTunes, allowing you to create


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playlists. Songbird is the only media player which works with the Firefox web browser so you can use it to surf the internet and find audio files to download.

SPIP is a publishing system for websites. It allows a community of users to collaborate online, creating and developing content.
Video Lan Client (VLC)

VLC is an audio/video player that will read almost any media format, including DVDs and VCDs. It can be used to author and burn CDs and DVDs, encode video and connect to audio and video streams, and for many other purposes.

Wordpress makes publishing and maintaining a website quite easy and it is also useful for distributing podcasts and video. You can add pages and quickly update content. WordPress is one of the most popular blogging tools available. To use Wordpress you can either sign up for an account at or, for full control and more features, install it on your own server.


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A strategy for making media
GettinG StArted It’s never been easier for rights advocates to create and distribute their own media productions, using text, audio, video and the internet. Rights advocates can make media to raise awareness about an issue, to convey new information that is not in the public domain, or to mobilise people to take action, but making your own media does not, in itself, guarantee that you will achieve your objectives. Careful planning, in the form of a strategy document, is essential to ensure that the media you make genuinely contributes to reaching your advocacy goals. Whether you are an individual rights advocate, a group or an organisation, this chapter will take you through the steps involved in creating a strategic plan for making any kind of media as part of a campaign or project. Before beginning, there are three key questions that you need to ask:
1. do you need to make media to achieve your goals?

Media can be used to increase visibility, raise awareness, impart information and encourage action around a particular issue, but making media also takes time and resources away from the other things you could be doing. Be very clear about what you want to achieve, what changes you want to bring about, and decide if making media can help you do this. This is a crucial starting point for your discussions.
2. How will making media enhance the impacts of your campaign or project?

How can making media help achieve the changes you want to bring about? Perhaps you are trying to communicate with people you can’t reach physically, or you want to reach a very wide audience and ask them to take action, or you believe making media will provide the best way to explain or express what you want to say to one specific audience. For example, if the overall strategy of an organisation is to influence policy on climate change, it may be useful to have a sustained, long-term media-making campaign that is directed at specific policy-makers. Such a campaign can run over many years and involve many different activities. Be clear about how you anticipate that making media will contribute to the change you are seeking to bring about.
3. What are you asking people to do?

As a rights advocate or an organisation, what do you want to see happen? Do you want behavioural change in communities? Do you want people to stand up and demand that a law be changed? Do you want an


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designing your strategy for making media
industry to adopt ethical practices? Knowing what actions you are asking for, and of whom, will determine what media formats you should use, the style of your media, the timing of its launch and who should be involved in producing, distributing and promoting it. Once you have answered these questions for yourself, or within your group or organisation, you can begin creating a strategy for making your own media for your campaign or project. The following sections are not about getting mass media attention for your campaign ot project; they provide simple steps to help you decide what kind of media you should be making or commissioning to create the changes you want to see. Tips In ‘The Good Campaigns Guide’ Tess Kingham and Joe Coe suggest an AIDA formula for making media with impact: A Attract



D Encourage a desire to respond

A Prompt

People are flooded with information. Unless your message can attract attention in the first place, you will be unable to achieve anything with it. Get your audience to relate to and care about your message or issue. People may have heard about your issue – but you want them to do something about it. Your communication needs to motivate and persuade them to act by convincing them that what you say is true and important. Recommend a clear, specific action and be sure it is something your audiences feel they are able to do.

Source: Adapted from: Kingham, T. & Coe, J. (2005) The Good Campaigns Guide: Campaigning for Impact, NCVO Publications, London. deSiGninG your StrAteGy for mAkinG mediA Creating your own media, distributing it and monitoring its impact can be a long process, which may become confusing and overwhelming if it is not well-managed and carefully planned. Designing a media strategy will help; this is likely to be most successful when it is done as a group, with the people involved in your overall campaign or project. The following sections break down the process of creating a media strategy document into simple steps. If you already have an overall campaign strategy document, some of these steps will be complete already;


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you can use your overall strategy document to feed into your strategy for making media. State your goal What does your campaign or project want to achieve? It’s not enough to have a general idea, your goal/s should be specific, so they can guide what you do. If you have already established your campaign goal/s, they should be used here to influence the media you make. If you have not already stated your campaign/project goals, it is important to do this before making your media. Your goal/s should be specific; for example, ‘We want men in this country to know that domestic violence is a crime’; ‘We want to substantially reduce rates of domestic violence in this country’; ‘We want police officers who do not enforce domestic violence laws to be charged with breaking the law’. Be clear about each of your campaign/project goals because these will be used to inform the media you make. Create your proposition statement The next step in creating a strategy for making media involves defining the issue: what is the problem and what do you think the solution is? You should be able to state this in just one or two clear and concise sentences. Getting this statement right is an ongoing process – you may need to make changes while developing your media strategy over time. People should understand, through the media you make, what the issue is and what it is you are proposing to do about it. Examples of proposition statements: ‘We need to stop child trafficking in Nepal; we must enforce the law against child traffickers’ and ‘Same-sex couples in India should be recognised by the law; we must change the law to ensure same-sex couples are given the same legal rights as heterosexual couples’. Have clear objectives for making media Objectives are even more specific than your goals. Objectives need to be SMART: S: Specific M: Measurable A: Achievable R: Realistic T: Time-bound Though you may have only one or two concrete goals, you need to be precise about how you will achieve them through the use of media. A good strategy for making media may be multi-pronged


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designing your strategy for making media
and multi-faceted. For example, your strategy can include one objective to raise awareness among men about why domestic violence is wrong and another that targets the broader international community, asking them to get involved by telling governments and police to enforce the laws which prohibit domestic violence. You also need to be clear about how the media you make will help to achieve these objectives. While you may be ready to write down your objectives in this early stage of making your media strategy, you will probably want to return to this section later once you have worked through the rest of the process. This is because SMART objectives must be very clearly defined, which means that you will need to define your target audience and decide the media format/s you will use. An example of a clear objective is: ‘Our blog should encourage at least 2000 people to sign a petition about police inaction on domestic violence within one week’ or ‘5,000 men and boys in x village should see this poster about domestic violence within two weeks’. Do research When you know what you want to achieve, you will probably discover that you need to know more about your issue. The next step will be to do some research, keeping your goals and objectives in mind at all times. This research may involve the following: o Background research – dig out old reports and data created by your group or affiliated partners. Write a brief history, map out what information exists and look for new information where this is required. o Previous efforts and campaigns – what have other organisations or individuals done to support this cause: were they successful? Why or why not? Doing this will help identify what to avoid and what to pursue. o Context mapping – know what is happening right now in relation to your cause. What are the key events that have recently taken place and what are the events that will take place in the near future that may have impact? Identify who the key spokespeople for this issue are and what key terms are being used by different groups. What messages relating to this issue are reaching different stakeholder groups, which messages are failing to reach them, and why? Once you have done this research, you might want to adapt your proposition statement, your goal/s or your objectives by re-articulating them to take account of what you have learned. Identify your target audience and participant communities There are generally several communities involved with an issue, and all of them can be considered stakeholders. It is important to list all of your


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stakeholders, as you need to know everyone who has the power to influence your cause and help make a change. Knowing all the stakeholders will help you define your target audience and participant communities.
types of stakeholders
o Allies – people and organisations who already support what you do. o Adversaries – people who oppose the change you want to see. o neutral – people whose position or attitude is unclear or who have

not become actively involved in this issue. You should map your stakeholders using these three categories and have discussions about why you see them in this way. It is only after you understand where different audiences stand that you can prioritise them according to their influence and importance in terms of your objectives.
target audiences and participants

‘Target audiences’ means the people who can actually make the change that you want to see. ‘Participant communities’ means people you’d like to see becoming a part of your media campaign or project: these are the people, organisations and groups who will watch your media, help distribute it and provide different forms of support. Some of them will be active participants and some passive. It’s important to define your target audience and participant communities because, very often, a media campaign that has been designed for everyone ends up being for no one in particular. Successful films, television programmes, newspapers or posters are never made for ‘everyone’. On the other hand, a well-made media campaign that targets a specific audience can very easily end up being liked by many different groups of people. Using the list of stakeholders you have created, identify a target audience (or audiences) for your media campaign and define the groups of people who will become your participant communities. Identifying these two groups will help ensure that your media is effective. For instance, if a media campaign is seeking to ensure ethical practices are adopted by mining industries, the mining industry and the government are likely to be the target audiences. These are the people who have the power to make the changes you want to see. Communities affected by mining and national or international environmental advocates will likely be the participant communities. These are the people who will become involved by consuming and distributing your media and by taking action to support your cause. The target audiences and the participant communities may overlap; for example, a media campaign which asks for behavioural change in men who commit, condone


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designing your strategy for making media
or ignore domestic violence might identify these men as both the target audience and the participant community.
Audience profiling

After you have identified your target audience and participant communities, create a profile for each that includes details such as: o demographics – race, gender, ethnicity, age, education, religion. o Geography – local, national, international, remote, urban, rural. o Attitudes – how do they perceive the issue, how proactive they are? What would it take to get them to take action? o media habits – what media do they have access to, use and like? o Culture – what is their cultural background, what languages do they speak or read? Craft your message This is a critical step in creating your strategy for making media. Your message is what will pull people toward your campaign. Through your research, find out what needs to be communicated and how. There can be several messages that you send to different stakeholders, but they should all lead to the same goal. Remember that an effective message should: o Be simple and explain the cause clearly, without ambiguities. o Emphasise the critical importance of the cause. o Tell people something new, something they had not thought about. o Be engaging, interesting, perhaps even shocking. o Articulate the need to take action, and provide a solution. When crafting your message it is important to remember that accuracy and honesty are vital. If your audience feel you have misled them in the media you have created, you open yourself up to criticism and the entire validity of your campaign may be questioned. For example, if you are addressing climate change and you access a government report which states that there is a possibility that some large companies could make gross profits from selling their ‘carbon permits’, without reducing their carbon emissions, it would be inappropriate to tell people that “The biggest corporate polluters will profit from carbon trading”. This would be misleading without other concrete evidence. You should find multiple sources and seek out experts, if required, to ensure that your message is clear, truthful and can stand up to criticism. Once you have created a message for your media, you should test it out on audiences who represent your target and/or participant communities to ensure they respond to it.


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Creating an effective message

When Oxfam International wanted to create a message that would encourage people to pressure their governments to invest in education in developing countries, they used evidence that shows that education reduces poverty levels to develop this message:
“Basic education helps break the cycle of poverty”

However, when they tested this message on focus group audiences they found it did not motivate them to act. Instead they found that this simpler message received a much stronger response:
“education is every child’s right”

Once you have given your audience a clear message that states the problem or issue, you need to take them to the next level, where they are able to get involved to bring about the change you are seeking. Make a call to action All of the media you make to support your advocacy campaign or project should state clearly what action you want people to take. Although your media can generate awareness about your campaign or project, it is not this awareness in itself that will create change. You have to be very strategic about your ‘call to action’, because it is this action that will bring about the change you desire. A ‘call to action’ should: o Be actionable! It should not be something people find extremely difficult to do. o Compel people to do something. o Provide options for different levels of engagement. Identify resources There are two ways to address the issue of resources when you are creating your strategy for making media. One option is to design your strategy for making media and then work on pulling the resources required together. The second option is to map out the resources you know you have and decide the media you will make, using only those resources. When deciding which option you will use it is important to be realistic: know what kinds of resources are available within your group or organisation and what you may have access to through your supporters and networks. For instance, you might already have a video camera which you can use, or a filmmaker or volunteer in your organisa-


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designing your strategy for making media
tion who can make a video. This will bring down your production costs immensely. You may have a partner organisation involved in community radio which could help you get free airtime for your audio content. On the other hand, if you need to hire a filmmaker to make a film, or if you need to pay radio stations for airtime, this could put a huge financial burden on your organisation. It is best to create a rough budget for your media campaign at the beginning, that sets out what funds and other resources you will have access to. Seek advice from people who have done similar campaigns, as media production often has many hidden costs. Different kinds of resources you may need to include: o Human resources (people, skills and time) o Financial resources (access to funds) o Intellectual resources (access to knowledge and information) o Material resources (access to equipment and tools)
Budgeting and funding

Once you have made an estimate of what resources are available, you can create a budget. You can then work from this document to ensure you do not spend funds you do not have. While it is always best to try and plan ahead for your mediamaking needs by including funding for this in your overall campaign or project budget, if you do not have adequate funds available, there are organisations, trusts and foundations which provide funds for rights-based media campaigns. Approach them with your proposal and funding requirements. Approach other organisations and individuals who might want to be partners in this campaign or project and who can bring in their own resources. Make your media: choose the right format, tactics and tools Media should not drive your overall campaign; they should be a way of achieving your goals and objectives by relaying your message and calling for action. Decide on your media format, tools and tactics only after you have completed the earlier strategic steps. Then you can decide which media you want to use and whether they will be distributed online or offline (or both). Answering the following questions will help you select the right media format. o Which media formats do your participant communities have access to? o Which media formats do your target audience/s follow the most? o Which media format can best carry your message? o Which media format will be most likely to encourage people to take action?


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Media formats include video documentaries, print posters, blogs, audio podcasts, recorded street theatre performances, radio drama or SMS (text message) urban games. You can use a combination of media formats and tools to spread your campaign message to different audiences. For example, while you may send out video footage of human rights violations to national television stations, to ensure they receive widespread general attention in your country, you could also have a blog that regularly updates your global audience about new footage you have obtained, provides information regarding where it has been broadcast, and shares responses you have received from audiences, relevant organisations and government bodies.

There are several ways of putting across your message within the media you make, but usually you will be able to identify a ‘best’ approach. Tactics are the approaches that are used to address your individual goals and objectives within your overall strategy. Your media tactics should help you communicate with your target audience and participant communities. They should be used to convey messages that will appeal to their tastes, habits and interests; this might include using humour to appeal to a young audience, or group mobilisation to bring about a collective action; it may involve expressing complex data in striking visuals to get a message across clearly, or broadcasting compelling stories of personal experiences, to ensure these are heard by those who have the power to change the situation.

Tools are what you use to create, promote and distribute your media. There are many ways to produce media, but you should be able to identify a ‘best’ way based on your understanding of your audience, goals and resources. For example, the media format you have chosen to use may be video, but there are many tools you can use to do this: mobile phones, digital stills cameras, professional cameras, handycams, flipcams, archived footage etc. If you are only interested in putting your video on the internet, mobile phones and flipcams may be good tools to use. If you want to broadcast your video on television or in the cinema, it will be better to use high quality equipment. Editing your video requires other tools, as does distributing it. Security and privacy Producing and distributing media can involve risks. You may need to photograph or film in places where others, including governments,


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designing your strategy for making media
corporations or public officials, are involved in illegal activities. You might need to access documents which could incriminate people. You may need to hide media or documents that need to be kept private and secure. Anyone who is producing media should be careful about their own security, but it is even more important to be mindful of the risks your media may cause for others. If you need to film in risky areas, then do so inconspicuously. If you need access to confidential documents, work under the utmost secrecy and understand how to encrypt documents and hide your digital footprints. If the people involved in your media campaign could be at risk if their participation, or information about them, was made public, be sure you have talked about these risks with them and always give them the option to withdraw. Get consent from everyone who is participating in any kind of media production, including the carers of minors under 18 years where this is possible and appropriate, and be sure you store documents and footage in a way that will not lead to risks for yourself or others. You should always provide people with options if they are participating in the creation of your media: perhaps you might conceal a face or voice on camera, or keep the source of documents anonymous. Refer to the other chapters, particularly the Video chapter (p. 119), to find out more about the need to maintain security and privacy, and the methods you can use to do so. Even if you don’t think you are working in a risky environment, it’s important to ensure the safe and remote back-up of the data and footage you have collected. Create a timeline The effectiveness of a media campaign largely depends on timing. Your media should be released when the need for it is greatest. For example, you could release a photo-journal of human rights violations against women when authorities launch an event promoting the equal rights of women or when they make claims about the improving state of women’s health. There are issues which are not so time-bound, but even with those it is necessary to make the media campaign topical and relevant to current events. For example, a poster campaign about children’s rights may get more attention if it is released when a news story on this issue has made headlines. Or perhaps it could be launched on ‘Stop Child Labour Day’ or ‘International Children’s Day of Action’, when you are more likely to be able to mobilise the support of participant communities and get media coverage. In planning a timeline for your media production and distribution,


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consider how long your media strategy will continue. For example, if you are engaging in a three-year campaign, your plan for making media may not begin aggressively, but if your overall campaign will be short, getting people’s attention from the start will be critical. Your timeline should: o Show the period of planning and production of your media. o Show when your media will be released. o Include which messages and media are to be sent out and when; for example, 50 email or text messages over a one-year period. o Allow for a progressive build-up to the whole campaign if you are planning to create multiple media. o Relate important events to your media campaign and allow for flexibility to respond to events as they unfold. o Be realistic and achievable. Evaluate outcomes and measure your impact It takes a lot of effort to ensure that people remember your message and take action on it. This is why it’s important for you to measure the impacts of your media campaign or project: you need to know what works and what does not and to assess whether you have achieved your objectives.
media impact indicators

You should decide on media impact indicators before you create your media. These should be developed from your objectives and they should be able to measure what your media has achieved. The fact that people consume your media does not, in itself, constitute impact; impact means people taking the action you called for. For example, if 10,000 people read your blog, you can count that as a ‘good response’. But when 200 people who visited the blog attend the rally as you asked them to, that is impact. Media Impact Indicators may include the number of people who visit your website AND sign the petition; a formal response from government when you lodge a petition to them; an increase in media coverage of your issue; a change in the laws you are campaigning against.
measuring impact

Once you have the required data, you can evaluate the effectiveness of the media you created. There are now many tools for analysing your online media outreach and these can help you collect data. Some of these tools are discussed in the Internet chapter of Message in-a-box (p. 114). By measuring the impacts of your media you will know how many people you were able to reach, whether they included the right audiences, whether you sent the right message and created the desired


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Consider copyright
impact. The measurement of impacts should be ongoing, so you know if your strategy is working and can make changes accordingly during your media campaign, rather than after it is complete. Examples of media impact might include, ‘1000 people visited the website in a one-week period and 800 signed the petition telling police to arrest domestic violence perpetrators’ ; ‘There was a 500% increase in monthly coverage about domestic violence in selected major newspapers’; ‘After we lodged our petition, the government agreed to open an official public enquiry looking at how police officers can be made to uphold the law’.
documenting impact

It is important to broadcast your success stories to the world. The more people know about the positive impact of your campaign, the more likely they are to get involved. If you have designed your media campaign in various stages and it is progressive, then the impact from one stage can provide momentum for the next stage. It helps tremendously if you can demonstrate and document the achievements of your media campaign as it is happening, because this can make the target audience more responsive, and inspire others to join in and take action. You will also be creating a document that your own organisation and other rights advocates can learn from. ConSider CoPyriGHt Copyright licensing is a critical part of any media production work. Copyright gives the author of an original work rights for a certain period in relation to that work, including its publication, distribution and adaptation. After a defined time, depending on national laws (usually the life of the author plus 50 years or more), the work eventually enters the ‘public domain’ and anyone has the right to use it. By default, copyright laws are set at ‘all rights reserved’. This means that no one has the right to do anything with this work without the explicit permission of the copyright holder, except where other ‘fair use’ laws prevail. This means you need to be very careful if you are using someone else’s work (such as photographs, text from books, stills from a website, music, audio-visual material and so on). You should check what copyright license has been used for any content you want to use in your media and unless this license states that you can use the content in the way you want to, or it is already in the public domain, you must seek permission to use it. If you do not, you may have to withdraw your media from the public domain and you may even be found liable for breaching copyright law and have to pay compensation.


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Similarly, you need to think about how you want other people and organisations to use the media you create, and choose licenses accordingly, because the media that you produce will also fall under copyright laws. You should also consider copyright when commissioning media to be made and be clear about this when drawing up contracts. When you are making human rights-based media you are likely to want to give other people more freedom to use your content than the standard ‘all rights reserved’ copyright. You may want people to distribute and share your media, to promote your cause more widely. You may want them to re-mix your content or adapt it for a local audience. To do this, there are several kinds of licenses available that you may assign to your media. These are known broadly as ‘open content licenses’.
open content licensing

Instead of assigning an ‘all rights reserved’ copyright you can instead state that there are ‘some rights reserved’ or even ‘no rights reserved’, by using Open Content Licensing. It makes sense to use Open Content Licenses if you want to make information and knowledge freely available and put it in the hands of people, and in the public domain. You should always license your work in a way which allows people to use it in the way you want it to be used. There are several sorts of open content licenses which you can use, such as a Free Art License, Common Documentation License, Open Music License, Creative Commons License, Open Content and Open Publication License.
Creative commons licenses

This is the most common Open Content License system used today; the Creative Commons website allows you to choose the license that’s right for you by asking a series of simple questions. When using creative commons licenses, there are four key areas of copyright permissions that you can choose to ‘give away’ or keep: o Attribution – Users must attribute your work in the way you have specified. o Share-Alike – Users must license their own ‘derived work’ using the same sort of license that you have used. o no derivative works – Means that the work can not be modified in any way. o non-commercial – Requires that the work not be used for commercial purposes. You can use a mix of these license requirements to suit your needs. Tactical Tech, for example, used an ‘Attribution Share-Alike Non-commercial’ license for Message in-a-box so as to allow people to translate it, re-mix it, publish and distribute it freely, so long as they do so for non-


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media strategy matrix
commercial purposes and they provide appropriate credit to Tactical Tech as the original publishers. Using the creative commons licensing system you can also define the ‘jurisdiction’ of your license, depending on the country you are in, so as to accommodate local copyright laws. To let others know that you are using a Creative Commons Licenses, you can use the Creative Commons logos. When you choose a license, you are provided with a logo and HTML text so you can add the license information to your site. mediA StrAteGy mAtrix The following matrix summarises the information that has been provided in the above sections and briefly lists the key elements that should be included in your strategy for making media.
mediA StrAteGy mAtrix State your goal Create a Proposition Statement Have clear objectives do research identify your target audience and participant communities Craft your message make a call to action Choose your media format, tactics & tools Security and Privacy

State what you ultimately want to achieve. Develop a few clear, succinct sentences that state the problem and how you plan to address it. Develop SMART objectives. Find out things you need to know. Know who is involved with the issue – both allies and opponents – to help define your target audience and participant communities. Create simple, engaging, creative messages. Encourage people to take action. Choose the right media format for your audience and then select the right tactics and tools to achieve your objectives. Take care of your own security in risky situations; protect the identity of people involved and respect their privacy. Secure the information you gather. Time your media campaign or project to ensure maximum impact.

Create a timeline


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measure outcomes & impacts identify resources Consider copyright

Define the outcomes and impacts you want; develop indicators to monitor and measure your success. List the resources you have and those you need; budget accordingly and find funding if needed. Copyright your work under Open Content Licenses in a way that will support your messages to travel far and wide.

furtHer reSourCeS And reAdinG: Additional resources and reading: o For more information about developing a strategy and identifying stakeholders see the New Tactics in Human Rights website resources:

o Use the Creative Commons website to create your own copyright o A great website to help you with audience research:

license: www.creative

o For more information on measuring the impact of your media:


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PRINT – on paper & online
The information in this chapter and the software provided in Messagein-a-box will help you plan, develop and publish a large-scale print project, such as a newspaper or book, or a one-off or smaller-scale project such as a poster, fact sheet or brochure. The more carefully you plan your printed publications, the easier the process will be. The questions below can be used as a starting point. The rest of this chapter provides in-depth information about planning, production and evaluation for all kinds of print projects, alongside useful case studies that illustrate how publications can be sustainable and successful. This chapter will help you think, before you start, about how you want your final print production to look, its style, scale and the number of copies to print. This may sound obvious, but projects can have a way of expanding drastically as enthusiasm grows. What skills do you need to develop? The most important things that you’ll need to start your print production are ideas, a strategy and teamwork. Print production, especially for periodicals like newsletters and magazines, can be a wonderful teambuilding experience, but careful and patient coordination is required to make it a sustainable one. At the outset, make an inventory of the skills you’ll need to produce your publication. Human resources and skills: o Coordination and planning o Layout and design o (Grassroots) marketing & networking o Budgeting (see p. 28) Extra skills – for larger print jobs: o Writing o Editing (see p. 33) o Image sourcing, creation &/or manipulation (see Images section, p. 42) o Desktop publishing / word processing For more about finding and managing human resources, building teams and maintaining energy and focus, see our Strategy chapter on page 7. What resources will you need?
For simple (but effective) smaller projects

It is a myth that to produce something printed you need a high-end computer. Newsletters, brochures, fact-sheets, posters, stickers and tshirts, for example, can all be produced without computers. A good idea


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select a print format
is the main essential for a high-impact campaign. A series of fact-sheets can be produced with only a typewriter (or even clear handwriting) and access to a photocopier.
For publications sustained over the longer term

It is difficult to sustain ongoing complex print publishing without some computer resources. Basic equipment that you can use to get started: o Computer – to run the software listed in this section, you will need access to a personal computer with at least a 486DX 66 megahertz (MHz) processor and 128 megabytes (MB) of memory. o Software – you can get Open Office (a word processing tool) or Scribus (a layout tool) with the help of Message in-a-box, or you can work with any software that you or your team are comfortable with. See the Print section of the Message in-a-box website, or the CD. o Printer – laser printers can be a very cost-effective way to do simple print projects. Printers are also useful at the editing and drafting stages of larger projects. See Printing & Distribution in this chapter (p. 35) to help you decide if you will be using a laser printer to produce your finished work. o Digital camera or scanner – a digital camera will create ready-to-use digital photos that you can download onto a computer. A scanner will allow you to digitise a printed image. See the Images chapter (p. 42). o Memory stick – if you do not have your own computer, or if you will be using more than one computer, a USB memory stick is useful for moving files between computers. How will you distribute your publication? Early on, estimate the size of your publication, and the number of copies that you can effectively distribute. Think about how to get them to your audience. There are already too many dead trees sitting around boxed up in corridors, or being pulped! SeLeCT a PRINT FORMaT Once you have a clear idea of what your goals are, and of what sort of message best communicates them, you are ready to select a format or formats: brochure, newsletter, magazine or ‘zine, book, poster, t-shirt, sticker? How to decide? Think about your goals, capacity and audience. Are you trying to get people to act fast on an issue, or do you have a message that makes sense on its own and will not date quickly? Simple messages can go into smaller, one-off publications like posters, stickers, t-shirts, booklets or pamphlets, which can include a link to more frequent


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Newsletters, Magazines & ‘Zines

Provide in-depth coverage They may give a voice to the grass roots Can include text and graphics Can be distributed on the internet Can encourage long-term engagement They can be shared These formats are costly; they demand skills, time and a good team These formats need to be sustained over time You will need to prepare good-quality content Delegating, co-ordinating, team work and distribution are crucial Watch size, design You’ll need a good idea and design. One colour is fine, but ensure high contrast. Include a link to your website if there is space. As above Costly, not in-depth, can’t be updated or easily shared Not in-depth, potential legal and security issues for people distributing, can’t be updated Can be costly, potential legal/ security issues for people distributing, can’t be updated Distribution Demands some skills Distribution


Fast, simple, catchy and durable


Fast, simple, catchy, inexpensive, durable; online distribution is possible


Fast, simple, catchy, durable. High impact. Online distribution possible

You need a good idea and possibly a designer. Guerrilla postering (at any size) in the right places can have big impact. Consider including a link to your website. Ensure you include a link to your website. Clear, concise writing and layout are essential One colour is usually fine Your flier needs a striking design to stand out. Include a link to your website Demands research, fact-checking and clear writing Carefully weigh up whether you want to give your book away or sell it; whether to make an e-book or a printed book. print

Brochures/ Pamphlets

Fairly quick and easy More in-depth. Online distribution is easy


Quick and easy Inexpensive Online distribution is easy


Fact or information sheet

Fairly quick and easy, relatively inexpensive Distribution More in-depth. Online distribution is easy Can be heavy. Expensive to print and distribute; sales systems required

Books, Booklets & Reports

Very in-depth Can be self-funding through sales Online distribution is possible

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budgeting & fundraising for print
updates on your website. Posters or stickers can be put up by volunteers, and fliers can be handed out at demonstrations. If you want to engage people over the longer term, by giving them an in-depth understanding of the issues involved in your cause, or if your messages are evolving all the time, and are related to other developments, then a newsletter, ‘zine or newspaper is best. To highlight a particular subject you could issue a one-off publication such as a briefing paper or communiqué – but don’t suggest it will form part of a series unless you are committed to producing further issues. A longer text might need to be published as a report or even as a book. If your budget is smaller, it could become an e-book for downloading. Remember that anything published online can be updated more regularly, cheaply and easily. Using a combination of formats is the best way to reach all your goals and audiences in the short and long term. BUDGeTING & FUNDRaISING FOR PRINT You can get an idea of the costs you face by asking friends or organisations who have done a similar project, but you might need to go into more detail for larger projects requiring ongoing funding, such as magazines, newsletters or series of fact sheets. Direct costs How much will it cost to print? Look at: o Format – the size and shape of your publication, the number of pages, paper type, ink type, number of colours, binding, covers (if any) o Print run – how many copies will you print? o Distribution – a big question, often overlooked. What method will you use? How much will it cost? o One-off costs – for example: computer equipment, design of template Other costs
o Human resources – how much staff time will be spent on the

project? How will this be accounted for? Will any outside contributors need to be paid (graphic designer, illustrators, cartoonists etc.)? o Travel, copyright, other expenses – will there be any other costs you need to consider in advance? Seeking funds Publications can serve as fundraising tools. You may decide to sell your publication; space could also be set aside in it for ads from supporters


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or from local businesses, even from your printer. You can ask individual supporters for donations. Ways of cutting costs o Don’t print, do an e-book instead (but only if it reaches your audience) o Use more affordable paper o Stick to black & white or one-colour printing; replace colour photos with greyscale, or with simple graphics o Get several quotes for paper or printing o Reduce the frequency – print fewer issues per year o Reduce the weight – save on paper and mailing costs o Reduce the number of issues distributed o Reduce the size by cutting articles/pages or even by reducing fontsizes (be careful to maintain good layout and readability) Advertising Small-scale ads are a great way to fund publications while providing a service to the small businesses in your community. Make sure you set an ad-rate sheet and stick to it. One thing people often forget is that maintaining an ad business takes time and labour. Each business that buys an ad must provide you with a copy of the graphic for their ad, and you will have to send them a copy of your publication when it is done, to show them that that the ad has run. Do not take on doing layout for advertisers unless they pay you for this service. PLaN yOUR PRINT PRODUCTION Create a production calendar Even a simple publishing effort will benefit from a basic timeline and task-assignment list. This will help make the difference between a chaotic experience and a pleasant one. Consider all the tasks you will have to complete during the production process. Group them in order under logical headings. Here is a basic outline of the production process for a newsletter or magazine. There are many sub-tasks you could also add. o Planning – budgeting & fund-raising, content mapping o Production– content gathering, editing & formatting o Layout & Design – proof-reading
o Printing o Distribution o evaluation

Make one person responsible for each task on the list; assign an


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plan your print production
additional person to be responsible if necessary as backup, or in case of emergency on more important or larger tasks. Deadlines & time management To fill in deadlines, pick your final deadline and work backwards from that date, allotting a deadline to each task on the list. Build in a buffer of extra time to allow for unexpected delays. The longest buffer time should be allocated for getting the articles from people who have agreed to write for you. Writers may need to be reminded of their deadlines and pressed for content, but not so hard as to lose their good will. Raise a red flag as soon as a deadline seems in danger of being missed and look for ways to catch up with the schedule. Don’t forget to leave plenty of time for proof-reading before you print the final version. If you can’t afford to get a professional proof-reader to go over the whole text, ask someone who has good language skills and hasn’t looked at the publication yet to go through the final version for you. Gather your content This section is mainly relevant to more complicated print publications such as magazines. There are two ways to generate content: solicit it from other people, or write it from within your production team; many publications use both methods. Gathering relevant good-quality content from the grassroots is one of the most important and difficult aspects of this job, and often the most neglected. Rather than speaking on behalf of people, communityfocussed media should allow them to speak for themselves whenever possible. ‘Expert’ contributions can be included to frame and clarify subjects if necessary. Your editorial team can provide pieces to round out an issue or fill gaps. In order to gather contributions and avoid writing the whole publication yourselves, you will need to: o Have a plan with clear deadlines and division of responsibilities. o Develop and sometimes train contacts who have an ear to the ground and can write, or are willing to learn. o Provide a clear brief to writers, including the length of the articles and their purpose, plus editorial guidelines. A page of text in an average magazine, with no photos, amounts to approximately 1000 words (for more on editorial guidelines, see Editorial Policy, p. 32). o Be clear about deadlines and follow the progress of each person’s work before the deadline arrives. o Manage a respectful and skilful editing process.


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Map your content Regardless of who will be contributing, always start the process with a brainstorm session, working toward a ‘map’ of the content you want to include. Make a note of each article and graphic component separately, and of who is assigned to write it, recruit it (if relevant), and edit it, and what their deadlines are. It is best to do this in a spreadsheet format that can be updated as you go. What’s more, consulting your content map and layout plan will help you give authors a clear idea of the length or number of words required. It is important to establish a tradition of content mapping early in your production cycle, especially if you are producing a newsletter with multiple sections. Even a one-off poster or brochure will benefit from a scaled-down version of this process. Content mapping will help you to task-master and to appreciate how each component fits into your overall goal. Make notes for: o Each article or image name o Who will do the writing/reporting o Who will liaise with others to recruit and supervise external contributions o Who will edit o Deadlines for each item If the article or photograph falls into a cluster of related content in this issue, or is part of an ongoing section or column, note this also. As you go on, other options or angles may emerge for grouping your content thematically, and your content map can help you identify these themes early on. Don’t miss the story Stay on the lookout for material that communicates the core messages of your advocacy work. If you are doing this regularly, it will be easy to fill your publication with relevant and timely material. Always take a digital camera with you to actions and events. Build documentation into the day-to-day culture of your organisation. Make sure that you are recording and filing minutes of meetings, reports of trips and delegations, self-evaluations of actions, and summaries of research projects. You may find it useful to explore the possibilities of audio documentation, which can later be transcribed. Your community should be encouraged to suggest stories to you, and to write them or provide good draft material, but you can also ask for what you want, by putting out a call for coverage of important issues and events. It may be possible to interview important figures who are unable to write articles themselves.


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plan your print production
Brainstorming sessions will bring out ideas for the types of stories and items that will be relevant to your goals and audience. Make sure your texts contain a balance of ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ stories, factual and opinion pieces, human experience and statistics. Editorial policy Having a clear editorial policy, with written guidelines, will help everyone stay focussed, on time, on task and on message. It promotes transparency and accountability within your community, and will help you handle controversial submissions. Your policy should outline: o Format – what language or dialect writers should use, what style (if appropriate), and what types of pieces you are interested in; for example, news items, reviews or interviews. o exclusions & Style – what content, if any, is deemed to be unacceptable, such as politically offensive speech or gender-biased language. o editing – what rights you reserve regarding the editing of submissions. Make sure contributors have clear expectations. Most publications reserve the right to edit all submissions for length and clarity. o acknowledgement – whether you will give by-lines to writers. Some collectives have a political position against doing so but others deem it necessary. o Writers’ Guidelines – if you publish frequently and rely on submissions, consider offering a broader document with updated information about the focus of your current publishing efforts, sometimes called ‘Writers’ Guidelines’. See the Carbusters website: http://www. for an example of how one campaigning organisation accepts material. o Style – larger, ongoing productions, especially when there are a number of people working on them, might justify having a Style Guide, which should be included in Writer’s Guidelines. Create a layout Create a layout of your publication (section by section, page by page), poster or other project. This allows you to decide what goes where and how it will flow for the eye and mind of the reader. Think about the format you have chosen and how text will fit on the page while leaving space for images and headings. Remember to consider how it will be physically printed, cut and, if applicable, assembled. Always create a mock-up (a trial version of your document that you put together yourself), to see how your layout concept is going to look and work. You can use Inkscape to design simple graphics or logos for your publication. If you do not have a talent for graphic design or access to a


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designer, it is best to stick to templates such as those provided in Scribus. Read our online guide to Make a Newsletter for more on this. You can even use Open Office for very simple layouts. The information you need can be found under the Print menu on the Message in-a-box website.
For all projects:
o Sketch your layout on blank or grid paper before moving onto a o Consider how you can use images (see p. 42) o Can you afford colour, in images, pre-printed header sheets or other o Think about the use of white space, an essential design element o How will the eye move across the design?


design elements?

For publications

Allow single pages for the front and back cover, and plan what will go on facing pages. Remember that the pages are laid out in multiples of two or four, because of the way that the printing and folding processes work. Style guide If your organisation is going to publish frequently, it is important to evolve a consistent communication style. A style guide is a document that details specific decisions which have been made as to how you will express things. ‘Style’ refers to the writing style, and may mean deciding whether to use full-stops in acronyms, or whether to capitalise ‘Global South’, or choosing between ‘nonprofit’ and ‘non-profit’. The best approach is to start with something simple (perhaps copied from another organisation you respect) and to develop it as you go on. Make decisions as a group, and then document these. Be aware of cultural conventions in the areas in which you are publishing. eDITING Once you have your manuscripts, the process of preparing them for production begins. Make sure that you clarify your team’s division of labour and channels of communication before you begin the process of editing. One basic consideration is version control. Are you all working on the right document, in the right generation? Saving all work regularly and backing it up is another critical thing to remember. If you are not using computers, make photocopies. This stage can get hectic and clear expectations and division of responsibility are important.


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Top tips for editing
o Read through – always read the whole document once through o Show respect for contributors, whether your organisation edits

before making any changes.

o accountability – have a solid reason for any changes. Ask questions o Consistency – use your style guide and common sense to achieve o Humility – save time and be respectful by only changing what you o Fact-checking – who is accountable for the factual information you

heavily to underline specific goals or lightly to favour authors’ voices. when you are not sure what something means.

this with punctuation, capitalisation, spelling, etc.

must to achieve your goals.

are publishing? What are your sign-off procedures? Is information accurate and up to date? Use the internet or check with your author. Allow time for this. o Clarity & readability – break up long paragraphs and sentences. Use the active voice (‘She brings home the bacon’ rather than ‘The bacon is brought home by her’). Avoid jargon. Does it flow logically? o Content – is all the information the reader needs included? o Tightening & cutting – eliminate redundant words, excessive adjectives and distracting detail. Fix vague language and repetition: use your thesaurus! Cut the least important information out but save versions in case you need to go back and retrieve anything.
When to ask the author
o If material is technical, specialised, or unfamiliar to you o When changes may alter the substance of the author’s point o When you don’t understand what is intended

Copy editing

A few things to look out for: o Format – incorporate any necessary line breaks. Fix inconsistencies in heading style, font, boldface, italicisation, alignment, etc. o Misspellings and spelling consistency o acronyms – state the term in full at the first mention with the abbreviation in brackets: Non- Governmental Organisation (NGO). Use the acronym after the first mention unless there are so many acronyms in the text that confusion might arise. Editing and layout complement each other. Edit articles before placing them into the template. Once you have placed an article, you may need to edit it again for length. This can be a circular process depending on how your team and production process are structured, because your plans may change as the layout evolves; for example, if an


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excellent photograph becomes available or an article cannot be written in time for this edition. Proof-reading This final stage of editing usually happens after layout, and almost always happens on hard copy. Use proof-readers’ standard marks to ensure clarity, and use your style guide to ensure consistency. You can view the standard marks online at: If you fix a lot of errors on the first round of proof-reading, you might need to do one or more additional rounds. TIP: use different coloured pens for each round. It is also possible to edit on word processing programs such as Open Office using the ‘Record Changes’ function. PRINTING & DISTRIBUTION Print management You are now ready to send your project to print! It might mean making sure you have a box of paper and a toner cartridge next to your healthy laser printer, or else a printing company ready to go. Making the decision about how you will print your project is about cost, but also about reliability and quality. Over time, you might develop relationships with a few different printers, from a high speed copy shop to a commercial printing firm. If you have a strict deadline to meet, make sure you have booked your print job in advance with your printer, and that you meet their deadlines too. You cannot assume they will keep their expensive equipment sitting waiting until you are ready. If you lose your place in the queue, it might add crucial days to your schedule. However you print, it will require coordination. If you are using a graphic designer, they can often be hired to manage the print process. What paper will be used? What finishing do you require (cutting, covers and binding)? Do you have an environmental policy; for example, choosing recycled paper and soy-based inks? If you are using a printer they will send you a proof sheet. This is your FINAL CHANCE to make changes before ink hits paper and you become legally responsible for the costs involved. Be sure it is correct. A few errors in a large project are not necessarily a problem, but a spelling mistake on a t-shirt can look very sloppy indeed. Be very clear in the instructions you give to the printers, and make sure they are in writing. If you are printing your publication yourself, do you have the right equipment available for cutting and stapling? What about postage, envelopes, labels?


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printing & distribution
Distribution An important job, often overlooked. What method will you use (mail, volunteers, community hubs, distribution company, website sales)? How much will it cost? How many copies will you distribute? Will you distribute to your constituents individually or to community hubs? If you mail it to individuals, how far away are they? How much will each copy weigh? Will you sell some material? Where? How can money be handled responsibly?
Internet, print or both?

To work out the best way to reach your audience, ask questions such as: o Will they be online, with a stable internet connection? o Would they be more comfortable looking at something they can hold in their hand rather than at a computer screen? o Are they so far-flung that allowing them to access your report online rather than in print would help to save you postage and reach more people? o What format will have the most impact across all audiences? Don’t be afraid to mix ‘traditional’ and ‘new’ media. Make the most of appropriate channels and use multiple strategies to reach your audience and achieve your campaign goals.
e-books & viral distribution

New and not-so-new technologies offer different and complementary ways of distributing media. Blog posts can be printed out, photocopied and physically distributed; for example, by being left in public places that are popular with your audience, like cafes or community centres. You can design posters using Open Source Software and print them using laser-printers. You can ask a journal or print publication with which you want to be associated to reprint your images and messages. You don’t need to actually print something in order to distribute a ‘print’ publication. PDF files can contain your finished product in noneditable form so that it can be distributed by email to your network, or via a website. However, if you are unsure of your audience’s access to the internet, you will want to distribute some hard copies. A combination of online and offline approaches is usually the best option. You can create e-books (containing both graphics and text), and distribute these globally and inexpensively via networks such as http:// or ; this allows you to earn income from your digital products. Compact Discs (CDs) and USB memory sticks are great way of circulating content in areas where poor infrastructure, such as expensive or slow internet connections, makes online distribution inappropriate


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for reaching the communities you work with. CDs can be distributed at markets or in other public arenas. In some areas this method has been used effectively for distributing content that is censored or banned by the authorities; for example, the whole online encyclopaedia ‘Wikipedia’ was distributed on CD-Rom in this way in some countries. evaLUaTION Feedback and evaluation are vital to ensure the effectiveness and continuing improvement of your communications. You should evaluate the processes that went into producing your print project and the outcomes it produced. You can look at facts as well as opinions. Questions to ask include: Processes o What did you learn? o Did you finish it on time and budget? o How could you do this better next time? Document your answers and update your stored knowledge for the next person in your organisation who does a similar project. Create links to documentation of processes in case of staff changes or emergencies. Outcomes o Did our target audience receive or see our printed material? o How many people did we reach? What feedback can the audience offer? o Did our publication achieve our strategic goals? o Were there sections that people didn’t read, or didn’t like? Why not? Evaluation tools: o Include feedback mechanisms in any publication; for example, a phone number or e-mail address with a request for people’s reactions. o Use simple online survey tools such as o Build in an evaluation form into your website’s Content Management System. Drupal, for example. has many options for this. See the Message in-a-box website’s evaluation page for this toolkit: o Ask your stakeholders o Monitor any enquiries, media coverage or audience behaviour Ask for all feedback to come to a central point so that you can compile and regularly review it with your team.


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print case studies
PRINT CaSe STUDIeS Newsletter – women’s centre in India Organisation: Saheli Women’s Resource Centre, New Delhi, India Goal: Inform & maintain rapport with the readers by sharing organisation’s activities and other events. audience: Supporters, clients & others Format: Newsletter. Low cost, black & white Frequency: Once every four months, issues in Hindi and English, since 1984 Sustaining a regular newsletter for 25 years entirely on voluntary effort is not easy. There is much to learn from the experience of this small women’s group. Saheli Women’s Resource Centre is a New Delhi-based organisation working for women’s rights. It is non-funded and runs entirely on personal donations from supportive individuals. It has functioned as both a crisis centre and a campaign group. It brings out a newsletter to which people can subscribe. The newsletter keeps supporters informed about campaigns and activities. From reproductive health issues to domestic violence, from sexuality minority rights to economic policy, the Saheli Newsletter covers diverse and often difficult terrain. The fact that Saheli works as a non-hierarchical women’s collective is both a strength and challenge as far as bringing out a time-bound publication is concerned. The group maintains a Daily Diary where volunteers log the day’s events. This not only helps the group to understand what works and what doesn’t work, it’s also a piece of historical documentation. As a matter of editorial policy writers’ bylines are not included, since this would “fail to acknowledge the inputs of others into the newsletter – be it to type, translate, proof, edit or even post the newsletters.” (Saheli: ‘25 Years of Continuity and Change’, 2006) The early issues of the newsletter tended to be text-heavy. However, in later years, the newsletter experimented with design changes, incorporated a more humorous style and used cartoons to pack a punch. Based on internal and external feedback, more issues began to be covered. The Saheli Newsletter continues to have wide outreach and relevance.


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April–May 2007


State Violence & the Death Penalty:
The Myths on Capital Punishment


Fact sheets – social education in India : – Albert Camus (1913-1960), “Reflections on the Guillotine”. Organisation: Vikas Adhyayan Kendra ence on Death Sentence is an inviolable command of compassionate culture mental expression of social justice grandeur. No civilized state shall have Goal: To give the reader facts that help them to form a knowlt death penalty even in the rarest of rare cases, lest it be condemned as guilty y and devoid of humanity. Universal respect for Human Rights commands edge-based opinion on contemporary social concerns. tion of capital punishment as no state, committed to social justice and human an stultify or demolish the rightFormat: life of anyInformation fact sheet. Low cost, black & white. to life of any human being” – V.R. Krishna Iyer, former Supreme Court Judge. 4-8 pages, question-and-answer. Frequency: Every two months since 1993

I have been unable to see anything in capital punishment but a penalty the could not endure and a lazy disorder that my reason condemned. I argue for an immediate abolitionWebsite penalty.” of the death

ment, known also as the death e execution of a convicted state as punishment for crimes es’ or ‘capital offences’. Today, most countries in the world has with the UN strongly in favour N General Assembly, recently, on executions, the vote being against, 33 abstentions and 8 a historic vote in that an y of its members endorsed the penalty. Similarly, through a nal Criminal Court in July 1998 ath penalty. Besides, this UN wake of the recent endorsement nt, by a large majority, of its olution in the UN Assembly for conditional moratorium on tand followed from the hanging nd two of his aides. The fact he death penalty has been laid on for membership of the EU stituent States are members of a pan-European human rights

MYTHS – April–May 2007

Each issue of Facts Against Myths exam-ines the common myths surrounding a subject and then presents the facts refuting these myths. Launched in 1993 by Vikas Adhyayan Kendra (Development Research Centre), a Mumbai-based secular non-profit organisation, the initial aim of Facts Against Myths was to counter a growing fascist "Every human being has the right to life. This Right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily trend in India. Facts Against be deprived of his life...". – International Covenent on Civil and MythsPolitical Rights, Articleuse factual and verifiable information to counter attempted to 6 myths and prejudices being propagated against Muslims and other 1 religious minorities. CIRCULATION ONLY Over the years, the scope of the fact-sheet has widened to cover diverse topics: the myths surrounding the ‘beauty’ industry, the nuclear industry, the ‘gene revolution’, HIV-AIDS and industrialisation. Leslie Rodriguez, who has been the driving force behind this publication, says “If you want to bring out a similar publication or indeed any documentation of social relevance, you must first have a powerful, pro-people critique of society. The style, the formatting, getting the information out on time – all these are important too but they are secondary aspects of the process. The main point is to take a stand. You need to be aware of what is happening around you, identify the main issues, understand the significance of various conflicting opinions and then take a stand that is democratic and pro-people”. How do they know whether the fact-sheet is serving a useful purpose? Leslie explains that people usually write in with praise, criticism and suggestions. But what gives the publishers the greatest satisfaction is when they receive angry responses and threats from reactionary organisations who are the main proponents of myths. ‘That’s when we know that the truth, as we have documented it, has really hit home.’ laughs Leslie.

Everyone has a Right to Life!**


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print case studies
Regional bulletin – human rights in Mexico Organisation: Equipo Indignación (Indignation Team), human rights promotion and defence group, Mérida, Yucatán, México Goal: To inform, encourage and assist human rights advocates in the Yucatan Peninsula Format: Printed bulletin and on-line publication. Low cost, green ink over white paper. 30-40 pages Frequency: Every month or every other month, depending on available information and time, since 1999 El Varejón bulletin started in 1999 and has since become one of the main references for human rights and social activists in the Yucatán, a region with a long history of poverty and authoritarianism. Among the issues that this publication has documented are: the general disregard for the rights of Mayan peasant communities and individuals, the entrenched and socially-approved domestic violence suffered by women, and the homophobia promoted by the State and the church. El Varejón offers editorials, documents abuses and injustices, provides human rights ‘first-aid’ advice, and makes reports and news available to an ever-expanding community of advocates. People can subscribe to the publication individually or as part of a community or organisation. The cost of the subscription is symbolic (around $1.00 or 50p for 10 issues); the team supports the printing and distribution of the bulletin through fund-raising and donations. When El Varejón began it was distributed among a small community of activists and NGOs concentrated in one metropolitan area . With time, the publication has grown in influence and is now one of the main sources of information and analy- sis about human rights in the Peninsula. El Varejón continues to be distributed by regular mail but it has also been digitalised and published on the internet. With this latter strategy the team has increased the number of people they are able to reach and educate on human rights from the perspective of Indigenous communities, gay activists and women. For more information (in Spanish), see http://www.indignacion.


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An image from the campaigning website I want to go home, highlighting the plight of the Kgeikani Kweni, the first people of the Kalahari.

Satirical cartoon e-card by Sokwanele about the Zimbabwean elections 2008.


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IMAGES – photos, comics, guerrilla marketing & more
Images make your advocacy messages more immediate and compelling, whether you are using journalism, blog posts, websites, guerilla marketing, posters, brochures or e-mail. This chapter will show you how to find, create, edit and share images, with an emphasis on photographs, comics, maps and simple animations. The power of images is explored further throughout Message in-abox, in the sections covering Print, the Internet and Video. What do you need? It’s essential to have ideas, creativity, imagination and a strategy. In addition, it can be useful to have: people to help, internet access, a camera (mobile phone or stand-alone), and sources of images online or in books, comics, or cartoons (already existing or commissioned by you). Where can you get images? As well as showing you how to create images yourself, this chapter tells you how to find useful copyright-free images on the internet. What about copyright? Many images that already exist are copyrighted, and if you want to use them you’ll need to contact the owner of the copyright and get their permission, and possibly pay them. See the Strategy chapter (p. 18) for more on copyright and Open Content licensing. Copyright as it applies to images is also discussed in this chapter (p. 48). Where can you use images? Once you have your images ready you can use them in many contexts: o Publications – in magazines, newsletters, brochures, posters, reports o Online – in e-mail campaigns, websites, blogs, e-print brochures, e-books o Video – as still images in a video production. A video can be made entirely from still images, which is particularly helpful when you are using archive material. o Photo activism – encouraging the grassroots collection and sharing of images o Guerilla marketing – powerful images are particularly succinct, and therefore lend themselves to unconventional tactics


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illustrations, cartoons & photographs
How can you use images? Use images of people to give your campaigns a personal touch. Images could help introduce members or supporters of your organisation to people who see your publication. Use images to complement testimonials: photos of the work that you do and the people who have been affected by it can enhance written messages of success and support. You could also make an entire campaign focussed on one image or on a series of strong images. A good photo, a witty cartoon or an informative visual can have the power to engage your audience and energise your campaign. Whether you want to shock people, wake them up, amuse them or inform them, a picture really can be worth a thousand words. IlluStrAtIOnS, cArtOOnS & PhOtOGrAPhS Illustrations and cartoons have been used for centuries to communicate ideas, to explain issues quickly and clearly, for political satire and to increase the visual impact of a message. Many such images can be reproduced clearly online and in print: a line drawing can be photocopied or printed using one colour of ink. Remember, the simplest cartoons are often the best. How to find illustrations & cartoons o Ask someone to draw them or to let you use one that they’ve already drawn. o Search Google Images. Use ‘cartoon’ or ‘illustration’ as your search terms. o Try dedicated sites such as as well as image-sharing sites such as Flickr ( that also host illustrations, cartoons and other forms of graphic art. o Collect illustrations from magazines and newspapers, or by photographing posters. o Make your own images. o Ask your supporters to suggest good resources. Tips for taking photographs When taking photos for your advocacy work, it is important to go back to your message, goals and objectives and then think about the sort of images you could use to get these across. There are various approaches to taking pictures: you can capture a scene as events unfold, or you can plan an image by making formal decisions about things like lighting, framing, subjects and background. Below are some basic guidelines for taking photographs, to be applied where relevant; they are ‘rules to be broken’ as you experiment with what works best for you.


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Eye-to-eye – When photographing people, consider taking the photos from the eye level of your subjects. This can make the photo feel as engaging and personal as the real-life experience. compose with care – Decide what you are really interested in and centre your efforts on getting the best possible photo of this subject, whether it is a person, scenery or an object. When taking portraits of people a plain background is usually better. Make sure no poles or other objects appear to grow out of the head of your subject. At times you will want want to include the background to show context. Make clear decisions about what you are including in each photo and what you leave out. Move in close – Look into your viewfinder and fill the picture area with the subject you are photographing. A shot from close up can feel personal and intimate and reveal interesting details. Having your subject almost fill the frame can also help your viewer understand and appreciate your photo. the rule of thirds – The ‘rule of thirds’ is worth remembering. Imagine lines are drawn which divide your picture into thirds both horizontally and vertically. You then centre important elements of your composition where these lines intersect. The middle of the picture is not the best place for your main subject (whether the subject is a landscape, person or object), because this is distracting to the eye. Place the subject to the left or right of the centre.

Make the most of light – Next to the subject, good light is the most

important element for photography. If it’s overcast, try keeping the sky out of your pictures as much as possible. Also try to avoid taking photos at midday when the sun is directly above you; morning and late afternoon light tend to give better results. Experiment by moving around (both you and the subject) to find the angle that gives the best light – if you have a digital camera, you can take test photos to check this. Plan your picture – If you are shooting a portrait, plan to arrive at a time of day when you know the light is likely to be good. Find the best place and lighting setup for your photo before you meet your ‘subject’, if


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illustrations, cartoons & photographs
possible. Shooting in a light room means there will be light reflected off the walls which may enhance your image. control the flash – Experiment with taking photographs with the flash turned off, especially when you are indoors and using a good digital camera. Over-using the flash can create glare on your subjects and flatten the colours. Watch out for the unattractive red-eye when photographing people with the flash and if you have a camera setting to prevent this, use it. On very low light days you can try using your flash outdoors when your subject is close enough. Practical help with creating images Images in a digital format are easy to distribute widely. Digital images can come from: o A mobile phone camera or stand-alone digital camera o A shared online source o An analogue image (for example, a printed photo or transparency), that has been scanned or digitally photographed Once you have got an image from one of the above sources into your computer, you will need the following: o Photo editing software such as GIMP to process the images (available free on the Message in-a-box CD and website > Images) o Desktop publishing tools such as Scribus or Inkscape (available free on the Message in-a-box CD and website > Print) or web-design software such as KompoZer or WordPress (available free on the Message in-a-box CD and website > Internet) to incorporate the images into your media project o People with basic computer skills to help o Internet access in order to download, share and upload images o A printer, or access to suitable printers for a fee
GIMP is a powerful tool for composing and creating images. Using it you can: o Create graphics and logos o Resize and crop photos, retouch photos o Combine images o Remove unwanted image features o Convert images into different digital formats o Create animated images o Prepare images for use on websites See the Images section on the Message in-a-box website or the DVD for Gimp, Scribus and Inkspace ‘How-to’ guides, including


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video introductions to this software. These guides will show you how to edit and use images in different ways. Using mobile phone cameras In order to assess the quality of a mobile phone camera you need to know how many mega-pixels the camera function offers. The more mega-pixels a photo taken with mobile phone camera contains, the better the resolution. A two mega-pixel camera will allow you to take a photo which will make a fair-to-good quality (150 pixels/inch) print at 8” by 10”. A three or four mega-pixel camera on your phone will significantly improve the image quality. Most cameras on mobile phones will allow you to take pictures of good enough quality to use in screen format on a blog or a website if you are intending to use small images. Before you use the camera for anything significant, it’s a good idea to do some test shots and transfer them to the format you are planning to use. For more information about getting mobile phone photos off your camera and using them, see the Mobiles section of the Message in-a-box website or see our Mobiles in-a-box toolkit (http://mobiles. Printing images If your images are to be printed, you need to pay attention to image resolution (the number of printed dots per inch, or DPI) and size. If your images are in colour, you should find out whether you will be separating the colours into RGB (red-green-blue) or CMYK (cyan-magentayellow-black); these are two different ways of separating the colours in an image in order to reproduce them accurately. It’s important to get this right, as it will effect the quality and look of the images. Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Black are the four colours of ink used to print a colour image on paper. Each one absorbs part of the light reflected from the page, using what is called a subtractive process. If you are printing an image with a professional printer, they may ask for the images in CMYK format. Red-Green-Blue is used to reproduce colour on computer monitors or TVs. RGB adds red, green and blue light to a black background and so is called an additive process. Don’t assume your image will look the same in print as on a screen. There is always some difference between the way an image looks on a computer screen and how it looks when it is printed, especially in the rendition of colour. Make sure you lay out your work at the right size if you’re planning to get the publication done by a printer. This helps to ensure that the


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copyright & other legal issues
text and images will look as you intended them to. For books, be sure to take the spine-size into account. A hard-bound book has rigid covers, and the place where the stitching that holds the pages together meets the cover is called the spine. Whether you decide to use images or not also depends on what images are available, and on whether they suit the format you plan to publish in. Consider the size, colour, type of paper and the equipment your your publication will be printed on. Ask yourself whether adding images will cause delays or increase the costs. cOPyrIGht & OthEr lEGAl ISSuES Don’t forget to read the copyright section of our Strategy chapter (p. 18). You might also need to think about privacy and security (for people in photographs, for example) – see p. 142 for more about this. Find out whether you have permission to reproduce each image. You can always remove an image from a blog, but if it was a national poster campaign that was based on an illegal image, would you really want to risk it? Unless the images have been specifically given to your organisation with the intention of allowing you to reproduce them, make sure you ask for permission to use them, even when they belong to a friend or supporter of your organisation. When requesting permission, you could stress that your publication is not-for-profit or that authors are not paid for their contributions. Mention your print-run and readership, especially if your content is for educational purposes. Under these circumstances, some copyright holders may reduce or waive their fee. Otherwise, it may make more sense to rely on copyright-free images. Take care while photographing objects that might be covered by copyright. By taking and/or using a photo of a work that is under copyright, you could be violating the copyright. This is true of paintings, some sculptures, craft items, architectural works, jewellery, clothing, toys and works of art. Sharing images & copyright If you aren’t able to create your own images you could consider using free ‘sharable’ images that are available on the internet. Campaigners generating content online often convert their work into a ‘sharable’ document that can be easily circulated via e-mail or downloaded from the internet. If the licence invites sharing and the document is compelling it will be circulated almost as if it has a life of its own. Such texts, sounds and images can be freely used, distributed and modified by the general public, without the restrictions imposed by traditional copyright. This can be


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done either by adopting an Open Content licence, as seen at , or by following commonly-accepted practices. Copyright-free images A great many images (primarily photographs but also illustrations, simple animations, cartoons, video and art) of many subjects are available with open content licences on sites like, To find images, use the advanced Flickr search: com/search/advanced/ , then select ‘Creative Commons Copyright’ at the bottom. If you need permission to reproduce an image, contact the photographer by visiting their profile (via their photo at the top left of the page) and sending them a message.
Other photo-sharing or royalty-free image websites
o o o o o o


This comic about a female construction worker was used to generate discussions in women’s groups in India about women’s issues and rights.

A successful multi-lingual anti-nukes comic book done in manga style for Greenpeace Southeast Asia. The online publications uses, a free online publishing site which allows viewers to ‘flick’ through the pages.


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grassroots comics
Tell your story simply, quickly, to anyone Although political cartoons have been a powerful form of social satire and comment for centuries, the use of comics as a campaigning tool for grassroots organisations is a more recent success story. This guide outlines how and why you might use grassroots comics, how to get started making comics, and some ideas for distributing them. What are grassroots comics? Comics are stories which are told with images and text that contains a lot of speech and dialogue. They become “grassroots” comics when they are made by an NGO or by activists about issues that are relevant to their particular constituencies or communities. Such comics deal with local issues, and use local languages, local visual culture and local metaphors. Comics have an authentic feel that encourages debate in the society depicted, and they can be made by groups and individuals (not necessarily professional artists) who normally have little or no access to the media or to media production. Grassroots comics can be produced and used as a communication tool by any group with an identity, a message and a target audience. What resources do you need? The technology involved in making grassroots comics is not very complicated. Pen, paper, ideas and a way to reproduce and distribute the comics is all you need. Very diverse groups with differing levels of literacy and technical sophistication can, with some encouragement, learn to produce comics that are of great interest to their groups or communities. You can also create comic strips from pre-existing artwork using , , or http:// . Each has a different style, so look at all of them to see what suits your organisation, audience and strategy. All of these sites will allow you to share the comics you’ve created online. You may have to pay for a premium membership or make a donation in order to download your comic in a format that can be printed. Visit the World Comics website to learn more, including simple ‘How To...’ downloads to guide you through the process. Why use grassroots comics? Grassroots comics are created by ordinary people and especially by community activists, so they give a first-hand view of the issues facing the community. They are a form of expression that gives ordinary


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people some power as it allows them a chance to direct debate. Comics can also promote communal understanding across ethnic lines: when people tell their own stories on a local level, they can reach out to groups in their society that have false ideas about them. Genuine, heartfelt stories are convincing and they have credibility. Grassroots comics have been successfully used in campaigns involving human rights, health education, corruption, environmental concerns, and many other issues. They can be employed at different levels of campaigning, from peer group distribution within a local community to mass distribution. Since comics stand out, they are attractive to NGOs, which always have to look for innovative ways of communicating with their target audiences. What’s more, comics are cheap to make and distribute. Most of the time grassroots comics are directly related to the activities of an NGO, rights advocate or community group, but they are also made by individuals who just want to tell their own stories. Children often make comics to depict the issues that affect their lives. Formats All grassroots comics formats use simple, widely available duplicating methods, such as: o Photocopying o Screen printing for more than one hundred copies o Offset printing for more than two or three hundred copies Comics can be converted for publication in newspapers, magazines and brochures; it is a good idea to consider this when choosing the format.
Wall poster comics

Wall posters are the most common and most cost-effective comics format. The advantages are obvious: you can reach the population of a whole village by pasting two or three photocopied wall poster comics in strategic places. Wall poster comics are concise, telling a story visually in four images. Many messages can be converted into such a story. Many of the traditional development communication posters have only one message or a slogan; you can put a lot more information and feeling into the wall poster comic because the story can contain drama and a narrative. Black and white photocopying, using A4 paper, is widely available throughout the world, even in rather remote areas. Therefore the simplest wall poster format is two A4 photocopies stuck together. This makes a wall poster of A3 size, which is big enough to be noticed from a


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grassroots comics
distance. Such a wall poster can comfortably be read standing up, from a distance of about one metre. If a bigger (A3) photocopying machine is available, then the copies can be made directly at this size. When you need a large number of wall posters, photocopying becomes an expensive option. There are small print shops in most towns that cater to the business printing needs of the area; most of them can make inexpensive print runs of a few hundred copies. The printer may want to work from an original that meets certain requirements, but these should not be too difficult to master.

The Education of Girls, by Koko Katunzi. This story is about a girl who wants to go to school but needs to convince her family and community to allow her.


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Comic booklets are useful because the stories in them can be much longer than in a wall poster comic. This means you can introduce more characters, and make the story more complex and more dramatic. A comic booklet can be distributed to participants in meetings or seminars, to people that are motivated to take a stand on an issue, to visitors to an NGO office, and in many other ways. The basic booklet is an 8-page story produced from one doublesided photocopy. The pages are placed in the right order and photocopied, four to a side of the same sheet of paper, which is then folded and cut into an 8-page booklet. You can also make a 16-page story in the same way, using smaller images. This is the format to use when you need to make a longer story without having to draw a lot of detailed action. See the World Comics instructions ‘How to make 8-page booklets’ at:
Accordion mini-comics

Accordion comics are folded like an accordion and read either as a long strip or a mini-booklet. The format is especially useful for discreet distribution because the outside covers are blank. The simplest accordion comic is made from a photocopy of a story that is drawn in eight panels on one side of a sheet of A3 paper, in landscape (horizontal) format. The paper is cut in half lengthwise and the two halves are joined end to end with a piece of tape. Although this means doing some work by hand, the size of the panels is easy to work with and this format is easy to photocopy as you only need to copy on one side. A mini-accordion can be made if you have access to a photocopying machine that can reduce the original to 50% of its size. Take the original 8-panel story (A3), reduce it by 50% and make four copies onto A4. Cut them into strips and assemble them on an A3 sheet of paper so that the story runs four times as strips, in landscape (horizontal) format. Then copy the A3, fold the copy into an accordion, cut it into four parts, and you have four accordion mini-comics. See the World Comics instructions at: Comic strips You can convert comics into strips to be published in magazines, newsletters and brochures, but you must remember that the reduction from the original size can be drastic: ensure that the original artwork has sufficiently thick lines and big enough text that they don’t become unreadable if the quality or size is reduced.


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guerrilla marketing
Distribution – local focus, local action One thing that distinguishes these comics from professional material is the fact that they are made mainly for local distribution. The comics are generally posted in public spaces such as community centres, bus stops, shops, offices, schools, notice boards and electricity poles. The readers usually know of the organisation that has put up the comics. This familiarity is important: the readers are close to the source of the communication. The comics will show that someone in the community feels so strongly about an issue that they make local campaign material themselves, rather than rely on materials produced by distant campaign professionals from the capital or even from abroad. The messages on wall poster comics will get attention and create local debate. Broadening the audience For more concerted campaigning work, the available resources will always be a determining factor. You can put your comics to work in many different ways; for example, by sending comics to the local press at the same time as you post them on the streets. This will multiply the publicity for the issue at hand. Creating understanding Grassroots comics from different groups and countries can be exhibited or published in order to give an insight into how members of a particular group look at their lives and which issues are important to them. Such exhibitions and publications convey a lot of local cultural information, which might otherwise be difficult for a mainstream audience to access. Even when the comics are not professionally drawn, their passion and confidence in their messages comes through. GuErrIllA MArKEtInG Guerrilla marketing means making unconventional interventions in public or commercial space in order to spread your message to an extended audience. This section will present you with basic principles and provide you with some ideas and examples to consider when using this medium. Guerrilla marketing could take the form of a personal letter intentionally left on the back seat of a bus, a billboard altered to subvert its message, a banner hung from a bridge, or a costumed hero handing out bundled letters of protest, tied with a bow. Guerrilla marketing captures attention and imagination because it is out of the ordinary. It can use different approaches: o Quiet and personal


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Because creativity, imagination and resourcefulness are more important for successful guerrilla marketing than big budgets and access to mass media, it is particularly suited to NGOs and rights advocates. Guerrilla marketing can be low-tech and require very little initial investment. It can work in conjunction with other types of campaigning, but is particularly attractive when other media or forms of demonstration are not feasible, accessible, or affordable, or when other kinds of campaigning have been met with apathy. It’s also a way of circumventing controls; for instance, when protest is not permitted, guerrilla marketing can make a message heard in other ways. It can embolden people who are sympathetic to your message but may not have the courage or means to declare their sympathy publicly. While guerrilla marketing may initially reach people who witness an action first-hand, it can reach many more as stories of unexpected encounters spread through word of mouth, on the internet or even through reporting in mainstream media.
Activists travelled to China and hung this banner from the Great Wall. It parodies the official slogan of the 2008 Olympic games held in China, “One World, One Dream.”

o Large and bombastic o Humorous and satirical o Simple and sober

We the Women (http://www. is a campaign focussed on the issue of women driving in Saudi Arabia. People are encouraged to download stickers and fill them in with their own messages. The campaign’s modest goal is to support a discussion in Saudi Arabia, both in public spaces and online, about women driving.


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guerrilla marketing
What forms can it take? Guerrilla marketing can take a variety of forms: brush and paint, spray can and stencil, photocopy or colour printout, wheat paste, performance art, flash mob, etc. Guerrilla marketing can also be interactive, asking participants to complete an action, for example: o Tearing off a piece of paper to reveal the image underneath o Sending an SMS text message o Wearing a certain colour and converging at a predetermined location o Cutting out a stencil template that you have made available and painting it around town There’s no one way to do it. Let your imagination run wild, then relate your ideas to your strategy. Humour is a particularly powerful way of touching people who may initially disagree with you as well as those who might usually ignore such messages. Parody, caricature and satire can puncture the aura of reverence and gravitas around the powerful and open the door to criticism. If you have access to computers and the internet, online distribution is a great way of sharing printable resources. Images and printable templates for stickers, stencils, or posters can be posted on your website to be downloaded by sympathetic viewers and further disseminated. You could also print up a large amount of such material and send out a call via e-mail or SMS for help with disseminating it. Organisations can sponsor ‘open calls’ for poster, stencil or action ideas. Where should you use guerrilla marketing? Guerrilla marketing works best in densely populated public places where people will encounter your message: city streets, campuses, shopping malls, toilet doors, public parks or plazas. Planning guerrilla action? Please consider… Before undertaking your action, it makes sense to review a few questions. o Who is your target audience? Where is the best place to reach them? What is the best time of day or season? o What is your desired outcome? What do you want your audience to experience or do? o Do you have the resources and capacity to undertake your action? Do you need help from outside professionals or volunteers? o How visible is your target location? Different types of people frequent different neighbourhoods, and different locations have different safety, security and accessibility concerns.


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Go viral Viral marketing relies on members of the public to spread your message by sharing it with their friends and on social network sites. The term derives from the way the message is spread: when a person sends a message to a group of friends, and those friends pass it on to their friends, the message spreads exponentially, like an infection, and quickly reaches a large audience. Humorous, outrageous or simply strange messages are more likely to be passed on. While viral marketing usually refers to forwarding messages or links via e-mail, it can also cover the sharing of messages via fax, photocopy, video, text message or other media. Making media easy to share and encouraging sharing can help make campaigns viral. Breaking the law In many cases, guerrilla marketing may be illegal and put at risk: o Members of your organisation (caught in the act) o Members of the public (found in possession of illegal materials) o Property owners (say, a shopkeeper or homeowner on whose wall a mural is painted) Before undertaking your action, consider: what is the law and what is the penalty for breaking it? In some cases, it may make sense to apply for permission or permits to implement an action, though sometimes official permission may be too expensive, or take too long; it may not even be possible to obtain permission. Plan your actions scrupulously, and take precautions. Before your action, fully inform all participants about the law and the possible consequences for breaking it. Brief participants on what to do in the event of arrest, or of conflict with the authorities. Think about arranging legal representation in advance. Set up a system of communication to verify that your participants are all safe. Including or not including contact information Once people have seen your campaign, how can they get in touch? In some cases, it may make sense to display contact information, perhaps a phone number, website address or anonymous e-mail address. In other cases, it may make sense to leave any identifying information off of the materials, particularly if there is a risk of prosecution. Many organisations focus on making a splash, without planning a way to follow it up. Providing a website address where people can get more information, or a time and place for a follow-up meeting or protest may help channel a witness’s reaction into meaningful action.


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simple animation
Document it Public interventions, particularly oppositional ones, may be quickly dismantled or covered up by the authorities. But actions that last only a short time can live on if documented in photos or on video. Be sure to document your action, both for your own records and to publicise it. Of course, depending on your situation, be careful to consider the legal issues involved in retaining ‘evidence’ of an illegal action. Publicise it In some cases, guerrilla marketing actions are best kept underground. However, in many cases, it may make sense to publicise your action by notifying the media or an extended community of supporters. The internet is a cheap and accessible way of publishing photos, stories and video. SIMPlE AnIMAtIOn Animation can be a great tool for advocacy communications, bringing life to your story and presenting your ideas quickly and attractively. Animation is a huge subject; this guide only touches on the ways in which very basic computer animations can support your advocacy campaign – it does not cover sophisticated Flash or computer animation. Why simple animation? Animation can add an expressive element to your message. Animation can take the form of a slideshow with floating text or it can emulate a short movie. Colour, movement, expressions and action can be effective in attracting the viewer’s attention in ways that text cannot. Animations can also evoke responses from diverse audiences, helping to overcome cultural or linguistic barriers. The messages they convey can be light and entertaining or serious and powerful. Simple animations are great for advocacy work: o They can be funny. o They can attract attention more effectively than a still image or photograph does. o They can be used in lots of different spaces and shared and distributed in different ways: via e-mail as attachments, on a website or even via mobile phone. o Small banner animations are a great way for you to publicise your blog or campaign; you can put an animated banner on your website, and ask others to include it on their site. o They can help you talk about sensitive issues through fictional characters.


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GIF is an internet standard for displaying animation. Because of this, all the major internet browsers (and even mobile phones) are capable of displaying it; users don’t need to install plug-ins or other applications to see animations created in this way. Simple GIF animation doesn’t require complex software or amazing graphic skills. At the same time it is best not to become overambitious at first – even short GIF animations can take a long time to create. A GIF animation is usually created using traditional methods, where multiple versions of a scene are drawn, with objects or characters changing their position in each successive frame so that the sequence of frames, when displayed quickly enough, gives the illusion of motion. Each individual frame of the animation has the display time set in fractions of a second. These frames are displayed in a sequence that can be looped (repeated) once, infinitely or a fixed number of times. The basic process is simply to create the frames and then animate them using the GIMP graphics package. You can draw the images yourself, scan them or use photographs. Animating text is a simple way to start creating effective animations. All the images you want to use to create your animation must be of exactly the same size. The best way to do this is to save your first image under as many different names/numbers as you will need frames, and then make changes to each of them individually. That way you can keep your images the same size and also make sure that static elements, such as background, stay still when the foreground is moving.

o Think about the purpose of your animation. Is it intended to tell a



o o

story, to draw attention to something or to reinforce your organisation’s visual identity or ‘brand’? What is the most important visual element of the desired animation – is it a certain message? Is it a specific object or character or text? Once you decide what that important element is, then you must decide how you want it to move: quickly? Slowly? Do you want it to move from one part of the frame to another? Think about how long you want your animation to run for. Do you want it to run just once or be repeated a few times? Animations can become annoying if they run on an infinite loop. Think about whether you want your animation to be part of your website or whether it will be distributed as a stand-alone animation. Start with something simple – for example, try to make a dot move from one corner of the frame to another, or make an analogue clock move its hands. Start by using just a few frames, and when you get


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images case studies
more confident you can add more frames to make your animation smooth, attractive and flowing. o Download some existing animations and look at them frame by frame to see how they work. o Make your GIF images as small as possible – remember that the browser will load one GIF after another and if the GIFs are very large files it will process them very slowly and your animation won’t look as good as it could. Animation resources o For tutorials to create simple GIFF animations see the Message in-abox DVD or the Gimp website ( using_GAP/) o If you are looking for something more advanced, look at these animation tutorials to use free and open source 3D animation software, Blender: IMAGES cASE StudIES “Conflict diamonds” campaign Organisation: Amnesty International USA Goal: Spread awareness about the sale of “conflict diamonds” in USA Audience: Supporters of Amnesty International and the general public Format: Flash animation Animation can be a very effective way of getting a message across quickly and simply. The short Flash animated video created by Free Range Studios for Amnesty International USA addresses the sale of conflict diamonds in America. $200 million of annual profits from the sale of diamonds in the international market helps to fund the continuing civil war led by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone. The animation, through a series of simple images, concise text and a provocative soundtrack tells the story of a diamond’s journey from Sierra Leone to someone’s finger in the US. It is at once enjoyable, for its slick and cleverly put together format, and uncomfortable to watch due


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to its content. It encapsulates the unjust brutalities meted out against civilians and mine workers at the hands of the RUF in their quest to control the diamond mining regions of Sierra Leone in a few short cinematic seconds. The animation ends with a plea for action from the public with specific instructions to contact a member of Congress about a ban on conflict diamonds entering the country. This an excellent example of how just by capturing your audience’s attention for a brief moment, a problem, and a realistic means for individuals to contribute toward a solution, can be communicated. Video Homelessness awareness campaign Organisation: Bob Maguire Foundation, Melbourne, Australia Goal: Raise awareness about homelessness Audience: The general public Format: Stickers on rubbish bins An Australian organisation, the Father Bob Maguire Foundation, targets homelessness. With the aim to spread awareness about the plight of the homeless to the Melbourne public in unexpected, day-to-day spaces, they started a guerilla marketing campaign using public bins as their medium. Stickers of a knife, fork, spoon and serviette were affixed around the top opening of the bin, framing the contents of the bin to look like food on a dinner plate. Brett Williams, who worked on the campaign, says that this transmitted a hard-hitting message to pedestrians: “The campaign was placed on the top of public bins to remind people that there are those who must consume what they are discarding so frivolously.” The message was driven home with the slogan and request: “for the homeless, every day is a struggle. Donate today and help us feed the homeless”. The local council agreed to let the foundation sticker 50 city bins for a period of two months. This campaign is an example of how a relatively inexpensive format can be used in an unexpected way to produce a strong visual impact and a thought-provoking message.Father Bob’s blog:


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images case studies
Posters against on child labour Organisation: Good50X70, web-based Amsterdam, Netherlands and Milan, Italy Goal: Spread awareness about child labour and the use of design for humanitarian causes. Audience: Supporters and partners of Amnesty International, AMREF, Greenpeace, LILA, World Wildlife Fund as well other NGOs and the wider design community. Format: Photographs and images on posters “There’s no more instant form of communicating a message than a poster” say the people behind Good50X70, a web-based organisation that aims to use design for effective social communication and activism. They run an annual contest open to individual artists, activists, designers and photographers, to create a poster design addressing one of seven global human rights issues submitted by a group of NGOs including Amnesty International, and Greenpeace. The selected posters are then collected in an exhibition and made available for charities’ own campaigns. These posters are easily distributed on the internet and in public spaces, providing a valuable resource for charities who wish to use them. This selection of images form part of the 2009 contest and are all centred on the theme of child labour and share the message that ‘work’ is incongruous with the importance of education in children’s development. These examples demonstrate how simple design – all of them use just photographs and computer-generate images – can produce eye-catching material and a poignant and empathetic message. In this way, images can speak for themselves without depending on text-heavy descriptions. More images available at child-labour/


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AUDIO – Your message in sound
Putting together recordings of sounds to make audio content is no longer the preserve of experts. The use of audio for campaigning and advocacy is a growing phenomenon. In this chapter you will find out how anyone with a plan, an idea, some basic equipment and a little background knowledge can create and distribute engaging and good quality audio. This chapter will enable you to create audio content that is powerful and relevant, and to distribute it to audiences using radio, CDs, public spaces and the internet. It also provides a number of case studies that show the many ways audio can be used in human rights advocacy work.

Zapatista radio station in Mexico. Photo by Oriana Eliçabe

How can you use audio recordings? You can make audio recordings and play them in public places, use them to enhance your website and broadcast them on the radio; you can distribute them as CDs, as mobile phone ringtones or as podcasts that listeners can download from the internet. Audio recordings can be educational or campaigning; they communicate in many ways. Audio work which is broadcast via radio or podcast can be both intimate and far-reaching; both private – because people often listen by themselves while getting on with their lives – and public, because many people may be listening to them at the same time. This sort of transmission can be heard by large numbers of people who may not otherwise be exposed to your message, and provide them with compelling information while connecting them with diverse experiences and voices.


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material resources
Audiences Producing informative and entertaining audio is an effective way of reaching the large and varied audiences who listen to CDs, radio stations and online broadcasts. Rural audiences tend to use radio more than any other medium, particularly if it is in their local language; people who are not literate also find audio a powerful way to access information and learn. Increasingly, people who have internet access are ‘switched on’ to online audio, particularly young audiences. What resources do you need? The cost of making audio is relatively low. You will need to have access to an audio recording device – preferably a digital one – and then access to software for editing the sounds you record into a distributable audio piece. It is also possible to record sound using old-style analogue tape recorders (such as a ‘Walkman’, which records onto cassette tapes), and then feed this analogue sound into a computer, which converts it into digital sounds for editing. You can learn how to do this and more in the guide to using Audacity on the Message in-a-Box CD and website, under Audio. Audacity is the free and Open Source audio editing software provided in this toolkit. Audacity is an easy-to-use audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems. You can use Audacity to: o Record live audio o Convert analogue tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs o Edit sound files in different formats together o Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together o Change the speed or pitch of a recording What skills do you need? For making your initial audio recordings all that is required is to capture the sound as well as possible, by listening carefully to your interviewee or subject and adjusting the sound input levels as necessary. The editing stage requires more skill, but is also increasingly accessible to the beginner. How long will it take to make your audio piece? Audio pieces normally range in length from 30 seconds (the length of most radio or TV ads) to five minutes (the length of most news items on a radio programme). Documentaries and longer features, however, may be up to half an hour in length or more. Radio producers tend to consider that one hour of work is required for every five minutes broad-


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cast. This rule is not a scientific assessment but one based on experience; of course this will vary enormously with the nature of the audio piece and the experience and resources of the maker/s. At least half of this time is spent sourcing and recording the piece; the rest is taken up with editing, and with distributing it to listeners. MAterIAl reSOUrceS Recording devices Although digital recorders are increasingly the norm, either an analogue or a digital recorder will do the job. Whichever you use, when you put your audio recording into your computer it will be converted to digital data, which you can then edit with digital sound-editing software. You can use a MiniDisc recorder or any other type of digital recorder (DAt or hard disc), a professional-quality analogue tape recorder, or a simple ‘Walkman’-style analogue cassette recorder. If you plan to pitch your piece to on-air radio broadcasters, you should not use an analogue cassette recorder if at all possible, because the sound they produce is not considered to be of broadcast quality. Nevertheless, if you have made an audio document of newsworthy events, even cassettes may be played. If your recording device has a time counter, and allows you to adjust sound input levels, so much the better: neither is absolutely necessary, but both are extremely helpful. Note that you’ll need a special converter to transform your analogue sound into a digital format as you put it into your computer for editing. The type of converter varies according to the format of the original and to your computer and software. Mobile phones Mobile phones typically record sounds using a file format called .AMR, which is primarily designed for phones. Audio data recorded on a phone should be transferred onto a computer and converted for editing in order to be incorporated into your advocacy communications. Once the sound files are on the computer they can be converted, using a freeware tool like Mobile AMR converter (, into the .WAV or .FLAC format, which can then be edited on the computer using a sound editing tool, such as Audacity. Ways of transferring sounds from your phone to your computer: o Bluetooth o Wifi
o USB cable

Bluetooth is a technology which allows two phone handsets, or a handset and a computer, within close proximity of each other to transfer


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making an audio piece
information to each other. Bluetooth generally works over a range of approximately 10 metres. To connect your phone and your computer via Bluetooth you should follow the instructions on your computer about ‘pairing’ a device via Bluetooth. You’ll need to switch Bluetooth on, on both devices, and then follow the instructions. If you are transferring data this way, always remember to switch Bluetooth off when you are finished. A microphone It’s best to have an independent microphone for recording, rather than one which is built into your recording device, so that you can put it as close to the sound source as possible. Any standard microphone, directional or omnidirectional, will do. Many recorders have a built-in microphone that is often more than sufficient for non-broadcast quality recording but may not produce clear enough sound for most radio stations. If you have to use a recorder with a built-in microphone, be sure to hold the recorder as close to the source of the sound as possible – if it is an interview, hold it fairly close to the person’s mouth, but be aware that too high an input will create distortion. If you plan to hold your recording device in your hand, be aware that the angle at which you hold it may also have a significant effect, and that moving your hand while recording will cause noise. Headphones You will need a set of headphones to check sound levels as you record. Headphones enable you to hear what is actually being recorded: what the audience will hear. Before you start, it’s a good idea to do a soundcheck by recording a minute or so of your target sounds in the space you plan to use, and then to listen back to it on headphones to check for problems such as noise, distortion or insufficient level, making adjustments if necessary. Enclosed headphones, which surround and cover your ears, give you a much better idea of levels, as they exclude some of the ambient sound. MAkIng An AUDIO pIece Planning Creating effective audio content is not only about sound levels. The vital first step is to plan your production, and you should revisit your plan throughout the process of making your audio piece, to make sure that you are still working in the right direction. Look at the Strategy chapter, p. 7.


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Who are your audience/s? Once you’ve identified your audience, ask yourself what message you want them to hear. How do you want listeners to learn and feel ? What would the barriers be to this audience hearing this message? Choosing a format Choose the right format, or type of audio piece or programme, for your audience and message. Here are a few common formats for you to choose from: o panel discussion – featuring an interviewer with two or more contributors. o phone-in – live or pre-recorded; usually used in a studio context. Note: be careful about legal restrictions on recording people via telephone lines; this is illegal in some countries, even when the caller has given permission. o Single interview – with an interviewee and interviewer. o Feature – with voice, background sound, narration and other elements mixed together. o Drama – this is a broad category and can include theatre, music and other entertaining formats. o Informative/documentary – a piece that primarily conveys information, in the same way as a public service advertisement or announcement provides educational information. o endorsement – using a well known person, such as a leader or a celebrity, to convey a message (which may be quite short). In radio programming, mixing audience participation with prerecorded audio is a powerful way to engage and involve people in your campaign or advocacy work. Your target audience can be encouraged to call in to a live programme and have their say, and if well-planned this format can be combined with, and enhance, pre-recorded and studiobased segments. Choosing a style Choose a style for your audio piece that suits both your audience and your message. o Formal or informal – do you want to use humour and familiarity as tools to reach your audience, or do you want to convey information by invoking authoritative sources and ‘experts’? The most obvious example of the formal style is a news item, in which the emphasis is put on the authority of the information. An informal audio piece might be an audience discussion or a vox pop, where members of the public give their responses to the issue under discussion.


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making an audio piece
o With a narrator or without – do you want to let the voice/s of

your contributor/s speak for themselves, as many oral history productions do, or do you want to incorporate a presenter’s voice or voiceover to pull together a clear story for the audience?

Setting up the recording Whether you are doing an interview or capturing raw sound, you need to take time to test the sound levels before you actually start recording. Background noise, such as the hum of an air conditioner or the buzz of a mobile phone signal, might seem insignificant because our ears tend to discount such noise, but once you have your headphones on you may realise that it’s very intrusive when recorded. Some background sounds can add to the atmosphere, but many are distracting. Remember that listeners won’t be able to see the person speaking, so they rely on their ears for all the information that they receive. If the noise is a problem, ask for it to be switched off (if possible), or else move to another location. It would be a shame to come back with unusable recordings simply because the person making the recording felt too awkward to do anything about it at the time! If the raw material is not well recorded, the quality of the whole project will be compromised. If you are doing an interview, take the time to make trial recordings to check your contributor’s voice for loudness and clarity. Then listen to the trials and make any necessary changes, such as adjusting the sound levels, repositioning the microphone, or changing the seating arrangement or general environment – then check again! You can use this sound-check as a way to help contributors; people are often nervous about being recorded and uncomfortable speaking into a microphone, but you can take steps to ensure that they are as relaxed as possible. Welcome them, perhaps make a joke, and then tell them that you will ask a few ‘trailer’ questions. ‘What did you have for breakfast?’ is a standard first question to break the ice and test voice levels. For some sorts of interviews, you may want to prepare the interviewee/s in advance by discussing what sort of questions you are going to ask. This is time well spent, especially if the piece is going out live, or if you hope to use the interview without much editing. Reviewing your material One of the most important steps in producing audio work is to listen back to your recording and make notes or a full transcript, or log, of what was said and where the good sounds are located. This step takes time, and a frequent mistake made by audio producers at all levels of experience is hasty logging. This can result in a great deal of wasted time.


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Time spent reviewing and logging your content is time well spent. You can play back your recordings on the machine that you recorded them on, or put them into a computer (converting the data from analogue to digital if necessary), and log them from the computer sound files. A log can take a number of forms depending on what works for you, but as a minimum, be sure to record the time of each new paragraph or new sound (make sure to start your playback at 00’00”), and the time of each good bit of speech or background sound. Note the start time of the parts you may want to use, the first few words, the last few words, and the end time. For example: INTRO (00’20”): IN: “I believe the most important aspect is …… OUT: ……everyone should know this” (00’50”) If your recorder does not have a time-counter, you can use a stopwatch to capture these times. You might also want to include notes to help you remember what part of your story each particular sound relates to. If you set up your log as a table, you can make a column for such notes, and if you do a fuller transcription you can just insert the notes in the text with a consistent flag. However you choose to do it, think of this step as identifying the building blocks that you are later going to go back to when you edit or mix.

Editing Once you have identified your building blocks, you can use soundediting software such as Audacity to start putting your audio piece together. This may entail recording additional clips of narration to bridge certain themes. Even if your piece has only three sections; for example, a threesentence intro, a two-minute interview, and a conclusion pointing to where listeners can learn more, you’ll need to identify these three pieces and think about how they’re going to fit together. At this stage, it is important to refer back to the priorities you identified in your plan, in order to keep yourself on track. Remember that if you are using any pre-existing recordings, such as music, you will have to trace the owners


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making an audio piece
of the copyrights and get permission. See the Strategy chapter for more on copyright. Usage & distribution If you create an interesting and engaging audio piece, you can make it available to radio stations as well as to online distributors, such as advocacy websites or podcast services. The internet enables online audio to be used and accessed around the world, usually at no extra cost to the distributor or user. This makes it a powerful advocacy tool that is difficult to block or censor. An audio piece can have a long shelf life, particularly if it is not dated by a reference to a time or event. The ability to reuse an audio piece is a strength of this kind of resource. Audio content can be archived in an online audio database, and it can be repeated on radio shows in new and different configurations. In order to successfully distribute audio content, both to online and on-air sources, advance research and relationship-building is necessary. Look at the section on distributing video (p. 151) for more ideas; for more about distribution via the internet, see p. 92. Evaluation It can be a major challenge to evaluate the success or impact of an audio piece. You can obtain data about who listened online from programs that tally website hits and downloads (see the Internet chapter for more on this), and radio stations also have tools to assess audience size. But evaluating the impact and effectiveness of the content of your audio piece requires focus groups, questionnaires and other methods applied to groups of listeners, if they can be identified and such data collection arranged. You could prearrange for a number of people to listen to the audio (individually or as a group) and give you their feedback, or ask for feedback within the piece itself; for example, at the end of the piece, providing an internet or telephone contact. Radio listening groups have also been used very effectively in some countries to bring people together to listen to and discuss audio content and to provide feedback on their responses. These groups can also become ‘action groups’ that respond to the content you make in a local context and contribute to your audio programmes. Common mistakes Here are a few common mistakes to avoid:
Straying from your plan

Getting lost and creating something very different from what you planned can be a common problem in creating audio because there


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are some factors that are not under your control; for example, an interviewee may not say exactly what you expected them to say, or they may be less articulate than you hoped, or background sound may have been a problem.
not following your instincts

Listen to your instincts: if it sounded good to you the first time then it will probably sound good to your listener. It’s a common mistake to ignore these feelings when you feel you need to include more content or topics. But if your recorded material doesn’t sound right you shouldn’t use it. If you need to, use narration rather than trying to stretch or mix up sounds that just do not work. ‘If in doubt, leave it out’ is an old saying in radio broadcasting that every new producer is taught.
producing earnest but boring content

A common mistake is to make earnest, dull audio pieces, especially if the issue in focus is particularly serious. Just because the topic is serious does not mean the audio piece needs to be dull. Use music, sound effects, and actuality (background sound) to spice it up. Un-attributed clips of comments by people on the street – called ‘vox pops’ – are popular in broadcasting and can add colour and diversity. IntegrAtIng AUDIO WIth Other cOntent One of the best things about audio programming is that it can be used to supplement and support other output. Your campaign strategy may include events such as public meetings, as well as printed products; for example, ads in newspapers, flyers or brochures. Audio can support and amplify all of these: it can repeat and reinforce the printed information, it can be a feature at an event, or it can extend the reach of the event by allowing you to record it and make this documentation a part of future media output. You can use multiple platforms to get your audio content out to a larger audience; for example, loudspeakers in public spaces, distribution on CD, airplay from local or national broadcasters, podcasts available on blogs, written transcripts of the audio on your website. Using multiple platforms will help amplify your message. AUDIO DIStrIBUtIOn On the Internet Until recently, only the few people with access to expensive media production tools were able to make and distribute audio recordings to a global audience. Technology now makes it easier not only to record and edit sounds, but also distribute audio throughout the world using new technologies such as blogs and podcasts.


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audio distribution on the internet
This section will provide practical tips on how to get your audio broadcast on the internet, and how to use existing distribution channels to reach the audiences that will appreciate it most. Examples of nonprofit organisations which have incorporated this technology into their advocacy work are also provided. Podcasts and blogs A podcast is audio content, published online, that people can subscribe to. People that have a podcast ‘feed’ can be updated by email or via an rSS reader every time you publish a new episode. It’s like subscribing to a newspaper and having it delivered to your door instead of having to remember to go to the shops to buy it. People can listen to your show in their own time, on their computer or on an MP3 player. In the Audio section of the Message in-a-box website, you can find out how to choose a podcasting system and how to set up a podcast using Wordpress. Blogs are personal or collectively managed websites which are simple to create and update (see the Internet chapter, p. 92). As access to broadband internet and the distribution of large files have become faster and easier, attaching audio files to blog posts has become a viable way to distribute audio content. One of the biggest advantages of distributing audio through the internet is that your audience can be far-flung yet very specifically targeted. An audio blog or podcast is a great way to provide potential supporters with ongoing status reports on your work. Establishing an editorial focus on specific content can help attract listeners, keep them committed and engage potential collaborators. Podcasts are a good tool for outreach. An informative podcast or audio-blog post can be re-transmitted by community radio stations or used in conferences or debates, thus becoming a useful resource for others and reaching further networks and contexts. There are plenty of services that will publish your audio programme online free of charge. If you want a more customised solution, you can register an internet domain (your own internet address) and use free and Open Source software such as Wordpress (on the Message in-a-box website under Internet) to publish the files on your own website server. Be sure to add a written description to every audio file you upload, and if possible tag it (categorise it) accordingly. Audio files are not as yet indexable or easily searchable through the internet. Having an easy-tofind text description of every file you upload makes it more likely that new listeners will be able to find them through a search engine.


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Promoting your podcast It’s important to publicise your podcast. You can do this by posting messages on relevant blogs and websites and by asking organisations to include a link to it on their website or in their newsletter. It is also helpful to have a small ‘RSS feed’ graphic button that allows people to subscribe to your programs if you are regularly updating them. See the Internet section for more information on how to do this (p. 100). There are online tools which allow you to enter the address of your Media RSS feed and create a button to go with it; for example, These online podcasting websites allow you to upload your audio o is a non-commercial free service that offers you a homepage where you can feature your own audio and video. o also offers a free service but a small fee is required to upgrade to a Pro account which allows you to upload large files. o is a commercial service that allows you to upload audio and video for free. It has very user-friendly podcast features AUDIO cASe StUDIeS Online radio for international migrants Organisation: The December 18 Campaign ( goal: To promote and protect the rights of migrants Audience: Radio stations and their audiences, migrants, migrant’s rights organisations Format: Website that supports podcasts Frequency: Annual In 2006, The December 18 Campaign developed an audio campaign to celebrate International Migrants’ Day. Nearly 50 radio stations from 27 countries participated, and over 40 programmes were gathered in languages as varied as Chinese, Baha, Spanish and Kazak. The campaign secured over 1700 visitors to the website on December 18 2006, and hundreds of audio files were played and downloaded from the site. This marathon has become an annual event. Radio marathon coordinator Myriam Horngren is convinced that audio is extremely useful for advocacy, especially on migration issues. “There are many migrant and diaspora


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audio distribution on the internet
radio stations or programmes around the world both online and offline, which shows they are fulfilling a need.” she says. “Most people in the world have access to radios (unlike television or the internet) and most radios in the world communicate in the local language which means it’s possible to reach a wide audience.” In 2008 all kinds of radio stations, from community stations to commercial radios, from national and international broadcasters to online radios, participated in the December 18 radio marathon promoting migrants’ rights. A world map on the front page of the website displays all the participating organisations. A simple ringtone startles president Organisation: unknown origin, viral goal: To highlight supposed evidence of vote-rigging Audience: General but especially popular with web-savvy young people Format: Ringtone made available free online Frequency: One-off In the Philippines, part of a conversation alleged to have taken place between the Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano and President Gloria MacapagalArroyo in 2004 become a hugely popular ringtone on mobile phones. The ‘Hello Garci’ ringtone started circulating online days after tapes of this supposed conversation about vote-rigging surfaced in the media. One internet site that offered the ‘Hello Garci’ tune crashed as Filipinos clamoured to download it. The 17-second greeting went to the top of the charts as people downloaded it onto their phones. The authorities barred the media from broadcasting any portion of the message, saying it was illegally made, doctored and part of a plot against the president. Even public transport drivers were warned not to adapt the ringtone to the horns of their vehicles. The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) offered the ringtone on their site but also invited their readers to send in their own re-mixes. They also provide the full tape conversations, transcripts and links to in-depth analysis of what happened. (See:


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Podcasts for farmers – practical action (Peru) Organisation: Practical Action ( goal: To deliver targeted messages that will support the livelihoods of farmers Audience: Farmers in Peru Format: Multi-format for maximum reach: podcast, CDs, radio, local archives Frequency: Usually weekly In Peru digital audio distribution techniques have been used to deliver targeted messages to farmers in their local languages. It’s free for users to subscribe to the service. To make each podcast more accessible to the wider farming community, local information centres with internet connections make audio CDs or copy the files onto digital audio players (DAps), which enable farmers to listen at a time that’s convenient. The podcasts are also broadcast on radio, offering the opportunity for people with traditional receivers to hear the same information. It was this mix of old and new technologies that contributed to the success of this project. Read the article at Links & resources
o AMArc – The World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters

is an international network of community radio members:

o Indymedia – A network of individuals, independent and alternative

media activists and organisations:

o Itrainonline’s Multimedia training kit – A free collection of train-

ing materials for audio producers: radios; for example, o OneWorld radio – This is a network of NGOs and community o pambazuka news is a pan-African weekly electronic newsletter that

uses regular podcasts to complement its content: o See this FlOSS manual for more information on creating a podcast:

o How to create your own mobile podcasts:


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INTERNET – global, local and low cost
Unlike traditional media, the internet isn’t a one-way channel, but a participatory space. Communicating on the internet is about engagement, getting people involved. If you do it right, people will become advocates for your message and start promoting it themselves. The Internet chapter of Message in-a-box will take you through the processes involved in all sorts of web-based communications. It covers planning, maintaining and hosting a website or blog, microblogging, RSS feeds, social network sites, email marketing, evaluation tools and more. Special attention has been paid to security and the risks to privacy of using internet-based tools.
Why use the internet for advocacy?

The internet is:

o Always accessible, around the clock – anyone, anywhere with ac-

cess to a computer and the internet can interact or inform themselves, and get your message, at any time (but, if your target audiences don’t have internet access, this may not help you achieve your goals). o Cost effective – nearly everyone, no matter where they are in the world, can create and maintain a dynamic online presence, with no mailing or printing costs. o Flexible – unlike printed communications, you can update online information very quickly from anywhere, anytime, even from your mobile phone (see the Message in-a-box website under Mobiles > update blogs and websites). It is also possible to remain anonymous. o Ideal for dialogue & collaboration – you can engage your stakeholders, including local and global media and policy makers, in important conversations that bring you closer together and increase understanding. Tools & how-to guides On the Message in-a-box website and CD under Internet you’ll find help to get you started, with technical help on how to use: o Firefox – for browsing the internet o WordPress – for creating websites and blogs If you’re using a computer that does not have much processing power, you could look at kompozer, which is an easy way to create websites that requires a less powerful computer than WordPress does. If you are thinking of creating big coalition network sites, you could also look at the guide to Content Management Systems (CMS) such as Drupal, SPIP and Joomla on the Message in-a-box CD and


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plan your website
website. WordPress also has its own Content Management System, which might be enough for your needs. Integrating your internet strategy In the other chapters of Message in-a-box you can also find out how to: o Bring video (p. 119) and audio (p. 65) into your blog/website o Use powerful images online (p. 42) o Distribute print publications (newsletters, posters etc.) via your blog, website or email (p. 35) PlAN youR WEbSITE This section will take you through the stages involved in building a website, starting with analysing your audience and goals, then deciding how to structure your website, how to get it hosted and how to set up your own website address or domain. You’ll learn about the website development process, about the important issue of maintenance, and about keeping your content fresh in order to keep people visiting your site. Luckily there are a number of tools that make starting and running a website and/or blog relatively simple. For example, using our WordPress guide you can have a free website built around your choice of blogging template up and running within five minutes (prior to adding your own content), with a built-in Content Management System which just about anyone can use. Find out more on the Message in-a-Box website and CD under Internet > Content Management Systems. Audience & goals The secret of a successful website is knowing which audience/s you are trying to reach, and designing site content that furthers the goals of these audiences and the goals of the organisation. It may seem obvious, but websites are for their users. Your website is about providing your users with information that they want or need, and people will not make a habit of visiting your website if it doesn’t do this. When designing your website you need to understand that you will have different users, with differing needs. Don’t presume that new users understand your organisation or the issues you are working on.
What are the goals of your website?

A good way to start the design process is to identify what the goals of your website are. They might include the following: o To educate and inform o To create an organisational identity


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To expand your base and mobilise your supporters To improve media outreach and engagement To campaign To influence decision makers and people in power To serve as a trusted news source To provide specialised data, research or information which relates to your advocacy o To support a conversation with your audience around a particular issue Find out more about how to define your communications goals in our Strategy chapter on page 9.
Who are your website’s users?

o o o o o o

If you already have a website, think about who its users are. They might include the following: o Supporters/members o First time visitors o Press o Funders (small donors or other, larger, funders) o Other organisers and activists o Opponents and targets of your campaign o Decision makers Having an understanding of your audience’s age range, education, language/s and gender balance will help you to create content that speaks directly to them. Once you have identified your goals and the site’s users, you can start identifying the goals of those users: what are they trying to find or do? What information or resources can you offer to people visiting your site that will meet their needs? In order to help people using your website to understand the issue you are working on you should design a ‘frame’. A frame is the way you tell your story to people in terms of geography, personal/public narrative and tactics.
Design your website for your target audience and participant communities

If you are just beginning to establish a website, see Strategy for more information on how to define your target audience/s and participant communities. To ensure your website will meet their needs, you can conduct an audience definition exercise: o Who are your audiences? o Name them and rank their importance; for example, primary, secondary, tertiary o Name three other sites they use regularly


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plan your website
For your highest priority audiences ask the questions: o What do you want them to learn or do? o How do they get to your site? o What are they trying to find? o Where do they click on the front page? o What do they do next? For each of your core audiences you can create a ‘click path’, a set of links that you want them to click on and follow. Click paths allow multiple audiences to have their needs met with one page design; for example, if your goals with a supporter would be: to get them to take action, to show them how their actions matter and to get them to recruit others, they might click on a ‘Campaign updates’ or ‘Take action’ link, and one of the actions that you offer them could be to recruit others. Stand-alone campaign site? Consider whether you should create a stand-alone campaign site or an integrated campaign and organisational site. Stand-alone campaign sites are generally about a single subject whereas integrated sites have a campaign fitting into a broader organisational website. If you want to make a stand-alone site for a particular campaign your audience might expect the following: o Specific and focussed information o An issue that is currently under the spotlight o Regularly updated information about the issue An organisational site, on the other hand, will contain general information for first-time visitors who are learning about the issue/s or organisation. It may cover many different issues. The following examples of websites built either for specific campaign or for organisations in general have been chosen because they run on small budgets and are highly effective.
Specific campaign websites:

is a global campaign site focussed on mobilising people to address climate change, in particular by applying pressure in time for the world leaders’ Copenhagen talks on climate change. is a website that represents an international consortium of organisations; it is focussed on banning the production and use of landmines. Revenue Watch is an aggregation of organisations that are working toward the responsible use of environmental resources.


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news about Burma.

is focused on disseminating up-to-date

organisational websites: New Tactics in Human Rights are an organisation that supports ‘a community of people committed to human rights’. They enable dialogue and support knowledge sharing while they also provide training and other services. Their website is made using the CMS Drupal. This website supports the rights of sex workers in Europe and it uses the CMS Joomla, while this sex workers support website for Central & Eastern Europe and Central Asia ( uses the CMS Drupal.

Website contents The structure of your website will obviously vary depending on your organisation and what you want to use the website for. Here are some ideas about standard pages for a website and what they might include:
About us

The About Us area of your site might include the following: o Mission statement o Staff and board biographies o Contact information o Annual reports o Jobs & volunteering o History & victories o FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Campaign updates

If yours is a campaigning site then you should provide information and updates relating to the strategy and tactics of your campaign. Think about your campaign as a story – where are you in the story? You might also want to include the following: o About the issue/s. It’s important to frame the issue in easy-to-understand terms that relate to personal experience. Beware of providing too much information and instead think of the one thing you want users to grasp. o Event reports o Pictures, audio or video documentation o Legislative updates o Link to ways for users to get involved


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plan your website
Get Involved / Take Action

This area of your site will show ways in which site visitors can engage with your campaign or organisation, either online or offline: Online involvement o Sign up for email newsletters o Action alerts/Petitions o Contact the media/Letter to the editor o Contact your representative in government o Tell a friend o Donate/Become a member Offline involvement o Volunteering opportunities o Events o Local groups o Toolkits/Action resources
Press room

This is an area where the press can go to get information on your organisation or campaign. It might contain press releases, contact information for the person in your organisation who is responsible for talking to the media, or media resources such as images or audio and video recordings for use online or in print. It might also contain details of news coverage, speeches or reports.

If you have a donations strategy within your organisation, make it easy for people to give you money or offer volunteer help. Allowing people to give in-kind donations such as office equipment is also an idea. If you want to keep this simple, just supply an email address that people can write to if they have something to offer. Development process: static or dynamic? Decide what type of site you are creating: is it a static website that won’t change very often and will act like an online brochure for your organisation, or is it a dynamic website that will change often and hold a lot of content? Try to be realistic about this. Most organisations would love to have a dynamic website, but simply don’t have the time to keep it up to date or the capacity to keep generating useful content. Decide who will be responsible for designing and publishing your website’s content. The people involved in website development might be designers, writers, web developers and project managers.


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Some of these may be internal while others may be external consultants. Using volunteers (as long as you are willing to monitor their work) is one positive way to gather dynamic content, create diversity and build relationships. Set aside some time to plan in advance how content will be updated. If this is going to be a significant challenge for you, think about developing your website in stages, starting with something small and allowing it to grow. o Static websites are simple websites that hardly change and don’t have a lot of content. You can build something like this in software such as kompozer which doesn’t require the installation of a database. In order to edit static websites you need to edit the HTMl (the code that enables the text to be displayed in your internet browser) directly in kompozer or other software and then re-upload the content to your web server. o Content Management Systems allow you to build more dynamic websites, with the potential for including a lot of content that can be changed frequently and easily. These require a database such as WordPress, Drupal, Joomla or Plone. These systems offer you more flexibility, and features such as permissions which mean that different members of staff can update different areas of the site. They also offer an easy-to-use online interface to edit website content, which means staff members don’t need to use HTML. A dynamic website with a Content Management System is nearly always the best choice. Even very small organisations with little previous knowledge can set up these flexible websites free of charge or at very little extra cost, using the built-in templates provided. Graphic design process The graphic design of your site will convey your organisational identity. Most sites will require two basic designs, one for the home page and a second for lower-level pages. A standard process is as follows: o Create wireframe sketches of your page layout. These wireframes will allow you to finalise the page layout, without any artwork or content placed. This means you will already have decided on the page structure and how interactions will work before you work on the graphics. o Work on how users will interact with the content. Will you have one menu at the side of the content? Or, will you split the content up into sub-menus? Think about how users will find your content, and how you will be adding to it in the future. o Choose a colour palette and graphics that convey the goals and per-


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hosting & domains
sonality of your organisation and match with your other publications or branding. Work with a graphic designer to establish a look and feel for your site, or if you feel confident try it yourself. o Generate templates from the final design that can be filled in with content. HoSTING & DoMAINS Hosting your website on your own server can be very demanding for an organisation and may require a lot of technical know-how and on-going support. In most cases, it is best to choose an external service. Shop around and ask allies for recommendations. Your domain (for example, is vital internet real estate – register it yourself and consider buying variations of each domain you own, if you can: your country identifier (for example, .za for South Africa or .th for Thailand), .org, .com and .net; this will stop your opponents or ‘squatters’ buying them. It’s a good idea to buy your domain name for as many years as you can afford. It’s important to take good care of your domain: keep the domain registration and contact email addresses up to date and don’t loose your user names and passwords for accessing these. Getting a domain Getting a domain name, like, isn’t as hard as you might think. Many website hosts will register your domain for you when you set up an account, but you can also register your own domain name before you even set up your site. Businesses like or are two examples of places where you can buy your domain. If you need to set up a website and you have security concerns, there are also anonymous hosting services that won’t show who the owner of the domain is; some of these allow you to pay with a Western Union transfer instead of a credit card. If you get a domain from your website host, read the contract to ensure that you’ll be able to take your domain name with you if you change hosts. Having your own domain name means that you’ll be able to move your website if you become dissatisfied with the service you are receiving. Activist & NGO-friendly website hosts Website hosts, also called Internet Service Providers or ISPs, have access to your content and all the information about who visits your website. For this reason, if you are handling sensitive information or working with a high-risk community, you need to be aware of the poli-


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cies of the ISP that is hosting your website, because they are obliged by law to keep detailed information about your website (who owns it, who uses it and what content is there), and present this information to the authorities on request. If you are working on particularly sensitive issues you may want to consider hosting your website outside your home country. This is not a secure solution but does reduce the ease with which your government or local authorities will be able to demand to see this data. When looking for an ISP, consider who will implement software and content updates and provide technical maintenance to your site. Will you need your ISP to handle that for you? If that question has you scratching your head, you probably want to start with an ISP that can handle updates for you. If, however, you have technical staff available or a good relationship with a technology assistance provider or volunteer, you can ask them about their capacity to manage updates and maintain the Content Management System you are planning to use. Another thing you may want to consider is finding an ISP that guarantees easy access to your content for the user. For example, bandwidth affects the speed at which the website can be downloaded by users and how many users can look at it at the same time. This is especially important if you are intending to use multimedia content. Below are a few organisations that provide free or inexpensive hosting services to activists and organisers, using Free and Open Source Software tools. This is just a small selection, there are many more we haven’t listed here. We’ve divided them up by continent as it’s often easier to stay in contact with an internet service provider that is close to your time zone. You may also want to ask allied organisations about website hosts they’re using and what their experiences have been.
o – a US-based organisation focussed on Af-

rica that provides hundreds of grassroots organisations with internet services and training, including email lists and websites. o – US-based non-profit that gives African NGOs free or discounted space and recycled computers. o – offers website development and management, training and consulting services to NGOs among others. o – provides limited website hosting services to human rights activists and NGOs in the Arab world, especially in Egypt, Sudan and Tunisia.


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website maintenance
o – provides computer communication

services including internet service and training services for Korean NGOs. o – provides simple and affordable ICT services based on Free/Open Source Software to civil society (India). o – is a non-profit website hosting and online publishing systems provider for progressive networking activities in the Australasia region.
o – a Dutch-based ISP providing secure como – creates free means of secure com-

munications infrastructure for business and activists.

munications on a large scale, including website hosting, email lists, blogs and more (Italy). o – is a progressive community working for peace, the environment, gender equality and social justice, through the use of Information Communication Technologies.
latin America
o – is a Brazilian non-profit organisation

whose mission is to serve as a virtual network of information focussed on strengthening civil society organisations and social movements. o – is a multidisciplinary Brazilian collective whose objective is to optimise activists’ use of technology. WEbSITE MAINTENANCE There is a common misconception that creating your website is most of the work, but maintaining and developing your website is a larger challenge in most cases. Content and graphics should change on a regular basis to sustain website traffic – stale websites are a liability for an organisation. This requires organisational commitment. Best practice In terms of staff: o If possible, budget both time and money for ongoing maintenance. o Make sure a specific staff member has responsibility for website maintenance. o If you are not able to have one person specifically responsible for the website, make sure the responsibility for updating different sorts of content is clearly divided between a few people.


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o Have organisational ‘check-ins’ on a regular basis about the direction

and content of your site.

In terms of content: o Ideally, you should have ‘quick response’ content ready or planned if you are launching a big campaign, so that you are prepared to make updates as events unfold even if you do not have time to write and prepare new content. o Make sure you remove out-of-date events or action alerts, especially if they are on the front page. o Think about simple devices that could keep content fresh on the webpage. Are there easy ways to keep a small part of the information on your website up to date and changing more frequently? Could you integrate a blog with updates from a range of people? What usergenerated content could you include? PlAN youR ‘bloG’ oR ‘EASy-To-CHANGE WEbSITE’

Screenshot of the blog of Abahali baseMjondolo – a grassroots movement of shack dwellers in Durban, South Africa. A blog is a type of website that is very easy to publish and to update. The name comes from ‘web-log’, the idea being that it is regularly updated with new ideas and events. Here you will learn how to set up and run your blog, and more about why this can be a dynamic and interactive way to build up your campaign and get your message across. One of the reasons that blogging is so popular is that setting up a blog and adding content can be as easy as setting up a web-based email account and sending an email message. One of the easiest blogging


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plan your ‘blog’ or ‘easy-to-change website’
tools to use is WordPress. You could also look at Tumblr (http://www., which is even quicker to set up and use, but not quite as flexible. There is no harm in experimenting as you can always delete a blog you don’t want to keep. You can have a blog on its own, accessed through a uRl like a standalone website, or you can incorporate a blog into your organisation’s website; this is especially easy if you are using a Content Management System. A blog can include text, images, audio or video, along with links to other webpages and related media. You can use it frequently or occasionally. It is easy to create and maintain. If you are running a small campaign and want to update your target community and peers about your activities on a regular basis, or if you are looking for a way to publish small pieces of information frequently, a blog could be ideal: much easier to set up and keep running than a website but similar for the user. What’s the difference between a blog & a website? A blog is a website of a particular kind; the distinction between the two can be blurred. A blogging section can be integrated into a website, or you can create your website from scratch around a blogging template and Content Management System. Blogs usually contain regular entries, published like an online journal. The most recent entry is at the top. Blogs are a dynamic option for your website; they give it personality and high search engine rankings. There are many benefits to be gained and you do not have to do it all yourself. Some characteristics that differentiate a blog from a website: o Minimal technical skills are required – a blog can be easily maintained and set up. WordPress allows people to set up a blog in 15 minutes at no cost. However, if you have never used the internet before you may need some help with setting up your blog and some help maintaining it at first. o Posts are published chronologically – a blog automatically arranges everything you post in date order, with the latest addition appearing at the top. It allows you to organise your posts by using categories and keywords that make it easy for you and your readers to find material on your blog. You can use as many categories and keywords for each post as you wish. o Posts are automatically archived – every post you make is automatically stored as an archived entry by date, and, if you choose, by category. Again this makes finding material simpler for you and for your readers.


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o A blog can be interactive – readers can engage with you, the writer.

This can be done in many different ways. For example, readers can leave comments on your blog and you can leave comments on other people’s blogs. You can make links in your blog posts to other blogs. Other blogs can also link to yours. o Content is easy to publicise – because of the way it is designed, a blog allows you to distribute and publicise your content throughout the internet. o Posts are searchable – because individual blog posts are easily distributed and publicised via the internet, searching for individual blogs and posts is much easier than searching for a website. o you can update them remotely – blogs are created and stored online. This means posts can be made from anywhere that has an internet connection. Everyone in an organisation can contribute; all they need is a username and a password.

Why blogs? Blogs make it easy to update a site regularly, to report local news and to conduct a local campaign on a global platform. They are also a great way to allow your audience to add their own comments, thoughts, experiences and resources, via the comments section. Blogs help document campaigns and share information within a constituency. They can also be used as part of a focussed strategy for changing perceptions and myths about people and issues. One of the reasons blogs are so popular is to do with the way Google and other search engines rank pages. Content that changes regularly, like a blog, is ranked more highly. The fact that blog entries often include many outgoing and incoming links between other websites also gives a higher ranking. See page 100 for more information on Search Engine Optimisation. Blogs & the social web Vast numbers of people are using blogs, social network sites and photo and video sharing sites, and these are important marketing and engagement tools. Building your buzz in these spaces is a good way to recruit advocates to your cause. Getting the right bloggers to write about your campaigns (blog outreach) is a good way to reach interested people. If you’re working in human rights, you could start by contacting human rights-focussed bloggers. You can also integrate your own and your stakeholders’ social networking media feeds (p. 100) into your blog or website to keep it vibrant.


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plan your ‘blog’ or ‘easy-to-change website’
Build traffic and search rankings by exchanging links with relevant blogs and other sites, and remember that a personal request works best. A good way to start is by commenting on other blogs that are writing about the same topics as you. It’s also a good idea to have a blog as part of your website; it’s an easy way to keep the content fresh. Learn what kinds of blog posts will attract traffic – sometimes it’s as simple as using the right headline. Try to develop an authentic voice, and monitor your website statistics to learn what your audience likes. Your blog can be a tool for getting your audience to focus on specific points and perspectives. To accomplish this, it is important to develop your content carefully. As with any media intervention, carefully define your audiences and message. To make your blog more effective: o Identify your allies – identify those organisations and groups which are likely to support and work with you. You can link to them on the front page of your blog in what is called a ‘blogroll’. You can also link to their content in your posts, and collaborate with them to produce content . o use categories & tags – blogs allow you and your readers to assign topic codes to each post. Categories are managed by the blog authors, and are used to index or organise your posts into subject headings. You can select any number of headings for your blog; for example, Environment, Health, Education. Although you can use many categories for each post, too many can be confusing. Tags are keywords that you can add which are not fixed, as categories are. Instead of working like headings, they are used to help searches and inform people about the content of your post. Tags are used extensively in blogging and on content-sharing sites such as Flickr and YouTube. o Choose your language carefully – choosing which language you wish to use on your blog is an important decision. Consider using appropriate local languages, although this must be weighed against using languages that may reach a wider audience, such as English, Spanish or French. In an ideal world bloggers could translate their blogs into a number of languages, for example a local language and a more ‘international’ language, but this creates more work and requires a higher level of technical skill and sometimes additional software. Blogs are a way for rights advocates to ‘think locally while acting globally’. They allow you to build visible relationships with other organisations throughout the world that are working on similar issues, and together to try and make the global conversation more inclusive.


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Flexible usage & collaboration A blog can be maintained by just one person, or it can be run collaboratively by as many people as you wish. Different organisations in a network or coalition can contribute to the same blog. Because of this, a blog can help to strengthen organisational cohesion and working relationships. This is true even if your organisation has a wide geographical reach. Because a blog can be updated remotely, and even simultaneously from different locations, you can be very creative and use it strategically. Building a community through blogging In many countries independent journalists and activists are creating an alternative form of media in the ‘blogosphere’, using it to organise and to build communities. This is particularly important in countries where there is a lot of censorship. In Egypt, the blogging community gives the opposition movement a key space in which to organise and tackle political and human rights issues that mainstream media do not cover. The Omraneya site at serves as a central hub for the Egyptian blogosphere and citizen journalism community. The Mzalendo blog in Kenya, at about/ , was co-founded by the blogger Ory Okolloh. Its mission is to ‘keep an eye on the Kenyan Parliament’. In the Malaysian blogosphere recent developments have shown how influential bloggers can be in the political sphere. Jeff Ooi is a Malaysian IT consultant and activist who writes a popular blog known as Screenshots. Jeff was recently elected to parliament, partly because his popularity was enhanced by his successful blog: The role of blogs and the popularity of blogging may change over time as social network sites and micro-blogging tools like Twitter become more widely used as tools for enabling conversations. Checklist – best practice for effective blogging o Choose your blog name carefully. If you use a name other than your organisation’s name, make sure it fits in with your organisation in some way. Changing your blog’s name is like starting all over, so be sure to get the right one. o Create an ‘About’ page with information about your organisation, the purpose of the blog, a list of contributors and any other key organisational information. o Keep your design simple; do not clutter your blog. You want to focus on content. Don’t add flashing icons or music, and choose two or three colours and a simple layout that is easy to follow.


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o Post often. It will take time for your blog to become known in the

o o

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blogosphere. The more you post, and the more comments you make on the blogs of other people or organisations, the more your blog will become known. If posting often is not possible try at least to be consistent and organise a posting schedule so that your readers will know to expect new posts every couple of weeks or once a month according to the schedule you decide. Erratic posting loses readers. Write good quality texts that readers can benefit from. Try not to make your posts too long. Remember people are reading on a computer and not on paper. If you need to publish a long document you can set up a separate page on your blog for downloadable documents, which you can link to, and users can print out. Revisit old posts. If you are writing about a particular issue, return to previous posts and build on them. Get to know your readers. Treat them like friends, even those who do not necessarily agree with you. If they return it’s because you are reaching them in some way. Do not force people to register on your blog in order to comment. Most people won’t bother and will just go away. Keep your blog open and use comment moderation instead. Read other people’s /organisations’ blogs and make comments. This will help to publicise your blog. By building relationships with other bloggers, whether locally or internationally, you create a community that will support you in your advocacy and campaigns, and you in turn can support them. Publicity is important, which means you need to register your blog on a blog directory and contact sympathetic bloggers to inform them of your blog or even of particularly important posts. Bloggers are generally helpful, so do not be afraid to ask for support. Change your blog in response to changing needs, audiences, political climates – or just because sometimes it’s nice, like changing the layout and colours in your home. Do not use technology just for the sake of it. Use appropriate technologies. If your bandwidth, or that of your audience, is low, then do not use video. Use a podcast only if you believe audio is the best way to communicate a particular piece of information. Support other blogs by adding badges and banners or by cross-linking to relevant posts. Include a ‘Contact Me’ form in your blog or give your email address in your ‘About’ page so that readers can contact you. Always write out your email address in order to avoid spammers; for example, me@ should be written: me at yahoo dot com.


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oro Sucio ( follows the topic of

mine exploitation and its political and environmental impact in Argentina. The blog publishes documents that are the result of collective fieldwork. They also keep in contact with people and organisations that are involved in environmental activism in Argentina and across the world.

Sabbah’s blog ( is an informative blog created to highlight human rights violations against the Palestinian people as well as to highlight the reality of Palestinian lives in the Occupied Territories. It contains reports, commentary and video. Sokwanele ( is a Zimbabwe-based single-issue activist blog that uses commentary, news reports, video and photography to highlight the human rights abuses and repression in Zimbabwe. It provides an example of how blogs can be used anonymously in countries and situations where revealing your identity could be harmful and a risk to your safety. Sokwanele is successful because it has been consistent and makes regular posts that are informative and based on their campaign. They have consciously built a network of supporters, both bloggers and readers. Abahlali baseMjondolo ( is a grassroots social

movement of shack dwellers in Durban, South Africa. Their blog has internationalised the struggle of the shack dwellers against police harassment and municipal evictions through news reports, declarations and opinion/commentary articles. The Abahlali blog is both a source of information on land rights and informal settlements in South Africa, and a means of mobilising international support and funds for organising campaigns for land rights. They have used their blog to highlight the plight of informal settlers in other countries such as Zimbabwe, Haiti and Kenya, and have also built links with social movements in these countries. Abahlali uses a mix of text, photos and video on its blog.

black looks ( is a Pan African multiissue activist blog that covers a range of issues around human rights and social justice. It is a highly successful, award-winning blog that is based on regular (almost daily) posts that use a variety of styles


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twitter & micro-blogging
(informing, opinion, reporting, action alerts and in-depth analysis) and cover a range of topics. By using a range of social networking tools and maximising the use of available technologies, Black Looks facilitates networking with other activist bloggers from across the continent and the Diaspora, and builds strong personal and organisational relationships across geographical and other dividing lines.
Jackie Tumwine (

is a ‘dedicated tobacco control advocate’ from Uganda. By reporting country by country on anti-smoking legislation, as well as on gender and child rights issues around tobacco, she works to fight the toll that tobacco takes on people’s lives and to magnify the work that disparate groups are doing to make a difference. Jackie’s blog is an excellent example of how a one-person blog focussed on a single issue can become a continental resource and part of a campaign.
This Is Not My Country (

Devious Diva has used her blog to highlight the lives of the Roma communities in Greece: the racism they experience, their marginalisation, the poverty of their lives, their lack of access to health and education and lack of rights within Greece. TWITTER & MICRo-bloGGING Twitter ( is a service that allows users to send ‘updates’ (text-based posts called tweets) up to 140 characters long via SMS (text message), instant messaging, e-mail, the Twitter website or any application that can connect to these services. Twitter will allow you to send updates to one person, to a closed group of contacts or as public messages that can be seen by anyone. These updates are displayed on the user’s profile page and also instantly delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. The sender can restrict delivery to members of a circle of friends, or allow delivery to everybody, which is the standard default setting. One of the advantages of Twitter is that it can be effective in urgent situations because it can be easily updated by mobile phone and broadcast to many people simultaneously. Twitter has been used for a range of advocacy purposes – for example, Egyptian human rights activists have used it to let people know whether they are safe or have been arrested ( and Iranians used it to draw attention to and publicise protest events after the 2009 election ( ‘#hash tags’ provide a way for people using Twitter to search for updates that have a common topic. If you are at an event, you can tell


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people to use a specific #hash tag so that all of their updates will be aggregated. This may also happen more organically, as it did when people began using the tag #iranelection after the 2009 elections in Iran, or #hiroshima to mark the anniversary of the day an atomic bomb was dropped on Japan by the US, killing an estimated 200,000 people. Twitter’s great disadvantage at the moment is that using it via your mobile phone will incur the cost of an international text message unless you are in the US, the UK, Canada or India. There is some concern about privacy and authentication methods on Twitter. You are advised to be cautious about putting sensitive information out over Twitter. See for more information about this issue. Twitter will also allow you to create a ‘badge’ for your website, which automatically displays your Twitter feed. These are available for Blogger and Typepad but are also available as customisable ‘widgets’ that Twitter claims will work on any webpage. The Asia Pacific Network of Sex workers, which works with sex workers on health and human rights, has set up a Twitter feed (http:// and has been using it to publicise its campaigns; for example, it used Twitter to publicise its campaign against the new Suppression of Human Trafficking Law which equates all sex work with trafficking and has led to massive closures of brothels and widespread human rights abuses against sex workers in Cambodia.
Further reading and resources for Twitter

For more information about how Twitter has been used by news providers and journalists see: and For more information on how Twitter can be used to help communities, go to and Support for bloggers & online social networkers There are groups working to support individuals and organisations that use blogs to further their causes. Most of the resources listed below are available in many languages. Global Voices Advocacy (http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline. org/) is a project of Global Voices Online which seeks to build a global anti-censorship network of bloggers and online activists from the developing world, dedicated to protecting freedom of expression and free access to information online. Their Blog for a Cause! ( explains how activists can use blogs in their campaigns against injustice around the world. They also produced the guide to Anonymous Blogging with WordPress and Tor, which is included in the Message in-a-box DVD and website.


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rss (really simple syndication)
Rising Voices ( aims to extend the benefits and reach of citizen media by connecting media activists around the world and supporting their best ideas. An Introductory Guide to Global Citizen Media ( offers context and case studies which show how citizens world-wide are increasingly using blogs, podcasts, online video and digital photography to engage in an unmediated conversation which transcends borders, cultures and language differences. Reporters Without borders ( produce a Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents ( which gives tips and technical advice on how to remain anonymous and get around censorship. It also explains how to set up and make the most of a blog, how to publicise it and how to establish its credibility by observing basic ethical and journalistic principles.

RSS (REAlly SIMPlE SyNDICATIoN) RSS feeds are an easy way of keeping track of new content and headlines in your favourite websites and blogs. RSS means your audience can be automatically updated whenever you make a new post on your website and they will be able to find this new post easily, even if it is not on the front page. It will also enable people to visit your website at critical times; for example, before an action or event; this will help them participate more in your work. Make sure your site is putting out RSS feeds. Most Content Management Systems will do this as a standard feature, and all major blog services now support RSS feeds. If you are not using a blog service or CMS for for your website, you may need some technical help to add RSS feeds by hand. You can also use RSS to syndicate your content to other sites, allowing them to pull in your headlines, which is a good way to promote your content automatically and have it appear on other sites. Many websites use RSS to aggregate news (for example,, making it easy for people to keep up with the issues that interest them. RSS also makes it easier for others to use your data for mash-ups, where data from two or more sources is combined in a way that creates something new, as in these examples from Kenya and Zimbabwe: CREATING SEARCH-FRIENDly WEbSITES WITH SEo Now that you’ve created your website, you need to make sure people are looking at it. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of ensuring that your webpages are accessible to search engines and are built in a way that improves their chances of being found.


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The best way to get people to your website is through a search engine such as Google. Search engines enable people to find what they are looking for on the internet by typing a key word or phrase into a search field. The search engine will compare the keyword to the websites listed in its index and return a list of websites that are most relevant. Search engines work in various ways, and each has a different logic. The world’s most popular search engine, Google, is a crawlerbased search engine, which means that it ‘crawls’ the internet collecting keywords and references, and presents the searcher with what it finds. Google then uses a complicated set of criteria to decide the order in which sites are listed. The most significant of these criteria is whether your site is linked to by other sites. Other criteria are whether the search term/s appear: o in your domain name o in your title and description tags o in your headings o elsewhere in the text of your page While Google is the most popular search engine, it is worth remembering that there are lots of other search engines, such as Yahoo and Altavista, and that these use different logics. For example, search engines such as the Open Directory project are ‘human powered’ and take submissions from individuals; they also have entries created by editors. This section covers ways in which you can improve the chances of your content being found through search engines. As different search engines have different logics for how they prioritise webpages, it’s useful to know how they work and what to focus on. Although there are ways of buying placement on search engines like Google, for most NGOs it’s better to try and optimise your website so that it’s higher in the rankings without having to do this. If your organisation’s website is being built by an outside contractor they may attempt to charge you extra for search engine optimisation. However it won’t take you long to submit your site to the main search engines. Building your organisation’s linking strategy requires specialist knowledge of your field, so as an insider you are probably best placed to do this. You can submit your site to search engines at Alltheweb (http:// and Google (
Who is looking at your site?

The most accurate way to measure the success of your website is to look at your website’s statistics and study the behaviour of its visitors. This


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creating search-friendly websites with seo
is a really helpful way of working out what you are already doing right, and what you could do better. The tools you use to do this are called web analysis tools. There are various free tools available for doing this, including Google Analytics ( and Woopra (http:// The most important information to examine is the number of visitors or unique visitors, since this figure gives the most accurate impression of a site’s audience. The site analysis will also show you the number of hits your website receives, but this number can overestimate the popularity of a site because it counts the loading of every item on a page, not the viewing of a page overall. Other information which your website statistics will offer: o Referring search engines – details of which search engines delivered traffic to the website. o Referring keywords – details of which keyword phrases were used to find your site. If people are using keywords to search for your site that you aren’t using in your site content or metadata (the keywords you use to describe your webpage), then you could use this information to identify new keywords to include in future. o unique monthly visits – it’s good practice to monitor this on a monthly basis and measure it against the number of search engine referrals, so you know if your traffic is coming from people who knew your site already or from people using a search engine. o Site paths (entry & exits) – this shows how many users entered a site per page and how many left per page. This is useful to check the effectiveness of high-ranking webpages. For example if a particular page on your website, such as your homepage, is used 100 times as an entry page for your site and only 10 users clicked beyond that page, 90% of the possible visitors were lost. Metadata Metadata is a set of tags used to describe a webpage. It provides information such as page author, creation date, what the page is about and which keywords represent the page’s content. An internet browser, such as Firefox or Internet Explorer, does not display metadata but the computers accessing the page can read and efficiently record it. Many search engines use metadata for the creation of their indexes. Make sure each page of your site contains the following metadata: o Title tag – text that appears on webpage title bars and search engine results pages. This should be about 60-80 characters. o Description – the short line of text that is displayed in the search


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o Key words & phrases – these need to be relevant to the content

results of most search engines. This should be 100-200 characters.

and separated by commas. Avoid repeating a keyword more than three times. o Alt tags – including keywords in alt tags can help your search results.
Keywords – some words are better than others

Keywords are words that users enter into search engines to describe what they are looking for. Make sure that you find keywords for your site that are relevant to your organisation and to the field you are working in. Look through the online and offline content produced by your organisation to find inspiration for this. Don’t choose terms that are vague or generic, as there may be many websites already using these terms, and this will make your content harder to find. Ensure that you include words that are being used by your target audiences in search engines. You can use website statistics to find this information. There are some free tools to help you choose keywords: o o Google’s keyword tool at Search-friendly guidelines Whether you create your organisation’s site yourself or work with outside contractors, try to stick to the following guidelines: o Relevant, easily accessible content is the key to attracting and retaining your audience. Use simple language. The content of your site should be as easy to read as possible and shouldn’t use jargon from the sector your organisation works in. o If your site is created using a Content Management System such as Drupal, ensure that pages can be indexed by search engines by giving them URLs (web addresses) that use a directory structure rather than URLs that contain ‘query strings’ or characters such as question marks which will not be indexed. So for example a URL that ends /news/document/latest.html is more likely to show up in search results than one that ends /news/ document/?23950.html. o Important pages should have permanent URLs. o Avoid using Flash as search engines are unable to properly index Flash-based content. o Search engines have trouble indexing pages from sites with frames so try and avoid using frames in your site design. o Content quality is especially important for entry pages such as the


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creating search-friendly websites with seo
homepage, which are linked to from other sites. Ensure that entry pages contain lots of the keywords that you wish your site to be known for. o Community-created content is very popular with search engines, so consider including comments, blogs and wikis, which are created by site visitors. o If you are working with an outside contractor to create your website make sure they are prioritising search engine optimisation. o ‘Semantic mark-up’, such as heading tags that can be made using HTML or functions in your Content Management System, tell the search engine that some pieces of content are more important than others, so try and use them. Accessibility Making your site accessible to a broad range of users, including those with disabilities, is not only good practice, but can also improve your search engine listings and make your internet content more accessible in general. The accessibility guidelines to follow are those created by The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which you can read online at There are many resources available online to help improve the accessibility of your site such as , which is a free website accessibility evaluation tool. Linking strategies As well as optimising the way your website is programmed you should also ensure that your site is being linked to from other sites, as this will boost your search rankings. In particular, search engines are looking for links from reputable, high quality sites. If you want to find out how many sites are linking to your site just type your website’s URL into Google. This will bring you back a page of details on who is linking to your site. You can use this to help identify more organisations that you could ask for links. You can also try: o Offering to exchange links with partner organisations, or finding organisations to exchange links with by searching for keywords that describe your area of work. o Encouraging your supporters to link to your site from social networking sites and blogs. o Commenting on other people’s blog entries and including links to your site in your comments.


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Resources The following websites will help build your understanding of search engine optimisation:
Idealware: being found on search engines

An article from Idealware, a leader in the NGO technology support field, which shows how the content and structure of your website can have a dramatic effect on how easily people can find you via search engines. It covers ten steps that can help search engines find and prioritise your website content.
Idealware : CMS features for search engine optimisation

More information from Idealware on how to make sure the content management system used by your organisation to maintain your site is helping with your search engine optimisation.
Introduction to SEo: The non-profit’s SEo guide

Good keywords – find the best keywords for your webpages

Good Keywords is free Windows software for finding the perfect set of keywords for your webpages.
Introduction to search engine optimisation – search engine watch

An in-depth guide to search engine optimisation from one of the leading websites in this field
Google’s own site for webmasters

This website introduces tactics that can enhance and increase traffic to your site and connect you with your visitors. SoCIAl NETWoRKING & WEb 2.0 Social network sites You can use social network sites to build a list of ‘friends’ to whom you can send messages promoting your website. Social networks also have a viral aspect: people may sign up to your cause because they’ve seen it in a friend’s news feed or on their profile on a social network site. You can make it easy to sign up by including links to your social networking


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social networking & web 2.0
profiles to your website homepage. See and for examples of how this can be done. Social network sites work best when you put a lot of time into them. They are informal social spaces, so the more personal & friendly you can be, the better. People in social networks will tend to ignore corporate-style communication. Think carefully about who you are trying to attract when using social network sites. In some societies social network sites are mostly used by a younger audience but they are gaining popularity with different demographics. It is important to remember that it may not always be good idea for people to associate with your cause openly on social network sites, where what you are doing may pose privacy or security risks; for example, where you are uncovering rights abuses, or promoting rights (such as same-sex marriage, for instance) for people whose activities are deemed illegal by repressive governments. Be aware that different cultures tend to use different social network sites. The majority of Orkut ( members are in Brazil, and it is also popular in India. China has QQ (http://, Japan has Mixi (; Cyworld (http:// originated in South Korea. Youth in Kosovo and the Kosovan diaspora use Hi5 ( rather than MySpace or Bebo. Across the Middle East the picture seems varied: while there are Iranian MySpace and Facebook pages with thousands of friends, Saudi Arabians seem keener on Orkut, and there are MySpace look-alikes such as MuslimSpace ( Other types of social network sites include voting sites such as Digg ( and Stumbleupon ( If enough people have rated your content on one of these it can lead to big spikes in traffic to your site, so one method of online promotion is to encourage your supporters to vote for your stories. Promote & connect Recent innovations in digital technology have produced a range of social networking tools (often called social web or web 2.0 tools) that you can use to publicise your blog, to network with other blogs and to add more content to your blog. All of the following are powerful ways to make your blog accessible to as wide an audience as possible:

Blogs can be syndicated by using Really Simple Syndication, or RSS feeds (see p. 102). This is done automatically if you create your blog using WordPress or


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Social bookmarking

Tools that allow you to save blog pages or webpages that you feel will be useful, and which you want to share with others. It is the same as using the ‘bookmark’ or ‘favourites’ feature on your internet browser, but this allows you to publish your favourite sites for others to see. Some examples are: o Delicious – o blogmarks – o Furl – o Simpy –
blog Directories allow you to register your blog on sites that draw together communities of bloggers around issues of concern and interest, for example: o Technorati – o blogdigger – o blog Pulse – Aggregators are sites that automatically check for new posts from

particular blogs, and list these in real time as they are posted. Some are topic-related; others are regional or issue-based. Blog aggregators with a national and regional focus in Africa are: o Afrigator – an all-Africa aggregator, essential if you are running an African-based blog. o Kenya unlimited (also includes East Africa) – o blog Africa – o blogalaxia – This one is particularly useful if you are publishing in Spanish. Many countries and regions have equivalent aggregators. A more international example is: o Global Voices – provides lists of blogs and topics from across the world. Online Communities allow you to publicise your blog and become part of a community with other bloggers: o Mybloglog – o Facebook – o Tribe.Net – o MySpace – o Friendster –


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social networking & web 2.0
online Media Storage sites allow you to store, share and view a range of media such as digital photographs, videos and audio files such as podcasts: o A digital photo storage and sharing site o An audio storage and sharing site o For storing text, video and audio files Web-Rings are communities of blogs that you can join or create your-

self. There are thousands of web-rings covering all sorts of issues. See

Social / Community News sites allow you to submit and share your

o o o o

blog posts or posts from other organisations or individuals. Muti – an African social news site: Newsvine – a global news site: Digg – a global technology news site: Indymedia – a global news site focussed on grassroots political organising:

Carnivals are weekly, fortnightly or monthly roundups on a particular issue or topic, such as the Carnival Against Racism or the Carnival of Positives. You can set up your own carnival and invite other blogs to join in. Don’t expect your carnival to take off immediately – it takes time and perseverance for it to gather momentum. See the Quick ‘n Easy Guide to Online Advocacy for more information about choosing the right social web tools to meet your needs:

Comments & spam One of the biggest mistakes bloggers make is not protecting their site from spam, or unsolicited, unwanted, irrelevant, or inappropriate comments and contributions, especially commercial ones. has an inbuilt spam protector that allows you to enter specific words that will filter out spam. It also allows you to use comment moderation, where any unwanted comments can be deleted. Comment moderation should really only be used if someone is using offensive language, not because you don’t agree with the comment; if you use it too frequently, you will deter participation. EMAIl MARKETING Email can be an effective way to reach decision-makers and get your message across to thousands of people. Many experts think email is


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still the key tactic to use in communicating your cause. In this section we’ll show you how to make the most of this tool by designing an email campaign, making your email messages clearer, creating and sending e-newsletters and managing your contact lists. Email has the potential to: o Reach decision makers directly, with a personal communication. o Propagate your message and build awareness. A successful viral email campaign, where people pass the message on to others, has the potential to reach thousands. o Keep interested individuals and organisations up-to-date and involved with your activities via e-newsletters and ad-hoc emails. o Save money. Best practice for email marketing o Don’t show all recipients in the ‘To’ box. When sending an email, rather than entering all the email addresses of the recipients in the ‘To:’ box, put them in BCC (Blind Carbon Copy). That way recipients cannot misuse the other email addresses. o Don’t pass on viruses. It’s very important to check that the computer you use has a proper virus protection programme. See for more about computer security. o Don’t spam. Don’t sell or pass on email addresses to people who might use them for indiscriminate commercial emails (known as spam). This can get you blacklisted, and result in your emails being blocked by the recipients’ ISPs. o Make sure you keep your mailing list up to date. It puts people off if you get their personal details wrong. o Have a privacy statement in the footer of your email and give people the opportunity to unsubscribe. Whether or not your country has a data protection law, you should have rules about how you store and use data. Always include an email address at the bottom of any email you send that enables people to unsubscribe. For example: ‘If you no longer wish to receive emails from us please send an email to with ‘unsubscribe’ in the subject line’. o Take steps to ensure the security and privacy of your list of email addresses. Make sure you keep email addresses secure, particularly if you are working with sensitive information. o Always include a link to your website. Provide people on your mailing list with a way of learning more by including ‘for more information’ and a link to your website. o Target your emails as accurately as possible. While email gives you


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email marketing
the ability to reach thousands of people with the click of a mouse, the more you personalise your messages and target them to the interests of each reader, the more effective they will be. Think about ‘pressure points’ in your campaign and be strategic about how and when you ask people to participate. o Ask the recipient to forward your message to others who may be interested. Encourage the people that your are emailing to pass your message on to appropriate friends, without encouraging them to become spammers. Links and resources: o Action Alerts: Best practices from Online Networking for the Environment Northwest (ONENW) o How to Gather email Addresses From Your Members, and What To Do With Them from ONENW – o Put email to Work (Without Becoming a Spam Artist) from Grassroots Fundraising Journal o 14 email Dos and Don’ts from TechSoup

Build your email campaign Be clear about your objectives. Your email campaign should be a tactic that is used within a larger advocacy strategy. You will obviously be using other tactics as well and your email campaign should fit into your strategy and have clear desired outcomes. Consider other forms of communication such as phone calls and postal letters, and make sure before you begin that email is the right tool for reaching your target audience. Know your audience. Consider your readers when you compose an email. Be compelling, use language your audience will respond to, and keep it clear and concise. Make sure you clearly state what you would like the recipient to do as a result of receiving the email. Instigate partnerships with other organisations that already have a strong reputation. This will increase the chances of people reading and acting on your email. Have a follow-up plan. Plan what you will do if people respond to your emails, and what you’ll do to follow up if they don’t. Make sure that you decide how and when you want to follow up on your messages. Always record how many emails you’ve send out for each campaign or message in a series, and how many responses you receive to each email. Over time this will help you get a measure of what works. Plan for your message to be forwarded. It is very easy for a recipient to forward an email. Make sure that your email contains necessary


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background information, links to your website and ways for new people to get involved. Get people to read the emails that you send them If you want to use email for an advocacy campaign: o Use a clear & compelling subject line. This is probably the most important part of the content of the email since this will determine whether recipients read the body of the email. Don’t use a heading that may be filtered out as spam, such as ‘urgent’. o Send your email as plain text. Your email programme or browser will have the option to email in plain text or HTML format (which is laid out more specifically with images, colours and stylised headings like a webpage). It’s better to send a message in plain text format because plain text messages are often regarded as more personal than HTML. What’s more, ISPs (internet service provider) sometimes screen out HTML messages as spam. o Personalise the greeting: ‘Dear <name>’ o Make sure the main points you wish to make are viewable in the first part of the email – called ‘above the fold’, as people often make a decision about whether to continue reading based on this part of the email. o Break your paragraphs up so none are more than four lines in length. Email systems
building a list

One of the benefits of email is building a list of people who are sympathetic to your campaign and may support it. Ask anyone who provides you with contact information for their email address. Explain exactly how you will use it; for example, to keep them up to date with your activities. Use email campaigns to build your emailing list: when you have an important message, ask supporters to forward your email messages to colleagues and acquaintances. Only add people to your email list who have expressly agreed to receive email from you. Be careful not to send spam.
Managing databases

Email programmes have address books with the capacity to store a variety of information about each contact. In the initial stages of developing the list this capacity could be used to build up information about contacts. Using personalisation such as first names in emails increases response rates. As your list grows you will need to consider how you store the


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contact and response details of your supporters. Using a database to store the details or manage your contacts will give your organisation extra flexibility. You could use a spreadsheet to track these and your exchanges with them if the number of contacts is very small. If you are trying to manage a large contact database over time, you will fine a CRM system (client relationship management system) very useful. This will not only allow you to keep track of contacts, but also to keep track of your interactions with them and to target them specifically according to groupings you create or subjects that they have expressed interest in. One Open Source CRM worth investigating is CiviCRM (http:// CiviMail ( is the massmailing component for CiviCRM, which allows you to engage your constituents with personalised emails and newsletters. It works alongside internet Content Management Systems like Drupal and Joomla too. With CiviMail you can: o Target mailings by including or excluding any number of CiviCRM groups, or previous mail recipients. o Personalise your messages using mail-merge tokens. o Track when recipients open your message. o Track click-throughs. o Manage bounces and unsubscribe requests. You can also manage event registrations and donorship programmes with CivilMail. If CiviMail doesn’t meet your needs, have a look at commercial services that can help with managing your email marketing campaigns for a reasonable price. The time you will save and the results you get might make the expense worthwhile. Remember the potential security risks of a third party having access to your communications.

Communicating regularly with supporters, funders and advocates ensures your message stays uppermost in their minds. o Establish a schedule, sending an e-newsletter on a regular basis. o Keep your newsletter fairly short, equivalent to a couple of sides of A4 paper. o Give concrete information about current activities. Be sure not to abuse your mailing list. Bombarding people with emails can result in people signing off your list or putting it on to automatic spam. Plan your regular communications carefully over the year. You need to gauge your audience and their level of interest in your work; be aware that a single well-targeted and -conceived email will be much more valuable than a large number of emails people may not be


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interested in. If you have specialist information that some of your audience may be interested in, try targeting a smaller group of people with this more detailed information.
When to email?

An effective email campaign means sending your messages at the right moment. The timing is similar to that which applies to issuing a traditional media release; for example: o When you have a major announcement to make o Some crucial information has come to light o When you want people to take action o For the launch of a new campaign or initiative Remember always to include links to key pages on your website (if relevant) and a call to action.
Viral marketing

Viral campaigns are an established part of online marketing. Viral marketing usually refers to creating content that you hope people will want to forward via links or email. There’s a thin line between viral marketing and spam, but you can reach so many people this way that it’s a good tactic when sheer numbers are important. One of the most common forms of viral marketing to attract traffic to your website is using a video that is funny or shocking. As well as creating the video you will need to spend a lot of time seeding it, that is putting links to the video on all sorts of relevant sites and discussion forums. Be prepared for a low percentage of sign-ups – it’s not uncommon to get 10,000 viral video views and less than 100 people signing up to your campaign as a result. You can learn more about creating and distributing videos in the Video chapter of this toolkit (p. 151), including material on where you can host your video online. Simple online games are another good way to generate traffic from something that people will share with their friends. The essence of a viral campaign is that it’s something that people will feel motivated to share, and this need not depend on fancy video or flashy games. Some of the earliest viral emails (also circulated via fax and fliers) were from the Zapatistas during their uprising against the North American Free Trade Agreement in early 1993. These were simple communiqués, straight from the source, and they served as an alternative to the traditional media at a time when information from the activists themselves was extremely hard to come by. See NRpKI and


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EVAluATIoN The internet promises what traditional PR & marketing never could: the possibility of measuring engagement (see Whereas real world impact can be very tricky to measure, the nature of the internet makes it easy to track and count things, whether it’s the number of visitors to your website or the percentage of people on your email list who take action. You can use this to help your reporting and accountability to the public, funders or sponsors. The main use of analytics should be as an ongoing evaluation of your tactics and tools: what worked, what did not?
How can you see if your social marketing is working?

One way is through buzz monitoring; that is, trying to track how and where people are talking about your campaign. A simple tool that you can use for free is Google Alerts. You can set this up by going to the Google website ( and specifying which key words you want it to alert you to when they are used on a website. Google Alerts then emails you when these keywords are mentioned in online media & blogs. Keywords should be very specific, otherwise you will get a lot of email that won’t allow you to track your particular campaign or issue. You can track blog mentions via Technorati and by using tools tools such as Blogpulse ( ), and there are now some great tools for Twitter, such as and . o Is your homepage encouraging people to sign up to your e-newsletter? o Who refers to your website and what are the most popular search terms? o Are your email subject lines increasing the number of people who open them? For your website, the main tool will probably be Google Analytics ( or Woopra (http://woopra. com); these are free tools which provide a lot of detail about your website statistics (you may need some help installing them). Remember that the IP address of site visitors will be collected by a third party when you register your website for analysis, which may not be ideal if your users need privacy. You can get a lot of useful statistics when you use email marketing, or from your email or social network accounts, such as the number of friends you have, the number of comments, and the number of video views. Make sure you review these statistics regularly. They will tell you a lot about who is using your site, where they are coming from to reach


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your site and what they are looking at. This will tell you who you are reaching now, and help you plan for the future. Engagement & collaboration The social web changes marketing and advocacy work by making it participative. You don’t just want to get people interested; you want to get them involved ( o At the very least, encourage people to bookmark your site in social bookmarking services like delicious ( o Give people opportunities to rate, vote and comment on your content, on your site or elsewhere. o Create fan communities on the social network sites, and encourage your friends to promote your cause. o Tell people to use specific tags so you can aggregate (bring together) all content they create that relates to you. o Online marketing can be a good place to experiment with user-generated content (text, images, videos or other material created by your website’s users which they put online to share with others). Need a logo? Ask your users to upload designs. This pattern can be applied to campaigns themselves. Ultimately, this can become a process of open innovation, where you are using the internet to open up your campaign so that it becomes a collective endeavour by you and your supporters.
Campaigns that have harnessed the creativity and content of users:
o Climate message in a bottle was a Greenpeace collaborative video o Courage Campaign ( asked people who would

made for the Bali climate conference (

be affected by a government bill that sought to ban same-sex marriage in the US to send in their photographs and messages. o The Blank Noise Blog in India asks readers to tell personal stories about their experiences of sexual harassment:


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VIDEO – be seen, & heard
Creating video for advocacy might mean making a high-impact, tightly edited one-minute piece made up of moving images and sound, an hour-long documentary, or a short piece of unedited footage showing a key moment. Video is versatile, need not be costly or very difficult to produce and can be distributed in many ways. This is the longest chapter in Message in-a-box because of the great variety of approaches to and uses of video. It will introduce the medium: how to make videos, how to use them to support your work and how to distribute them, with examples, case studies and useful online resources. This chapter also tells you how to make a video in support of your activism while taking steps to ensure all participants are safe and secure, and avoiding unnecessary risks. See

Advantages of video

Disadvantages of video

It is a powerful medium, which can convey high emotion and personal stories. Video is multi-sensory – it is seen and heard. Production and distribution are getting easier and more accessible. It is good for audiences with low literacy levels.

Video is not right for all audiences: it requires access to viewing technology (internet, DVD or VCD player, etc). It’s not best for content such as maps, charts and lengthy text. Video may be more expensive than other media, it requires technical knowledge. Video can put allies in danger. Some Burmese monks were identified via video during the 2006 ‘Saffron Revolution’ and were then killed by the military junta.

Video advocacy techniques Video advocacy can take many forms: o Providing evidence before a court, meeting or tribunal o A grassroots educational and mobilising tool for communities, individuals and groups o Viral, humorous short animations


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planning your video project
o Mash-ups made of pre-existing material (video, audio, photos), o o o o o

remixed Footage that illustrates and documents your campaign actions Public service announcements Documentary News broadcasts and archive footage Focussed and action-oriented videos, screened for decision-makers Look at some real-life examples of these different approaches on the Message in-a-Box website under Video > Video Strategy > Examples. PlAnnIng yOur VIDEO PrOjEct WITNESS is a USA-based NGO that uses video and online technologies to expose human rights violations. WITNESS aims to empower people to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools for justice, public engagement and policy change. Some of the information in this chapter is based on the work and experiences of WITNESS. Its Video Action Plan maps out a series of questions to consider when you are developing a plan to integrate video into human rights advocacy. Look at it to help create a tailor-made plan for your campaign, even if you only answer some of the questions: Planning your video project is essential. Even a simple project will go through each of these main stages, and many of the steps within each stage.
o Pre-production

o Production

Planning – see the Witness Video Action Plan ( and the Guide to Video Advocacy ( Preparing a budget Preparing a script – see the Witness Video Action Plan Story-boarding Identifying which equipment, locations, interviewees, facts and figures, images, graphs, logos, archive footage etc. are required Checking copyright on any pre-existing sound or images you plan to use, obtaining permissions if necessary Filming Sourcing and obtaining archive or other pre-existing footage Logging and transcribing footage Editing Titles, subtitles and credits Translation (where required)

o Post-production


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o Distribution o Promotion

Screening a rough cut for feedback Final adjustments and checks Sound mixing Preparing your video for online and offline distribution

All of these steps need to be considered and planned in advance; for example, promotion might require still images to be taken on set during production, and your distribution method could influence the style, length and content of your video. Don’t leave it too late! Making an effective video requires creativity and dedication, so one or more people should commit themselves to overseeing the process from the planning stage right through to distribution. Decide in advance how much time can be dedicated to completing the video. If you need it in time for a particular event, plan backwards from that date, allowing plenty of time for any technical hitches or other contingencies. Generally speaking, the time needed to make a well-produced video piece can be estimated as one day for every minute of edited video time. Planning is the first stage of making any video, and well over half the total time will need to be dedicated to editing and to distribution. Define your audience and decide which are the best media and distribution channels to use to reach them BEFORE you start production. Advocacy video is most effective when used strategically as part of your campaign, which means you should never be producing your film and then wondering what to do with it. Bigger is not necessarily better. When your distribution strategy is linked to grassroots campaigns and communities it may have a greater impact on the people that see it than would a programme on television that an audience has casually flicked over to. Don’t be afraid to ask more experienced film-makers for advice; you can also learn a lot by helping out with other peoples’ projects before starting with your own. What resources and skills will you need? The cost of making a video is now very low compared to even five or ten years ago, but there are a few things you will need access to, depending on the type of video project you are planning: o A video camera – this can be simply a mobile phone or digital stills camera with a video function. If you are planning to edit together existing materials without creating new footage, then you will not even need a camera.


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o Software – this toolkit will direct you to free Open Source Soft-

ware tools where they are suitable and accessible to most users, and

o A computer – if you plan to do any editing (it is possible to avoid

to proprietary tools where no free tools are available.

this, or to contract editing out to others), the most expensive resource needed will be a fairly powerful computer. Most medium-range new computers these days will be able to handle basic video editing. If your project is large or your computer lacks the necessary resources you might need to be creative and find a way to access a computer through a large NGO, university or community media centre. o Production and post-production funds – other expenses to consider are production costs (related to shooting the video), and editing and distribution costs (related to printing and distributing DVDs, for example).

For gathering video, being able to use a camera effectively and get the sound recording right is all that is necessary. You can also put together pre-existing footage or even use still images combined with sound and music. Editing requires more skills, but is also increasingly accessible to the beginner. You also have the option of finding a volunteer editor who has more experience, or of paying a professional. Distribution & screening can be done by anyone with access to copies of the video, screening technology (e.g. computer, projector) and/or a screening venue. Some of the skills you’ll need to have, access or develop are: o Planning and budgeting o Liaising and coordinating with interviewees, funders and any other people involved o Camera work o Sound recording o Video and effects editing o Managing licenses, permissions and copyright o Music and sound mixing o Transcription and translation o Encoding for internet and DVD o Packaging design and promotion Story, style and synopsis The habits of your intended audiences and the resources available to them should influence the style of your video, as well as your method of


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delivery and distribution, the length and language/s of your video, and whether you decide to make an ongoing series. Do your audiences have access to the internet? Do they have fast broadband or slow dial-up access? DVD players? TVs? Do they attend public gatherings? For instance, if you’re reaching out to workers who may not have internet access, a twenty-minute DVD about labour rights might be appropriate. If you’re raising awareness about over-fished seas among college students, you may opt to create a two-minute humorous animation, distributed over popular video sharing services and social network sites. For more information on what to think about before filming, download the PDF at node/428 Imagine you are in an elevator with a potential donor for your video project. You have only ten floors, or 30 seconds, to give your ‘elevator pitch’, a brief description of what your video is about, what the viewer will see and why it is important. Are you ready? This is an important exercise to enable you to express concisely the message, story and storyteller of your video. Try writing a brief guiding paragraph or synopsis that explains what viewers will actually see and hear in your video. This should not be a summary of the video’s message or an analysis, but a description of how you visualise the story unfolding. Every word should relate to something one will see or hear in the video. Your synopsis can also describe the style and feel of the video; for example, a fast music-video style, a more slow-paced story or a series of stark images interspersed with title-cards. Start by identifying the most important key messages of the video. Once you have done this, focus on the details, such as who your storyteller(s) will be, and what tools you will use to unfold the narrative.
Sample synopsis

Here is an example of a synopsis of a video on internally displaced people in Burma: This video shows the continuing insecurity faced by people displaced by the military government at the end of 2005. We open with a fast series of graphic images of the government’s offensive. We review the facts of the action, including how many people were displaced, using a series of title-cards. Then the villagers show us how they live in a community hidden in the jungle, relate their experiences and personal stories, and talk about their hopes and fears for themselves and their


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children. These interviews and conversations are shown alongside sequences of daily life that demonstrate the continuing challenges facing villagers in the war zone in 2006. They stay in small groups near their fields, living in temporary homes and avoiding their villages in the plains. They have very little food, no opportunities for education, limited healthcare, and no security. We travel with them through the jungle as they walk day and night to get away from the attacks; we are with them as they hide their food supplies, pack what they can carry on their backs, and prepare to set off again to escape a renewed offensive. The video closes with an explicit call – in the video as well as in an end title-card – for support, as well as for pressure on the government to stop the attacks.
About narration

Remember that compelling personal stories make for powerful videos. Evaluate how your primary audience would respond to your storyteller(s), while being mindful that an ‘expert’ interview may give credibility, and may help to elaborate nuanced legal or policy obligations. Often a balance between the voice of personal experience and that of expert opinion will be best. This balance is influenced by your overall treatment; for example, whether facts and figures are narrated (spoken) or displayed (shown), and whether they come before or after personal accounts. If you plan to use a central narrator in the film, who would be your first choice of narrator and how will you get access to this person? Narrators can play a very useful role in helping to structure the film, and to fill in gaps in information. However, for some audiences, narration may be perceived to be manipulative or indicative of a particular point of view or opinion. Other issues to consider when choosing a narrator include credibility, gender, national origin, celebrity recognition, and availability/accessibility.
Which style best supports your goals?
o Interviews – the resources needed to create a video interview can

be relatively minimal. Armed with a simple camera and microphone, basic shooting technique, and thoughtful questions, you can create an engaging piece of media that can be used to introduce a person, an idea, or even to spur viewers to take action. o covering Actions – examples of this type of video are varied, from secret recordings that highlight injustice to video documentation of a march or gathering. Such documents can often be simple to record, but be aware of the possible ethical, privacy and security implications of releasing this type of video publicly (see p. 142).


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o testimonials – can engage both the individual testifying and the au-





dience watching. They can be used to build solidarity, to spur groups to action or to promote your organisation. Drama/Fiction – people often assume that activist video has to be non-fiction. But fiction or drama can be emotionally engaging tools that ask real questions of their viewers and offer new insights. Humour – is a good way to get people to see the absurdities in a policy, idea, or stance. Obviously it can be mixed with many of the other styles mentioned here. Animation – Some types of animation require special skills, tools, and software. However, it can also be achieved very simply with a digital stills camera, a marker pen and a white-board. Making advanced animations can be a slow process. Music Video – Combining engaging visuals with music can have powerful results. Consider adding text if your message is too subtle. Remember that most pre-existing music is covered by copyright.

Sequencing your video A sequence is a series of shots that you put together to cover a particular idea or action. Try to prepare an outline or list of the sequences you need to tell your story. When this outline includes drawings giving a rough idea of what the shots will look like, it’s called a storyboard. Make sure to describe what the viewer will see and hear: who is doing what, and what are they saying?
Visual elements

There are many visual elements or techniques you can use to tell your story. Here are some that you may choose: o Images of things happening – people doing things, perhaps talking as they go, without commentary. o landscapes & ‘general views’ – locations and inanimate objects that are part of the story or its context. o conversations observed – people talking while aware of the camera, but not being interviewed directly. o Hidden camera – conversations or people talking to each other, with the camera unobtrusive or even hidden. Note: there are ethical, privacy and security questions to be considered (see p. 142). o re-enactments – factually accurate recreations of scenes that could not be filmed, or that happened in the past. Remember that there may be credibility problems with this in the human rights context, particularly if the reasons why a scene could not be filmed, or needed to be re-enacted, are unclear to the audience.


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o Expressionistic shots – often symbolic or artistic, to represent a

o o o



concept or provide visuals where you do not have access to the location; in historical interviews, for example. Manipulation of imagery – using slow motion, fast-forward and other effects. Still photos, maps, graphs or documents – filmed with a static camera or panning, tracking or zooming. text – including on-screen titles, headlines, names/affiliations and graphics used for creative and informational purposes. Subtitles for the hard of hearing and translations to foreign languages have also traditionally been added in the editing stage, but are increasingly treated more efficiently as separate digital files. See Translating Video (p. 140). Archive footage – this could come from a professional archive, or personal memorabilia, and possibly from other films. Remember footage from a commercial source is usually expensive and it’s complicated to get permission to use such footage. Blank screen – used to separate images or sequences and help the viewer to reflect on what they have just seen or heard, to prime them for what is next, indicate a change of sequence or location, or to emphasise sounds.

Audio or sound elements
o Interviewee speaking – you can use audio recorded separately or o conversations – either recorded with the participants’ knowledge

use the audio from a video interview, or use both the video and audio.

o narration – this could be a ‘voice of god’ voice-over, or be spoken

or unobtrusively/secretly.

o Synchronous sound – sound recorded while filming, and therefore

by the filmmaker or by a participant in the story, either onscreen or off.

synchronised with the actions in the image. This kind of sound is very valuable to help smooth out an edit. o Sound effects – particular sounds, not necessarily synchronised, which can be recorded while filming, or at a later point, or found in a sound effect library. o Music – this is usually added during editing. o Silence – the absence of sound can indicate change of mood or place, or prompt the viewer to refocus on the screen. Pre-production planning Once you have determined your key messages, your story and your storyteller/s, you need to identify any gaps you may have in your research. These questions can help you get started; however, you should


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also include additional questions that are relevant to your specific organisation and video advocacy plan. o What footage is already available, and how can you use it? o What are the audio and visual components that you hope to include in the video? o What do you currently have access to and what do you need? o What security and privacy risks may be involved in using footage? For each of the elements below, consider what is the material, how will you obtain it and whether there are any copyrights in place, which would mean negotiating with the owner of the rights in order to use the material. o Video or audio interviews produced by others o Footage shot by your organisation o Footage shot by television stations or other videographers o Photos o Music o Other sound sources (not music or interviews) o Printed material related to the subject of your video Archive video and photo material, as well as music, can be difficult and expensive to licence. However there is a range of ‘Open Content licensed’ material available. See Searching for Open/Free Content (p. 142) to help you find free or inexpensive material. Resources o WITNESS Video for Change book: o WITNESS Video Advocacy Institute – intensive training for budding video advocates: o Make Internet TV ( For a simple look at planning internet video projects, see: o YouTube’s Reporters’ Center has some good resources for making citizen journalism-focussed videos: crEAtIng VIDEO Once you’ve made your plan, you need to get your footage. You don’t have to have expensive cameras, computers, and gadgets to create a compelling piece of video. This section covers shooting on simple devices like mobile phones and digital stills cameras, as well as the more standard camcorders. It also reviews how to get video footage from DVDs in order to mix it into your productions. We then show you how to prepare your content through editing and translation.


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Recording methods o Mobile phone – depending on the type of phone you have, these can be great for brief sound-bites or clips, covert recordings, or regular interviews. Learn what your phone is capable of, and how to extract the video from it after shooting, before you rely on it for recording anything important. o Digital camera – there are many types of digital camera, and most of the limitations and possibilities of using mobile phones for video apply to digital cameras too. Test your equipment first. o Digital camcorder – if you’re distributing your media on DVD or want to achieve a professional-looking final product, this is a good choice. It is worth being aware of all the benefits and disadvantages before investing in this technology. Many of these devices are large, and unsuitable for covert recording. However, they are essential when higher-quality footage is wanted. o Found footage – existing photos and video can enhance your videos, and are also useful when you don’t have access to a video camera of any sort. Picking tools for recording video can be daunting. Often it’s best to begin with the simplest technology possible. Every year the quality of these devices is improving while prices are dropping, so be sure to get up-to-date information. Think about whether you will be distributing your video online or offline, or both, and look at our Distribution section (p. 151) for more information regarding this vital issue, which will have an impact on your decision about which technology you choose for recording your video, and on the planning of your project. It’s always best to get accurate advice from someone who really knows about making videos before investing in new equipment. If possible, borrow equipment to try it out before making major purchases. Consider visiting a local university, community media centre, or techsavvy supporter for advice. Camcorders Digital Video (DV) Camcorders generally give a much higher quality and level of control over both picture and sound than equipment like phones or digital cameras. However, they are usually physically larger and your footage has to be digitised (converted to data files from the disc or tape that it is recorded on) to be edited on the computer once it has been shot, whereas digital cameras record files that can simply be dragged and dropped onto your computer screen. You also need to budget for accessories such as tapes, microphones, larger batteries and


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type of equipment




Mobile phone

Allows you to upload video to online sites Increasingly they indirectly from the cell-phone network. Once clude digital camera and set up, it’s simple, very small and light. Inexvideo functions. pensive (if you needed a phone anyway) or cheap. All-in-one device. Handy. Images and the location and times that Very low to high the phone is switched on are traceable (a security issue), phones are somewhat difficult to set up for filming and uploading. Poor audio quality, and it’s another gadget to carry around, charge up, insure, maintain etc. Older cameras may have a short recording time limit, poor audio quality. Low to medium

uSB camera

Simple, lots of recording time, easy to use, for example: Flip Video, small Vado Pocket Video Cam

Digital camera

Most digital still cameras have a video mode

Once set up, it’s simple to use, very small and light. Can be inexpensive. All-in-one device. Handy.

Extremely low to very high Very high to extremely high


Eg. Digital-8 or MiniDV (look for a USB or Firewire port)

Highest quality, robust technology, long recording time

Can be bulky, footage must be digitised onto computer (you’ll need a big hard drive and Firewire port, and a video card), it’s another tool to look after.

Quality key low – view in a reduced screen on computer or other device. Good for streaming. High – can be suitable for DVD distribution Very to extremely high – can be suitable for TV broadcast. Note: the higher the quality (or resolution), the larger the data file for distribution


via the internet, meaning more time and bandwidth will be required for users to download it. Medium to high quality is best for films distributed via internet download.


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so on, which can add to your load. Despite these disadvantages, if you need the improved image and sound quality, a camcorder is worth your while. Camcorders are great for any project that needs to look crisp on a full screen computer, TV, projector, or DVD.
Purchasing a DV camcorder
o Standard or High Definition (HD) – HD is unnecessary for most





web-based video projects. Instead, get a better-quality microphone or better lights. If you have got the funds to buy a High Definition camcorder, see recording medium – if you’re getting a DV Camcorder and want to edit your footage, we recommend models that use mini-DV tape. Some camcorders record to DVD or hard drive; they will compress your footage into a format that may not be compatible with your editing software. compatible computer port – your computer needs to have an input port that matches the port on your DV camcorder, so make sure you check what ports your computer has in advance of making a purchase. Your computer should have either a USB 2.0 port or a Firewire port (also known as i.Link or IEEE 1394). Many PC laptops and some PC desktops do not have a Firewire port, while all Mac computers have Firewire ports. Battery life – DV Camcorder Review Sites are a good source of realistic estimates of battery life (manufacturers often report optimistically high operation time). If you plan to record outdoors for extended periods, consider buying a spare or higher-capacity battery. Image & sound quality – you can find examples of the image quality produced by various machines on DV Camcorder Review Sites. Some sites even review the internal microphone quality. If you want good sound quality, you’ll need to use an independent external microphone. Make sure your camcorder has an audio input jack to receive the sound from the external mic.

Advanced features

Here are some advanced features to look for if you want superior sound and video: o Manual gain control – for better audio, find a camcorder with the option to turn off Automatic Gain Control (ACG). ACG means the sensitivity of the microphone changes automatically if sound levels change; if there’s s quiet moment, it will become hyper-responsive and pick up every little noise. In some cases this might be useful, but often it is better to control the input level from the microphone manually. o neutral balance controls – for more control over the colour


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balance in your images, look for a camera with neutral balance (sometimes called white or grey balance) settings. Manual neutral balance helps ensure that colours are reproduced accurately in the existing lighting conditions, and makes skin tones look more natural. If you’re using a professional editing suite, you can neutral balance to some extent during editing. o Ergonomics & user interface – even if you buy online, we recommend trying a few brands of DV Camcorders in shops before you buy. Hold a variety of models and brands to see which shape is most comfortable, or ergonomic, for you. Look into the viewfinder and make sure you’re satisfied with your ability to hold the picture steady. If you travel a lot, make sure the camcorder is a comfortable size. Digital stills camera A digital stills camera is small, very easy to operate, and can be kept handy at all times. It is not intrusive and is great for doing interviews. You can quickly and easily publish digital camera footage without editing it. However, there are two main problems with digital cameras: some stills cameras have time limits for video recording, and some models record in formats that are not readily compatible with free and popular editing tools such as Windows Movie Maker.
Purchasing a digital stills/video camera
o Video resolution – resolution is the number of horizontal pixels by

o o



vertical pixels in the image captured by a camera. More pixels equals better quality images. Many digital cameras shoot 320x240 pixels of video, but some shoot 640x480 pixels. Frames per second (fps) – the number of video frames captured in a second. Many digital cameras capture 15fps, but some capture 30fps. Short recording time – some digital cameras can only record video for a short time (30-45 seconds) before they must stop and write the footage to memory. Others can record until the memory card is full. Check these limits before purchasing your camera. Battery life – independent digital camera review sites, such as are a good source of realistic battery life estimates for digital cameras. If you plan on recording outdoors for extended periods, you might consider buying a spare battery. Proprietary batteries – some cameras require proprietary batteries, while others operate on standard AA or AAA batteries. Proprietary batteries may provide longer life, but they often require a recharging station and cost a great deal more to replace. They can become obsolete and be hard to replace. Standard batteries are more


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affordable and available almost anywhere in the world, but might not provide as much shooting time. Image quality – some digital camera review sites post footage shot using specific digital camera models. Otherwise, you’ll need to rely on the resolution, frames per second, and mega-pixel count for a very rough estimate of picture quality. Ergonomics & user interface – even if you buy online, we recommend trying a few different digital cameras in shops before you buy one. Hold a variety of models and brands to see which shape is most comfortable. Try putting it in your pocket or bag (to check the bulk, not to hijack it). Sound quality – don’t count on good-quality sound from a digital stills camera; get as close to your sound source as you can. It is also possible to record audio externally and synchronise the picture with the sound after making the recordings, during the editing process, but this is fiddly and time-consuming. Storage space & format – most cameras come with a low-capacity memory card, which you’ll probably want to upgrade. Make sure you get a card in a compatible format. The amount of shooting time you can record to a given card varies between different camera models, and also according to the resolution and compression settings you choose.





Mobile phone video Mobile phones are relatively cheap, widely available and accessible, and you can create, distribute and sometimes edit video content from the same device. They are small, unobtrusive and easily carried, so you can film discreetly and clandestinely. Mobile phones can be particularly useful in repressive media environments where filming with a video camera may not be safe or possible. You can send videos directly between phones free of charge using Bluetooth. While it is possible on some mobile phones to edit and send videos straight to the internet (this depends also on the service provider agreement), it is more common for mobiles to be used only as recording devices. Mobile phone video quality is fine for creating short videos for broadcast on video sharing websites, but only a few very high end phones are capable of producing anything approaching broadcast quality video which is 25 to 30 frames per second, 640×480 pixels resolution. Such phones are very expensive. Mobile phones can be used anonymously in most countries if they are prepaid, rather than on a contract, and unregistered. However calls on mobile phones and the phone’s location (whenever it


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is switched on – you don’t have to be using it) can be traced through the mobile network provider. If your phone is seized it may contain personal information such as contact details, call logs, texts sent and received, and photographs, which may be a security threat to you and your contacts.
resources you’ll need
o Mobile phone – any mobile device which records video will do.






Generally, the newer the phone, the better the lens and the chip (which records the video). Some phones have simple video editing programmes that allow you to add and shorten clips, add photos, text and a soundtrack. Different models of phone have varying limits on memory, maximum file size for playback and recording and resolution limits. SIM card – the SIM card is used to store information on your mobile phone, including its phone number. An unregistered, prepaid SIM card provides the most anonymity. In some countries you do not have to register when you buy a phone. The SIM card must be registered to a mobile phone network before you can send video. However, you can record video and transfer it by Bluetooth or USB cable onto a computer without registering with a phone network. Memory card – memory cards provide your phone with extra capacity for storing video recordings. They are compact, rugged and easily swapped when full. They come in several types, such as SD, miniSD, microSD, M2, microM2; be sure to check which kind your phone needs. External microphone – the mobile phone’s built-in microphone may not give high audio quality when recording video, as it is designed for making phone calls. It works best for very close sounds, and it is generally pointing towards the camera person rather than at what is being filmed. You may be able to use an external microphone when recording. This could be the microphone on the phone’s headset, connected either by a cable or by Bluetooth. More expensive phones may allow you to attach a self-powered microphone, usually with a phono adapter to the phone’s AV socket. Memory card reader – a memory card reader allows you to transfer data quickly from the phone to a computer. The memory card is taken out of the mobile phone and put into the card reader, which is attached to a computer with a uSB cable. uSB cable – many mobile phones have a USB socket. A USB cable allows you to transfer data quickly, directly from the mobile phone to a computer.


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creating video
Basic steps to mobile video usage
o Film the event or interview. This may be one single shot or several

shots. A simple video could consist of a single-shot interview lasting 3-5 minutes. The videos are usually saved in 3gp format, a simplified form of the MPEG4 codec, made for mobile phones. This compresses the videos heavily to reduce the file size and the bandwidth requirement. o Transfer content to a computer for editing or distribution. The simplest way to do this is by connecting the mobile phone to the computer with a USB cable. You can also do this using Bluetooth, infrared (IR) or via a card reader. Once you have connected the mobile phone to the computer, the phone will appear on the computer screen as an external drive. You can then browse the phone to find and transfer the video clips. o Edit the video on the phone or on a computer. The most common approach is to edit on a computer, which allows for more sophisticated editing, such as working with longer pieces, adding subtitles or voiceovers, and incorporating effects. Once the video clips are on your computer, you can edit them with software like iMovie, Windows Media Maker and Open Movie Editor for Linux. If you want to distribute the completed video by mobile phone, you must save it in 3gp format . o Distribute the video. Read more about Distribution on p. 151. YouTube Mobile will allow you to upload videos directly from a mobile phone. Generally you are given an e-mail address to which to send the video so your phone must have internet capabilities, and the costs of data transfer can be high. There are a number of services, such as Qik, (, Flixwagon (http://www.flixwagon. com/) and LiveCast (, that allow you to stream live video from your phone. This can be useful in an urgent or fast-moving situation. You must register in advance and install an application on your phone.
top tips for mobile video
o Choose the highest quality setting your phone can handle. Each

mobile phone will have a range of video settings, usually found under ‘Camera’, then ‘Settings’. The most common, from the highest to the lowest quality, are: GA 640×480, VGA (quarter VGA) 320×240, QCIF 176×144, SQCIF 128×96 o Save to a memory stick or memory card, not to the phone. The setting for this is usually found under ‘Camera’ then ‘Settings’. o Set the phone to be silent. If you are filming clandestinely, make sure your phone is set to silent and does not beep or make a shutter sound


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o o

o o

o o

when you are filming. Note: some models of phone will not allow silent recording. Get in close: cameras on mobile phones are designed for filming people a few metres away. Shoot in good light: these cameras work best in natural light without strong contrast. The picture tends to be particularly poor at dusk and at night. Avoid zooming: the quality of the image deteriorates markedly. Get close to the sound you want to record, particularly in interviews. If you use an external microphone, place it close to the sound you want to record. Keep video files small, especially if you are planning to send your videos to or from phones. Do a trial run: make sure you can shoot and upload videos without any technical hitches.

Security with mobile video

In some situations, filming may compromise your safety. Here are some steps you can take: o Preserve your anonymity – use a pre-paid, not a contract phone, and an unregistered SIM card and top-up cards. Supporters can buy topup cards on behalf of the phone user. o Supporters should send the phone user the top-up access code by voice or text. o Protect your personal information – if the phone may be seized, do not store personal information such as contacts, photos, call records or outgoing text messages. It may be sensible to have two phones and use one of them just for filming. o Delete backed up videos – once the video clips have been transferred to a computer or another phone, delete them from your own phone or swap the memory card. o Hide your location – a mobile phone has functions other than recording video. When it is switched on it connects to the mobile network provider’s base station and reveals its location. The phone may have a GPS application. Keep the phone turned off with its battery removed when not in use, and don’t enable the GPS application. See the Mobiles section of the Message-in-a-box website for more about using mobile phones to support your activism, or see our Mobiles in-a-box toolkit ( For information about keeping your digital information secure, look at:


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FIlMIng Unfortunately, many low-budget videos suffer from bad camera work. A few easy techniques can make your video much easier to watch. Shooting
o Single hand – one technique is to hold your camera with one hand








and support that elbow with your free hand. Keep your elbow near your body, as this will allow you to hold the camera for long periods. two hands – sometimes it’s more comfortable to hold a camera with both hands. Again, keep your elbows near your body for improved leverage and stability. Above your head – if you’re shooting crowded events, you might need to hold your camera over your head. If you have a swivel viewfinder, this is no problem, but if you’re using a camera without an adjustable viewfinder it takes a lot of practice. Stabilising your camera – keep an eye out for architectural or natural features that can help you stabilise your shots. Walls are good for leaning against, and if you’re able to use a tripod, it’ll make your shots much more stable. Video Blog-style interviewing – if you’re using a small camera, you can hold it, facing you and at arms length, and capture yourself and your interview subject. This technique is tricky and definitely requires practice. Keep recording – it’s smart to record a little more than you think you need, as this will give you more to play with when you’re editing. Aim for a minimum of ten seconds per shot. Zooming – avoid making your viewers motion-sick with excessive zooming and/or panning. We recommend that you turn off your camera’s digital zoom feature. Because internet video is often viewed in a small window, stay tightly framed on your subject. Some digital cameras and phones show a marked deterioration in image quality when the zoom is used. Dollying – physically moving the camera while it is fixed to an object. We recommend using wheelchairs, cars, skateboards, tricycles, or improvising using anything with wheels. Have the camera person sit on the vehicle or object while someone else pushes it and them.

common Mistakes
o Shooting too much, and the wrong things – be clear about exactly o Not paying attention to the sound – badly recorded or poorly mixed

what you want to film before starting.


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sound can ruin an otherwise excellent video. Use an external microphone if you can, and check the sound levels are even before releasing your final edited product. o Lacking essential equipment – check you have everything you need – the day before the shoot, if possible, so that you have time to obtain replacements if necessary. Check that your camera and microphone are working, your batteries are charged and essential cables are packed in your camera bag. Batteries & tapes o If possible, carry at least one fully powered spare battery, and a charger, for each camera and microphone you are using. o Recharge your batteries whenever you can. o If travelling abroad to film, ensure you have the necessary plug adaptors for any chargers. o Carry as many tapes as you can. Don’t run out of tapes in the middle of an important shoot. o Try not to use the first and last minute on a DV tape. o Be careful to avoid ‘time code breaks’ in your footage, and worse, taping over your material. This is easiest if you resist the temptation to play your footage back while still in the field. o As soon as you have filled a video tape (or other storage medium), label it clearly but briefly with what is on it, and the date. You may wish to mark the tape with the name or a code for the project it was recorded for, and a number in sequence as soon as you are using more than one tape or disc. o Keep your tapes safe, dry, cool, away from magnetic fields and out of direct sunlight. o When you have a chance, make clearly labelled backup copies of your tapes or discs, and keep them in a different location for security in case anything happens to the originals. o Keep all your video equipment in a strong, padded and waterproof bag. Keep recorded tapes separate in case the camera is stolen; thieves are not interested in your material, but you are, and unlike an (insured) camera, your footage is irreplaceable. o Avoid unnecessarily rewinding your tapes. Audio & lighting Sound quality is sometimes considered less important than visuals, but experienced videographers would disagree. Bad sound can spoil an otherwise great production. See the Audio chapter for more details about sound and how to record it (p. 65).


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Audio tips
o Stay close for good audio – always get your microphone as close

as you possibly can to the sound source you want to capture. If your microphone is internal or attached to your camera, move everything up close. o Hand-held or external microphones – when using an external microphone, it’s good to attach headphones to your camera. If there is a problem with the microphone or connectors, you’ll hear it through the headphones before it’s too late to sort it out. o getting the best sound possible – decide which sounds you want to capture and focus on isolating those sounds as best you can. Consider moving your subject away from any unwanted noise.
lighting tips
o Shooting outdoors – generally, you will want to keep the sun behind

your camera, shining towards your subject. When possible, avoid shooting in full noon-day sun, as it casts harsh shadows. At noon, you’re better off shooting in full shade and optionally bouncing extra light into the scene with white cardboard or other reflective material. Outdoor lighting can be great in the morning or evening, just remember that your lighting won’t be consistent over time, and will eventually get too dark or too light. Cloudy days are best for getting even lighting. o Shooting indoors – keep the strongest light, whether it’s a window with sunlight or a lamp, behind the camera and shining on the subject. If you’re only using artificial lighting, try to get as many lights on as possible – you can use distance between subject and light to get things looking more evenly lit. EDItIng Once you’ve shot your footage you’ll need to edit it. Label & log your footage Documenting and getting to know all of your material is the first step towards making a good video. Collect and label all the material you will be working with, and make sure it is all in a format you can use. Make a log to help you note and find particular shots when you need them.
How to log:

Watch all of your tapes, making notes in three columns as you go: o The start and end time code of the shot o What is happening on the screen and in the audio o Any comment; for example, whether a shot is worth using, the sound is bad, etc.


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You can structure your log in various ways, and log your material more or less thoroughly, but whatever you do, make sure it is consistent, and label each page clearly. Plan your edit Once you’ve got your footage together and logged it, it’s time to pick out key elements and put them together in a sequence that communicates your message. If you’re making a journalistic piece, be sure you put ‘who, what, where, when, and why’ at the beginning. You can also plan to add music, graphics, and transitions to smooth out the story and make the viewing a more enjoyable experience. If you have a clear plan, called a ‘paper edit’, before you begin, you’ll be better able to make decisions along the way. Basic editing To begin, you only need to do basic cutting: re-arrange footage, clip the unusable beginnings and ends off of shots, and add simple titles and transitions. Basic editing systems, that often come free with a computer operating system, are usually well-suited to these tasks. For Windows there is Windows Movie Maker ( Qw1B), for Mac there is iMovie ( Both come with comprehensive ‘how-to’ guides. For Linux we recommend the Open Source Kdenlive (; please note that this doesn’t have many features. If you have to add a lot of titles, it may be more useful to use subtitle software to create separate digital subtitle files after the edit than to ‘burn’ the subtitles into the image during the edit – which will get in the way of any other language subtitling you need to do later. See Translating Video (p. 140). Advanced editing Non-linear editing suites are more complex and far more expensive than the basic editing solutions available by default with Windows and Mac. If you require multi-track editing, more complex titles or special effects, you might consider non-linear editing software. Options include: o Adobe Premiere Pro: for Macintosh or Windows o Final Cut: for Macintosh o Sony Vegas: for Windows o Cinelerra: for Linux (not recommended for beginners, but it is Free and Open Source)


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translating video
Tips to remember o Keep it short – the most common problem that new editors run into is that they can’t bear to leave anything out. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with cutting away excess. Be especially wary of poor footage, incomprehensible speech, repetition and distracting or irrelevant sounds and images. To make your video interesting and appealing, make a very short project the first time around. o tell a story – whether you are making a feature, documentary, or art piece, remember to tell a story that engages the viewer. o Don’t overdo the effects – Where possible, let the images, the sounds, and the people themselves tell the story. o Be creative – consider the rhythm of your piece. Pauses in the speech allow the audience to reflect on a powerful point, to enjoy dramatic footage or a joke. o Be patient – don’t get discouraged if the edit goes slowly. It can take time, but will get easier as you gain more experience. Get feedback Once you have a rough cut of your video, watch it from your intended audience’s point of view. Better still, arrange a test screening for a few people from your intended audience, and encourage them to discuss the video so that you can collect feedback to improve the final version.
Questions for yourself & the test audience:

Does everyone understand all the language? Does anybody’s speech need subtitling? Is there too much information, or too little? Do the audience understand what is happening (who, what, where, when, why)? o Does it keep their attention? o Does it make people laugh? Should they be laughing at that point? o Is there any important information missing? o Will it move people to action? o Will they know where to go for more information? For more on what to do after filming, see the WITNESS After Filming Guide on the Message in-a-Box website > Video> Editing. trAnSlAtIng VIDEO For your video to reach the maximum number of people, it needs to be accessible to people from other parts of the world and to people who who are hard of hearing. You should therefore transcribe it, and, if you can, have it translated into the languages of your target audiences.

o o o o


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Original language transcript The first and most important step in translating video is to create an accurate digital transcript of all the words in the final edit of the film. This should contain all the spoken audio, plus any text titles on screen, written out in a text document in the original language. Each phrase or sentence should be written on a separate line, with the start and end time code (hour:minute:second:frame) at the start of the line, like this:
00:01:10 to 00:01:20 this is a film about people resisting water privatisation in Bolivia 00:01:23 to 00:01:32 and the repression that they suffered jublr, an Open Source program for creating video subtitles, and save it

You can create such a document easily using free software such as

as a .SRT file.

Using/sharing the transcript or subtitle file Your original-language transcript can be uploaded with your film, and included for distribution on any DVD or other offline format. It can also be attached, using the Vlc player, to digital copies of the film, even in its original language, as closed captions for the hard of hearing and for screening in noisy environments. You can also upload it to dotSUB to allow anyone to translate it ( Your transcript can be sent as a text file to translators for easy translation – even those who cannot watch the film can help. The translator simply replaces the original language phrases on each line with a direct written translation, keeping the timecode in place to ensure the right phrase goes in the right place. This new file can then be used as a subtitle file in the same way as the original-language file. Even if you don’t have funds for translation, you should still create an original-language transcript and share it when you publish the video; people may autonomously translate your film into their language. For more, see the guides to Making Subtitles with jublr and using Vlc to view subtitles on the Message in-a-Box website under Video > Tools for Creating Video. Additional resources MAKIng ADVOcAcy VIDEOS WItHOut A cAMErA Some of the most powerful advocacy videos that have been created in recent years have been made without a camera. Short three and four-


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video security
minute videos, such as those made by Avaaz (, have reached enormous audiences around the globe through video sharing sites such as YouTube. One of the leading exponents of this method is Sami ben Gharbia who, with his colleague Astrubal (, creates ‘mash-ups’ using found footage, remixing techniques, graphics, animation and screen captures to produce videos with a focus on human rights advocacy in Tunisia. The fact that YouTube and other video sharing sites have, at times, been blocked in Tunisia ( is, in part, testimony to the power of such subversive videos. Sami feels that using video is a great way of reaching younger people who might not be interested in more conventional campaigning techniques, and points to the comments on his YouTube channel ( as proof of this. One of the most innovative videos made by Astrubal used Google Earth to track the use of the Tunisian presidential plane to expose how it had been used at taxpayers’ expense for unofficial shopping trips and holidays ( Searching for open/free content You can find video that is available for re-use by looking for material using open content licenses through the Creative Commons website (
tips for video creation using existing images:
o Use well-known icons or images that have resonance in your culture o For simple and effective video use screen capture to record what you

or in popular culture.

are doing on your desktop computer. This way you can, say, build something based on Google maps or Google earth and then animate the navigation of the software. One Free and Open Source option for this is o Sami recommends tools such as QuickTime Pro, which make it really easy to animate still images using simple copy and paste techniques and then to add text and filters. o If your target audiences have slow internet connections, use more text in your videos and use compression (see Message in-a-box website under Video > Tools for Publishing Video) to make the file smaller. VIDEO SEcurIty Video is a powerful tool for rights campaigning, but it can also introduce serious risks. Before embarking on a sensitive video project, you


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must consider your own safety and that of your subject/s and sources. You must be alert to potential hazards and think hard about how to minimise risks to everyone involved. Find out from your organisation or discuss with your group what your policy is on security and on consent as it relates to people who are interviewed or filmed for your human rights documentation. If in doubt, talk to colleagues and share the responsibility of decisionmaking. In all situations, there is no substitute for trust, respect, clear communication and being sensible. If you are covering sensitive issues or think you might be working in a difficult security environment, this section will provide some key things you should consider. The first rule: do no harm The first questions when assessing risks are: o What kind of retaliation might you or others face? Is the risk worth it? o Could the methods you use backfire and prevent you from attaining your advocacy goals? o Is it both safe and useful to record this video with these people at this time? o Is it both safe and useful to share this video with these people at this time? o Is everyone involved aware of all the risks they run? What kind of consent process and written approvals will you need to go through with people before you film them? o What further research do you need to do on the security risks for people appearing in the film according to whether it is shown locally, regionally or internationally? o What permissions will you need for filming in the various locations? o Is video the best way to obtain and share the information you need (rather than audio, text etc.)?
Planning ahead

Preparations for filming in any potentially hostile environments should include a risk assessment. Hazards can occur during filming, during distribution or at a later date, and include: o Threats or violence against anyone involved. o Being discovered filming covertly or without official permission. o Detention/arrest/kidnap of people filming, being filmed or transporting footage. o Failure of security arrangements intended to protect information and material.


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video security
o People failing to realise the risks they may face when they give con-

sent, or failing to take precautions thereafter.

Precautionary measures
o Make sure you have careful, skilful people involved in planning, o o o o o

research and filming. Establish clear protocols for consent (see the next section). Use suitable, discreet equipment if necessary. Pay attention to personal and information security. Make communication arrangements for before, during and after filming. Make emergency arrangements for yourself and the people you film, both during and after the filming. o Have a clear exit strategy. Consent Where possible, video makers should ensure that all the people they are filming have given free, prior, informed consent to becoming involved in a film. A human rights or social justice filmmaker should consider three levels of permission and consent: written, on-camera and informed consent. A written consent form is similar to the legal paperwork that TV channels require, but with limited legal standing. These ‘release forms’ may be difficult to understand for people with limited literacy or exposure to the kind of language they are written in. With on-camera consent, the person to be filmed is actually filmed hearing the full explanation of their part in the project, and giving their name and clear consent on camera, though this footage is generally not used in the final piece. Informed consent is possible only when the subject understands the possible risks and benefits of being on camera, and makes a choice to be there, while stipulating what is or is not an acceptable level of risk. Such stipulations may include the possibility of the subject withdrawing permission to use the footage if the level of risk increases in the future. Usually the discussion of risks and benefits, and the process of informed consent, happen off-camera.
Protecting anonymity

Sometimes people are willing to appear in a video only if they can’t be recognised. The identity of people on film can be deduced in a number of ways, not all of which are equally obvious: o Their face is visible o Their name is provided in the dialogue or on-screen


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o Their clothing is distinctive o Their voice is recognisable o They refer to places, locations or people who are identifiable and o They are seen in the company of people who can be identified


You can hide the identity of a subject either while you are filming or during the editing process. During the editing process your options are: o Using a digitised effect over the whole face or other identifying marks, or placing a digital bar over the eyes only. o Obscuring identifying marks in the foreground, in the background or on the interviewee (for example, a logo on a shirt). o Using sound edits to remove names of people and places. o Distorting voices to make them less identifiable. o Using only an audio track. o Not showing faces or any features that can be recognised, for example big hair, but using other shots, of hands or of a non-identifiable interview location (sometimes with the interviewee seen in extreme long shot), alongside the audio track of the interview. In general you have more options if you shoot footage in the field without compromising the image, and then alter the image in the editing room (if you are going to be editing). However, security should always be your main concern. If there is a serious possibility that your original material may be confiscated either during transport from the filming site or from an archived location, then it is a good idea to conceal the identities of your subjects as you film them, and it may be unwise to have subjects identify themselves on camera, either for the purposes of consent or for the final cut of the video. Some ideas to help you conceal someone’s identity during filming: o Ask the person not to mention specific names or places. o Ask them not to wear distinctive clothes. o Use strong back lighting to turn the person’s image into a silhouette, with them either facing the camera or in profile. o Purposely make the footage out of focus so that the person’s face cannot be recognised. o Don’t light the person’s face. o Film their hands or another part of their body rather than their face. o Film from behind them so that their face is not visible. o Film them with a cap shading their eyes (eyes are the most recognisable part of a face).


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video security
Safe handling of video tapes o Know where all your copies are, and label them with clear instructions in case they go missing. o Destroy rough cuts of videos where identities are discernible. o Ensure public scripts do not reference identities. o Keep written records and logs separate from tapes to protect identities. o Label clearly how footage can be used; for example, only as evidence or for private screenings. o Make back-up copies of important material and store them in a secure location (ideally a temperature-controlled archive). Responsible treatment of video footage o Maintain clear communication with those involved. o Honour any commitments made during filming. o Edit ethically – avoid ‘guilt by association’. o Remember the power and the dangers of contrast, juxtaposition and compression. o Avoid emotional manipulation and over-dramatisation. o Acknowledge the impact of violent imagery. o Respect the audience, field and facts. o Consider the impact of distribution on the people who film or are filmed. o Be aware of secondary trauma issues. Appropriate use Not all video is appropriate to show to all audiences all of the time. If a video features extreme violence, humiliation or other disturbing material, consider providing a warning to viewers before they can access it. It may be more suitable to keep such material for use as evidence in a court case than to release it freely into the public domain. Try to think about the various people who may see this video, and what uses they could make of it; for example, might security forces identify individuals for arrest or repression? Might one ethnic group use the video to misrepresent the actions of another for the purposes of fomenting inter-ethnic strife? If someone is being victimised in the video, might replaying it on screen turn them into a victim again?
Possible Questions for on-camera consent:

On-camera consent can include answers to the following questions: o Please state your name and the date of this interview. o Do you understand what we are doing? o Please explain in your own words, so that we can be sure.


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o Do you consent to your interview being included in this project,

including video and (state various forms of media you may use, including print, photos and internet)? o Are you aware of all the people who may see the final video? o Are there any restrictions that we need to be aware of on using the information you provide us with, or on how we can use the video itself ? o Are you aware that you can stop the filming process at any time: to ask questions, to take time out or to withdraw entirely? For more information about security and mobile phones, look at: For information about keeping your digital information secure, look at: Meet journalists, filmmakers, and human rights defenders who work undercover, in war zones and in threatening environments both at home and abroad, in WITNESS’s useful text on Safety and Security in video making: Watch the ‘Before Filming’ video from WITNESS: ChohT VIDEO cASE StuDIES Video to inform & educate From documenting injustice and recording testimonies, to amplifying voices, through to short public-service announcements, these examples highlight how a wide-ranging and dynamic video can raise awareness.
Video bloggers / debate on police brutality (Egypt > global)

For many years, human rights organisations have reported that torture and abuse are rife in Egypt’s police stations. It wasn’t until videos emerged showing some of the worst of these violations that the spotlight was really trained on the conduct of Egypt’s police. Bloggers such as Wael Abbas brought international attention to police torture by publicising these videos that show officers beating and sodomising suspects. network: Egyptian Bloggers and Vloggers link: Additional videos:
Viral online animation / “Meatrix” factory farming satire (global)

The Meatrix is a four-minute online animation that spoofs the Matrix movies, while educating viewers about the problems with factory farming and today’s meat and dairy supplies. The film is a humorous and creative


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video case studies
satire. When it launched in November 2003, this viral film broke new ground in online grassroots advocacy. It has been translated into more than 30 languages and is widely considered one of the most successful online advocacy films to date, with well over 15 million viewers worldwide. link: Organisation: GRACE and Sustainable Table: http://www.gracelinks. org/mission.php
Animation / chevron “toxico” campaign (South America > global)

ChevronTexaco are known to have dumped over 18 billion gallons of toxic waste water in the Ecuadorian Amazon, which is the largest oilrelated environmental disaster in the world. Amazon Watch works with indigenous and environmental organisations in the Amazon Basin to defend their rights. Video: Video to build your base of supporters It is essential to link your video to actions that viewers can take to learn more and build pressure. Many videos link to online petitions or pledges, which ultimately help build your base of supporters by inviting them to sign up to your e-newsletter or other form of outreach.
celebrity campaign / 30 Days for a Million Voices (uS/Burma > global)

The US Campaign for Burma’s (USCB) 30 Days for a Million Voices project brought together dozens of celebrities and well-known advocates to call for one million people to join USCB’s global movement to support human rights in Burma. Videos: campaign:
Online action – create, collaborate, connect, go viral

Online video advocacy via sites including the Witness Hub, YouTube,, dotSUB and many others allow you to post short video clips that supporters can then use and share online and via offline screenings. Sometimes, these clips can ‘go viral’, generating attention for your advocacy work. They can be linked to websites and email campaigns to encourage people to sign petitions, pledges & statements of support. New tools also allow you to help people collaborate online to create and share their own media in support of your campaign. As with all online work, both your supporters and your general audience must have internet access.


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religious harmony / Avaaz – stop the clash of civilisations (global)

One of the all-time top videos on YouTube, Avaaz’s video debunks the myth of a fundamental clash between Islam and the West and exposes it as a problem of politics, not cultures. stop_the_clash
Environment / greenpeace’s oceans campaign (global)

Breathe in, breathe out, a silent 60-second video, is one of Greenpeace’s most viewed videos online. watch?v=tzcGFUsL4HM
Human rights / Amnesty’s ‘the cell tour’ (global)

This video enables online viewers to see Amnesty’s replica of a cell at Guantánamo touring the US. See how people inside the cell react to the experience. Then record your own message and add your voice to the thousands protesting against illegal US detentions. Video: Offline action – communities watching & acting together Many videos can be built into grassroots campaigns through public screenings, with the help of your support network and materials such as information packs, handbooks or manuals.
youth-led response to prison system / books not bars (uSA)

This video documented the inspiring youth-led movement against the growth of the US prison industry, particularly in California. It was linked with an Action Pack that provides examples of tangible ways for youth to participate in the movement to reform the prison system, and created extensive lesson plans for high school students that examine incarceration-related issues within a human rights framework. http://
Water rights / stop the privatisation of water (India)

This video informed slum dwellers that the Mumbai Municipal Authority was planning to privatise their water supply. After the screenings, 300 people instead of the usual 60 showed up for a government meeting on water and demanded that the officials come clean about the plan and the costs to slum dwellers. Shortly after that meeting, the government halted the privatisation plan in that part of Mumbai, and started supplying water twice a day instead of once in that particular area. Organisation: Video Volunteers – Video:


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video case studies
Video in campaigns about corporate behaviour For many corporations, their brand is their identity. Once muddied or tarnished, stock prices and profits can drop, and jeopardise their strength. Culture jamming with video can turn the table on the powerful. This often involves changing mass media images to produce ironic or satirical commentary about the images and brands themselves, using the original medium’s communication method. See for more.
Environment / culture jamming / chevy tahoe’s SuV ad campaign (uS > global)

As part of a cross-promotion with the television show The Apprentice, General Motors launched a contest to promote its Chevy Tahoe SUV (an SUV or four-wheel drive is a big car that uses a lot of petrol, usually owned as a status symbol). At, viewers are given tools to create their own 30-second commercials. Naturally enough, environmental activists stepped in to make the most of the situation. Among the new spoof ads that soon proliferated across the internet were ads with taglines like ‘Yesterday’s technology today’ and ‘Global warming isn’t a pretty SUV ad – it’s a frightening reality’. Videos:
Environment / greenpeace’s Kleerkut campaign (global)

Kleenex, one of the most popular brands of tissue paper products in the world, contributes to the destruction of ancient forests. Greenpeace does a great job using video in its Kleerkut campaign. Organisation: Greenpeace campaign: Video: Other examples
o WITNESS case studies: o Videos from the International Rescue Committee: o Campaigning videos from Action Aid: Jits

Mobile video documentation
Myanmar/Burma cyclone, 2008

Mobile phone and camcorder videos of the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis were compiled into DVDs. These were sold in Burma and smuggled out of the country:


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Students for free tibet

In August 2007 a group from Students for Free Tibet rappelled down the Great Wall of China. The action was streamed live via mobile phone videos using Skype to New York, then posted online on YouTube:
neda Soltani

In Iran in June 2009, a young woman called Neda Soltani was shot during protests by tens of thousands of people contesting the outcome of the recent presidential election. She was filmed on a mobile phone as she lay on the ground surrounded by people trying, unsuccessfully, to save her life. Within hours the footage was on YouTube and Facebook, and was viewed by tens of thousands around the world. While it is too soon to say what the ultimate impact of this will be, these images have helped bring home the seriousness of these protests. PuBlISH VIDEO Once you’ve made your video you need to make sure it’s seen. This section will take you through how to prepare your video for both online and offline distribution, how to license it, where you can publish it and how to distribute your video online and offline. Production and distribution need to work hand-in-hand. The type of film you make, its length, subject matter and style, will influence how you distribute it. The type of distribution you are planning can also affect how you make your film. To create an effective plan for distributing video, first read the Strategy chapter (p. 7). The more clearly you have defined your audience, messages and campaign goals, the more effective your video will be. Publicise your video Remember that you will need to promote your video after you have decided how to distribute it. From email campaigns to posters, you can work your way around Message in-a-box to make your promotional plan. Think of it as a mini-campaign and do a simple promotional plan to decide what to do. For an introduction to Publicising your Video, see the Message in-a-box website under Video. Bigger does not necessarily mean better. As in all communications, the important issue is quality rather than quantity. Making sure your message seen and heard by the right people is more important than reaching absolutely everyone.


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publish video
Video via internet The opportunities for sharing your videos have never been greater, but because millions of videos are uploaded online each day, with content ranging from dog tricks to documentation of human rights abuses, your video will be a drop in an ocean of media unless you have a strategic distribution plan. To use internet distribution strategies, which can be extremely effective, you will need some technical understanding of how to create videos that stream or download easily. Find out more about how to do that in our Tools for Video Publishing (Message in-a-box website > Video), where we show you step-by-step how to compress and embed videos in a range of ways. If you think your audience won’t have enough internet access to watch video online, you might need to think again. In Africa, for example, internet access has increased tenfold in recent years, and the internet is predicted to become an increasingly powerful tool for people communicating in developing countries, including rural areas. Nevertheless, less than 10% of the population of Africa and less than 20% in Asia currently have internet access (see: Where on the internet you chose to upload your video and how you promote it will have an impact on all aspects of your work, from your rights with regards to your video to the audiences and communities you can reach online, to their ability to download and distribute your media offline. Ensure that your video is on a site that meets your needs and will help you reach your short- and long-term goals. Tips for video dissemination & publicity: o Disseminate the same video on multiple online platforms. This is especially important now that sites such as YouTube are being blocked in many countries. o Post a comment alongside a famous or notorious video on YouTube as a way of directing traffic to your video. o Link to your video from as many blogs and websites as possible. You’ll be able to track on YouTube which websites are directing people to your video. o Set up an RSS feed of your content and have this feeding directly to your Twitter and Facebook accounts so that your followers from these networks can see your work. o In situations where video sharing platforms are blocked you can spread video between mobile phones, free of charge, using Bluetooth connections.


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Video via DVD Due to censorship restrictions and security issues, to poor internet access, or for other reasons, you may still choose to distribute your short or longer videos via DVD, either giving DVDs to people or organising screenings. One key benefit of screenings is that they are face-to-face, and can be a very effective way to build strong relationships and support between viewers, especially if you are viewing difficult or sensitive material. You can also use the events for fund-raising, to recruit volunteers, and to further other campaign goals. Hybrid distribution – a bet both ways Often, the best form of distribution, if the resources are available, is a hybrid of both online (internet) and offline (physical) distribution, ensuring that all of your key audiences get your messages. News items can be posted on websites, with regular updates on a situation or topic. Short films can be posted on YouTube and on your own sites, redistributed and linked to. A video containing in-depth background or analysis might be more suited to a compilation with a particular theme, so that it sits alongside other videos that explore the same topic from different angles. It may be better to distribute a featurelength documentary on DVD, as audiences may be more likely to watch a longer-format movie on their television than on a computer, and downloading large files from the internet may be impractical for them. Note: Be keenly aware of privacy and security issues when publishing. Be sure to read the Safety and Security section. Look at WITNESS’s Things to Keep in Mind When Uploading Videos (http:// Making a strategic distribution plan Strategic distribution of your video is the key to achieving positive change. Videos can be distributed through: o Private screenings o Screenings at key events and public meetings o Conferences, hearings, or briefings o Using rapidly developing online distribution tools. Many successful campaigns use different video strategies simultaneously, so that one approach builds on another. For example, your video, in identical versions or in versions edited to suit each audience, might be released to: o Television stations


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publish video
o Grassroots networks, via screenings o Online social networks o Private meetings with decision-makers, along with written reports

and other advocacy tools You can consider the possibilities for these hybrid online/offline strategies while analysing the makeup of your audiences, what action you are seeking from them and what distribution methods are best to reach them. Important questions o What are the time constraints within which your video would be most useful? o How will your audience view your video? Does your audience have access to the internet? o If so, what are the best online tools and spaces to reach them? o Will it be useful to develop accompanying materials such as a briefing pack, action kit, fact sheet or screening manual to go with the video at screenings, for example on a multi-media DVD and/or in print? If so, what information would they contain? See our Print chapter (p. 25) and Offline distribution (p. 164) for ideas and support. o Who will your allies be in getting the video to your intended audiences both nationally and internationally (researchers, NGOs, action networks, media organisations, etc.)? o Are there important groups within your existing audience who have the connections to reach your larger intended audiences? o How can you involve these groups from an early stage in your video advocacy process in order to secure their commitment? o What online spaces, such as blogs, social networks, online forums, and video sharing sites, as well as your own website and email list, can you use to reach your intended audiences? o How much do you need to develop a presence in each of these spaces? o What level of mainstream media exposure are you looking for with this campaign? o What concerns exist in terms of the current and potential representations of your subject matter in the mainstream mass media? Publishing checklist Once your video is online it will take on a life of its own. Ensure that your video is on a site where you can append information you want your audience to know: what the video is about, why it is important, who made it, how can they learn more and, if it is calling for an action, what actions they can take. If your video will be seen elsewhere; for example,


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embedded on another site or downloaded for offline distribution, make sure the essential information is available within the video itself.
Information you should include:
o title – give your video a clear, informative title (and subtitle if neces-

o o o

o o o o



sary). Attach a license and select a range of keywords that apply to it. This metadata is important to help your video come up in online searches. Author – use an individual’s or an organisation’s name. Date – make sure people know when the video was made. Description – a succinct description which will help people to understand what they will be watching if they click to download or play. Syndication tools like rSS will only display the first few lines of your description, so write the text so that the first sentence can stand alone. Keywords – a well-thought-out selection of keywords will help people find your video. license – assign a license to your work so people know how they can use it. contact – make sure that viewers can reach you if they want to make contact. Further information – provide links to the organisation that produced the video, and also sources of further information on the subjects raised in the video. Image – select a ‘thumbnail’ image that will accompany information about your video - this can be a still from the video or a graphic of the title. Additional resources – this kind of ‘information about information’ is known as metadata. The ( network has developed a technical standard for this information - the process is documented at

PuBlISH VIDEO OnlInE Online (internet) distribution platforms vary in their nature, specifications and requirements. Some of the possibilities are: o commercial or non-commercial – is your video sharing service a commercial business which could be bought or sold? What is the motive of the owners or creators of the service? Can ads be placed next to your videos? o Video time limit – some sites limit the length of the video to a certain number of minutes. If you are posting a long video you should check this.


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publish video online
o File Size limit – most sites have limits on the size of the video file. If o Videos Embeddable – Flash videos can sometimes be embedded in o Mobile Phone uploads – some mobile handsets are capable of

you are posting a large video file you should check this.

external websites and blogs for instant playback.



o o o o

recording videos and sending them over the wireless phone network. The process varies greatly from handset to handset and from service provider to service provider. See the Mobiles section of the Messagein-a-box website for more about how to do this. non-Flash Video Formats tolerated – is the user limited to watching the video in Flash video format? This can limit the distribution of your video. Videos Downloadable – having the video file available to download from the site can give more flexible access to viewers who might want to watch offline, or who don’t have the bandwidth to stream. Open content licensing tolerated – Some sites make it easier to use alternative and open licenses. rSS 2.0 with Enclosures – RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a tool for pushing your videos out to sites and viewers automatically. rSS 2.0 Search Feeds available – this will let other sites pick up your videos based on tags and search terms. region and/or Issue Based – if you’re working on a particular issue, you’ll reach more of your core audience if you host your video on a site dedicated to that issue.

Commercial video-sharing sites There are hundreds of commercial sites which allow you to publish your video online. Below is an overview of five popular sites. Be aware of security issues when publishing on commercial platforms. One of the major disadvantages of many commercial platforms is that ads are placed next to your video. Many of these sites operate as online social networks.

YouTube ( is the biggest video sharing site in the world, so it’s a fantastic way of reaching a large audience. Ensure that you have a promotional campaign to direct people to watch your video. Additionally, remember that as there are so many videos on YouTube, it might be harder to reach and engage an audience there than in other spaces. Some of the problems with YouTube: it can be hard to link people back to your site, and YouTube have used their Terms of Ser-


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vice to remove campaigning videos like those of Wael Abbas in Egypt ( In some places YouTube is often blocked. time limit: 10 Minutes (with basic account) File Size limit: 100MB (1 Gig with multi-file software) Videos Embeddable: yes Mobile Phone uploads: yes non-Flash Video Formats: no Videos Downloadable: no Open content licensing: no rSS 2.0 with Enclosures: no rSS 2.0 Search Feeds: yes, no enclosures region and/or Issue Based: no How to upload a video to YouTube: ( is the most flexible of all the commercial platforms, and has the fewest limitations on how and where your videos are presented. It also presents your video at a much higher quality than YouTube. time limit: none File Size limit: 1 Gig Videos Embeddable: yes Mobile Phone uploads: yes non-Flash Video Formats: yes Videos Downloadable: yes Open content licensing: yes RSS 2.0 with Enclosures: yes rSS 2.0 Search Feeds: yes, with enclosures region and/or Issue Based: no

Vimeo ( has a slick user interface and does a great job of streaming higher quality video. However, it falls severely short in terms of how the videos can be exported and displayed on external sites’ aggregators, and of search-friendliness. time limit: no File Size limit: yes (500MB per week, total) Videos Embeddable: yes Mobile Phone uploads: yes


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publish video online
non-Flash Video Formats: Videos Downloadable: Open content licensing: rSS 2.0 with Enclosures: rSS 2.0 Search Feeds: region and/or Issue Based:

user option user option no yes, Flash player only yes, Flash player only no


If you are already running a campaign using Facebook (http://www., then sharing video on the site can be very powerful. The videos you post on Facebook are, however, largely limited in availability to the groups or campaigns you’re connected with on the site. time limit: 20 minutes File Size limit: 300MB Videos Embeddable: no Mobile Phone uploads: yes non-Flash Video Formats: no Videos Downloadable: no Open content licensing: no rSS 2.0 with Enclosures: no rSS 2.0 Search Feeds: no region and/or Issue Based: social network based Non-profit video sharing sites There are a number of non-profit video sharing spaces focussed on social justice, environmental or human rights issues.
the WItnESS Hub

The WITNESS Hub ( is an online video community for human rights where you can upload, watch and share human rights-related videos, images and audio files in a variety of formats. With each media item you upload, you can provide detailed context and link to information resources, events and actions that users can take to protect and promote human rights. It is a free service designed to serve, connect and mobilise individuals, groups and organisations working to protect and promote human rights worldwide. WITNESS also offers training, support and resources, plus RSS feeds and a large and growing archive. In English, French and Spanish. The Hub also has a toolkit ( section that features video animations about how to incorporate video into your campaign work and best practice when filming and distributing your video.


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time limit: File Size limit: Videos Embeddable: Mobile Phone uploads: non-Flash Video Formats: Videos Downloadable: Open content licensing: rSS 2.0 with Enclosures: rSS 2.0 Search Feeds: region and/or Issue Based:

no 100MB yes yes no yes yes coming soon yes yes (Global, Human Rights) ( contains thousands of digital movies which range from classic full-length films, to daily alternative news broadcasts, to videos of every genre uploaded by Archive. org users. All of these movies are available for download, often in very high resolution, and are freely licensed, so it’s also a great place to find footage for use in production. doesn’t focus specifically on social change issues but it is a key space used by many advocates and free culture enthusiasts. time limit: no File Size limit: none Videos Embeddable: no Mobile Phone uploads: no non-Flash Video Formats: yes Videos Downloadable: yes Open content licensing: yes, Creative Commons or Public Domain rSS 2.0 with Enclosures: no rSS 2.0 Search Feeds: no region and/or Issue Based: no

EngageMedia ( is a non-profit collective providing media tools to activists, campaigners, communities and citizen journalists. You can upload and view videos about social justice and environmental issues. Their primary focus is on the Asia-Pacific region, but video from other places is also welcome. EngageMedia aims to create an online archive of independent video productions using open content licenses and to form a peer network of video makers, educators and screening organisations. Materials are mostly in English, with some in Asian languages. time limit: no File Size limit: 300MB


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publish video online
Videos Embeddable: Mobile Phone uploads: non-Flash Video Formats: Videos Downloadable: Open content licensing: rSS 2.0 with Enclosures: rSS 2.0 Search Feeds: region and/or Issue Based:

yes no yes yes yes yes yes, no enclosures yes (Asia-Pacific, Social Justice and Environment)

Estudio livre

Estudio Livre ( is a collaborative environment focussed on the production and distribution of media created independently with free software. Estudio Livre allows any user to create a live audio or video streaming channel. time limit: no File Size limit: 200MB Videos Embeddable: no Mobile Phone uploads: no non-Flash Video Formats: yes Videos Downloadable: yes Open content licensing: yes rSS 2.0 with Enclosures: yes, see: el-gallery_rss.php?ver=2&type=Video rSS 2.0 Search Feeds: yes region and/or Issue Based: yes (Brazil, Activism and Free Software) commercial or non-commercial: non-commercial

Politube ( is a video and audio sharing website that distributes media from independent media outlets and activists on politics, society and the environment. In English. time limit: no File Size limit: 200MB Videos Embeddable: yes Mobile Phone uploads: no non-Flash Video Formats: yes Videos Downloadable: yes Open content licensing: yes rSS 2.0 with Enclosures: yes rSS 2.0 Search Feeds: no region and/or Issue Based: yes (World Politics)


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World social forum tV

World Social Forum TV ( offers hosting for material relevant to global social movements. time limit: no File Size limit: 150-200mb Videos Embeddable: yes Mobile Phone uploads: no non-Flash Video Formats: yes Videos Downloadable: yes Open content licensing: yes rSS 2.0 with Enclosures: yes rSS 2.0 Search Feeds: yes, no enclosures region and/or Issue Based: yes (social movements) Other video-related sites
o transmission ( – International Network o clearer channel ( – an

of Social Justice Online Video Projects

o o o o o


online video project which encourages viewers to download and transmit video for social change. IMc Video – International independent media ( –( Artistic, experimental site from India, content documenting people’s lives. In English. People’s media chamsesang – South Korea ( v2v – A video syndication network of independent media from Germany ( Oneworld tV – A public platform for filmmakers, video journalists, NGOs and others interested in showcasing video content focussed on human rights and social change: dotSuB – – a site which allows users to translate your videos in different languages using subtitles.

Preparing video for the internet Once you’ve finished editing your video you’ll need to compress it, or reduce its file size, and encode it into a format that is viewable online. Files from your editing application are far too large to transport on to the internet or to be placed on a DVD. It is necessary to compress these video files to make them smaller so they can easily be uploaded and downloaded. Video files originating from mobile phones or digital stills cameras


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offline distribution
will be much smaller than video files from a DV camcorder, but for certain camera settings you may still need to compress the footage for distribution online. On the Message in-a-Box website under Video we look at applications you can use to prepare your video for online distribution, specifically Avidemux for Windows and Linux and iSquint for Mac. You can also do simple exports to the internet using Windows Movie Maker or iMovie. Features to look for in these applications include ‘batch encoding’ so you can line up many files to encode at once, with settings you can save and re-use. The more support for various codecs and formats you are able to offer users, by encoding your video in different versions, the better. There is a resource containing guides for encoding at http:// Compression is always a compromise between the size of the file and the quality of the video. High quality = large file and vice versa. How you compress your video is really a question of who your audience is, how you intend them to watch it and what you hope they might do with it. If your audiences have good internet connections, you might choose to make a large, high-quality version available for download. If your audiences have more limited net access, you should probably consider making a lower-quality version that is easier to download or stream. If you have multiple audiences, consider a variety of types of delivery; this will entail compressing your video in different ways: a large version for screenings, a Flash version for distributing online, another version for distribution as a DVD etc. OFFlInE DIStrIButIOn Television, DVDs, VCDs, screenings and passing files face-to-face are all important distribution mechanisms you may consider. While there might be a lot of hype these days around online video distribution, offline methods remain extremely effective and should not be underestimated. The vast majority of the world’s population doesn’t have internet access, and only a small minority have access to the broadband connections required for publishing and receiving video online. This section will take you briefly through creating DVDs and VCDs, putting on community screenings and ways in which you can combine online and offline distribution to reach the right audience. DVD & VCD distribution DVD stands for Digital Versatile Disc. DVDs can be burned in many different formats and used to store any kind of data. They can have a single layer of information burned on one side of the disc (single-layer),


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two layers of information on one side (dual-layer) or have information on both sides (double-sided). Each layer or side can contain up to 4.7 Gigabytes of video or other data. DVD-Video discs contain video encoded in the MPEG2 format. DVD-Video discs are designed to play back in hardware DVD players or using DVD playback software on computers with DVD drives installed. The video is compiled along with graphics and sound for interactive menus into the DVD-Video format during the DVD authoring process. VCD stands for Video Compact Disc and is basically a CD containing up to 74 minutes of video, in a format both hardware VCD players and most DVD players can play back. The video on a VCD is encoded as a standardised form of MPEG1, an older video compression format that requires less computing power to play back than many of the newer and more sophisticated codecs that are available. In terms of image quality, MPEG1-VCD is comparable to viewing a VHS video tape.
DVD & VcD - advantages & disadvantages

The advantages of distributing your video on DVD over VCD are: o Quality – DVD uses a more sophisticated and better compression standard and can also hold a lot more data than VCD. o Interactivity – the ability to create complex menus, subtitles and simultaneous video streams for additional camera-angles etc. o Familiarity – audiences in some parts of the world are much more at ease with DVD technology.
o cost – blank CDs are less expensive than blank DVDs. o Distribution – as CDs are an older technology, many more people o Ease of copying – many more people have access to a CD burner

The advantages of distributing your video on VCD over DVD are:

have CD players installed in their computers than have DVD players.

than a DVD burner and can therefore copy your movie for others themselves. o DVD player compatibility – the majority of hardware DVD players will play back VCDs and in many areas of the world VCD players and the VCD format in general are so popular that they are more widely available than DVDs.
o Submit your video to existing compilations. The producers of the

There are various options for distributing your video on DVD or VCD: compilation will look after distribution for you, though you can ar-


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offline distribution
range to be responsible for distributing copies in your own area. self, if you have a DVD or CD burner in your computer

o For small numbers of copies you can duplicate DVDs or VCDs youro If you anticipate distributing a larger number of discs, you can make

a single master disc and have it professionally duplicated. Prices are continually dropping for duplication. o You can then choose to either set up an ordering system yourself (online or through the post), or pass the discs on to a mail-order company that may have their own online credit-card ordering facility to take the trouble of filling orders and delivering them off your hands. Making a DVD o Decide what content you wish to include on the DVD; video segments may include the programme itself and additional video such as a trailer or extra footage, while in the menus you can also include texts about the video and the issues concerned, links to further information, production stills, logos and some audio loops for background music. o One of the advantages of the DVD format is that you can include sub-titles for different languages, or original-language subtitles can be activated for the hearing-impaired; prepare translations if you have the time and resources. o Work with a graphic designer to create images for menu backgrounds and buttons, or create them yourself. o Import your video into your DVD authoring application. Some applications will let you import the DV file you have exported from an editing program as it will be transcoded within the application itself, while others will expect you to have encoded the video as MPEG2 that conforms to DVD specifications. o Arrange your content within intuitively designed menus that will be easy for users to navigate. o Create the DVD master using your authoring application and test it on a DVD player to make sure it works correctly, including all the menu buttons. o Make sure you author your DVD as region-free (known as Region 0), enabling the disc to be played on DVD players sold in different regions of the world. You will still have to choose to author the DVD as either PAl or ntSc depending on where in the world you are going to distribute the discs. o Copy this master using a DVD burner and a DVD burning application, or take it along with graphics for the disc and jacket to a professional duplication company for bulk copies to be made.


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Making a VCD o Export your video segments as MPEG1 using the MPEG1 VCD settings for either PAL or NTSC, depending on which territories you will be distributing the disc in. o Import your MPEG1 video files (in the .mpg format) to your VCD authoring or CD burning application. Many CD burning applications will allow you to author a VCD as one of their options. o Choose to burn your CD in the VCD 2.0 format. Each video file you import will create a separate chapter on the disc that can be skipped forward or backward to using the DVD player remote control or media player software on computer. o Burn your VCD and test on software media players and on your hardware DVD player.

There are some tools in the realm of Free and Open Source software for creating DVDs and VCDs. These are adequate but not brilliant. If you want to make a professional quality DVD with advanced menus and graphics we suggest you look at proprietary software such as: o DVD Studio Pro – for Mac o Adobe Encore – Windows If you can’t get these tools, or have more modest requirements, you might find these useful: o Windows – o linux – o Mac – ScrEEnIngS Screenings can be a great campaigning tool. Because they bring people together they can be used to get people to take action. You can also use screenings to raise money for your cause and to sell copies of your video.
Advance planning
o Deciding on your aims and objectives first will help with planning the

rest of the event. Do you want to increase public awareness? To raise funds for your organisation? To mobilise old and new supporters? o Decide on a good name for the event and write a one-paragraph description, including information about the film, and what else (if anything) will be happening on the night. o Consider who your audience will be: the general public or a specific community?


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o Decide what kinds of videos and issues you will be presenting besides

o o

o o


your own, and whether there will be other entertainment (music, poetry, dance, etc.), or speakers. Establish a contact person and phone number for each group involved in the show. Decide who will get any money that is raised through ticket sales or donations. Is this a ‘benefit’ for a particular group? Many venues will take a proportion of the ticket receipts. Tell people what you plan to do with any money you raise. Line up your participants, groups and videos and establish a minimum of commitment from everyone involved. Choose a Host/ess or Master/Mistress of Ceremonies (MC) to introduce the film (and any other parts of the show). You want someone confident, informed and outgoing, who can make a real impression on the audience. What can s/he ask people to support or do after they leave your show? Are there other relevant events to announce at this show? Get flyers and fact sheets for coming events and related issues to hand out to people as they come in, to pass around during the MC’s intros, or to have available at a literature and merchandise table, where you can also sell or give away copies of the film(s) you are screening.

Venues & schedules

Check what is available at potential venues in terms of: o Video and audio technology – what is already there, what do you need to bring? o Technical assistance, in case things go wrong on the night o Seating for the audience, visibility of the screen and stage o Provision of refreshments – does the venue do this? o Times of opening and closing, what time the screening should take place o Any charges for use of the venue or resources o Whether the location is easily accessible for your desired audience
Other considerations

It may take months to get a slot and to be included on the venue’s calendar, advertising, website and other outreach. If that’s not so important to you (although good advertising greatly improves attendance), maybe you can negotiate to put a show on sooner, on an off-night when a cinema, community centre or club has nothing else scheduled. Find out the deadline by which the venue will need the final description of the show for use in their calendar, publicity etc. Include at least one compelling graphic (often a still image from the video).


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Consider serving refreshments if none are going to be available at the venue. Make contact with a local and supportive caterer: this can be another way to raise money, if you charge for drinks or snacks. Discuss how any arrangement will work, financially and logistically.
Publicising the screening

Design a flyer, using a description and graphic as a minimum. See the guide to creating a new file, under Scribus in the Print section of the Message in-a-Box website, for information on how to do this. Be sure to include the admission price, if you have one, or a suggested donation. Write a Press Release explaining the ‘who, what, where, when and why’ of the show, and suggesting how your screening is connected with political actions or events, thus helping the media to find an ‘angle’ for coverage. Send the press release plus flyer to your local media. Some other tips for publicising your screening: o Circulate internet and e-mail postings. o Borrow and build an e-mail list of interested people and organisations. You can surf the internet for local organisations to send information to. o Postal mailings may be more expensive than they are worth unless you have some cash, or there is no alternative. o Make invitations to allied groups who might want to share their publications at the event. Find out if they need a table or space made available for them, after making sure that this is feasible in this venue. o Post flyers at local media and arts centres and also with local organisations and NGOs that would support the event.
Planning your screening
o Watch all videos and plan the order you’ll show them in. o Check for any audio or video problems, make sure you will have the o Write notes for the host, including a list of speakers, who produced

right technology to play all the media you will bring.

the videos, action points, other events to flag, and anything else that might help capture the audience’s imagination or support. o Decide on final timings, allowing for a short break between the parts of the show for people to relax. o Make a Sign-Up Sheet so your audience can get information in the future. Be sure to ask for Name, Phone Number and Email or postal address. o Confirm times and responsibilities with all the people involved in the screening. Who runs the projector? Who collects any money? Give them the basic schedule of the night and ask them to turn up at least


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2 hours before the show to help set up (depending on how much they are involved). Determine who will stay after the show to help clean up and gather your materials. Call/text your friends, activists, everyone you know to remind them about the show. This works. Make a follow-up call to your local media contact. Set up at least two hours before the show: check that all video and audio equipment is set up and working, cue any tapes/DVDs/Files. You are responsible for the show. That means you need to stick around to help clean up cups and papers and other trash left on the floor, that you make sure you get the money from whoever was taking it at the door, and that any chairs and tables are left in order. Have fun, that’s half the reason to do another one!

o o o o o


HyBrID DIStrIButIOn Publishing videos on-line is a great way to make content available to the whole world. But sometimes you can’t rely on internet access: poor connectivity, lack of local internet providers and censored network connections are common obstacles. When that is the case, there are some alternatives. Distributing digital files is not only about using the internet. Portable digital storage devices such as CDs, DVDs, USB memory sticks, memory cards and even mobile phones allow content to be saved and then circulated physically from person to person. Other options include public screenings (discussed above), the use of low-power TV transmitters or the creation of distribution points with burn stations (computers configured so that anyone can make copies of digital content). This section explains how you can download videos that have been published on online video websites and convert them to formats for distribution offline, as well as providing links to sites explaining more advanced methods of hybrid distribution. USB memory sticks, memory cards & mobile phones USB memory sticks are very effective portable media storage devices that are becoming increasingly cheap. Memory cards can be found inside digital cameras, mobile phones and other equipment. They can be accessed by dedicated memory card readers or by connecting the camera to the computer with a USB cable. Usually, USB memory sticks, memory cards and some mobile phones are recognised by any operating system as removable devices and can be used like any other media: drag files to the appropriate folder in your computer, eject the device and you are ready to go. Your content can be brought or sent virtually anywhere in the world.


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Some mobile phones offer also Bluetooth wireless connectivity: you can transfer files to and from an enabled computer, or directly between mobile phones. Local video distribution: burn stations A ‘Burn Station’ is a computer configured to record selected digital content to CDs, DVDs or other digital media. They can be used as distribution points for digital content. Some projects offer users a dedicated interface for browsing, selecting and saving or burning files, but you can accomplish basically the same results on any PC which holds your data files and has a CD or DVD burner. Such a station means individuals don’t need to have their own high-bandwidth internet connections in order to access new video content. Files can be loaded onto the burn station by hand from other computers, DVDs or USB memory sticks, or if you have a fast net connection, downloaded for redistribution. o o o Micro TV transmitters Low-power video transmitters can be a good way to mobilise a local community and offer an alternative to mainstream TV channels by showing citizen media. One successful initiative is the Telestreet movement in Italy. Assembling a TV transmitter requires a little bit of technical know-how. Depending on where you are, there might be legal issues as well. o How to create a Micro TV transmitter: o How to Build the Simplest TV transmitter:
references (Online /Offline video site) (How to create a VCD or SVCD) (Burning VCDs with Linux) Video syndication Video Syndication is a great way to share and find content. Some internet TV shows have managed to use these technologies to reach massive audiences. Syndicating your videos will help you to distribute your video widely, to reach your target audience reliably, and to present your videos in a high-quality manner. The key to syndication is having a media RSS


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feed, which is basically an up-to-date list of all of your latest videos. These feeds are also often referred to as video podcasts, or vodcasts. Viewers who subscribe to your RSS feed will receive your latest videos as soon as you upload them; it’s like TV over the internet. Search engines and websites love RSS feeds, because they’re in a standard computer language. The simplest way to get an RSS feed is to sign up to a site that produces RSS feeds for you, or to start a video blog.
rSS for viewers

Individuals can subscribe to your RSS feed using an internet TV application, like Miro. When a user has subscribed to your feed, you know they’re always getting your latest videos.
rSS for your websites

RSS is also important for getting your feed published in aggregation sites, guides and search engines. If you have described your videos well, using accurate key words, people will be able to find them when searching for something on that subject. When other people publish video with RSS, you can subscribe to feeds of their videos, selecting by author or by search terms, and pull their videos in to your website automatically.
How do I get my rSS?

Many video publishing services have an RSS feed associated with your username. Make Internet TV has a tool for finding your RSS feed ( If you’re not using one of these services, you can check the FAQ section of your video host.
Further resources
o Video Blogging with WordPress (see Message in-a-box website o Video Podcasting with Miro (see Message in-a-box website under

under Video)

Video > Tools for playing video)

Create an online home If you’re using an online service to host your videos you might want to consider setting up a blog or website where you can compile them all. This will help people find your work and will also allow you to have more control over the space: you can add your own design, provide the most up-to-date information about your campaign and allow people to connect with you and get involved. This can also help people to find your work through search engines. Look at our guide to setting up a WordPress blog (Message in-abox website under Internet > Begin Blogging) to help get you started.


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Video blogging Video blogging, or vlogging, uses video as a medium for blogging. Video entries are made regularly and often combine internet syndication tools to allow for quick distribution of content over the internet using the RSS or Atom syndication formats. Incorporating video into your blog and distribution strategy with syndication tools can be an good way to combine your regularly updated content online with your videos. For example, if you were able to produce and publish video on a regular basis, you could use it to point your audience towards your primary online presence (your website or blog), and keep them informed and engaged. By doing so, you can ensure viewers will see your video and also be able to see the essential information about your campaign and how to support it. Elsewhere in this toolkit you can find out how to embed video in a WordPress blog (Message in-a-box website under Video > Tools for Publishing Video). You could also look at Showinabox (, a technology for setting up your own video blog. VIDEO BlOggIng cASE StuDIES
rainforest Action network’s greenwash of the week (funny & informative)

Each week, Rainforest Action Network: ( ) produces a video blog highlighting the most disturbing Greenwash tactics from some of the world’s worst corporate polluters:
tibetan uprising (timely & action-focussed)

Tibetan Uprising, a blog with regular videos from Tibetans living in exile in India, provides daily updates about activities ranging from their march to Tibet as part of the Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement before the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, to footage of the violence and crackdown within Tibet. Video plays a regular part in this blog, along with photographs, audio and daily updates and analysis.
Prisoners in Freedom city

From Beijing residents, human rights and blogging activists Hu Jia and Zeng Jinyan, ‘Prisoners in Freedom City’ documents Hu Jia’s time under house arrest, where he was barred from any and all contact with the outside world. Hu Jia was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for ‘inciting subversion of state power’. He has repeatedly campaigned for the rights of people with HIV/AIDS, for religious freedom, and for


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Tibetan autonomy, as well as for the environment, free speech and the release of political prisoners. More information on Hu jia: link to video:
Mizzima news (informative)

Mizzima News was established in August 1998 by a group of Burmese journalists in exile with the aim of spreading awareness about the situation in Burma and promoting democracy and freedom of expression in Burma by improving the flow of information in and out of the country and through advocacy and lobbying. Mizzima incorporates video into its posts on a regular basis, serving as a window through which the international community can peer into news-starved Burma.
Alive in Baghdad

Alive in Baghdad provides a weekly video for global citizens interested in the real life political, military, economic and social situation in Iraq. Iraqi journalists produce video packages each week about a variety of topics on daily life in Iraq, bringing testimonies from individual Iraqis, footage of daily life in Iraq, and short news segments. Finding & playing video Now that you’ve put your content out and told people about it they need to be able to find it and play it. In some cases this might simply be a matter of watching it embedded in your website, but they could also subscribe to your video podcast feed or use free software like Vlc to play the videos they’ve downloaded. Elsewhere in this toolkit you can find out how to subscribe to video podcasts using Miro. See the Message in-a-Box website under Video > Tools for playing video for more about Vlc & Miro. There are millions of videos online and thousands more added each day. How do people find what they are looking for or content that might interest them? Luckily this is a well-known problem so quite a bit of work has been done to make this easier. The resources below will help you find footage to use in your own film, to aggregate videos from a variety of sources and to build up a broader picture of the issues you’re campaigning on.
Aggregating video

The Miro Player is a great way to subscribe to video feeds and to search channels for content. Because Miro is an aggregator it can bring together videos from a range of different sites all in one place. Miro also


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allows you to search for videos on popular sites by author, title, keyword etc, and to download them. If people publishing their video have added enough information to describe their video accurately you should be able to find them. You can also visit and search the big centralised video hosts like YouTube ( and Google Video (http://video. for films referring to your area of interest. You should visit the various non-profit video publishers (see p. 158), where you can find an interesting range of material. The new generation of video sharing sites do not oblige you to visit each of them in turn. Most video sites now will have an RSS feed of the content they produce which you can aggregate in Miro or subscribe to in an RSS reader such as Google Reader, Sage, Bloglines, etc. For more on how to use Miro to subscribe to feeds see the Miro Guide on the Message in-a-Box website under Video > Tools for playing video. You can also use ‘Video Feed Aggregators’, sites that pull together the most interesting videos from across the net, allowing you to search for material from a range of video publishing sites, then ‘aggregate’ them in one place, in your internet browser. Websites like http://transmission. cc and attract a range of critical media feeds, and search among all the content they discover across the net to display results according to your searches. If you have a website of your own, you can use it to display other people’s videos about the issue that you campaign on, or feeds specific to your region. You can use content management software like Drupal or Planet to set up your own version of this free software tool, and aggregate or moderate video feeds to display a channel of videos that touch upon your own area of work and interest. If you are interested in using Drupal, look at: project/emfield Links
o Make internet tV – Make Internet TV is a step-by-step guide

for creating and publishing video on the internet. The site covers shooting, editing, licensing, compressing, uploading and promoting video on the internet; it illustrates these topics with screenshots, photos, screencasts, graphics, text and more.

o Witness – Witness works with with people who defend human rights,

training them to use video for documentation and to create change.


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over to you...
The website hosts news about campaigns, invites involvement by means of support and volunteering and contains valuable training material and resources on using video for advocacy. Its sub-project The Hub: showcases human rights videos and campaigns from around the world. o EngageMedia – EngageMedia is a video sharing site distributing works about social justice and environmental issues in South East Asia, Australia and the Pacific. It’s a space for you to upload and find critical documentary, fiction, artistic and experimental works.

o transmission – Transmission is a network of citizen journalists, vid-

eo makers, artists, researchers, programmers and internet producers who are developing online video distribution tools for social justice and media democracy. Their objective is to make independent online video distribution possible (using FlOSS) by building the necessary tools, standards, documentation and social networks.

is an informal association of activists and politically conscious artists using video to support social, economic and environmental justice campaigns. The website is a collection of showcased videos, events like screenings, useful tutorials, how-to guides and other materials on video activism, including links to other video activism resources on the internet. o Floss Manuals – FlOSS Manuals is a site providing free manuals about free software. The manuals are intended to introduce you to software that you might find useful, software that is made available under licences that allow you to download and use them for free. Much of this software is extremely sophisticated but the basics are usually quite easy to grasp. o Streaming Suitcase – The Streaming Suitcase is a resource for those wanting to learn to stream. The material is all licensed under Creative Commons and is free to download and distribute. The manuals are all available online, and can be downloaded in PDF files, or in a printfriendly format. The manuals will also be updated periodically so check them for updates. You are also welcome to include the manuals page within a frameset in your own webpage.

o the Video Activist network – The Video Activist Network (VAN)

o linux multimedia resources – is a collection of

links to various Linux resources available on the internet. The links are arranged under a long list of categories. The multimedia resource page has quite a comprehensive list of links to multimedia software


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projects. The site also has links to various other general Linux resources like tutorials and documentation.

o linux in Film – Linux in Film is a Wikibooks project that lists links

to useful tools and resources for video production, from Storyboarding and Budgeting through to Authoring, for various media like the internet, VCD and DVD. It also has a lot of interesting links to professional filmmakers who use Linux for production, to other Linux multimedia resources and more. o dyne:bolic – dyne:bolic is a practical multimedia production tool for media activists, artists and creative people. It will help you manipulate and broadcast both sound & video and find tools to record, edit, encode and stream. Most devices and peripherals are automatically recognised: audio, video, TV, network cards, Firewire, USB and more; and all using only free software.

OVEr tO yOu... Tactical Tech believes that people need access to accurate, easily understood information in order to be able to act on issues that affect their lives, and to increase the transparency and accountability of powerful entities such as governments, corporations and public institutions. We hope that Message in-a-box has inspired you! The tools provided in this toolkit have been selected and tested by technologists and rights advocates with the aim of supporting you to move through the process of planning, creating and distributing media for rights campaigning. We encourage you to use the toolkit, re-mix it, translate it and re-print it locally as required. We request that you please respect our Creative Commons License by acknowledging us and we ask that you send us a copy of any translation or derivative works that you create so we can share this with others. Feedback is very important to Tactical Tech. Only with your input can we improve our existing toolkits, develop new ones and provide other support services that meet your needs. Please complete a short online feedback form for this toolkit once you have looked at parts of it or used it: evaluation Please send us any other feedback and stories about how you’ve used the materials in this book by emailing us at, and be sure to visit the website for updates at http://messageinabox.


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Glossary Software highlighted in Message in-a-box, that is included on the DVD and website, is listed in the Introduction (p.x). Parts of some of the following definitions have been drawn from Wikipedia (http://wikipedia. org/) – ‘the free encyclopaedia that anyone can edit’.
actuality: recordings of background sounds specific to, or characteristic of, a particular mood, time or place, that can be edited into an audio

or video piece; for example, crowd noise if you are covering a rally or birdsong if you are making a piece set in a natural environment.

analogue (sound, recording equipment, playback equipment, photos, broadcasts etc.): the name give to the technology for recording sound and images that preceded digital technology (and

continues to be used) and to the recordings themselves; for example, reel-to-reel tape machines, vinyl LP records, cameras that use film to capture images, and the photos made from that film. These machines work by analogy: they copy the shape of the sound waves or areas of light, dark and colour that the user wants to reproduce on to a medium such as magnetic tape or film, and play back from the same medium or from another on which the analogue information has been directly imprinted, such as vinyl or photographic paper. Analogue telecommunications include traditional telephony, and (analogue) radio or television broadcasts. audio: a technical (or jargon) word for sound, especially recorded and transmitted sound. authoring (VCDs or DVDs): preparing a video or series of videos to be put onto a CD or DVD disc that will play in a VCD or DVD player. The process often includes adding menus and other graphics. Bandwidth: in computer science, the channel capacity or maximum throughput of a logical or physical communication path in a digital communication system. Briefing paper: a document supplying pertinent information about and analysis of a particular subject, sometimes with policy recommendations. Broadcast: the word originates in farming, where it describes what the farmer does when s/he throws handfuls of seed grain onto the soil in a wide sweeping movement. A radio or television broadcast is a program that is transmitted over the airwaves and is therefore available to anyone within range who has a TV or radio tuned to the right frequency. ‘To broadcast’ is sometimes informally used to refer to the dissemination of radio and television or similar material via the internet; this is more properly called streaming.


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Burning (CDs, VCDs or DVDs): the process of writing files or video files Closed captions: were developed to display text on a television or vid-

onto a VCD or DVD. This requires a CD or DVD writer.

eo screen, providing additional or interpretive information to viewers who wish to access it. Closed captions typically display a transcription of the audio portion of a program as it occurs (either verbatim or in edited form), sometimes including non-speech elements. The term ‘closed’ refers to the fact that only those who choose to decode or activate the captions will see them. Codec: any technology for compressing and decompressing data. Some popular codecs for computer video include MPEG, Indeo and Cinepak. Communiqué: a short document, summarising a number of issues, or a consensus or position, often in connection with a meeting or conference. A communiqué is written in a rather more formal style than a press release, and its intended audience is interested parties as well as the public. Compression: a way to reduce the size of audio or video data files. Compression algorithms are typically referred to as audio/video codecs, and as with other specific forms of data compression, there are many different algorithms which achieve the compression effect in slightly different ways. Content: a neologism used by people in the media to describe the finished works which they present, which may be audio recordings, videos, images, texts, works of art, advertising, or any other material which fills their publishing, broadcasts or streaming. Content Management systems (CMs): a computer software system for organising and facilitating the collaborative creation of documents and other content. DaT recorder: digital audio tape recorder. A digital sound recording device which gives a better sound quality than most MiniDisc recorders.
Digital (sound, recording equipment, playback equipment, photos, streaming etc.): technology which uses a binary code made up

of the digits 1 and 0 to preserve and manipulate data (sound, images, text, programs etc.). When you digitally record audio and video, the sounds and images are analysed and broken down into very small pieces of information about frequency and amplitude, colour and movement, which are then expressed as binary numbers and can later be decoded and replayed digitally. All information held in computers is digital, including sounds converted from analogue to digital format, stored audio, and transmitted audio. Digital audio player (DaP): a device that stores, organises and plays


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digital music (or other audio) files. It is more commonly referred to as an MP3 player (because of the ubiquity of the MP3 format), but DAPs may play many additional file formats. See also portable media player. Directional, of a microphone: sensitive to sounds coming from one

direction only. Microphones have varying response patterns, from extremely directional through cardioid (a heart-shaped response) and figure of eight (responding only to sounds coming from two opposite sides, useful for dialogue and interviews between two participants) to omnidirectional microphones, which pick up sound coming from all sides. Ergonomics: the science of designing the job, equipment, and workplace to fit the worker. Proper ergonomic design is necessary to prevent repetitive strain injuries, which can develop over time and can lead to long-term disability. Feed: a data format which provides users (feeds them) with frequently updated content. Content distributors syndicate a web feed, thereby allowing users to subscribe to it. Making a collection of web feeds accessible in one spot is known as aggregation. A web feed is also sometimes referred to as a syndicated feed. See rss. Flash: Adobe Flash is a multimedia software platform developed and distributed by Adobe Systems. Since its introduction in 1996, Flash has become a popular way to create animation, advertisements, and various web page components, to integrate video into web pages, and, more recently, to develop rich internet applications. Flash mob: a large group of people, convened via social media or viral emails, who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual action for a brief time, then quickly disperse. While flash mobs began as apolitical actions, they may share characteristics with political demonstrations. Floss: Free/Libre/Open Source Software is software which is liberally licensed to grant the right of users to study, change, and improve its design because the source code is available. Format: 1) A type of publication or audio/video programme; for example, a book, leaflet, large magazine or small magazine; a chat-show, phone-in, interview or documentary. 2) formatting: the technical specifications which give a publication its overall look: typefaces, paragraph style, spacing, colours, types and frequency of headings. 3) Different technical means of capturing and storing information (analogue, digital, MP3, WAV, AIFF etc.); different technical means of distributing or sharing information (DVDS, CDs and USB memory sticks, for example).


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Freeware: from ‘free’ and ‘software’, is computer software that is avail-

able for use at no cost or for an optional fee. Freeware is generally proprietary software available at zero price, and is not necessarily open source. The author usually restricts one or more right/s to copy, distribute, and make derivative versions of the software. Freeware is also different from shareware, which obliges the user to pay after a trial period, or to gain additional functions. GIF (Graphics Interchange Format): an image format that is widely used on the internet. It supports animation and allows a separate palette of 256 colours for each frame. The GIF format is unsuitable for reproducing colour photographs and other images with continuous colour, but it is well-suited for simpler images such as graphics or logos with solid areas of colour. Hard disc recorder: a stand-alone or computer hard-drive and program used to record, store and edit sounds. Any computer with some memory capacity can be used to manipulate sound – for recording sounds from external sources a sound-card interface may be needed. HTMl: stands for Hypertext Mark-up Language, which is the predominant mark-up language for creating web pages. It provides a means of describing the structure of text-based information in a document by denoting text as links, headings, paragraphs, lists, etc, and allows the user to supplement that text with interactive forms, embedded images, and other objects. Internet service Provider (IsP): a company that offers its customers access to the Internet, website hosting and related services. layout (n), to lay out (v): a stage in the process of preparing a publication for printing, during which one places the elements of the publication (photos, text, headings, captions, cartoons etc.) on the pages, making decisions about how things will look. This can be done manually or with a computer, and usually happens in several stages, with changes being made at each stage. line breaks: in word processing, a code that signifies the end of each line of text. When word processing documents are saved as ASCII text files, some word processors insert a hard return at the end of each line of text. If the text file is opened up in a word processor or text editor with different margins from those on the original document, the text will not flow like the original. Metadata: in data processing, metadata provides information about, or documentation of, other data managed within an application or environment. This information commonly defines the primary data, and may include descriptions of its context, quality, condition or characteristics.


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MiniDisc(MD): a magneto-optical device initially intended for recording

and storing up to 74 minutes of digitalised sound on a small disc. MiniDisc recorders and readers can also be used for general-purpose storage of data. Microphone: an acoustic-to-electric device that converts sound wave pressures into a varied electrical signal. Microphones are used to bring voices, music and other sounds into analogue and/or digital recording devices in live and studio sound engineering, and in radio and television broadcasting. They are also used for telephony. See directional. Neutral balance: in photography and image processing, colour balance is the adjustment of the intensities of the different colours. An important goal of this adjustment is to render accurate colour reproduction in the prevailing lighting conditions; the method is called grey balance, neutral balance, or white balance. Video cameras may have a setting which allows the colour balance to be altered while aiming the camera at something white or neutral grey. NTsC: (National Television System Committee) is the analogue television system that was used in most of the Americas, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Burma, and some Pacific island nations and territories. After over a half-century of use, the vast majority of over-the-airwaves NTSC transmissions in the United States were replaced with ATSC on June 12, 2009 and will be by August 31, 2011 in Canada. omnidirectional: see directional. open source software (oss): computer software for which the source code, and certain other rights normally reserved for copyright holders, are provided under a software license that is in the public domain. This permits users to use, change, and improve the software, and to redistribute it in modified or unmodified forms. oral history: the recording, preservation and interpretation of historical information, based on the relation of personal experiences and opinions by someone who lived through the times in question. It often takes the form of eye-witness accounts of past events, but can include folklore, myths, songs and stories passed down over the years by word of mouth. While it is an invaluable way of preserving the knowledge and understanding of older people, it can also involve interviewing younger generations. More recently, the use of video recording techniques has expanded the realm of oral history beyond verbal forms of communication and into the realm of gesture. Pal : short for Phase Alternating Line, an analogue television encoding system used in broadcast television systems in large parts of the


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world, excluding North America. Other common analogue television systems are SECAM and NTsC. Panning: (from ‘panorama’) a horizontal camera movement in which the camera pivots around a motionless vertical axis, similar to the effect obtained by standing still and turning one’s head. See tracking and zooming. PDF files: Portable Document Format is a file format created by Adobe Systems for document exchange. PDF is used for representing twodimensional documents such as books or magazine pages, reports, etc. in a manner independent of the application software, hardware, and operating system. Each PDF file contains a complete description of a fixed-layout (unchangeable by the recipient) document. Formerly a proprietary format, PDF was officially released as an open standard on July 1, 2008. Performance art: art in which the actions of an individual or a group at a particular place and in a particular time constitute the work. It can happen anywhere, at any time, or for any length of time. Performance art can be any situation that involves four basic elements: time, space, the performer and a relationship between performer and audience. Pixels: In digital imaging, a pixel (or picture element) is the smallest item of information in an image. Pixels are normally arranged in a 2-dimensional grid, and are often represented using dots, squares, or rectangles. Each pixel is a sample of an original image, and the more samples there are, the more accurately the image represents the original. Podcasting: distributing audio and video files over the internet using either the rss or Atom syndication formats, which allow the files to be downloaded and played back at the user’s leisure on a mobile device or computer. Podcasting with video files is sometimes called vodcasting. Portable media player (PMP): an independent digital electronic device that is capable of storing and playing audio or video files in one or more media formats. See digital audio player (DaP). rss or really simple syndication: family of Web feed formats used to syndicate digital content, such as blogs and podcasts. Syndication means that anyone can subscribe to the RSS feed from a particular site, and receive automatic notification when it has been updated; they don’t have to visit a website to know that it has new content. rss reader: RSS feeds can be read using software called RSS readers, which can be web-based, desktop-based, or mobile-device-based. The user subscribes to a feed by entering into the reader the feed’s URI or by clicking an RSS icon in a browser that initiates the subscription


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process. The RSS reader checks the user’s subscribed feeds regularly for new work, downloads any updates that it finds, and provides a user interface to monitor and read the feeds. sIM card: A Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) on a removable SIM Card securely stores the service-subscriber key (IMSI) used to identify a subscriber on mobile telephony devices (such as computers and mobile phones). The SIM card contains its unique serial number, international unique number of the mobile user (IMSI), security authentication and ciphering information, temporary information related to the local network, a list of the services the user has access to and two passwords (regular PIN and unblocking PUK). social network sites: websites focussing on building online communities of people who share interests and/or activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others. Users interact in a variety of ways, such as e-mail and instant messaging services. Tracking: a camera shot during which the camera moves forward, backward, along the side of the subject, or on a curve. Dollies with hydraulic arms can also smoothly ‘boom’ or ‘jib’ the camera on a vertical axis. Tracking shots, however, cannot include complex pivoting movements, aerial shots or crane shots. See panning and zooming. Universal serial Bus (UsB) cable: in information technology, a cable to connect devices to a host computer. USB was designed to allow many peripherals to be connected using a single standardised interface socket. USB can connect computer peripherals such as mice, keyboards, PDAs, gamepads and joysticks, scanners, digital cameras, printers, personal media players, memory sticks, and external hard drives. Url: in computing, a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is a type of Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) that specifies where online an identified resource is available and the mechanism for retrieving it. In popular language, a URL is also referred to as a Web address. Vodcasting: see podcasting. Voice-over: refers to a film and video effect in which a voice addresses the audience alongside an image which does not contain the speaker. The voice-over may be spoken by someone who also appears onscreen in other segments or it may be performed by a specialist voice actor. Voice-over is also commonly referred to as ‘off camera’ commentary. An authoritative-sounding voice-over which explains and interprets the images for the viewer is called a ‘voice of god voice-over’. Vox pops: vox populi, a Latin phrase that literally means voice of the people, is a term used in broadcasting to refer to interviewing members of the ‘general public’. Usually the interviewees are shown


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in public places, and supposed to be giving spontaneous opinions in a chance encounter, and to be neither rehearsed nor selected in any way. Wireframe: a basic visual guide used in interface design, including website design, to suggest the structure of an interface and relationships between its pages. Typically, wireframes are completed before any artwork is developed. Wireframes allow for the development of variations of a layout to maintain design consistency throughout the site. ‘Zine or fanzine: a small-circulation print publication of original or appropriated texts and images, usually reproduced via photocopier on a variety of coloured paper stock, made by people who are not professional magazine publishers, but want to communicate their passion for the subject. Small circulation zines are often not explicitly copyrighted and there is a strong belief among many zine creators that the material in them should be freely distributed and shared. Zooming: a kind of camera shot, appearing to get closer or farther from the subject while actually re-framing it using a zoom lens or digital zoom. A zoom lens is a mechanical assembly of lens elements with the ability to vary its focal length. Some digital cameras allow cropping and enlarging of a captured image, in order to emulate the effect of an optical zoom lens. This is known as digital zoom and produces an image of lower resolution than optical zoom. See panning and tracking.


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Tactical Technology Collective ( is an international NGO that provides human rights advocates with guides, tools, training and consultancy to help them develop the skills and tactics they need to increase the impact of their campaigning. The following guides and toolkits are available online, or as downloadable files, or they can be posted to not-for-profit organistions in a book/CD format, free of charge.
Mobiles in-a-box: Designed to support campaigners who want to use

mobile technology in their work. English: French: Email:

security in-a-box: Created to meet the digital security and privacy needs of advocates and human rights defenders. English: Available soon in Arabic, Russian, French, Spanish Email: Maps for advocacy: An effective, practical guide to using maps in advocacy campaigns. English: Email: Visualising Information for advocacy: A manual aimed at helping NGOs and advocates strengthen their campaigns and projects through visual communication. English: Available soon in Russian Email: Quick ‘n’ Easy Guide to online advocacy: Aims to expose advocates

to online services that are quick to use and easy to understand. English:

Base NGo in-a-box: A collection of tools for the day-to-day running of small to medium sized NGOs.


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English: Currently being updated and translated into a number of languages Email: Tactical Tech are happy to send copies of any or all of these toolkits and guides to human rights advocates working in marginalised communities. For general enquires email: Website:


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Descriptions and sources for illustrations:
Page 38:Newsletter for Saheli Women’s Resource Centre in India. Page 39: Facts agains Myths. Page 40: Cover of El Varejon Magazine Page 42: I Want to go Home – This website advances the cause of the

San people or Bushmen, the indigenous people of the Kalahari desert: Page 42: Satirical cartoon e-card by Sokwanele about the Zimbabwean elections 2008. Page 45: Photo demonstrating the rule of thirds by Andrea Willmore. Page 49: Working women in India. Page 49: Screenshot of manga style comic book by artist, Gerry Obadiah Salam; writer, Marto Art, for Greenpeace Southeast Asia. end-the-nuclear-age/nuclear-meltdown-comics Page 52: The Education of Girls, by Ms. Koku Katzuni. The story told is about a Maasai girl who wishes to go to school. Her mother persuades her father to support the idea, on condition that the girl’s Maasai traditions are respected and the she not be subjected to a ‘foreign’ culture in school. In the last panel, she is on her way to school with a friend. Page 55: One World, One Dream: Free Tibet. Photo from Indymedia: Page 55: We the Women is a campaign focussed on the issue of women driving in Saudi Arabia. Page 60: Animation for conflict diamonds campaign. Page 61: Homeless awarenessness campaign. Bob Maguire Foundation, Page 62: Posters against child labour. Page 65: Zapatista radio station in Mexico. Photo by Oriana Eliçabe. Source: Page 71: Illustration of log in tabular format. Page 75: Global audio campaign by The December 18 Campaign. Page 76: Political message ring-tone. Karla Vanessa Redor.


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Page 77: Podcasts for farmers.

shack dwellers in Durban South Africa: Page 97: Screenshot of the Oro Sucio blog. Oro Sucio follows the topic of mine exploitation and its political and environmental impact in Argentina. http://www.orosucio.

Page 91: Screenshot of the blog of Abahali baseMjondolo – a grassroots movement of



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