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message in-a-box

tools and tactics for communicating your cause

This booklet offers tactics
for planning, creating and
distributing campaign
content – ranging from
creating audio interviews for
radio, making a three minute
internet video and creating
a comic book to making sure
the right people can find your
The toolkit is designed to
be used by small to medium-
sized NGOs, advocates and
citizen journalists.

ii iii
message in-a-box
mobiles in-a-box
and tactics
communicating your cause
for advocacy




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About Message-in-a-box 1
Credits 1

=?U P

Strategy – Plan For Action!

Think ahead, get results 5
Media relations 12
Guide to Open Content licensing 13

Print – On Paper & Online
Tactical Technology Collective are responsible for the design,
coordination and production of this toolkit. Quick guide to print strategy 17 Select a print format 20
For full writing credits please see the credits section. Budgeting & fund-raising for print 22
Plan your print production 23
This booklet and the accompanying website were designed by
Lynne Stuart and edited by Caroline Kraabel and Libby Davy. Gather your content 24
Printed by Precision Phototype Services, Bangalore, India Editorial policy 25
on 100% recycled paper, November 2008
Map your content 26
For updates visit http:/// Style, layout & design 26
Editing 27
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License Printing & distribution 29 Evaluation 31
Disclaimer: The content of Message in-a-box has been
chosen with the aim of providing NGOs and advocates Images: Photos, Comics, Guerrillas & More
with a selection of tested tools and materials chosen by
practitioners in the field. For full disclaimer information Quick guide to images 39
please see Illustrations & cartoons 40
Tactical Tech’s other toolkits in include: Security in-a-box,
Copyright & other legal issues 40
Mobiles in-a-box and NGO in-a-box Checklist 41
Tactical Tech’s other guides include: Maps for Advocacy,
Sharing images & copyright 43
An Introduction to Geographical Mapping Technniques,
Visualizing Information for Advocacy – An Introduction to Internet, print or both? 44
Information Design (English and Russian), Grassroots comics 45
Quick ‘n Easy Guide to Online Advocacy.
Guerrilla marketing 52
The development of this toolkit is supported by Simple animation 50
Internews Europe.

Audio – Get Heard!
Audio strategy 61
Audio glossary 62
Integrating audio with other content 64
Hardware resources 66
Steps to great audio 69
Audio distribution 75
Podcasts 75
Open audio licensing 78

Internet – Global + Local + Low Cost

Internet strategy 83
Plan your website 89
Hosting & domains 95
Website maintenance 98
Plan your blog 99
Social networking & web 2.0 107
E-mail marketing 111
Creating search-friendly websites with SEO 116

Video – Be Seen, & Heard!

Video strategy 125
Video glossary 136
Pre-production plan 138
Examples 141
Create video 145
Filming 152
Editing 155
Translating video 157
Making advocacy videos without a camera 158
Video safety & security 160
Publish video 164
Publicise your video 186
Finding & playing video 198
Links and resources 190
Over To You ... 193

About Message in-a-box
Do you want to use multimedia, online or off-line tools to advance your
cause creatively and effectively? To reach the right people in the right
way? Do you want to create and distribute audio programmes, comic
books, posters and newsletters? Set up a website or a blog to champion
your cause?
This Message in-a-box guide from the Tactical Technology Col-
lective offers a collection of tactics for small and medium-sized NGOs,
advocates and citizen journalists. We want to help you create and
distribute media content that supports your aims, and to give you a map
with which to explore the constantly evolving world of campaigning and
The tactics booklet works hand-in-hand with the tools we have
chosen and made available on the attached DVD. All material and
software (Tactics & Tools) is available online at http://messageinabox.

This booklet was written by the Tactical Technical Collective with
additional material from the writers and editors below.

Project editing Libby Davy

Copy editing Amy Dalton & Libby Davy
Proofreading Caroline Kraabel
Introduction Shailendra Yashwant
Strategy section Libby Davy (
with input from Heleana Quartey on media relations.
Quick guide to print strategy based on a guide written by Nilanjana
Biswas with additional material by Amy Dalton.
Grassroots comics Based on the book “Grassroots Comics – a
development communication tool” by Leif Packalen
and Sharad Sharma (
Published by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland, May 2007.
Reproduced with the kind permission of the authors.
Quick guide to images Fred Noronha
Audio strategy Jackie Davies, Communication for Development
Audio distribution Felipe Fonseca (
Plan your website This material is based on the eAdvocacy

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Training materials (
cacy/) produced by Aspiration (
in partnership with Radical Designs (
which are used with their kind permission and have been added to and
adapted for this guide. These materials are distributed under a Creative
Commons license: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5.

Plan your blog for activists & campaigners

Sokari Ekine (
E-mail marketing Tim Walker

Internet strategy Dr Dan McQuillan


Video content Written by TTC in collaboration with:

Participatory Culture Foundation / Miro / Make
Internet TV
IFI Watch
FLOSS Manuals
Social Media Centre
Bay Area Indymedia
Material on mobile phone video was written by
Melissa Bliss.

Additional material for the print, images and Internet sections

was written by Libby Davy.

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Plan for action!

Think ahead, get results

This is where we help you create a strategic plan that will guide you
through your communications project.  Before you choose what media,
tools and techniques to use (video, audio, mobile phones, Internet,
print or images), you need to look carefully at WHO you are communi-
cating with and HOW to do this effectively.
People are flooded with information most of the time. You need
good reasons for bringing out yet another communication.

Top tips
Before committing any time or money, think about:
o Goals & evaluation – Where you are going and when you will know
you have arrived?
o Audience – Who do you need to communicate with to get there?
o Key messages – What do you need to say in support of your goals?
o Include your contact information and a call to action on all materials,
including any website links.
o Don’t forget version control & backing up. Are you working on the
right version of the document? Are you saving all work regularly and
backing up? If you are not using computers, make photocopies.
o Choose your tools carefully.
o Build and motivate your team of supporters.
o Evaluate your plans regularly and revise them if necessary.
o Don’t be afraid to experiment; the how-to guides included on the
Message in-a-box website and DVD make this easy.
o Create systems and teams that will sustain your communications over
the longer term for lasting change.
What is a ‘call to action’? You should include a subtle or direct
call to action in the media projects you create. Tell people, in a sensitive
way, what action they can take after reading your brochure or visiting
your website, for example donating, subscribing, joining as a member or
going to a rally. Pitch your approach in a voice that suits your organisa-
tion’s personality. Be careful not to seem to shame or harass people into
taking action. Keep it simple.

Set your goals

If you are going to invest in any communications effort, you need to be
very clear on what you hope to achieve. Your goals might be to:

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o Inform others about a quickly changing political situation Overlapping audiences
o Build grassroots knowledge about an issue or set of issues Groups often overlap. For example a member might also be a volunteer,
o Shift the frame of discussion around an issue or set of issues – advo- a donor and a key blogger.
cating a cause
Relationships change
o Draw links between campaigns and allied organising efforts
Consider that the relationship with audience groups might change over
o Enlist new volunteers and supporters
time. Be aware that many groups (especially internal) need to be consid-
o Raise funds.
ered in terms of present, past and future status, for example employees
Whatever your communications goals are, they need to:
and volunteers. A previous employee could well turn into a volunteer
o Relate to the goals and vision of your organization (the reason it ex-
and offer a bequest from their estate over the long term, or remain a key
ists, the long-term goals it hopes to achieve).
contributor in one way or another. In the example of an environmental
o Be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.
issue effecting a local community, this may have an impact over genera-
While in the long term you may want to achieve all these goals, com-
bining them in one communication project may not be a good idea.
Another way to consider these groups is:
Remember that certain objectives such as fund-raising and enlisting
Primary: policy makers, donors, employees, effected people
volunteers become easier with time as your efforts gain credibility.
Secondary: local community
Enabling: media, publishers
Who is your Audience?
The way you think about this will vary from one context to another and
Recognising your audiences and understanding them as individuals or
needs to be updated over time.
organizations as well as demographic categories, is one of the first steps
A little research (such as talking to partners and stakeholders di-
to effective campaigning. Once you know who they are, you can start
rectly, media, formal surveying) can go a long way in helping you gather
to find out where they are, what their needs and habits are in relation
this information and refine your thinking about your audience.
to your cause and what they think about you and your cause now and
Geography: Are they local, regional, national or international?
over time. You can also look at how they overlap and relate to each
Demographics : Age, race, gender, income, education, religion.
Attitudes: People’s attitudes, behaviours and beliefs need to be
Your audiences are the people that have a vested interest in your
understood in order to forsee how they will relate to your cause. This
campaign and the work of your organization. They become the focus
will also help you find ways of persuading them to support you.
for all your communications efforts and can become champions and
ambassadors for your cause.
Who’s online?
Creating an audience map is one of the most powerful things you
Message in-a-box helps you create campaigns using online tools, for
can do to support your communications strategy. It should be specific
example websites, and off-line tools: posters, for example. Usually a
to your context, be updated regularly and it could also be linked to some
mix of the two approaches will be best in order to reach a wide range of
form of contact management system that helps you stay on track.
Your audiences can be considered under the following categories.
One of the most important questions you will need to answer
Internal about your audience to use Message in-a-box effectively is: do they
The people within your organisation, starting with employees (and in- have access to the Internet? If so, what form does it take in terms of
cluding trustees and others in your governance structure) and expand- bandwidth, flexibility and reliability of access, and security? How can
ing out to include all that directly support your goals and aspirations. you find this out?
There are a few ways to approach this:
1.    Before creating any communications materials.
People outside your organization that may have positive, neutral or
2.    By experimenting.
negative attitudes to your goals.
3.    By looking at statistics from your existing websites and downloads.

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Not all countries have the same level of access to the Internet. A mixed (hybrid or online/off-line) strategy is often the best way
Look at statistics on Internet usage in your country/region at sites like : to maximise your chances of reaching your audience. If posting content online is relatively inexpensive, do it unless it’s sensitive information or
If in doubt, ask your audience and partners. See Research for something that compromises your security.
information on how to do this.
Demographics like age, gender and income might help you find Key messages & communication
out who’s online. Internet usage generally goes up with income and In order to be clear about what you want to communicate, you should
down with age, although use of the internet by the 50+ demographic is create key messages for each campaign or project, as well as some
increasing all the time. messages that might stay with your organization throughout its life.
Geography matters too. Are you trying to reach an urban or a rural These will be written as if you were actually saying them to your target
population? If it’s urban, there is a better chance that your message can audience. Key messages can be stated and expanded and clarified in a
be accessed online. However, do keep in mind the problems of access to number of ways, but they should sum up the essence of what you want
computers and to the internet. The region you want to reach might have people to hear.
a lot of Internet cafes, but does your target audience (women, say) fre- Communication is more effective when you establish and then
quent them? For grassroots organising and redistribution of materials, maintain mutual understanding between your organization and its audi-
you might find that key supporters even in rural settings can get limited ences. You can never take it for granted that your audience will interpret
Internet access to simple materials for them to copy and distribute. the message the way you intended it.
If your organisation has a website, Web statistics can give you
an indication of how many people visit your website and from what Research
country/region. For an overview of how to read these statistics, see the Planning a powerful communications project requires research: finding
Internet section Who is looking at your site? (p117) out who you need to communicate with, what are the key political is-
sues around the project, where to find the cheapest printer, what are the
What to do with poor Internet access best ways of posting your grassroots comics, who can help - it all takes
(you or your audience) research.
If you live in a country with low bandwidth, there is not much point in Research can take many forms, and be as simple as asking the right
distributing audio and video online since these files are larger in size person a question or knowing how to search the Internet for what you
than text files and take much longer to download or to stream. If you need to know.
want to send a newsletter in these conditions, don’t attach it to e-mail You can arrange formal research by designing simple surveys (free
messages as a separate file - instead, send it in plain text format as part of at or by talking to experts in the field.
the e-mail itself. When people are paying by the minute or the megabyte The main thing is to ask clear questions in the first place. What do you
for Internet access, you need to make materials that will download or need to know? What will you do with the information? The better you
appear as fast as possible. See more about these and other issues in our answer these questions, the better your research will be.
Internet section (p83).
Provide a subscription list on your website to encourage your Fresh ideas daily
audience to subscribe to an e-mailing list that you can use to distribute One fun and creative form of research is crucial for the development of
content. Depending on how many people subscribe, you can gauge the any creative communications project: generating fresh, inspiring ideas.
popularity of online distribution. Remember, you will not be able to Here are a few ways you can approach this.
track e-mails, which may be passed on by the recipients and ‘go viral’. Brainstorming – all ideas are good, don’t discount anything at the
A trial run always helps. However, you need to ensure that this trial beginning.
is combined with a good feedback mechanism or that the distribution Meetings – get a group of people together to talk through the project.
of your message can be documented extensively. Walking the streets – open all your senses to what’s going on. Talk to
people in the know, the local shop keepers.

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Talking to people – especially from your key audience groups. soon as a deadline seems in danger of being missed and look for ways to
Focus groups – bring a group of people together, ask questions, listen. get back on schedule.
Media scanning – magazines, newspapers, TV, movies. Don’t forget to leave plenty of time for proof-reading before you
Reading books – directly or indirectly related. create and distribute the final version of your media communication.
Surfing the Internet – follow your nose from one site the next.
Watch TV & cinema advertisements. Keep an open mind and stay Budgeting & Funding
available. Read about creativity and how to encourage it. A good idea As much as you can, make a rough budget to guide your work early on
and fresh approach might be the only things that make your message in the process. If you’re going to need to raise funds, it’s better to know it
stand out amidst the noise and confusion of daily life. before the final hour.
A good approach is to seek the advice of your colleagues or other
Working in teams organisations that have done similar projects in the recent past, and use
Some one-off projects can be achieved by a single person, while others their numbers as a first draft budget. You can make it more detailed as
will have you building a solid team. It’s always a good idea to have at you go.
least a small team to ensure the best ideas, creativity and resources come Fundraising is a major topic in itself and there are many resources
together. available to help you look at it in more detail. Here are a few tips to get
Groups frequently jump into a project with no idea what they are you started:
getting into, and the real responsibility often falls on just one person. To o Sponsors & Donations – Don’t be shy about asking for help if you
avoid this, you must think in advance about how to form and develop are embarking on a project that you know your community needs
your team’s skills – whether they are paid or volunteering. and supports. Asking for support from allies you know through na-
For each part of the production process ask; do you have these tional and international organising networks is also an important way
skills in-house or do you need to draw upon external expertise? to get support. “Sponsors” is just a word for donations directed in a
Remember to look for ways of sharing skills, and mentoring those more specific way – either toward one issue, or in a regular increment.
who lack formal training in the area they are interested and gifted in. Some such donors may appreciate or require printed recognition of
The qualities that differentiate an enjoyable and effective produc- their support.
tion experience from a stressful one are planning, sharing ideas and o Grants – While they can be a great way to launch a project, it is best
clear responsibilities. These have to exist both within your team and to augment grant income with other revenue streams as quickly as
between your team and your community. possible.
Even a simple project will benefit from a basic timeline and task o Events & other community fund-raisers – If you have some
assignment list. partners with skills in event planning and marketing, these efforts can
Make one person responsible for each task on the list. Make sure sometimes be the most effective short-term way to raise money. They
that you clarify your team’s responsibilities and channels of communi- are also great ways to communicate your key messages face-to-face
cation in advance and stay open to questions at all times, especially as and build relationships.
people are learning.
You might want to assign more than one responsible person in case Evaluation
of emergency on more important or larger tasks. If you have set clear goals, you will be able to measure your progress
against them.
Deadlines & Time Management Using the kind of thinking and methods we talked about in the
To fill in deadlines, pick your final deadline and work backwards from research section, you can design research that helps to measure the
that date to ensure that each task on the list is completed on time. Build outcomes of your project and its processes. Here are some examples
in a safety buffer of extra time to allow for unexpected delays. that will relate to most projects:
Some people will need to be reminded of their deadlines and
pushed (but not so hard as to lose their goodwill). Alert the team as Did audiences receive our key messages? If not, why not?

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Evaluation questions who, where, what, when. Follow with supporting information.
o What worked best? o Offer packaged content (a mix of podcasts, photos etc.) to increase
o Least well? your chances of exposure.
o Did we choose the right tools?
o Were they produced in an effective way? Preparing your online media materials
o Were they distributed in an effective way? o Podcasts/video/vlogs – Useful for radio and television. For best
o What did we learn? results, converse – don’t interview. Security restrictions (see p. x) may
o How can we do better in the future? require different approaches; like allowing interviewees to disguise
o What did it cost? their faces/voices. Have one short story in each clip.
o Did we have the right people helping? o Images/Photos – A picture can tell a thousand lies, so request images
o Were they empowered and trained to succeed? via local websites (guarantee anonymity where appropriate) for more
o Did we achieve our goals? authentic content. Print and online media channels (p. x) offer the
o Do we need to revise our goals (or any other aspect of our communi- best chance to have your photos used.
cations strategy)? o Blog entries – Link to other websites concerned with similar issues.
Invite different interest groups to get involved in debates.
Media Relations o Social media – Clever connected tools can catapult your message
Traditional media like print (newspapers, magazines), radio and TV are into the public awareness and give journalists live material to write
still a powerful force for communications and can’t be overlooked, no from.
matter how well your other channels are working.
Even if you don’t approach them directly with information, you Guide to Open Content Licensing
need to be ready to clearly discuss your position and to support the More value for all
media with their news-gathering when they come to you. In the past, people tried to control the flow of information with copy-
In this way, you develop a productive relationship and become right laws and expensive lawyers. They would think twice before print-
partners in the news-making process. ing a powerful image on a poster if they hadn’t paid for copyright. Now,
At their best, these relationships can get you accurate, widespread smart activists and artists are learning to share their material in the hope
coverage or prevent a sensitive story getting out before time. of gaining a greater audience.
In the digital age, we are learning to share information and collabo-
Tactics rate in remixing it to create more value and connection between us all.
Traditional PR tactics (news-driven research, stunts, etc) become pow- You may have seen the Creative Commons logo appearing around
erful online if approached creatively and with authenticity. the place. More than 13 million organisations and individuals are now
Directly involve your audiences/people affected by your cause. The using the new, more open copyright laws it represents to license their
Ghanaian African Women’s Development Fund uses women’s personal work. Amnesty and Tactical Tech are just two leading groups who use it.
experiences alongside ‘straight news’( Creative Commons defines the spectrum of possibilities between
mother-of-year.html). full copyright – all rights reserved – and the public domain – no rights
Transparency online makes it more likely that false or manipulated reserved. Creative Commons licenses help you to keep your copyright
stories will be exposed. while inviting certain uses of your work – a “some rights reserved”
Know who your key media contacts are and keep details up-to-date. copyright.
This shift in thinking means many things and makes us face chal-
Messaging/dissemination lenges, like how will people make money from their original content
o Speak to online and print/broadcast contacts in the same way for (words, music, images, software, etc).
consistency in coverage. But overall, it is a very positive move forward. It means that if we
o Get one simple message into the first sentence or minute of footage – distribute our content under new laws like Open Content Licensing,

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we can help our information travel further, faster and be of more use to
more people.
Open Content Licensing is a system that protects your interests
and grants the public certain rights to copy and share your work more
freely, and potentially even to “remix” it (eg. change the lyrics to a song
or use a piece of in a movie). If you want your content to reach as wide
an audience as possible, then it makes sense to use an Open Content
This guide provides the beginner with some understanding of the
restrictiveness of old copyright and how new ideas like open content
licenses allow for new ways of thinking, working, collaborating. Essen-
tially, it’s about the democracy of ideas and creativity.
If you work towards social and political change then it’s important
that your work should be accessible. For instance, if you work against
the censorship of speech, then it’s important that copyright shouldn’t
restrict your ability to communicate, or anyone else’s ability to use, copy,
distribute and modify your work.

Making income from copyright

Many campaigning organizations make money from their copyright,
and there is no reason not to continue to do this. The question is one
of balance. If a more open copyright approach increases how far your
message (images/video/words) will travel, if you would have to pay for
printing, postage, human effort to create the distribution you might get
through encouraging people to share it, it is worth the perhaps small
amount you might make. This may vary from one item to the next and
will be different for each organization. Our advice? If in doubt, distrib-
ute under Open Licensing, and keep learning what others are doing

Read case studies

Find out how organizations everywhere are protecting and sharing their
work with Creative Commons Licensing.
Find out more about the background on the open rights revolution here.
To determine how you can amplify your message with the best and
newest tools, let’s delve further into the various tactics so that you can
choose what’s right for you…

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PRINT – on paper & online
Quick guide to print strategy
The more effort you invest in the planning of your print publications,
the easier the process will be in the long-term. This section can be used
as a checklist for your first publication. If you keep this handy, and add
to it over time, you’ll always be ready for the next step.
Below are some questions to guide you. For a one-time or first-try
effort, you might spend a little time on these questions, whereas for an
ongoing publication this process becomes more important.
Start with this summary to see if you are ready to go further. You
can then read on to get more detailed information to plan your full print
strategy, or get started on something simple.
Some of the information relates to large-scale print production, eg.
newspapers and book editing. Just skip the bits that don’t seem relevant
to your situation.

1. What are your goals?

Keep the project focused on a few simple goals in order to reach out
most effectively. These might be mainly about sending out political
information, mobilising action in a short period of time, or focussed on
getting supporters for your work. Make a list of goals and put them in
order of priority. Remember that you do not have to reach all your goals
with your first publication.
Are you sure that a print or e-print publication is really what you
need in order to achieve your strategic message goals?

2. Who is your audience?

Who are you trying to reach? Where are they? What are their lives like?
Can they read? What will they read and what will they be looking for?
How much time are they going to spend looking at it and what will keep
their attention?

3. What print format will work best?

What kind of message/s do you want to communicate? The format
should always relate to the goals and the audience.
If your messages will not date quickly and make sense on their
own, they can go into smaller, one-off publications like posters, stickers,
t-shirts, booklets or pamphlets which can be linked to more frequent
updates on your website.
If they are fast changing and related to other developments, then

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a newsletter, zine or newspaper is best. One-off publications might also 6. Resources you will need
include a briefing paper or communiqué, but don’t suggest they will be
one in a series unless you are committed to producing others. Simple (but effective) smaller projects
Longer content might need to be turned into a report or even a It is a myth that to produce a print production you require high-end
book, or with a smaller budget perhaps an e-book for downloading. computer resources. Newsletters, brochures, fact-sheets, posters, stick-
Anything online can be updated more regularly. ers and t-shirts, for example, can all be produced without computers.
Find out more about Print Formats on page 20. A good idea is often the central resource needed for a high-impact
campaign. A series of fact-sheets only needs a typewriter (or even clear
4. What will your final product look like and how will you handwriting) and access to a photocopier.
distribute it? Sustaining publications
Have a sense at the outset of the scale and shape of your finished However, it is difficult to sustain ongoing complex print publishing
publication. This might sound obvious, but projects can have a way of without some computer resources. Below are the basics to get started
expanding drastically as enthusiasm grows. Don’t waste your energy on on a “digital track.”
creating something unless you are clear about how to get it out in time. o Computer – To run the software listed in this section, you will need
Early on, estimate the scope, size and number of copies you can effec- access to a personal computer with at least a 486DX 66 megahertz
tively distribute. There are too many dead trees sitting around boxed up (MHz) processor and 128 megabytes (MB) of memory.
in corridors or being pulped already. o Software – you can get straight into Open Office (a word processing
Find out more about Printing & Distribution on p29. tool) or Scribus (a layout tool) with the help of Message in-a-box,
or work with any software that you or your team or community are
5. What skills do you need to develop? confident using. See the Print section of the website.
Ideas, a strategy and a team; these are the core human resources o Printer – Laser printers can be a very cost-effective way to do simple
needed. Print production, especially for periodicals like newsletters print projects. Printers are also fairly essential at the editing and draft-
and magazines, can be a wonderful team-building experience, but care- ing stages on larger projects. See Printing & distribution (p29) to
ful and patient co-ordination is required to make it a sustainable one. help decide if you will be using a printer for the end result.
At the outset, take an inventory of the skills you need to bring out the o Digital camera or scanner – A digital camera will create ready-to-
publication. use digital photos that you can download onto a computer. A scanner
Essential skills – to find or develop: will allow you to digitise a printed image.
o Flash drive or memory stick – If you do not have your own
o Ideas
o Strategy
computer, or if you will be using multiple computers, a USB-Flash
o Co-ordination / planning skills
drive (or a memory stick for smaller jobs) is useful for moving files
o Layout / design
between computers.
o (Grassroots) marketing & networking
o Budgeting (p22)
7. Planning your production
There are four major stages of production:
Extra skills – for larger print jobs o Gathering content (what are you going to say?)
o Writing o Editing & manuscript preparation
o Editing (p27) o Design & layout
o Image sourcing, creation &/or manipulation (see Images section p39) o Proof-reading.
o Desktop publishing / word processing. Consider all the tasks you will have to complete during the produc-
Find out more about finding and managing human resources, tion process, for example, selecting a theme, deciding on writers, getting
building teams and maintaining energy and focus in our Strategy articles ready, editing, proof-reading, and so on.
Overview – Working in teams(p10) Find out more about production planning on page 23.

18 19
production process.

the short and long term.

Select a print format
8. Budgeting & Fundraising

their numbers as a first draft budget.

you will want to know before the final hour.

or fliers handed out at demonstrations are needed.

of these might be needed to make sure you are heard.
back to it to make a more detailed budget after you have begun the

Do you want to engage people over the longer term, by giving

them an in-depth understanding of the voices and issues involved in
How to decide? Think about your goals, capacity and audience.
A good idea is to seek the advice of your colleagues or other or-

Are you trying to get fast action on an issue, directing people to your
in the process. If you need to raise funds to put your publication out,

However, it won’t be possible to answer some of these questions

Now that you are clear on your goals, you are ready to select a format.
need to do an initial draft of this section in the early phases, and come
As much as you can, make a rough budget to guide your work early on

until after you have planned your content in detail. Therefore, you may

ganisations that have done similar print runs in the recent past, and use

bination of channels is required to reach all your goals and audiences in

Brochure, newsletter, magazine, book, poster, t-shirt, sticker… any or all

your cause? Is it information that changes all the time? Generally a com-
website for more details? Maybe posters or stickers put up by volunteers

Selecting a print format

Format Pros Cons Notes
Newsletters In-depth. Text/graphics. Can Time, cost, team, skill set Need to sustain them. Quality
Magazines distribute on Internet. Can provide content. Delegating, co-ordinating,
Zines long-term engagement. Can be team work and distribution are
shared crucial. Watch size, design
T-shirts Fast, simple, catchy, durable Cost, not in-depth, Need a good idea and design. One
can’t update colour fine, ensure high contrast.
Include a link to website if space
Stickers Fast, simple, catchy, low cost, du- Not in-depth, distribution As above
rable, online distribution possible issues, legal/ security issues for
those distributing, can’t update
Posters Fast, simple, catchy, durable. High Can be costly, distribution, Need a good idea and possibly a
impact. Online distribution possible legal/security, can’t update designer. Guerrilla postering at any
size, in the right places can have big
impact. Include a link to your website
Brochures/ Fairly quick and easy. More in-depth. Distribution Include a link to your website. Clear,
Pamphlets Online distribution easy Skill set concise writing and layout essential
Fliers Quick and easy. Low cost Distribution One colour usually fine
Online distribution easy Need striking design to stand out
Fact or information Fairly quick and easy. More in- Distribution
sheet depth. Online distribution easy

Books Very in-depth Can be heavy, expensive to Carefully weigh up free vs selling,
Booklets Can be self-funding through sales print and distribute, sales e-book vs printed
Reports Online distribution possible systems required
Message in-a-box gives you guidance for developing advanced print o Reduce the frequency (print fewer issues per year).
projects, like magazines, that might require fairly complex writing and o Reduce the weight (paper and mail costs) or number for distribution.
editing. If you are just doing a simple poster or flier, for example, you o Reduce the size by cutting articles / pages or even by reducing font-
won’t need to read the in-depth editing section. Just read as much as you sizes (be careful to maintain good layout and readability).
need (but don’t skip the Strategy Overview on p5)
Don’t forget to include your calls to action and contact details Advertising
(including a link to your website). Even simple projects like fliers will be Small-scale ads are a great way to fund publications and also provide a
helped by reading the Style, Design & Layout section (p26). 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
Budgeting & Fund-raising for Print maintaining an ad business takes time and labour. Each business that
Once you have a quick idea of cost by asking around, you might need to buys an ad must provide you with a copy of the graphic for their ad and
go into more detail for larger projects requiring ongoing funding, such then you will have to bring them a copy of the paper when it is done
as publications (magazine, newsletter, series of fact sheets). to show them that that the ad has run. Do not take on doing layout for
advertisers unless they pay you for this service.
Direct Costs More on Budgeting & Funding in the Strategy Overview page 11.
How much will it cost to print? Look at:
o Format – size and shape, number of pages, paper type, colours, bind- Plan your print production
ing, covers (if any). There are four major stages of production. These still apply (in a much
o Print run – how many copies will you print? simpler version) even if you are doing a simple project like a brochure.
o Distribution – a big question, often overlooked. What method will o Content Gathering
you use? How much will it cost? o Editing & Manuscript Preparation
o One-off costs – eg. computer equipment, design of template. o Layout & Design
o Proof-reading.
Other Costs
o Human resources – What percentage of staff time will be spent on Production Calendar
the project? How will this be accounted for? Will any contributors Even a simple publishing effort will benefit from a basic timeline and
need to be paid (eg. graphic designer, illustrators, cartoonists)? task assignment list. This will make the difference between a chaotic
o Travel, expenses, other – Will there be any other costs you need to experience and a pleasant one.
consider in advance? Consider all the tasks you will have to complete during the pro-
duction process. Group them if you can into logical headings. Here is
Seeking Funds a basic outline of the production process for a newsletter or magazine.
Publications can serve as fund-raising tools. Space can be set aside for There are many sub-tasks you could also add.
ads from supporters, even your printer. You can ask individuals for o Planning: Budgeting & fund-raising, Content Mapping
donations. o Production: Content gathering, Editing & formatting
o Layout & Design: Proof-reading
Cutting Costs o Printing
o Don’t print, do an e-book instead (but only if it reaches your audi- o Distribution
ence). o Evaluation
o Use more affordable paper. Make one person responsible for each task on the list. You might
o Stick to black & white or one-colour printing; replace colour photos want to assign someone else to be responsible as a a backup in case of
with greyscale, or with simple graphics. emergency on more important or larger tasks.
o Get other quotes for paper or printing.

22 23
Deadlines & Time Management that you are recording and filing minutes of meetings, reports of trips
To fill in deadlines, pick your final deadline and work backwards from and delegations, self-evaluations of actions and summaries of research
that date to ensure that each task on the task list is completed on time. projects.
Build in a safety buffer of extra time to allow for unexpected delays. The Be on the look-out for material that communicates the core mes-
longest buffer time should be allocated for sourcing content (getting sages of your work. If you are doing this regularly, it will be easy to fill
people to write for you). your publication with relevant and timely material. Build documenta-
Writers need to be reminded of their deadlines and pushed for tion into the day-to-day culture of your organisation.
content but not so hard as to lose their good will. Raise a red flag as You can also explore the possibilities of audio documentation,
soon as a deadline seems in danger of being missed and look for ways to which can later be transcribed.
catch up with the schedule. Your community must be encouraged to suggest stories to you
Don’t forget to leave plenty of time for proof-reading before you (and even write them or provide good draft material), but you can ask
print the final version. If you can’t afford to get a professional proof- for what you want – calling out for coverage of important issues and
reader to go over the whole text, at least ask someone who has good events. Brainstorming sessions will bring out ideas for the type of stories
language skills and hasn’t looked at the publication yet to go through and items that will be relevant to your goals and audience. Make sure
the final version for you. you have a balance of “soft” and “hard”, factual and opinion, human
experience and statistics in your texts.
Gather your content
Note: This content is mainly relevant for people working on advanced Editorial policy
print publications such as magazines. Skim read if you are working on a A clear set of editorial guidelines will help everyone stay focussed,
simpler project such as a poster. on time, on task and on message. It also promotes transparency and
There are two ways to generate content: solicit it from others, or accountability within your community, and will help you handle con-
write it from within your production team – many publications resort to troversial submissions. Your policy should outline:
a bit of both. o Format – what language or dialect writers should use, what style if ap-
Gathering relevant good-quality content from the grassroots is one propriate, and what types of pieces you are interested in, for example
of the most important and difficult jobs, and often the most neglected. news items.
Rather than speaking on behalf of people, community media should o Exclusions & Style – what content, if any, is deemed to be unaccept-
allow people to speak for themselves whenever possible. It is also good able, such as politically offensive speech or gender-biased language.
to include “expert” contributions to frame and clarify issues. Your own o Editing – What rights you reserve regarding editing submissions.
editorial team can also contribute. Make sure people have clear expectations to avoid losing a key con-
To gather contributions and avoid writing the whole publication tributor. Most publications will reserve the right to edit all submis-
yourselves, you will need to: sions for length and clarity.
o Have a plan with clear deadlines and responsibilities o Acknowledgement – Will you give by-lines to writers? Some col-
o Develop and sometimes train contacts who have an ear to the ground lectives have a political position against doing so but others deem
and can write, or are willing to learn it necessary. It is always good to encourage people by giving them
o Provide a clear brief to writers, including the length of the articles and credit, but what are the implications of doing so?
their purpose, plus useful editorial guidelines. o Writers’ Guidelines – If you publish frequently and rely on submis-
o Be clear about deadlines and follow the progress of each person’s work sions, consider offering a broader document with updated informa-
before the deadline arrives. tion about the focus of your current publishing efforts, sometimes
o Manage a respectful and skilful editing process. called “Writers’ Guidelines”. See the Carbusters website: for an example
Don’t miss the story of how one campaigning organisation accepts material.
Always take a digital camera with you to actions and events. Make sure o Style Guide – Larger, ongoing productions, especially when there are

24 25
a number of people working on them, might justify having a Style For all projects
Guide. This needs to be included in Writer’s Guidelines also. o Sketch it out on blank or grid paper before moving onto a computer
o Consider how you can use images.
Map your content o Can you afford colour? (in images, pre-printed header sheets or other
Regardless of who will be contributing, always start the process with a design elements)
brainstorm session – working toward a “map” of the content you want o Think about the use of white space – an essential design element
to include. Note each article and graphic component separately, and in- o How will the eye move across the design?
clude who is assigned to write it, recruit it (if relevant), and edit it – and
For publications 
what their deadlines are. It is best to do this in some sort of spreadsheet
o Allow single pages for the front and back cover, and plan what will go
format that can be updated as you go.
on facing pages.
It is important to establish a tradition of content mapping early in
o Remember the pages are laid out in multiples of two or four because
your production cycle, especially if you are producing a newsletter with
of the way that the printing and folding processes work.
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
Manual design (with no computers)
task master and also know how each component fits into your overall
Simple projects like fact sheets, stickers, t-shirts and posters can be
goal. Makes notes for:
achieved without a computer by handwriting or typing information,
o Each article or image name
or handing an image and text to your printer. Even a brochure could be
o Who will do the writing/reporting
done in this way.
o Who will liaise with others for external contributions
o Who will edit
Style Guide
o Deadlines for each item.
If your organisation is going to publish frequently, it is important to
If the article or photograph falls into a content cluster in this issue,
evolve a consistent communication style. A style guide is a document
or is part of an ongoing section or column, note this also. As you go on,
that details specific decisions which have been made as to how you will
other options or angles may emerge for grouping your content themati-
express things. “Style” refers to any aspect of the text, and may mean
cally, and your content map can help you identify these themes and
deciding whether to use full-stops in acronyms, or choosing between
work with them early on.
“nonprofit” and “non-profit,” or whether you capitalise “Global South”
Right, now you have a strategy, a format, a process for bringing in
or not.
good material and a production plan – let’s look at how you start to put
The best approach is to start with something simple (perhaps
it all together.
copied from another organization you respect) and develop it as you
go. Make decisions as a group, and then document these. Be aware of
Style, layout & design
cultural conventions in the areas you are publishing in.
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
Once you have your manuscripts in place, the process of preparing them
how it will flow for the eye and mind of the reader. Also, how it will be
for production begins.
physically printed, cut and, if appropriate, assembled.
Again, make sure that you clarify your team’s division of labour and
You can use Inkscape to design simple graphics or logos for your
channels of communication before you begin the process of editing.
publication. If you do not have a talent for graphic design or access to a
One basic consideration is version control. Are you all working on
designer, it is best to stick to templates like the ones in Scribus. Read the
the right document, in the right generation? Saving all work regularly
guide to Make a Newsletter for more on this. You can even use Open
and backing it up is another critical thing to remember. If you are not
Office for very simple layouts. The information you need can be found
using computers, make photocopies.
under the Print menu on the Message in-a-box website.

26 27
This stage can get hectic and clear expectations are important. Re- Give authors a clear idea of length or number of words in relation to
read the section in Strategy Overview about Working in Teams (p10) your content map and layout. This will still change once everything
before proceeding. comes in and as the layout evolves, say if an excellent photograph
becomes available or an article cannot be written in time for this
Top tips for editing
o Read through – Always read the whole document once through
Edit articles before placing them into the template. Once you have
before making any changes.
placed a piece, you may need to edit it again for length. This can
o Take care & respect – whether your organisation edits heavily
be a circular process depending on how your team and production
toward specific goals or lightly toward authors’ voices.
process is structured.
o Accountability – Make no changes for which you do not have a solid
reason. Ask questions when you are not sure what something means.
o Consistency – Use your style guide (p27) and common sense to
This final stage of editing usually happens after layout, and almost
achieve this with punctuation, capitalisation, spelling, etc.
always happens on hard copy.
o Humility – Editing can become a power trip. Save time and be re-
Use proof readers standard marks to ensure clarity between team
spectful by only changing what you must to achieve your goals.
members and your style guide to ensure consistency. You can view these
o Fact-checking – Who is accountable for the information you are put-
standard marks online at:
ting out? What are your sign-off procedures? Is information accurate
and up to date? Use the Internet or check with your author. Allow
If a lot of errors get fixed, you might need to do two rounds of
time for this.
proof-reading. TIP: use different coloured pens for each round.
o Clarity & readability – Break up long paragraphs and sentences. Use
It is also possible to edit on word processing programs such as
the active voice. Avoid jargon. Does it flow logically?
Open Office using the “Record Changes” function.
o Content – Is all the essential information included?
o Tightening & cutting – Eliminate redundant words, excessive adjec-
Printing & distribution
tives and distracting detail. Fix vague language and repetitive words –
Print management
use your thesaurus. Cut the least important information out but save
Now for the exciting bit. You are ready to send your project to print. It
versions in case you need to go back and retrieve anything.
might be as easy as making sure you have a box of paper and a toner car-
tridge next to your healthy laser printer – or a printing company ready
When to ask the author
to go. Making the decision about how you will print your project is
If material is technical, specialised, or unfamiliar to you
about cost, but also reliability and quality. Over time, you might develop
When changes may alter the substance of the author’s intended point
relationships with a few different printers, from a high speed copy shop
When you don’t understand what the intended point is.
to a commercial printing firm.
A warning: If you have a strict deadline to meet, make sure you
Copy editing
have booked your print job in advance with your printer and that you
A few things to look out for:
meet their deadlines too. You cannot assume they will keep their expen-
o Format – fix inconsistencies in heading style, font, boldface, italicisa-
sive equipment sitting waiting until you are ready. If you lose your place
tion, alignment, etc. Incorporate any necessary line breaks.
in the queue, it might add crucial days to your schedule.
o Misspellings & spelling consistency
However you print, it will require co-ordination. If you are using
o Acronyms – State the term in full at the first mention with the ab-
a graphic designer, they can often be hired to manage the print process.
breviation in brackets: Non-governmental Organisation (NGO).
What paper will be used? What finishing do you require (eg. cutting,
Use the acronym after the first mention unless there are so many
covers and binding)? Do you have an environmental policy that matters
acronyms in the text that confusion might arise.
(eg. recycled paper and soy-based inks)?
o Editing & Layout – a circular process
If you are using a printer they will send you a proof sheet. This is

28 29
your FINAL CHANCE to make changes before ink hits paper and you Evaluation
become legally responsible for the costs and dead trees involved. Be sure Feedback and evaluation is vital to ensure both effectiveness and con-
it is correct. A few errors in a large project are not necessarily a problem, tinuous improvement.
but a spelling mistake in a t-shirt can look very sloppy indeed. You should evaluate the processes that went into producing your
You need to be very clear about the instructions you give to the print media and the outcomes it produced. You can look at facts as well
printers, and make sure they are in writing. as opinions. Questions to ask include:
If you are printing it yourself, do you have the right equipment
available for cutting and stapling? What about postage? Envelopes? Processes
Labels? o What did you learn?
o Did you finish it on time and budget?
Distribution o How could you do this better next time?
Big question, often overlooked. What method will you use (eg. mail, Document your answers and try to update your stored knowledge
volunteers, community hubs, distribution company)? How much will it for the next person who comes along. Link to documentation of pro-
cost? How many copies will you distribute? Will you distribute to your cesses in case of staff changes or emergencies.
constituents individually or to community hubs? If you mail it to individ-
uals, how far away are they? How much will each copy weigh? Will you Outcomes
sell some material? Where? How can money be handled responsibly? o Did our target audience receive or see our printed material?
o How many people did we reach?
E-books & viral distribution
Nowadays you don’t need to actually print a publication in order to What feedback can the audience offer?
distribute a “print” publication. PDF files can capture your finished o Did our publication achieve our strategic goals?
product in a non-editable form and you can then send it out to your
network for distribution. However, if you are unsure of your audience’s Evaluation tools:
access to the Internet, you will want to rely on some hard-copy distribu- o Include feedback mechanisms in any publication, for example a phone
tion. A combination of online and offline approaches in your strategy is number or e-mail address with a request for people’s reactions.
usually the best option. o Simple online survey tools like
You can create e-books (of both graphics and text), and distribute o Ask your stakeholders.
these globally (and inexpensively) via networks such as http://www. o Monitor any enquiries, media coverage, audience behaviour. or which will also allow you to earn o Ask for all feedback to come to a central point so that you can compile
income from your ‘digital’ products (books, in this case). and review it with your team.
Compact Discs (CDs) and USB sticks (also called memory sticks
or flash drives) are great way of circulating content in areas where poor
Newsletter – women’s centre in India
infrastructure (such as expensive or slow Internet connections) makes
Project Newsletter
online distribution inappropriate for reaching the communities you work
Organisation Saheli Women’s Resource Centre
with. These CD’s can be distributed at markets or in other public arenas.
Goal Inform & educate clients with latest news and advice
In some areas this method has been used effectively for distribut-
Audience Supporters, clients & others
ing content that is censored or banned by the authorities, for example
Format Newsletter , low cost, black & white
the whole online encyclopaedia ‘Wikipedia’ was distributed on CD-
Frequency Bi-monthly, since 1993
Rom in this fashion.
Sustaining a regular newsletter for 25 years entirely on voluntary effort
Once you have printed and distributed your material, get ready to
is not easy. There is much to learn from the experience of this small
check that your message actually got across. See Evaluation for more
women’s group.
on this.

30 31
Saheli Women’s Resource Centre is a New Delhi-based autono- Format Information fact sheet
mous women’s organisation which has been working for the past 25 Low cost, black & white. 4-8 pages,
years on women’s rights. It is non-funded and runs entirely on personal question-and-answer
donations from supportive individuals. It has functioned as both a crisis Frequency Bi-monthly, since 1993
centre and a campaign group. It brings out a quarterly newsletter to
which people can subscribe. Facts Against Myths examines the common myths surrounding an issue
Saheli’s newsletter is a very important vehicle of communication, and then presents the facts against these myths.
particularly because it runs on individual support. The newsletter keeps Launched in 1993 by Vikas Adhyayan Kendra (Development
supporters informed about campaigns and activities: from reproductive Research Centre), a Mumbai-based secular, non-profit organisation,
health issues to domestic violence, from sexuality minority rights to the aim of Facts Against Myths was to counter a growing fascist trend
economic policy, the Saheli Newsletter covers diverse and often difficult in India, which victimised non-Hindus, using false propaganda as a pri-
terrain. A critique of reproductive technologies, for example, needs to mary tool. Facts Against Myths attempted to use factual and verifiable
be presented in a simple, concise and jargon-free manner that allows information to counter the myths and prejudices being spread against
ordinary women to understand their experiences with medical care in Muslims and other religious minorities.
the light of the larger politics of the drug and medical industry. Over the years, the scope of the fact-sheet has widened. It now
The fact that Saheli works as a non-hierarchical women’s collec- addresses various aspects of the dominant development paradigm as
tive is both a strength and challenge as far as bringing out a publication it adversely impacts individuals, communities and society at large.
that appears regularly is concerned. Communication in the absence of a Some examples: the myths used to propagate the ‘beauty’ industry, the
formal structure can be a nightmare. The group maintains a Daily Diary nuclear industry, and the “gene revolution”; other sheets have covered
where volunteers log the day’s events. It not only helps the group to un- aspects of health, HIV-AIDS and industrialisation.
derstand what works and what doesn’t work, it’s also a piece of historical What can we learn from those who bring out Facts Against Myths?
documentation. As a matter of editorial policy writers’ by-lines are not Leslie Rodriguez, who has been the driving force behind this publica-
included with articles, since this would “fail to acknowledge the inputs tion, says “If you want to bring out a similar publication or indeed any
of others into the newsletter – be it to type, translate, proof, edit or even documentation of social relevance, you must first have a powerful,
post the newsletters.” (Saheli: ”25 Years of Continuity and Change”; pro-people critique of society. The style, the formatting, getting the
August 2006) information out on time – all these are important too but they are
Early issues of the newsletter tended to be text-heavy. Group dis- secondary aspects of the process. The main point is to take a stand. You
cussions and study circles however brought a rich quality of intellectual need to be aware of what is happening around you, identify the main
rigor to the articles. In later years, the newsletter experimented with issues, understand the significance of various conflicting opinions and
design changes, a more humorous style and cartoons to pack a punch. then take a stand that is democratic and pro-people.”
Changes were made in terms of content too, with the newsletter cover-
ing more subjects in response to internal and external feedback. The Results
Saheli Newsletter continues to have a wide reach and relevance. How do they know whether the fact-sheet is serving a useful purpose?
Leslie explains that people usually write in with praise, criticism and
Fact sheets: social education in India suggestions. He recounts how the edition on the beauty industry was
Project Facts Against Myths heavily used by women’s groups who in fact placed bulk orders for extra copies. Many people send in requests for back issues. But what
Organisation Vikas Adhyayan Kendra gives the publishers the greatest satisfaction is when they receive angry
Goal To give readers facts that help them to form a responses and threats from reactionary organisations who are the main
knowledge-based opinion on contemporary social proponents of myths. “That’s when we know that the truth, as we have
concerns. documented it, has really hit home.” laughs Leslie.

32 33
Regional bulletin – human rights in Mexico tive states into which the region is divided. It addresses a variety of
issues from the perspective of human rights and Liberation Theology,
and challenges the conventional and authoritarian interpretation of
citizenship rights by both the State and the Catholic church.
The name “El Varejón” refers to a straight branch with flowers that
grows out of the sisal plant at the end of its productive life. This meta-
phor is used to signal the hope that new life and justice will grow amidst
a general situation of human rights abuses. The spirit that animates
this bulletin is explained by the following words: “We have thus joined
hundreds of fellow advocates that sprouted from death itself, like the
varejón, and like Human Rights.”
The bulletin started in 1999 and has become one of the main refer-
ences for human rights and social activists in the Yucatán, a region with
a long history of poverty and authoritarianism. Among the issues that it
has documented are: the disregard for the rights of Mayan peasant com-
munities and individuals, the consuetudinary 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 in the states
of Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana Roo. People can subscribe to the
publication individually or as part of a community or organization. The
cost of the subscription is symbolic (around $1.00 or 50p for 10 issues)
while the team supports the printing and distribution of the bulletin
through fund-raising and donations.

Project Human rights regional publication Results

Organisation Equipo Indignación (Indignation Team), human When “El Varejón” started in 1999 it was basically distributed among
rights promotion and defence local group, Mérida, a small community of activists and NGOs concentrated around the
Yucatán, México. metropolitan area of Mérida. With the time the publication has grown
Goal To inform, to encourage and to assist human rights in influence and is now one of the main sources of information and
advocates in the Yucatan Peninsula working in small analysis about human rights in the Peninsula. The team has supported
communities or distant cities of the three administrative other NGOs by providing human rights courses in different parts of the
states: Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo. region and its bulletin has been adopted by other educational groups
Format Printed bulletin and on-line publication. Low cost, and initiatives. “El Varejón” continues to be distributed by regular mail
green ink over white paper. 30-40 pages. but it has also been digitalized and published on the Internet. With
Frequency Monthly or bi-monthly (depending on available this latter strategy the team has increased the number of people they
information and time), since 1999 are able to reach and educate on human rights from the perspective of
“El Varejón” is a regional human rights bulletin that the Indignación Indigenous communities, gay activists and women.
team has been publishing in the Yucatán Peninsula, southern Mexico, For more information (in Spanish), see http://www.indignacion.
for almost 10 years now. The bulletin provides information, analysis and and
advice to small groups or individual advocates in the three administra-

34 35

36 37
IMAGES – photos, comics, guerrillas & more

Quick guide to images

This section helps you find out how others have used images effectively
and creatively. It helps you learn how to find, create, edit and share great
images, with an emphasis on photographs, comics, maps and simple
animated images.
You will also find the power of images explored throughout
Message in-a-box, in the sections covering websites, blogs, guerrilla
marketing, video and animation.
Images add impact to stories, blog posts, websites, posters, bro-
chures, e-mail campaigns – whatever campaigning channels and tools
you are using.

What do you need?

Ideas, creativity, imagination, a strategy.
An image from the the campaigning website
I want to go home highlighting the plight of the Extra
Kgeikani Kweni, the first people of the Kalahari. The People to help, Internet access, a mobile phone and/or a camera (digital
site advances the case of the San people or Bushmen, the or analogue), source books/comics/cartoons (already existing or com-
indigenous people of the Kalahari desert. missioned).
Where can you use your images?
Once you have your images ready you can use them in a wide variety of
o Publications – in newsletters, brochures, posters, reports.
o Online – e-mail campaigns, websites, blogs, e-print brochures.
o Video – as still images in a video production. A video can be made
almost 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.

Ideas for how to use images

Use images of people and faces to give your campaigns a personal touch.
Satirical cartoon e-card by Sokwanele This could also help introduce your organisation to the people who see
about the Zimbabwean elections 2008. your publication. Complement testimonials – Use images, such as photos of your
work and the people involved, to enhance messages of success and sup-
port. This gives a ‘human feel’ to what you do.

38 39
Make an entire campaign focussed on one image or on a series of strong GIMP is a really powerful tool for such tasks as photo retouching,
images. One example of this is The 16 Guidelines, materials prepared image composition and creating images. Using GIMP, you can:
by Essential Education. They focus on 16 international role models to o Create graphics and logos
illustrate each guideline to happiness, from Albert Einstein to Gandhi. o Resize and crop photos
In some cases (eg. one face on a poster), powerful photos are used, o Combine images
in others (eg. in the book) illustrations of the photographs have been o Remove unwanted image features
made to avoid copyright infringement. o Convert between different image formats
o Create animated images
Illustrations & cartoons o Prepare images for websites.
Illustrations and cartoons have been used for centuries to communicate
ideas, to explain issues, for political satire, and to increase the visual Get visual!
impact of a message and generally make waves. Many such images can Above all else, remember that an enduring image, a witty cartoon or
be reproduced clearly online and in print: a simple black line drawing an engaging visual can have the power to engage your audience and
can be photocopied or printed in one colour. promote your campaign. Whether you want to shock, wake up, amuse
or give information – a picture really can tell a thousand words.
How to find great illustrations & cartoons Let’s take action with images. Below is more information to help
o Ask someone to draw them or let you use one that they’ve drawn. you find images, create grass roots comics or simple animations and to
o Search Google Images. Use ‘cartoon’ or ‘illustration’ as your search help you develop your skills further.
terms. Have your read our Message in-a-box Strategy Overview yet (p5)?
o Try dedicated sites like as well as Read it now and save valuable time and resources. Make sure your im-
image-sharing sites like Flickr: that also host il- ages fit with your goals, audience, situation and messages.
lustrations, cartoons and other forms of graphic art.
o Collect illustrations from magazines and newspapers, or by photo- Checklist
graphing posters. What will you need?
o Make your own. Digital images are the most widely distributable format.
o Ask your supporters to suggest good resources. To start using digital images you will get them from either :
Remember, some of the simplest cartoons are often the best. o A digital image obtained from a digital camera or mobile phone, or
o A shared online source, or
Copyright & other legal issues o A printed image or transparency (slide) to be scanned or photo-
Don’t forget to read our introduction to sharable images and copyright graphed.
(p. x). You might also need to think about privacy. Be sure you have You should think about your position on copyright issues here. If
traced the owner of the copyright before redistributing shared material. the image is not yours (if you did not take the photo or create the digital
In the online world, images travel fast and it is often hard to know where content), you should ask permission to use it or try to find a copyright-
they came from and who owns the copyright. While this might or might free image (see more on this in the section on Sharable Images p43).
not present serious legal implications (for example, you can always Once you have an image on your computer using one of the above
remove an image from a website, but not from a poster campaign) there methods, you will need the following:
are ethical questions to consider also. Each organisation will need to o Photo editing software such as GIMP to process the images (see
look at this on a case by case basis. Message in-a-box website > Images.)
o Desktop publishing tools such as Scribus or Inkscape (Message in-a-
Practical help with images box website > Print) or web-design software such as NvU, Kompozer
Don’t forget to look at what you can do with the free software included or WordPress (Message in-a-box website > Internet) to incorporate
with Message in-a-box (go to Images), like GIMP and Inkscape. the images into your media project

40 41
o People with basic computer skills to help sure you take the spine-size into account, and use the right size layout. A
o Internet access in order to download, share and upload graphics hard-bound book has rigid covers, and the place where the stitching that
o A printer, or access to suitable printers for a fee. holds the pages together meets the cover is called the spine.
To figure out how images will be most effective you must seek
Using mobile phone cameras feedback on how people respond to your printed work. Do they read it?
The key information you need to assess the quality of a mobile phone If not, what do they find unattractive about it? Do they read some of it
for taking pictures is how many mega-pixels the camera function is. but skip over other parts?
A two mega-pixel camera will allow you to take an image which will Whether to use graphics or not also depends on what graphics are
print out a fair-to-good quality image (150 pixels/inch), for a picture available, and if they are available in the format you plan to publish in.
size of 8” by 10”. A three or four mega-pixel camera on your phone will You must consider the following:
significantly improve the image quality, allowing you to print a much o Size
higher-quality image. o Colour
Most camera functions on mobile phones will allow you to take o Paper to be used
pictures of good enough quality to use in screen format on a blog or a o Printer’s equipment
website if you are intending to use small images. o Will adding graphics cause delays?
If you are unsure of the capabilities of the camera on your phone, o Will adding graphics increase the costs?
it’s worth taking the time to do some test shots and then transferring
them to the format you are planning to use, before you use the camera Sharing images and copyright
for anything significant. If you aren’t able to create your own images you might want to think
about using free ‘sharable’ images that are available on the Internet.
Printing graphics Campaigners generating content online often convert their work
When printing graphics, you need to pay attention to your resolu- into a ‘sharable’ document that can be easily circulated via e-mail or
tion (the number of dots-per-inch, or DPI), to photo size, and, if your downloaded from the Internet. If the ‘license’ invites sharing and the
images are in colour, whether you are separating the colours into RGB document is compelling it will get circulated almost as if it has a life of
(red-green-blue) or CMYK (cyan-magenta-yellow-black) - this may its own.
greatly effect the quality of the images. Such “sharable content” is also referred to as Open Content.
CMYK and RGB are two different systems of separating the Text, sound and images can be freely used, distributed and modified
colours in an image in order to reproduce them accurately. by the general public without the traditional restrictions imposed
Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Black are the four colours used to print a by copyright. This can be done either by adopting an Open Content
colour image on paper. Each one absorbs part of the light reflected from license, such as, or simply by following
the page, using what is called as a “subtractive process.”. This is really commonly-accepted practices.
important to know about as if you are printing an image with a profes- You can read more on this issue in our guide to Open Content
sional printer, they may ask for the images in this format. licensing (p13).
Red-Green-Blue, on the other hand, is used for computer monitors
or TVs. RGB adds red, green and blue light to a black background and Copyright-free images
so is called an “additive process.” Tonnes of images (primarily photographs but also illustrations, simple
Don’t assume your image will look the same in print as on a screen. animations, cartoons, video and art) on many subjects are today avail-
There is almost always a difference between what you can produce on a able with an open content license on sites like http://flickr.
computer screen and how it looks when it is actually printed. com/creativecommons/
Make sure you lay out your work at the right size if you’re planning Here’s a quick link to get started with finding images at the ad-
to get the publication done at a printers. This helps to ensure that the vanced Flickr search:, then
text and images look as you intended them to look. For books, make select Creative Commons Copyright at the bottom.

42 43
If you need permission to reproduce an image, contact the Flickr. o Are they so far flung that allowing them to access your report online
com photographer by visiting their profile (via their mugshot on top left rathar than in print would help to save you postage and reach more
of the page) and sending them a message. people?
o What format will have the most impact across all audiences?
Other photo sharing websites
Depending on the answers, don’t be afraid to mix ‘traditional’ and
Look at these photo-sharing websites too:
‘new’ media. Make the most of appropriate channels and use multiple
strategies to reach your audience and achieve your campaign goals.
Have that exciting blog you want to attract readers to? Want to
have a voice ‘in the streets’ at a reasonable price? Don’t underestimate
the role of the simple photocopying machine.
Images & Permissions
A few ideas to consider
Don’t forget to ask for permission if you need to; politely and in ad-
New and not-so-new technologies offer different ways to distribute
media as widely as possible.
Whether you are commissioning original images or finding what
Blog posts can also be photocopied and physically distributed, or
you need on the Internet, make sure you are comfortable with copyright
left in public places that are popular with your audience, like cafes or
and licensing. Find out whether you have permission to reproduce
community centres.
them. You can always remove an image from a blog, but if it was a
Online e-print materials (e-books, brochures, even full-colour
national poster campaign that was based on an illegal image, would you
magazines) can be saved as PDF files and distributed widely either via
really want to risk it?
e-mail as attachments or as downloads from a website.
Unless the images have been specifically given to your organisation
You can design your own posters using Open Source software and
with the intention of allowing you to reproduce them, make sure you
create them using increasingly affordable laser-printers.
ask for permission to use them, even when they belong to a friend or
You can ask a journal or print publication with which you want to
supporter of your organisation. When requesting permission, you could
be associated to reprint your images along with simple messages, or you
stress that your publication is not-for-profit or that authors are not paid
can even ask them to run a series of your stories over several issues.
for their contributions. Mention your print-run and readership. This is
especially important if your content is for educational purposes. Under
Grassroots comics
these circumstances, some copyright holders may reduce or waive their
Tell your story simply, quickly, to anyone
expected fee. Otherwise, it makes more sense to rely on copyright-free
Political cartoons have been a powerful form of social satire and com-
ment for centuries. The use of comics as a campaigning tool for grass-
Take care while photographing work that might be covered by
roots organisations is a more recent success story. This guide outlines
copyright. Photographing a copyright work can amount to reproducing
how and why you may use grassroots comics, how to get started with
it. By taking a photo, you could be violating copyright.
producing a comic, and some ideas for distributing them.
This is true of paintings, some sculptures, craft items, architectural
Grassroots comics are an exciting and growing form of participa-
works, jewellery, clothing, toys and artistic work.
tory communications.
Internet, print or both?
Online, Offline or Both (Hybrid)
To think about the best way to reach your audience, ask questions like:
o Will they be online with a stable Internet connection?
o Would they be more comfortable reading something in their hand
rather than on a computer?

44 45
Who are grassroots comics for?
Any group with an identity, a message and a target audience can pro-
duce and use grassroots comics as a communication tool.

What resources do you need?

The technology involved is not very complicated. Pen, paper, ideas and
a way to reproduce and distribute them is all you need.
The comics deal with local issues, and use local languages, local
visual culture and local meanings and metaphors.
In our experience, very diverse groups on different levels of literacy
and technical sophistication can, with some encouragement, all learn to
produce comics that are of great interest to their groups or communi-

Draw your own or use existing artwork

You can also create comic strips from pre-existing artwork using, or
Each has a different style, so check them all out to see what suits
your organisation, audience and strategy (see p6).
All of these will allow you to share the comics you created online.
However you may have to pay for a premium membership or make a do-
nation in order to download your comic in a format that can be printed.
Find out more at World Comics
Visit the World Comics website
bookinfo.shtml to learn more, including simple “How To...” downloads
to take away and guide you through the process.

Why use grassroots comics?

What are grassroots comics? Bring stories to life with simple pictures
Comics are stories which are told visually with images and text that Grassroots comics dramatise specific issues and bring them into live
contains a lot of speech and dialogue. They become “grassroots”comics debate within the community.
when they are made by an NGO or by community activists about an Grassroots comics have been successfully used in campaigns
issue that is relevant to that particular community. involving human rights, health education, corruption, environmental
o Comics are genuine voices that encourage local debate in the society.
concerns, and many others. They can be employed at different levels of
o They can be produced by groups and individuals who normally have
campaigning, from peer group distribution within a local community to
little or no access to media production. mass distribution.
o They are rarely made by professional artists, but can be if they are
The comics are most of the time directly related to some activity of
available. an NGO or a community group, but there are also works from individu-
als who just want to tell their own stories. Children often make comics
depict the issues that affect their lives in a moving way.

46 47
Since comics stand out, they are attractive for NGOs, which always magazines and brochures, so it is also a good idea to consider this when
have to look for new and innovative ways of communicating with their choosing the format.
target audience. Furthermore, to distribute comics in communities is
not very expensive – pens, papers and access to a copying machine are Wall poster comics
all that is required. Wall poster comics are the most common and most cost-effective for-
mat. The advantages are obvious: you can cover a whole village popula-
The voice from the streets
tion by pasting two or three wall poster comics in strategic places. All
The mainstream media tends to look at the larger picture and pay atten-
this for the cost of a few photocopies.
tion to political and business stories. The stories of common people are
The wall poster comic is a story that is told visually in four parts, so
much less visible.
it is a compact format. Most messages, however, can be converted into a
If we look at life through the eyes of a community activist we see
short and precise story. Many of the traditional development commu-
that mainstream media rarely reflects the views an activist wants to put
nication posters normally have only one message or a slogan, but in the
Because grassroots comics are created by ordinary people and
especially by community activists, they give a first-hand view – a “first
voice” – on the issues in the community. They are a form of expression
that gives ordinary 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 other groups in the society that have false ideas or bad opinions
of them. Genuine, heartfelt stories are convincing and they have cred-
ibility. These comics can be distributed by organisations working with
ethnic, political or communal problems.
Speak truth to those in power
Comics can be an effective means of speaking truth to power. People
in decision-making positions often have very little direct contact with
grassroots organisations or local activists.
By using the attention-grabbing medium of comics, these activists
can send their stories on specific issues directly to the decision-makers.
Busy politicians and officials may welcome the opportunity to read a
comic rather than to look through another pile of papers.
This is because the drama of the story is captured succinctly in the
comic format, and engages the reader and makes the point.

What is common to all grassroots comics formats is that they always use
simple, widely available duplicating methods, such as:
o Photocopying for issues up to 30-40 copies
o Screen printing for issues from 100 copies upwards
o Offset printing for issues from 200-300 copies upwards
Comics can later be converted for publication in newspapers,

48 49
wall poster comic you can put in a lot more information and feeling as ing machine that can reduce the original to 50% of its size. Take the
in the story there can be drama and a sequence of things that happen. original 8-panel story (A3), reduce it to 50% and make four copies. Cut
Normal photocopying, using A4 sized paper, is widely available the two strips and assemble them on an A3 sheet of paper. Then fold
in the world, even in rather remote areas. Therefore the simplest wall the A3 into an accordion, cut it into four parts, and you have got four
poster format is to combine two A4-photocopies and join them. This accordion mini-comics for the price of one A3 photocopy.
makes a wall poster of A3 size, which is big enough to be noticed from
a distance. The wall poster can be comfortably read standing, from a Comic strips
distance of about 1 meter. If a bigger (A3) photocopying machine is You can convert comics into strips to be published in magazines, news-
available, then the copies can be made directly to this size. letters and brochures, but you have to remember that the reduction
When you need a big amount of wall posters, photocopying from the original size can be drastic and you will have to make sure that
becomes an expensive option. There are, normally some small printing the original artwork has sufficiently thick lines, and that the text is big
shops in most towns that cater to the business printing needs in the enough, so that you don’t lose them if the quality or size is reduced.
area. Most of these small printers can make inexpensive print runs of a
few hundred copies. There might be some requirements for what type Distribution – Local focus, local action
of original the printer can use, but these should not be too difficult to One characteristic that differentiates these comics from professional
master. material is the fact that they are made mainly for local distribution. The
comics are posted in public spaces such as community centres, bus
Booklets stops, shops, offices, schools, notice boards and electricity poles. The
Comic booklets are useful because the stories can be much longer than readers usually know the organisation that has put up the comics.
in a wall poster comic. You can increase the number of turns the story This proximity is important: the source of the communication and
takes, introduce more characters, and make the story more dramatic the readers are not very far apart. People are very much interested in
and lively when you have more space. A booklet can be distributed to what their local organisations and activists have to say. The comics will
participants in meetings or seminars, to people that are motivated to show that some persons in the community feel so strongly about an is-
take a stand on an issue, to visitors to an NGO office, etc. sue that they make local campaign material themselves, rather than rely
The basic booklet is an 8-page story produced from one double- on materials produced by some distant campaign professionals from the
sided photocopy. When the pages are set in a specific order and photo- capital or even from abroad. When they use wall poster comics, their
copied on the same sheet of paper, it can be folded into an 8-page book. message will get attention and create local debate.
You can also make a 16-page story by folding a double-sided pho-
tocopy. This is the format to use when you need to make a longer story Broadening the audience
without having to draw a lot of detailed action. For more concerted campaigning work, the available resources will
always be the determining factor. Keep in mind, though, the ability to
Accordion mini-comics use the comics in several stages. If the comics are sent to the local press
Accordion comics are folded into an accordion and read either as a at the same time as posted on the streets, for example, this will also
long strip or a mini-booklet. The format is especially useful for discreet multiply the publicity for the issue at hand.
distribution because from the outside of the mini-comics you cannot Grassroots comics that have been made for a local audience can
see what it is about as the covers are blank. also be used for mass distribution across a region. This was the case in
The simplest accordion comic is made from a photocopy of a story the Barmer Girl Child Campaign
that is drawn in eight panels on a sheet of paper. The paper is cut in half root_barmer_00.shtml, in Rajasthan, India, in which comics made by
and the two pieces are joined with a piece of tape. Although it includes villagers and activists in Barmer were later distributed in Rajasthan,
a bit of handwork, the size of the panels is easy to work with and this because the messages were relevant for the whole area. A first voice
format is easy to photocopy as you need to copy only on one side. communication by a community member has much more credibility
A mini-accordion can be made if you have access to a photocopy- and impact than a slick presentation by a communication professional.

50 51
Creating understanding Different and unexpected
Grassroots comics from different groups and countries can also be The power of guerrilla marketing is in its ability to surprise and delight
shown in exhibitions or published in order to give an insight into how those taking the action as well as those witnessing it. Coming up with
members of a particular group look at their lives and which issues are creative and original ideas is a fun part of the process, too. Brainstorm-
important to them. From their comics we can get a first-hand view of ing about different imagery, media and sites as well as different methods
how a community tackles their problems. Such exhibitions and publica- of distribution and production is an important and rewarding part of
tions are filled with a lot of local cultural information, and sometimes it the process in itself.
is difficult to translate that to a mainstream audience. It can take a little time to talk through the range of possibilities
Even when the comics are not drawn on a professional level, the and work up to more outrageous or unconventional scenarios – even
passion and confidence in the message come through. conventional elements moved into an unconventional situation can
puzzle and delight. Guerrilla marketing works because it is different and
Guerrilla marketing unexpected. It stops people and grabs their attention, either in person
Guerrilla marketing is an unconventional intervention in public or or second-hand via stories, the Internet or mainstream media coverage.
commercial space to spread your message to an extended audience. This Guerrilla marketing is a creative, low-cost way of spreading your mes-
section will present you basic principles and provide you some ideas sage, and a fun way to do so.
and examples to consider when choosing this medium as an strategy to
convey your advocacy work. Guerrilla strategy with creativity – the essential element
Guerrilla marketing can take the form of a personal letter purpose-
fully left on the back seat of a bus, a billboard altered to subvert its
message, a banner hung from a bridge, or costumed hero handing out
bundled letters of protest, tied with a bow. Guerrilla marketing gets at-
tention because it is out of the ordinary -- both atypical and unexpected.
It uses surprise to capture the attention and imagination.
It can take a number of approaches:
o Quiet and personal
o Large and bombastic
o Humorous and satirical, or
o Simple and sober.
Guerrilla marketing is a direct action in the image environment -- a
disruption of the status quo. Guerrilla marketing can work in conjunc-
tion with other types of campaigning but is particularly attractive when
other forms of media or demonstration are not feasible, accessible, or
affordable, or when other forms of campaigning have been met with Guerrilla marketing is particularly suited for NGOs and advocacy
apathy. groups because it emphasizes creativity, imagination and resourceful-
Guerrilla marketing makes dissent visible in an otherwise ness over big budgets and access to mass media. Guerrilla marketing
controlled environment. It emboldens others who are sympathetic to can be low-tech and require very little initial investment. It’s also a way of
your message but may not have the courage or means to declare their circumventing other types of controls. For instance, when a protest is not
sympathy publicly. permitted, guerrilla marketing can make a message heard in other ways.
While guerrilla marketing may initially reach people who witness
Get people to participate
an action first-hand, it can reach others as stories of unexpected encoun-
Guerrilla marketing can also be interactive, asking participants to com-
ters spread through word of mouth, on the Internet or even through
plete an action. Examples of actions include:
reporting in mainstream media.

52 53
o Tearing off a paper to reveal the image underneath o What is your desired outcome? What do you want your audience to
o Sending an SMS text message to a special number experience or do?
o Wearing a certain colour and converging at a predetermined location, o Do you have the resources and capacity to undertake your action? Do
o or Distributing a stencil template for supporters to cut and paint you need outside professionals, volunteers?
around town. o How visible is your target location? Different types of people frequent
different neighbourhoods, and different locations have different
What forms can it take? safety, security and accessibility concerns.
Guerrilla marketing can take a variety of forms: brush and paint, spray
can and stencil, photocopy or colour printout, wheat paste, perfor- Go viral
mance art (, flash mob “Viral” marketing relies on the public to spread your message by sharing
(, etc. There’s no one way to it among friends and through existing social networks. The term derives
do it. Let your imagination run wild, then bring it back to your strategy from the way the message is spread: when a person sends a message to
to check if it will work. a group of friends, and those friends to their groups of friends, the mes-
Where accessible, online distribution is a great way of sharing sage spreads exponentially and quickly reaches a large audience.
printable resources. Posting your materials on the Internet can be an Humorous, outrageous and simply strange messages are likely to
effective way of spreading your message and campaign beyond your be passed along between friends. While viral marketing usually refers
usual supporters. Images and printable templates for stickers, stencils, to forwarding messages or links via e-mail, it can include the spread of
or signage can be downloaded by sympathetic viewers and further dis- fax, photocopy, video or other media among social networks as well.
seminated. Printing up a large number of materials and sending out a Making media easy to share and encouraging sharing can help make
call for help via e-mail or SMS can also bring in help to disseminate your campaigns viral.
campaign materials.
Organizations can even sponsor “open calls” for poster, stencil or Breaking the law
action ideas that other supporters can access and reproduce on their In many cases, guerrilla marketing may be illegal and put at risk:
own. o members of your organization (caught in the act)
o the public (found in possession of illegal materials)
When should you use guerrilla marketing? o property owners (say, a shopkeeper or homeowner on whose wall a
Guerrilla marketing works best in densely populated, public places mural is painted)
where people will encounter your message. Places that work well are Before undertaking your action, consider: what is the law and what
city streets, college campuses, shopping malls, toilet doors, public parks is the penalty for breaking it?
or plazas. In some cases, it may make sense to apply for permission or per-
mits to implement an action, though in some cases official permission
Make them laugh may be cost prohibitive, introduce delay, or may not even be possible.
Humour is a particularly powerful way of touching people who may ini- Take precautions when planning an action. Before your action,
tially disagree or disapprove of your message as well as those who might fully inform your participants of the law and the possible consequences
usually ignore such messages. Parody, caricature and satire can puncture for breaking it. Brief participants on what to do in the event of arrest,
the reverence and gravitas that powerful offices command and open the or conflict with authorities. Perhaps arrange legal representation in
door for criticism. advance. Set up a system of communication to verify that your partici-
pants are all safe.
Planning Guerrilla action? Please consider…
Before undertaking your action, it makes sense to review a few things.
Including or not including contact information
o Who is your target audience? Where is the best place to reach them?
Now that interested members of the public have seen your campaign,
What is the best time of day or season?
how can they get in touch? In some cases, it may make sense to include

54 55
contact information, perhaps a phone number, Web address or anony- movie with hand-drawn characters, or moved puppets frame by frame.
mous e-mail address. In other cases, it may make sense to leave any All this magic comes from the physical limitations of the human eye,
identifying information off of the materials, particularly if there is a risk which cannot distinguish between still images if they change faster than
of prosecution. about twenty times a second. Our eyes perceive them as blending into
Next steps
The public has seen your message, now what do you want them to do? Why simple animation?
What next steps should they take? Many organizations focus on making Animation can add an expressive element to your message. Animation
a splash, without planning a way to follow up with new supporters. can take the form of a slideshow with floating text or it can emulate a
Providing a website address where people can get more information or short movie. Colour, movement, expressions and action can be effec-
a time and place for a follow-up meeting or protest may help channel a tive in attracting the viewer’s attention in ways that text cannot – telling
viewer’s reaction into meaningful action. stories and sharing information in a manner that taps into shared
social, cultural, or political assumptions. Animations can also evoke
Document it responses from diverse audiences, helping to overcome cultural barri-
Public interventions, particularly oppositional ones, may be quickly ers. The messages they convey can be light and entertaining or serious
dismantled or covered up by the authorities. But actions that last only and powerful.
briefly may live on if documented in photos or video. Be sure to docu- Simple animations are great for advocacy work for the following
ment your action, both for your own records and to publicize it. Of reasons:
course, depending on your situation, be careful to consider legal issues o They can be funny and are great for political satire
involved in retaining “evidence” of an illegal action. o They can attract attention more effectively than just a drawn image or
Publicise it o They can be used in lots of different spaces and shared and distributed
In some cases, guerrilla marketing actions are best kept underground. in different ways; via e-mail as an attachment, on a website or even via
Part of the thrill and effectiveness is when someone discovers it on their mobile phone.
own during the course of an otherwise ordinary day. However, in many o Small banner animations are a great way for you to publicise your blog
cases, it may make sense to publicize your action by notifying members or campaign; you can put an animated banner on your site and ask
of the media or an extended community of supporters. If accessible, others to include it on their site.
the Internet is a particularly cheap and widespread way of publishing o Simple GIF animation doesn’t require complex software or amazing
photos, stories and video. graphic skills; all it requires is your imagination. They are created
The power of guerrilla marketing is in its ability to surprise and using traditional methods, where multiple versions of a scene are
delight–both those taking the action as well as those perceiving it. It can drawn with objects or characters changing their position in each suc-
be a creative, low-cost way of spreading your message, and a fun way to cessive frame, so that the sequence of frames, when displayed quickly
do so. enough, gives the illusion of motion.
o Each individual frame of the animation has the display time set in
Simple animation fractions of a second. These frames are displayed in a sequence that
Animation can be a great tool for advocacy communications, bringing can be looped (repeated) once, infinitely or a fixed number of times.
life to your story, and presenting your ideas quickly and attractively. o GIF is an Internet standard for displaying animation. Because of this,
Animation is a huge subject so this guide is limited to the ways that the all the major Internet browsers (and even mobile phones) are capable
most basic computer animations can add life to your advocacy cam- of displaying it and users don’t need to install plug-ins or other ap-
paign. It doesn’t cover sophisticated Flash or computer animation. plications to see animations created in this way.
Moving images can be magical. Most of us have created or expe- The basic process is simply to create the frames and then animate
rienced simple flip-books to make images move, or seen an animated them using the GIMP graphics package. To source the images you can

56 57
draw them yourself, scan them or use photography. Animating text is a
simple way to start creating effective animations.

Think about the purpose of your animation. Is it intended to tell a 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 anima-
tion – 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 scene to another?
Think about how long you want your animation to run for. Do
you want it to appear 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 blend in to 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 using just a few frames, and when you get more
confident you can try and add more frames to make your animation
smooth, attractive and flowing.
Download some existing animations and look at them frame by
frame to see how they work.
Make your GIF images as small as possible – remember that the
browser will load one GIF after another and if the GIFs are huge it will
process them very slowly and your animation won’t look as good as it
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 need frames, and then
make changes to each of them individually. That way you can keep your
images the same  size but also make sure that other elements, such as
background, stay still when the foreground is moving.

Syrian bloggers created an animated gif to publicise their campaign to
free their jailed colleague Tariq Biasi which linked to an online petition:

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AUDIO – Get heard!

Audio strategy
Audio recording can be an effective tool in campaigning and advocacy.
This guide examines the uses of audio, what makes effective campaign-
ing content, and how to use audio strategically in your organising work.
Creating an excellent audio piece is no longer the preserve of
media experts. Today everybody can potentially make an audio piece, so
long as you have some basic equipment and a little background knowl-
edge. Using audio for campaigning and advocacy is a growing phenom-
enon, but it takes planning to make a piece innovative and effective. 
This guide looks at how you can create an audio work that is pow-
erful and useful to you and your audiences. There are many different
kinds of audio pieces, ranging from in-studio discussions, talk shows
and phone-ins to field recordings of events such as rallies. Other popular
formats are documentaries or features that combine various recordings
– such as interviews, background sounds, music and narration.
All these types of programming can now also be distributed as
podcasts, that is as downloadable audio feeds that listeners can sub-
scribe to online. These segments can be used for many different types
of campaigning or education. It is a great way to reach a mass audience
– people who listen to radio stations and people who listen to audio
When someone listens to your programme, they are engaging with
the content in an intimate way – just you and them. Radio/audio has
the power to be both private and public; intimate and broad-based. It

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can reach large numbers of people who may not otherwise be exposed which is most often created electronically, but doesn’t require elec-
to your message and provide them with compelling and personal tricity to be accessed by the end user in its printed form. The primary
details. electronic media sources familiar to the general public are video and
audio recordings, which can be distributed online, via CD-ROM,
Audio Glossary radio, television etc. Most new media are digital but electronic media
Many of these definitions have been drawn from Wikipedia may be in either analogue or digital format.
( Article references thanks to Sound Delivery Formats – formats can refer to the type of programme or production,
( for example a talk show format, an interview format, a feature format.
Actuality – background sounds and music that you edit into an audio Audio distribution formats on the Internet include online audio, pod-
piece, for example crowd noise if you are covering a rally or birdsong casting and streaming. There are also technical formats, for example
if you are making a piece set in a natural environment. analogue, digital, MP3, WAV, AIFF etc, which are different ways of
Audio – sound, in the context of broadcast and online sound record- capturing information.
ings, production and distribution. Multimedia – communications that incorporate multiple forms of
Analogue recording equipment – sound recording technology that information content and types of processing, for example live drama
preceded digital, and continues to be used, for example reel-to-reel with recorded sound and video.
tape machines. These machines reproduce sounds by copying the Minidisk (MD) – is a magneto-optical disc-based data storage device
shape of the sound waves in a medium such as magnetic tape or vinyl. initially intended for storage of up to 80 minutes of digitalized audio.
Analogue telecommunications – include traditional telephony, radio, Today, it has developed into a general-purpose storage medium in
and TV broadcasts. addition to greatly expanding its audio roots.
Broadcast – the distribution of audio and/or video signals that trans- Microphone – an acoustic-to-electric transducer or sensor that
mit programmes to an audience; mainly thought of in terms of radio converts the varied pressure of sound waves into an electrical signal.
and TV transmissions. Microphones are used with tape recorders, in live and studio audio
Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) – any form of data ex- engineering, in radio and television broadcasting and with comput-
change across two or more networked computers. More specifically, ers for recording voice and other sounds, and for Voive over Internet
those communications that occur via computer-mediated formats (VoIP).
(i.e., instant messages, e-mails, chat rooms) between two or more New media – a term describing media that can only be created or used
individuals. Online audio is an important kind of CMC. with the aid of computer processing power. These media generally
Content – refers to all the various elements in an audio piece, including permit some interactivity for their audience and are in digital form.
the words of an interview or other speech, the linking narrative and The distinction between “new media” and “old media” is difficult to
the background sound. identify since over the last decade many old media enterprises have
Digital audio – uses digital signals for sound reproduction, by convert- started to expand into producing new media.
ing sound into binary code where each number represents a fre- Podcasting – the distribution of media files over the Internet using syn-
quency or an amplitude. All sound on computers is digital, including dication feeds, for playback on portable media players and personal
sound converted from analogue to digital format, stored audio, and computers.
transmitted audio. Portable media players (PMP) – an independant electronic device
Digital audio player (DAP) – a devise that stores, organizes and plays that is capable of storing and playing back files in one or more media
digital music (or other audio) files. It is more commonly referred to formats.
as a MP3 player (because of the ubiquity of the MP3 format), but RSS – A family of Web feed formats used to syndicate digital content,
DAPS often play many additional file formats. such as podcasts.
Electronic media – media that use electronics or electromechanical Soundbite – a very short piece of content edited or extracted from a
energy to allow the end user (the audience or listeners) to access longer interview that is viewed as particularly relevant or revealing.
the content. This is in contrast to static media (mainly print media), Streaming audio – audio made available via the Internet as a continu-

62 63
ous ‘stream.’ Often refers specifically to a “live stream” – i.e. content ing audience participation with audio recordings is also a powerful way
that is continuously received by an end-user at the same time as it is to engage and involve people in your campaign or advocacy programme.
being delivered by the provider. Your target audience can be encouraged to call in to a live programme
Transmission – in general information theory, transmission is taken to and have their say – and if well-planned, this format can complement
mean the complete process of communication of information via a pre-recorded and in-studio content.
channel, such as a radio broadcast transmission; but increasingly via
new technology channels such as Internet. Checklist
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) – also called “Internet tele- Here’s a checklist of things to consider while planning your audio
phony,” “Broadband Phone,” and Voice over Broadband – this is the project.
routing of voice conversations over the Internet or through any other
IP-based network.
Producing informative and entertaining audio is an effective way of
reaching different audiences. People like to listen to other people and
Integrating Audio with Other Content
new situations – whether it is via radio, online or in person. Rural audi-
One of the best things about audio programming is that it can be used
ences use radio more than any other medium, particularly if it is in their
to supplement and support other output. In your campaign strategy
own local language; people who are not literate also find audio a power-
you may have print products – ad space in newspapers, or flyers and
ful way of finding out information and learning; and increasingly youth
brochures – and events, such as public meetings. Audio can support and
who have internet access are ‘switched on’ to online audio.
amplify all of these – it can repeat and reinforce your print content, it
can be a feature at an event, or can extend the event by recording it and Cost
making this documentation a feature of future media output. The cost of making audio is relatively low. It involves access to a digital
recorder, and then access to software for editing the sounds into a dis-
Radio for human rights tributable piece – and both these resources can be shared, and accessed 
 by each producer on a temporary basis. It is also possible to record
The organisation Radialistas Apasionadas y Apasionados is a not-for- sound using old style analogue tape recorders (such as a Sony Walkman,
profit NGO based in Lima, Peru. which records onto cassettes) and feed this analogue sound into a com-
They use radio to promote communication through democratic, puter, which converts it into digital sounds for editing. You can learn
free, accessible content concerned with human rights, race and sexual- how to do this and more in the guide to using Audacity on the Message
ity. Radialistas is an audio production centre with services targeted to in-a-box website under Audio.
radio professionals around the world, but with a focus on Latin America Audacity is the free and open source audio editing software
and the Caribbean. The online audio in Spanish and Portuguese can be featured in this toolkit. It can record and edit audio. You might use Au-
downloaded for podcast or rebroadcasting. dacity for recording sounds, like interviews or music. You can then use
Audacity to combine these sounds and edit them to make documenta-
Multiple platforms ries, music, podcasts etc.
The term that new media strategists use to describe this integration is
Time and duration
‘multiple platforms’ – this refers to the ability to put your message or
Audio pieces normally range in length from 30 seconds (the length of
content out via as many routes as possible at the same time, online and
most radio or TV ads) to five minutes (the length of most news items
offline: playing a recording via local and even national broadcasters can
on a radio programme). Documentaries and longer features, however,
be augmented by also making the recording available online as a pod-
may be up to half an hour in length or more. The time needed to make
cast download, as a streaming Web file, as a transcript, and even with
an audio piece can be calculated approximately as an hour for every five
video and photo clips, all linked with easy-to-navigate Web links.
minutes of broadcast time, but of course this varies enormously with the
All of these platforms mutually reinforce and benefit each other
nature of the piece and the experience of the maker/s.
– they literally amplify your message. In on-air radio programming, mix-

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Skill levels required can use a minidisk recorder, any type of digital recorder (DAT or hard-
For gathering audio, simply being able to get the sound right – through disc), a professional-grade analogue recorder, or a simple “walkman”-
listening to your interviewee and adjusting sound levels as they speak – style cassette recorder.
is all that is required. Most community radio volunteers learn to record If you plan to pitch your piece to on-air radio broadcasters, you
sound well within a few days of practice. The editing stage requires a should not use a mini-cassette recorder, because the sound they pro-
higher skill level, but it is also increasingly accessible to the beginner. duce is not of broadcast quality. Two important factors that distinguish
recorders from each other is the presence of a time counter and the abil-
ity to adjust sound levels. Neither are necessities, but both are extremely
The ‘1 hour for every 5 broadcast minutes’ rule is not a scientific assess-
ment but one based on many radio producers’ experience. At least half
Note that you’ll need a special converter to get your analogue
of this time is spent sourcing and recording the piece, along with going
sound into digital format to edit on the computer.
through the content and making decisions about what to use and what
to leave out, and then additional time distributing it to listeners. Mobile phones
Once you have captured your pictures, video and sound on your mobile
Online radio for international migrants phone you need to get them onto your computer in order to incorpo-
rate them into your organisation’s campaign communications or your

blog post.
In 2006, The December 18 Campaign developed an audio campaign to
Mobile phones typically record sounds using a file format called
celebrate International Migrants Day.
.AMR, which is primarily designed for phones and should be trans-
Nearly 50 radio stations from 27 countries participated, and over 42
ferred onto a computer, and converted for editing.
programmes were gathered in languages as varied as Chinese, Baha,
Once the sound files are on the computer, they can be converted,
Spanish and Kazak. The campaign secured over 1700 visitors to the
using a freeware tool like Mobile AMR converter (
website on December 18, and hundreds of audio files were played and
UoB23), into the .WAV or FLAC format, which can then be edited on
downloaded from the site.
the computer using a sound editing tool, such as Audacity (see p. x), or
Radio marathon coordinator Myriam Horngren is convinced that
any other audio editing application you already have access to.
audio is extremely useful for advocacy, especially on migration issues.
There are various ways to get sounds from your phone to your
“There are many migrant and diaspora radio stations or shows around
the world both online and offline, which shows that radio is definitely
o Bluetooth
fulfilling a need, and so we are able to reach out to them,” she says.
o Wifi
“Most people in the world have access to radios (unlike television or the
o Data cable.
net) and even in developed societies people listen to radios online while
Bluetooth is a technology which allows two handsets or a handset
working, at home while doing other activities and in cars or other mode
and a computer within close proximity of each other to transfer infor-
of transport... podcasting now is also used widely. Also most radios in
mation to each other. Most Bluetooth technology works over a range of
the world communicate in the local language which means it’s possible
approximately 10 metres. Although newer variants can reach further, up
to reach a wide audience.”
to 100 metres, it’s most likely that you will use Bluetooth to transfer data
off your phone while sitting next to the computer with the phone.
Hardware resources To connect your phone and your computer via Bluteooth you
Recorders should follow the instructions on your computer about ‘pairing’ a device
Although digital recorders are increasingly the norm, either an analogue via Bluetooth. You have to make sure that Bluetooth is switched on, on
or a digital recorder will do the job. Whichever you use, when you input both devices and follow the instructions. If you are transferring data this
your recording into your computer it will be converted to digital sound, way, always remember to switch Bluetooth off when you are finished.
which you can then edit with free digital sound-editing software. You

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A microphone
It’s best to have an external microphone for recording so you can put it second greeting is top of the charts on phones, as Mrs Arroyo struggles
as close to the sound source as possible. Any standard microphone, uni with record low popularity. The authorities have barred the media
or omni-directional, will do. Many recorders have a built in microphone from broadcasting any portion of it, saying it is part of a plot against the
that is often more than sufficient for non-broadcast quality recording president. Even public transport drivers have been warned not to adapt
but may not produce clear enough sound for radio play. If you have to the ring tone to the horns of their vehicles. An internet site that offered
use a recorder with a built-in microphone, be sure to hold the recorder the ‘Hello Garci’ tune crashed as Filipinos clamoured to download it.
as close to source of the sound as possible – if it is an interview, hold Antony Cruz, from a text message consumer rights group, said its site
it relatively close to the person’s mouth, but be aware that too high an got more than 70,000 hits in three days.
input will create distortion. See the full story at
Download the ring tone at
You will need a set of headphones to check sound levels as you record.
The headphones enable you to hear the sound exactly as it is being
recorded, and therefore exactly as the audience will hear it. It’s a good
idea to record a minute or so of sound in situ before you start and listen Steps to great audio
back to it on headphones to check for problems such as noise, distortion Follow the steps below to achieve fantastic audio.
or insufficient level.
Step 1 – Planning
Creating great audio is not only about sound levels. Planning what you
Radio activism for transparency want to produce is the first vital step, and you should revisit your plan
Since 2001, Transparency Thailand (TT) has produced a series of radio throughout the process of making the audio, to make sure that you are
shows dealing with the problems of corruption and lack of transparency still working towards what you had planned.
in government and business circles. The shows were aired on a major Your plan should answer the following questions: Who is this for?
Bangkok radio station with an audience of over one million people. and What is it trying to achieve?
Later, TT was invited to broadcast an additional 15-minute radio slot Identify your audience. What is the key message? What do you
on the country’s military radio network. This has allowed for coverage want listeners to learn / feel / do? What are the barriers to this audience
on more than ten other radio stations in many more remote and rural hearing this message?
areas of Thailand. Over the first two years of the initiative, the shows
have been aired more than 100 times, and over 200 guest speakers have Step 2 – Choosing a format
appeared from various government agencies, independent organisa- Choose the right format for your audience and message. Here are some
tions, the private sector, academic institutions and civil society groups. common formats for you to choose from:
The radio station has agreed to continue supporting the programme by o Panel discussion – an interviewer with two or more contributors
providing assistance and airtime. o Phone-in – recording of contributors on the phone; usually used in
studio-based context. Note: be careful about legal restrictions about
recording people in the phone, this is illegal in some countries, even if
A simple ring tone startles president the person has given permission.
In the Philippines, part of an alleged conversation between the Comelec o Single interview – with an interviewee and interviewer.
Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano and Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo o Feature – with voice, background sound, narration and other ele-
has become a hugely popular ring tone on mobile phones. The Hello ments mixed together.
Garci ring tone started circulating online days after tapes of this sup- o Dramatic – this is a broad category and can include theatre, music
posed conversation about vote rigging surfaced in the media. The 17- and other entertaining formats.

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o Informative/docmentary – a piece that primarily conveys informa- For some sorts of interviews, you may want to prepare the
tion, in the same way as a public service announcement or advert interviewee(s) in advance by discussing what sort of questions you are
provides educational information. going to ask. Especially if the recording is being played live, or if you
o Endorsement – using a well known person to convey a message, such hope to use the interview without much editing, this is time well spent.
as a leader or a celebrity.
Step 5 – Reviewing your material
Step 3 – Choosing a style One of the most important steps in producing audio is to listen back
Choose a style for your audio piece that suits your audience and your to your recording and make notes or a full transcript of what was said
message. and where the good sounds are located. If you do this in shorthand, it
o Formal or informal – do you want to use humour and familiarity as is called a “log.” This step takes time, and a frequent mistake made by
tools to reach your audience, or do you want to convey information audio producers at all levels of experience is hasty logging. This can
by invoking authoritative sources and “experts”? The most obvious result in a great deal of wasted time. Time spent reviewing and logging
example of the formal style is a news item, in which the emphasis is your content is time well spent.
put on the authority of the information. A log can take a number of forms depending on what works for
o With a narrator or without – do you want to let the voice of your you, but at minimum, be sure to record the time of each new paragraph
contributor(s) be the whole audio piece, as many ‘oral history’ or new sound (make sure to start your playback at 00’00”), and then
productions do, or do you want to incorporate a “presenter” voice to additionally the time when there is a good bit of speech or background
draw the pieces together for the audience? sound. Note the start time, the first few words, the last few words,
and the end time for each section that you like. For example: INTRO
Step 4 – Setting up the recording (00’20”): “I believe the most important aspect is ……
Whether you are doing an interview or capturing raw sound, you need OUT: …………………everyone should know this”. (00’50”)
to take time to test the sound levels before you actually start recording. If your recorder does not have a counter button, you can use a
Background sound, such as the hum of an air conditioner, might not stopwatch to capture these times. You might also want to write notes
have been noticeable before you started recording, but once you have to yourself such as “overview” or “part 3 – significance” to help you
your headphones on it can suddenly sound very loud. remember what part of your story each particular sound connects to.
Some background sound can add to the atmosphere, but some can If you set up your log as a table, you can make a column for such
be purely distracting. If the noise is a problem, ask it to be switched of notes, and if you do a fuller transcription you can just insert them in the
or silenced, or if necessary move to another location. There is nothing text with a consistent flag. However you choose to do it, think of this
worse (and it happens a lot) than to come back with unusable record- step as identifying the building blocks that you are later going to go back
ings simply because the person making the recording felt too awkward to when you edit or mix.
to do anything about it at the time.
If you are doing an interview, take the time to test your contribu- Step 6 – Editing & “packaging” content
tor’s voice for loudness and clarity, and make any necessary changes Once you have your building blocks identified, you can go back and
– such as adjusting the sound levels, repositioning the microphone, or start putting your piece together. This may entail recording additional
changing the seating arrangement or general environment. clips of narration to bridge certain themes.
You can also use this test period or “sound-check” as a way to break Even if your piece has only three sections – for example: a three-
the ice – people are often nervous about being recorded and uncomfort- sentence intro, a two-minute interview, and a conclusion pointing to
able speaking into a microphone, but you can take steps to ensure that where listeners can learn more – you still want to have identified these
they are as relaxed as possible. Welcome them, perhaps make a joke, and three pieces and thought through how they are going to fit together. At
then tell them that you will ask a few ‘trailer’ questions that won’t be this stage, it is important to refer back to the priorities you identified in
recorded. ‘What did you have for breakfast?’ is a standard first question Step 1, in order to keep yourself on track.
to break the ice, and also to test voice levels.

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Step 7 – Usage & distribution HIV/AIDS audio pieces from OneWorld Radio
If you create an interesting and engaging audio piece, you can make it
One World Radio:
available to radio stations as well as to online distributors – for example
audio collected a selection of audio pieces made by young people for
advocacy websites. The Internet enables online audio to be used and
World AIDS Day, with the aim of making these pieces available for
accessed around the world, usually at no extra cost to the distributor or
community radio broadcasters around the world and for online listeners
user. This makes it a powerful media and advocacy tool that is difficult
globally. The content was gathered through a competition called UNI-
to block or censor. An audio piece can have a long shelf life, particularly
CEF/OneWorld Radio Prize. Awards are presented for the best feature
if it is not dated by a reference to a time or event.
(up to six minutes) and the best Public Service Announcement (PSA).
The ability to reuse an audio piece is a strength of this kind of
resource. Audio work can be archived in an online audio database, and it
can be repeated on radio shows in new and different configurations. In o “Living with HIV,” by Jose Yesani of Zambia – a four-minute piece
order to successfully distribute content to both online or on-air sources, telling the story of a young man discovering that he is HIV-positive.
advance research and relationship-building work is necessary. Yesani uses an animated monologue over a driving soundtrack to
relay this man’s feelings on learning that his diagnosis is not the end
Step 8 – Evaluation of his life.
It can be a major challenge to evaluate the success or impact of an audio o “In the Mother’s Womb,” by Nikita Jain of India – this piece takes
piece. You can obtain data about who listened online from programs the unusual perspective of a baby in the womb of her HIV-positive
that tally website hits and downloads, and radio stations also have tools mother.
to assess audience size. But evaluating the impact and effectiveness of o “Thembi’s AIDS Diary, “ by Thembi Ngubane of South Africa and
the content of your piece requires focus groups, questionnaires and Jonathan Richman of the United States – in this piece, a young
other methods that are applied to groups of listeners, if these can be woman relays her experiences of being HIV-positive.
identified and such data collection arranged. You could prearrange for a o “Lupita,” by Desarrollo Autogestionario AC (AUGE) of Mexico – the
number of people to listen to the audio and give you their feedback, or 44-second spot conveys the discrimination a girl faces because she is
ask for feedback at the end of the piece, providing a web contact. of indigenous descent and HIV-positive. AUGE is a group supporting
the children of working mothers.
o “Get to Work,” by David Daka of Zambia – this piece shows men
Using audio for advocacy case study – 
 working together as a metaphor on how we must work together to
Radio Voices Without Frontiers overcome HIV/AIDS. “Soy Tavo,” by AUGE – in this piece a six-
Each year, the World Association of Community Radio Broadcast- year-old boy talks about his sadness because nobody wants to live or
ers, (known by its French acronym, AMARC): play with him.
index.php?p=Radio_Voices_Without_Frontiers&l=EN co-produces a
global audio campaign with affiliates from around the world. This project Common mistakes
entails sharing locally gathered audio content for production, as well as Here are a few common mistakes to avoid.
sharing the finished product via the net and traditional radio broadcast-
Straying from your plan
ing. Examples of campaigns include: AMARC global community radio
Getting lost and creating something very different from what you
broadcast against discrimination – the broadcast, which explores issues
planned can be a common problem in creating audio because there are
of racism and discrimination in all forms and seeks to illuminate these
many factors that are not always under your control. For example, an
issues through observation, includes reports and documentaries from
interviewee may not be saying exactly what you expect them to say, or
community radio stations worldwide.
they may be less articulate than you hoped, or background sound may
International Women’s Day Broadcast – a 24-hour live Internet
have been a problem.
broadcast dedicated to women and gender issues.

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Not going with your gut instinct Indymedia
Go with your gut: if it sounded good to you first time then it will sound ( – a network of individu-
good to your listener. It’s a common mistake to ignore these feelings als, independent and alternative media activists and organisations, offer-
when you feel you need to include more content or topics. But if it ing grassroots, non-corporate, non-commercial coverage of important
does not sound right you should not use it. If you need to, use narration social and political issues.
rather than trying to stretch or mix up sounds that do not work. ‘If in
Itrainonline’s Multimedia Training Kit
doubt, leave it out’ is an old saying in radio broadcasting that every new – a free
producer is taught.
collection of training materials for audio producers from a range of
Producing earnest but boring content communication NGOs.
A common mistake is to make earnest, dull audio pieces, especially if
Media Trust
the issue in focus is particularly serious. Just because the topic is seri- – a UK-based charity ‘ bringing together
ous does not mean the audio piece needs to be dull. Use music, sound
the media industry and charities’.
effects, and actuality (background sound) to spice it up. Un-attributed
clips of comments by people on the street – called “vox-pops” – are OneWorld Radio
popular in broadcasting and can give any piece colour and diversity. – a network of NGOs and community radio
members, with online audio archive and resources.
Anti-Corruption Radio Spots Campaign (Brazil) Sound Delivery
In 2002, Transparency Internation (TI) Brasil asked a São Paulo-based– a non-profit sector com-
radio station to regularly air short anti-corruption spots aimed at munications and training company.
awareness-raising and behavioural change. The initiative – called “Say Readings Some selected readings collated by Sound Delivery:
No to Corruption” – airs radio spots four times per day, two during the
prime time noon news programme.
At least nine other Brazilian radio stations approached by TI Brasil Audio distribution
and replicated the initiative soon after. According to its creators, the cam- This guide will provide practical tips on how to get your audio pub-
paign was only possible because TI Brasil wrote the spots themselves. lished on the Internet, and how to use existing distribution channels
To inform an even larger audience, they also asked about 800 people to reach the audiences that will appreciate it most. Examples are also
(200 of whom are journalists who are informed on a weekly basis about provided of nonprofit organisations who incorporate this technology
TI Brasil’s activities) to tell other people in their communities about the into their advocacy work.
campaign. Local organisations in the provinces were also invited to take The human voice is powerful. It can be spontaneous, intimate and
part in the initiative. There were no costs involved as TI Brazil managed engaging. It can make people who are separated by thousands of miles
to get their media allies and partners to cooperate with them for free. feel as if they were in the same room. It can express mere content, but
also context, feeling, passion. Until recently, though, voice was usually
Links & resources restricted to local, personal reach. Only a few with access to expensive
AMARC media tools were able to hear and distribute audio to a global audience.
(– the World Association of Community Today technology makes it easier not only to record and edit audio,
Radio Broadcasters (known by its French acronym) is an international but also distribute it throughout the world using new technologies like
network of community radio members, with links to global campaigns blogs and podcasts.
and resources.
A Podcast is a way to subscribe to audio content published online. By
creating a podcast feed people can subscribe to get updated every time

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you publish a new episode. It’s like subscribing to a newspaper and hav- o There are plenty of services that will publish your audio programme
ing it delivered to your door instead of having to remember to go to the for free. If you want a more customised solution, you can register an
shops to buy it. People can listen to your show on their computer or on Internet domain (your own Internet address) and use free and open
an mp3 player. source software such as WordPress (on the Message in-a-box website
In the Audio section of the website, you can find out How to choose under Internet) to publish the files on your own Web server.
a podcasting system and how to set up a podcast using WordPress. o Describing your content – Be sure to add a text 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
Podcasts for Farmers – Practical Action

In Peru digital audio distribution techniques have been used to deliver
Internet. Having an easy-to-find text description of every file you
upload makes it more likely that new listeners will be interested in
targeted messages to farmers in their local languages. It’s free for users them.
to subscribe to the service and automatically receive regular updates. To
make each podcast more accessible to the wider farming community, What makes a good podcast?
local information centres with Internet connections make audio CDs or Susie Emmett, communication specialist in radio and new media, has
copy the files onto digital audio players, which enable farmers to listen written a Q&A (question and answer) about what makes a good pod-
at a time convenient to their schedule. They are also able to rewind and cast. “It’s often the simple things, like humour or real life stories. People
replay the parts of the information they might at first not understand. like listening to others talking about their own lives and situations. If
The podcasts are also broadcast on radio, offering the opportunity for they’ve got a good idea or something has worked, then people want to
people with traditional receivers to hear the same information. It was hear about it. If something has gone wrong then they like to hear about
this mix of old and new technology that contributed largely to the suc- that too.”
cess of this project. Read the full article ( Read the full article at
Blogs are personal or collectively managed websites which are simple
to create and update. As access to broadband Internet and free hosting Raised Voices
have increased and the distribution of large files has become faster and Raised Voices is a series of several short audio and video clips of
easier, attaching audio files to blog posts has become a viable way to people with views from the margins speaking out about the impacts of
distribute audio content. environmental and social injustice on their lives and in their countries.
The clips are made available to organisations and individuals to use in a
Factors to Consider variety of media including websites, radio shows and podcasting. They
o Defining & developing your audience – One of the biggest advan- include pieces from activists such as Mpumelelo Mhlalisi from Earthlife
tages of distributing audio through the Internet is that your audience Africa talking about climate change at
can be widespread yet very specifically targeted. Remember that an mpumclimate
audience of ten people who understand what you mean can often be
better than thousands of listeners who don’t have a clue. Promoting your podcast
o Establishing an editorial focus with specific content boundaries can Once your podcast is ready and published, it is time to get people
help with this goal. An audio blog or podcast is a great way to provide to subscribe and listen to it. Read what Corey Pudhorodsky, from
ongoing status reports, to build an audience and engage potential 501c3Cast has to say about it:
collaborators. “When I interview someone from a non-profit organisation that
o Outreach – Podcasts are a good tool for outreach. A podcast or works in a specific field I e-mail and post messages to others that might
audio-blog post can be re-transmitted by community radio stations or be interested. For example when I interviewed Scott Skinner from the
used in conferences or debates, thus becoming a useful resource for Drachen Foundation (a non-profit preserving the history and art of kite
others and reaching further networks and contexts.

76 77
the requirements of podcasting and the Internet. None of us had any
flying), I e-mailed some of the most popular kite enthusiast’s websites. real experience when we started: we first had to find people who had
When I interviewed a physician who volunteers in Haiti, I posted mes- the technical knowledge, and we needed time to experiment and learn.
sages on many Haiti community message boards and chat rooms. Fortunately, we established a relationship with the founders of Raised
“Pretty standard promotion techniques but I think they may have Voices, a project that enables marginalised people to speak out about
attracted some listeners who I wouldn’t have normally thought would environmental and social injustice by using short film clips. They helped
have been interested in the podcast… us to learn the skills involved. And practice, combined with advice from
“I’ve experimented with burning podcast episodes to CDs and experienced people, is critical.”
sharing them with friends and family to pass along. I’ve also “lost a few
CDs” in places that I thought people might notice them and be inter- Links and resources
ested. Conferences, bookstores, and coffee shops have been places that ICT Update – A bulletin published by the Technical Centre for Agricul-
I’ve thought of so far. tural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) about podcasts and their relevance
“ ...make sure you are listed in all of the podcast directories. to rural communities
You can find a pretty thorough list of them at: http://www.pod- Audio activism – Brian C. Russell is a media activist who produces this podcast and weblog. Take a look at his: Podcasting tutorial and intro
Comment posted to Netsquared (
How to create an interview podcast on the cheap
Open audio licensing
Publishing your audio with an open content license means that you are podcasts-on-the-cheap/
allowing people to make use of your production without asking for your DIY Radio:
permission beforehand. In other words, it is a public statement that you Mobile podcast: – An article on how to create
allow people to download and redistribute your work. your own mobile podcasts.
Depending on the case, you can choose a license that also allows Britt Bravo – is a writer specializing in stories about individuals and or-
for derivative works to be created from your material, or for people to ganizations that are creating social change. Read her tips on ‘Seven ways
use samples of your work on their own production – or you can disallow nonprofits can use podcasts’:
this and require that your piece be used in its full and original form. An
open license enables your audio not only to be downloaded and listened
to by your subscribers, but also redistributed.
You can read more about open licenses on page 13.

Social justice podcasts

Pambazuka News – Africa (
Pambazuka is a pan-African weekly electronic newsletter that has been
using podcasts to complement their content. According to the editor
Firoze Manji: “Podcasting has the potential to enable activists and ordi-
nary citizens engaged in the struggle for social justice to plan, produce
and edit their own ‘broadcasts’ without an interpretive or interfering
intermediary, as happens so often in the mainstream media (whether
written or broadcast)... In essence, the facilities, equipment and skills
needed to produce a podcast are little different from those required to
make traditional radio programmes. But we also needed to understand

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global + local + low cost

Internet strategy
Like traditional communications, Internet strategy is about figuring out
who you want to reach, what your message to them is, and how you’re
going to communicate it. But the Web isn’t just a one-way channel – it’s
a participatory space. Communicating on the Internet is really about
engagement, about getting people involved. If you do it right, people
will become advocates for your message and they’ll start promoting it
Here are four good reasons for thinking carefully about your
Internet Strategy:
o Constant access – to key information and interaction with anyone
that can get online, with no mailing or printing costs. That’s poten-
tially 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It doesn’t matter
where your audiences are, or what time zone they are in, they can still
get access to your message.
o Cost effective – nearly everyone can create and maintain a dynamic
online presence for nothing, no matter where they are in the world.
E-mail is also almost free.
o Flexible – unlike printed communications, online information can be
updated in a flash from anywhere, anytime, even from your mobile
phone. We’ll show you how. You can also be anonymous.
o 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 understand-

Online and traditional communications should work together. So
include your URL (website address) on everything. Leaflets, t-shirts,
posters, radio and other publications. If you organise a meeting, make
sure that your banners include your Web address. Even your telephone’s
recorded messages should include this information. In fact, one simple
campaign idea is just to put a campaign URL all over the place on stick-
ers, graffiti art or chalk. The medium really can become the message.
In the Internet section of Message in-a-box you’ll also find the

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Strategic advice should appear in your site content, but also in meta-tags, page title tags
o E-mail marketing – effective use of one of the most widely- and anchor text. Making your site accessible will make it more search
adopted tools for campaigning. engine friendly as well. Many of your visitors will come directly to a
o Search engine optimisation – how to get to the top of the list when page of your site through a search result and will never have seen your
people search for key words related to your organisation and issues. homepage. So make each page work as a landing page, and don’t obsess
o Web hosts – Also called Internet Service Providers (or ISPs). An es- about the homepage.
sential service when you are putting material online. We’ve included For more in-depth advice about search engine optimisation, see
a list of a few organisations that provide free or low-cost hosting ser- page 116.
vices to activists and organisers using Free and Open Source Software
tools. E-mail marketing
E-mail marketing is also an important part of your e-campaigning
Tools & how-to guides strategy ( for more on e-campaigning).
On the Message in-a-box website under Internet you’ll find help to get This will probably be your main way of telling supporters about news
you started, with technical help on how to use: and actions. You should always be thinking about how to expand your
o Firefox – the best Internet browser right now e-mailing list, whether online through an easy sign-up box on your site
o WordPress – for creating websites and blogs or offline, by collecting e-mail addresses at events, for example.
If you have a computer that’s more than four years old, you could look Use e-mail tools that allow you to track the open and response
at: rates of your e-mails, so you can see the percentage of people taking
o NvU – another easy way to create websites which is not as demanding action, and test ways to increase that percentage. One of the critical
on your system as WordPress. statistics is how many people forwarded your e-mail to friends – this
If you are looking at creating big coalition network sites, you could also is one way a campaign can go viral. For an example of effective e-mail
check out our guide to content management systems – like Drupal, marketing and campaigning across different languages and cultures, see
SPIP and Joomla. But WordPress has its own content management Avaaz (
system, which might be enough for your needs. Check out our e-mail marketing section (p. x) to find out how to:
o Build an e-mail campaign
Integrating your Internet Strategy o Get people to read your e-mails
In other sections of Message in-a-box you can also find out how to: o Communicate with supporters.
o Bring video and audio into your blog/website
o Use powerful images online Viral marketing
o Distribute print publications (newsletters, posters etc.) via your blog, Viral campaigns are an established part of online marketing. Viral
website or e-mail. marketing usually refers to forwarding messages or links via e-mail,
o Use mobile phones to help you to get material onto your blog or so it runs the risk of becoming a bit like spam. But you can reach so
website quickly from just about anywhere. many people this way that it’s a good tactic when sheer numbers are
o Work with traditional media like newspapers, TV and radio to sup- important.
port your campaign. 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
Search engines creating the video you will need to spend a lot of time seeding it, that
Let’s start with the basics of search engine optimisation (SEO). Make is, putting links to the video on all sorts of relevant sites and discussion
your site search engine friendly because one of the main ways that forums. Be prepared for a low percentage of sign-ups – it’s not uncom-
people will find your site for the first time is through a search engine mon to get 10,000 viral video views and less than 100 people signing up
like Google. Think about relevant keywords that people may search for to your campaign as a result.
in order to find out about issues that you campaign on. These keywords You can learn more about creating and distributing videos in the

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video section of this toolkit – this includes material on where you can Social networks
host your video online. You can use social networks to build a list of ‘friends’ to whom you can
YouTube is the most popular place to host your videos so it’s a send messages in a similar way to e-mail and promote your website. So-
good idea to set up your own channel there. However, there are some cial networks also have a viral aspect where people sign up to your cause
problems with YouTube: it can be hard to link people back to your site, because they’ve seen it appear in a friend’s news feed or on their profile.
and YouTube have used their Terms of Service to remove campaigning You can make it easy to sign up by adding links to your Facebook,
videos like those of Wael Abbas in Egypt ( Myspace, Bebo or other social networking profiles on to your website
In some places YouTube is often blocked. Investigate alternatives and homepage.
look at specialist sites like the Witness Hub ( Social networks work best when you put a lot of time into them:
Check out the Publish video section (p160) for more on video hosting. sending messages, responding to friend requests, commenting on other
Simple online games are another good way to generate traffic from people’s profiles. They are informal social spaces, so the more personal
something that people will share with their friends. & friendly you can be, the better. People in social networks will tend to
However, the true essence of a viral campaign is that its’ something ignore corporate communications.
that people will feel motivated to share, and this need not depend on Think carefully about who you are trying to attract using social
fancy video or flashy games. Some of the earliest viral e-mails were networking sites. In some societies social networking sites are mostly
simple e-mail communiqués from the Zapatistas during their uprising used by a younger audience but social networking sites are increasingly
against the North American Free Trade Agreement in early 1993. These gaining popularity with different communities.
were simple communiqués, straight from the source, and they served as It’s important to appreciate that different cultures use different
an alternative to the traditional media at a time when information direct social networks in different ways. The majority of Orkut (http://tinyurl.
from the activists themselves was extremely hard to come by. com/6gqdm2) members are in Brazil, and it is also popular in India.
China has QQ (, Japan has Mixi (http://mixi.
RSS (Ridiculously Simple Syndication) jp/) and Cyworld ( originated in South Korea.
People are getting used to subscribing to RSS feeds (an easy way of Youth in Kosova and the Kosovan diaspora use Hi5 (
keeping track of changes to your favourite websites) from websites and rather than MySpace or Bebo. Across the Middle East the picture
blogs as a way to keep in touch with new content and headlines. The seems varied; while there are Iranian MySpace pages with thousands of
trick with RSS is that the news comes to the user in their feed reader, friends, Saudi Arabians seem keener on Orkut, and there are MySpace
so they don’t have to visit each side separately. So make sure your site is look-alikes like MuslimSpace.
putting out RSS feeds – most content management systems will do this Other types of social networking sites include voting sites like Digg
as a standard feature, and all blog services will have RSS feeds. ( and Stumbleupon (http://www.stumbleupon.
If you use something else for your website, you may need some com/). If enough people have rated your content on one of these it can
technical help to add them by hand. RSS is also a way to syndicate your lead to big spikes in traffic to your site. So an alternative method of on-
content to other sites, allowing them to easily pull in your headlines, line promotion is to encourage your supporters to vote for your stories.
which is a good way to promote your content automatically and have it Twitter is emerging as an important tool for online promotion. It’s
appear on their site as featured content. Other sites use RSS to aggregate hard to describe Twitter ( well, except as a
news ( making it easy for people to mixture of micro-blogging (160 characters per entry as in mobile phone
keep up with the issues that interest them. text messages) and social networking. It works across the Web and with
Think about how you can make your information or data shareable mobile phones and feels ‘live’. People are using Twitter to share interest-
and make it available through RSS so that others can use it for mash- ing content, especially to respond to things that are happening at that
ups, where people take data from two or more sources and combine moment or to share snippets of news and links to interesting articles and
them in a way that adds something new, like these examples from Kenya blog posts. People use Twitter to share interesting content, especially
and Zimbabwe ( to respond to things that are happening at that moment, like Egyptian
activists twittering about arrests (

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Evaluation only help you understand who you are reaching right now, but should
The Web promises what traditional PR & marketing never could – the also help you plan for the future.
possibility of measuring engagement (
The mantra of online marketing is ‘measure everything’. Whereas Engagement & collaboration
real world impact can be very tricky to measure, the nature of the Inter- The social Web changes the whole marketing game by making it par-
net makes it easy to track and count things, whether it’s the number of ticipative. You don’t just want to get people interested, you want to get
visitors to your website or the percentage of people on your e-mail list them involved.
who take action. You can use this to help your reporting and account- o At the very least, encourage people to bookmark your site in social
ability to the public, funders or sponsors. But the main use of metrics bookmarking services like delicious (
should be as an ongoing evaluation of your tactics. o Give them opportunities to rate, vote and comment on your content,
whether that’s on your site or elsewhere.
How can you see if all your social marketing is working? o Create fan communities in the social networking spaces and encour-
One way is through buzz monitoring i.e. trying to track how and where age your friends to promote your cause.
people are talking about your campaign. A simple tool that you can use o Online marketing can be a good place to experiment with user-gener-
for free is Google Alerts. You can set this up through going to the main ated content (words/images/videos or other material created by your
Google website and specifying which key words you want it to alert website’s users which they put online to share with others). Need a
you about when they are used on a website. Google Alerts (http:// logo? Ask your users to upload designs. This pattern can be applied to then e-mails you when these keywords are campaigns themselves.
mentioned in online media & blogs. o At the most fundamental end this can become a process of open in-
One tip to bear in mind though is that you may want to make sure novation, where you are using the Web to open up your campaign so
these keywords are very specific otherwise you will get a lot of e-mail that it becomes a collective endeavour by you and your supporters.
that won’t allow you to track your particular campaign or issue. You can
track blog mentions via Technorati & tools like Blogpulse (http://www. Plan your website and there are now some great tools for Twitter (such as
Tweetscan: This material is based on the eAdvocacy Training materials (http://
o Is your homepage feature encouraging people to sign-up to your produced by Aspira-
newsletter? tion ( in partnership with Radi-
o Who refers to your website and what are the most popular search
cal Designs ( which are used with their
terms? kind permission and have been added to and adapted for this guide.
o Are your e-mail subject lines increasing the number of people who
These materials are distributed under a Creative Commons license:
open them? Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5.
For your site, the main tool will probably be Google Analytics
(, a free tool which provides a lot Your organisation needs a website but you’re unsure where to start? This
of detail about your website statistics (you may need some help install- guide will walk you through the stages of thinking about your audience
ing this). and goals. We will cover how to structure your website, how to get it
You can get a lot of useful statistics when you use e-mail market- hosted and how to set up your own Web address or domain.
ing, or from your e-mail or social network accounts, such as the number Worried about how to fit website development into the many de-
of friends you have, the number of comments, and the number of video mands on your organisation’s time and resources? You need to connect
views. with a variety of different audiences with different information needs?
Make sure you spend time regularly reviewing these statistics. They You want to do it yourself? With no previous knowledge of
will tell you a lot about who is using your site, where they are coming programming? Update it when you like, with what you like, putting up
from to reach your site and what they are looking at. These facts will not audio, photos, news and more? Want to get your stakeholders contrib-

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uting their own material, opinion, and resources to keep your website o To provide specialised data, research or information which relates to
dynamic, engaging and interesting? the field your organisation works in.
You’ll learn the Web development process and the all important Find out more about how to clearly define your communications goals
issue of maintenance and upkeep, keeping your content fresh in order to in our Strategy Overview on page 5. Look at how your website strategy
keep people visiting your site. links with your overall campaign strategy and organisational goals.
This section includes a guide to planning a simple website and
Know who your users are
takes you through the steps and tools you need to get up and running.
You should then start to think about who are the users of your website
Luckily there are a number of tools out there that make start-
are. They might include the following:
ing and running a website and/or blog relatively simple. For example,
o Supporters/members
using our WordPress guide (see the Message in-a-Box website under
o First time visitors
Internet > Content Management Systems) you can have a free website
o Press
built around your choice of blogging template up and running within
o Funders (small donors or other larger funders)
five minutes (prior to adding your own content), with a built in content
o Other organisers and activists
management system which just about anyone can use.
o Opponents and targets of your campaign
More about Content Management Systems on the Message in-a-
o Decision makers
Box website under Internet.
Having an understanding of the following aspects of your audiences will
help you to create content that speaks directly to them:
Audience & goals
o Education levels
The secret of a successful website is knowing which audiences you are
o Age
trying to reach, and designing site content that addresses both audience
o Gender
goals and organizational goals.
Know Your User’s Goals
Websites are for users
Once you have started identifying your site’s users you can then start
It might sound obvious but websites are for users. Websites are about
identifying their goals – what are they trying to find or do? What infor-
providing information to your users that they want or need. People will
mation or resources can you offer to people visiting your site? Once you
not make a regular habit of visiting your website if their needs are not
have identified the main users for your site you can start to figure out
being met.
what you want each user to learn or do when they visit your site. Limit-
When designing your site you need to understand that you have
ing these basic goals will make the experience of visiting the site more
different users with different needs. You should not presume that new
enjoyable for your visitor.
website users understand your organization or the issues you are work-
In order to help your audiences understand the issue you are
ing on.
working on you should design a “frame” that will help each audience
Know your goals understand your issue. A “frame” is the way you tell your story in terms
A great way to start the design process is to identify what the goals of of geography, personal narrative and tactics. Proper framing of an issue
your website are. will help your campaign or audience
They might include the following: For example if you talk about the issue you are working on in terms
o To educate and inform of your campaign strategy you may not win over an audience that isn’t
o To create organisational identity already supporting your issue.
o To expand your base and mobilise your supporters It’s worth taking some time to conduct an audience definition
o To improve media outreach and engagement exercise:
o To campaign o Who are your audiences?
o To influence decision makers and people in power o Name them and rank their importance.
o To serve as a trusted news source o Name three other sites they use regularly.

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For your highest priority audiences ask the questions: o A conflict goal or target that is under the spotlight
o What do you want them to learn or do? An organisational site will have information for first time visitors
o How do they get to your site? who are learning about the issue or organisation.
o What are they trying to find?
o Where do they click on the front page? Website contents
o What do they do next? You can structure a website however you like and it will obviously vary
For each of your core audience groups you can create a ‘click path’ depending on your organisation and what you want to use the website
– a set of links that you want them to click on and follow. Click paths for. Here are some ideas about standard pages for a website and what
allow multiple audiences to have their needs met with one page design. they might include.
For example your goal with a supporter would be to get them to
About Us
take action and recruit others and show them how their actions matter;
The ‘About Us’ area of your site might include the following:
they might click on a ‘Campaign updates’ or ‘Take action’ link. After that
o Mission Statement
your goal would be to get them to recruit others.
o Staff and Board biographies
Find out more about how to clearly define your audience in our
o Contact information
Strategy Overview (p6). Look at how your website strategy links with
o Annual Reports
your overall campaign strategy and consider carefully the mix of offline
o Jobs & volunteering
and online materials to reach all the people that matter.
o History & victories
o FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Static or dynamic?
o About the Issue
You should be clear on the type of site you are creating; is it a static
Content in this section varies based on how you are framing the
website that won’t change very often and will act like an online brochure
issue to your supporters. It’s important to frame the issue in easy-to-un-
for your organisation or is it a dynamic website that will change often
derstand terms that relate to personal experience. Beware of providing
and hold a lot of content.
too much information and instead think of the one thing you want users
Try to be extremely realistic in deciding what type of site you will
to leave with.
create. 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 Campaign Updates
generating useful content. Using volunteers (as long as you are willing If yours is a campaigning site then you should provide information
to monitor their work) is one positive way to gather dynamic content, and updates related to the strategy and tactics of your campaign. Think
create diversity and build relationships. about your campaign as a story – where are you in the story? You might
Set aside some time to plan out in advance how content will be also want to include the following:
updated. If this is going to be a significant challenge for you, think about o Event report-backs
developing it in stages, starting with something small and allowing it to o Pictures
grow into something more ambitious over time. o Legislative updates
o Link to ways for users to get involved
Stand alone campaign site?
Get Involved / Take Action
You also need to consider if you should create a stand-alone campaign
This area of your site will show ways for site visitors to engage with your
site or an integrated campaign and organisational site? Stand-alone
campaign or organisation, either online or offline:
campaign sites are generally about a single thing whereas integrated sites
have a campaign fitting into a broader organisational website. Online involvement
If you want to make a stand-alone site for a campaign your audi- o Sign Up for E-mail newsletters
ence might expect the following: o Action Alerts/Petitions
o Specific and focused information o Contact the Media/Letter to the Editor

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o Contact your Representative websites with a lot of content that you want to be able to change
o Tell A Friend frequently and easily. These require a database such as WordPress,
o Donate/Become Member Drupal, Joomla or Plone. These systems offer you more flexibility
and features such as permissions which mean that different mem-
Offline involvement
bers of staff can update different areas of the site. They also offer an
o Volunteer
easy-to-use online interface to edit website content which means staff
o Events
members don’t need to use HTML.
o Local Groups
o Toolkits/Action Resources Be dynamic, you can do it!
A dynamic website with a content management system is nearly always
Press Room
the best choice. Even very small organisations with little previous
This is an area where the press can go to get information on your organi-
knowledge can set up these flexible websites using the built-in templates
sation or campaign. It might contain press releases, contact information
provided for free or for very little extra cost.
for the person in your organisation who is responsible for talking to the
media or media resources such as images for use online or in print. It
Graphic design process
might contain details of news coverage, speeches or reports.
The graphic design of your site will convey your organisational identity.
Donate/support Most sites will require two basic designs, one for the home page and a
If you have a donations strategy within your organisation, make it easy second for lower-level pages.
for people to give you money or offer volunteer help. Allowing people A standard process is as follows:
to give in-kind donations such as office equipment is also an idea. If you o Create ‘wireframe’ sketches of your page layout. These wireframes will
want to keep this simple, just supply an e-mail address that people can allow you to finalise the page layout, without any artwork or content
write to if they have something to offer. placed. This means you will have already decided on the page struc-
ture and how interactions will work before you work on the graphics.
Development process o Work on how users will interact with the content. Will you have one
Website development questions impact on your organisation in a num- menu at the side of the content? or will you split content up into sub-
ber of ways. In terms of your ‘outbound’ communications you need to menus? Think about how users will find your content and you will
think about what messages you want people to hear. Your website is also add to it in the future. Have a look at other websites that are similar
the one place where all the facets of your organisation should co-exist in size and scope to yours, get some ideas from others on how to
coherently. structure this.
Internally there are decisions to be made about who has responsi- o Choose a colour palette and graphics that convey the goals and per-
bility and control over designing and publishing your Web content. The sonality of your organisation and match with your other publications
people involved in Web development might be designers, writers, Web or branding. Work with a graphic designer to establish a look and feel
developers and project managers. Some of these may be internal while for your site, or if you feel confident try it yourself.
others may be external consultants. o Generate templates from the final design that can be filled in with
There are two ways of delivering websites: content.
o ‘Static’ – which are simple websites that hardly change and don’t
have a lot of content. You can build this in software such as NvU Hosting & domains
which don’t require the installation of a database. In order to edit It is best not to host your own website on your own server; it can be
static websites you need to edit the HTML (the code that enables the very demanding on an organisation and may require a lot of technical
text to be displayed in your Web browser) directly in NvU or other know-how and on-going support. In most cases, it is best to choose an
software and then re-upload the content to your Web server. external service. Shop around and ask allies for recommendations.
o ‘Content management systems’ – which are better for dynamic Your ‘domain’ (e.g. is vital Internet real

94 95
estate – register it yourself and consider buying your country identifier solution but does reduce the ease with which your government or local
(for for South Africa or .th for Thailand), .org, .com and authorities will be able to demand to see this data.
.net variations of each domain you own; this will stop your opponents Another thing you may want to consider is finding an ISP that
or ‘squatters’ buying it. It’s a good idea to buy your domain name for as guarantees easy access to your content for the user. For example, band-
many years as you can afford. width and therefore the speed at which the website can be downloaded
It’s absolutely vital to take good care of your domain – keep the by users and how many users can look at it at the same time may be an
domain registration and contact e-mail addresses up to date and don’t issue. This is something to be especially careful of if you are intending to
loose your user names and passwords for accessing these. use multimedia content.
Below are a few organisations that provide free or low-cost hosting
Getting a domain services to activists and organisers using Free and Open Source Soft-
Getting a domain name, like, isn’t as hard as you ware tools. This is just a small selection, there are many more we haven’t
might think. Many Web hosts will register your domain for you when listed here. We’ve divided them up by continent as it’s often easier to
you set up an account, but you can also register your own domain stay in contact with a Web host (as they are commercially known) that
name before you even set up your site. Businesses like is close to your time zone. You can of course get hosting anywhere and
or are two examples of places you can buy your don’t need to be restricted by geography.
domain. There are also anonymous hosting services that won’t show You may also want to ask allied organisations about Web hosts
who the owner of the domain is and a number of those allow you to pay they’re using and what their experiences have been.
with a Western Union transfer instead of a credit card.
If you get a domain from your Web host read the fine print and
o – a US-based organisation focussed on Af-
make sure that you’ll be able to take your domain name with you if you
rica that provides hundreds of grassroots organisations with Internet
change Web hosts. Having your own domain name ensures that you’ll be
services and training, including e-mail lists and websites.
able to move your site one day if you are dissatisfied with your Web host.
o – US-based non-profit that gives
African NGOs free or discounted space.
Activist & NGO friendly Web hosts
o – offers website development
When looking for a host you should also consider who will implement
and management, training and consulting services to NGOs among
updates and provide technical-level maintenance to your site. Will you
need a Web host to handle that for you? If that question has you scratch-
o provides limited Web hosting services to hu-
ing your head you probably want to start with a Web host who can
man rights activists and NGOs in the Arab world, especially in Egypt,
handle updates for you. If, however, you have technical staff available or
Sudan and Tunisia.
a good relationship with a technology assistance provider or volunteer,
you can ask them about their capacity to manage updates and maintain Asia-Pacific
the content management system you are expecting to use. o – provides computer communication services
Web hosts – also often called Internet Service Providers or ISPs including Internet service and training services for Korean NGOs.
– have access to your content and all the information about who visits o – provides simple and affordable ICT services
your website. For this reason, if you are handling sensitive information based on Free/Open Source Software to civil society (India).
or working with a high risk community, you should consider who is o – is a not-for-profit Web hosting and online
hosting your website. You need to be aware of the policies of the ISP publishing systems provider for progressive networking activities in
who is hosting your website because they are obliged to keep detailed the Australasia region.
information about your website – who owns it, who uses it and what
content is there – and present it to the authorities on request. If you
o – a Dutch-based ISP providing secure com-
are working on particularly sensitive issues you may want to consider
munications infrastructure for business and activists.
hosting your website outside your home country. This is not a secure

96 97
o – creates free means of secure commu- Social Web & user generated content
nications on a large scale, including Web hosting, e-mail lists, blogs To maintain your website, keep it active, engaging and changing look at
and more (Italy). our Internet Strategy section (p87), with a special focus on the social
o – is a progressive community working for web.
peace, the environment, gender equality and social justice, through
the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs). Plan your “blog” – or “easy to change website”
Latin America
o – is a Brazilian non-profit organisation whose
mission is to serve as a virtual network of information focused 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 evolving your website is a larger chal-
lenge in most cases. Content and graphics should change on a regular
basis to sustain use and website traffic – stale websites are a liability for
an organisation. This requires organisational commitment.

Best practice A “blog” is a particular type of website that is very easy to publish
In terms of staff you should bear the following considerations in mind: and update. The name comes from ‘web-log’, the idea being that it is
o Budget both time and money for ongoing maintenance
regularly updated with new ideas and events. Here you will learn how
o Make sure a specific staff member is designated and has responsibility
to set up and run your blog, and most importantly why this can be the
for website maintenance right medium to build up your campaign and get your message across in
o If you are not able to have one person specifically responsible for
a dynamic and interactive way. 
the website, make sure the content is clearly split up between a few One of the reasons that blogging is so popular is that setting up a
people blog and adding content can be as easy as setting up a web-based e-mail
o Have organisational ‘check-ins’ on a regular basis about the direction
account and sending an e-mail message. One of the easiest blogging
and content of your site tools to use is WordPress (see the Message in-a-box site for more on
WordPress). You could also look at Tumblr (
Content dashboard), which is even quicker to set up and use, but not quite as
o Ideally you should have “quick response” content ready or planned if
flexible. There is no harm in experimenting as you can always delete a
you are launching a big campaign blog you don’t want to keep.
o Make sure you remove out-of-date events or action alerts, especially
You can have a blog on its own, accessed through a URL like a
if they are on the front page stand-alone website. You can also incorporate one into your organisa-
o Think about simple devices that could keep content fresh on the Web
tion’s website, especially if you are using a Content Management System.
page. Are there ways to easily keep a small part of the information on A blog can combine text, images, audio or video along with links
your website up to date and changing more frequently? Could you to other Web pages and related media. You can use it frequently or
integrate a blog with updates from a range of people? What user- occasionally. And most importantly, it is easy to create and simple to
generated content could you include? maintain.

98 99
If you are running a small campaign and want to regularly update a blog allows you to easily distribute and publicise your content
your target community and peers about your activities, or you are throughout the Internet.
looking for a way to frequently publish small pieces of information, a o Posts are searchable – Because individual blog posts are easily
blog could be ideal and much easier to set up and keep running than a distributed and publicised on the Internet, searching for individual
website but pretty much the same to the reader. blogs and posts are much easier than with a website.
o You can update them remotely – Blogs are created and stored on-
What’s the difference between blogs & websites? line. This means posts can be made from any location where there is
This is a common question and fairly easy to answer. A blog is a website, an Internet connection. Everyone in an organisation can contribute;
but a particular kind. The line between the two terms can be blurred. all they need is a username and a password.
A blogging section can be integrated into a broader website
structure or you can create your website from scratch around a blogging Why blogs?
template and content management system. Blogs make it easy to regularly update a site with stories, to report local
Blogs are usually identified by having regular entries, published news and conduct a local campaign in a global space. They are also a
like an online journal or web-log (hence “blog”). The most recent entry great way to engage your online audience in adding their own com-
is at the top. ments, thoughts, experiences and resources via the comments section.
Blogs are a dynamic option for your website – they give it person- Blogs aid in the general work of documenting and sharing informa-
ality and high search engine rankings. There are many benefits to be tion amongst a constituency. They can also be used as part of a focused
gained and you do not have to do it all yourself. strategy for changing perceptions and myths about people and issues.
One of the reasons stand-alone blogs or blogs within websites are
becoming so popular is to do with the way Google and other search
Here are some characteristics that make a blog different from a website: engines rank pages. Content that changes regularly, like a blog, is ranked
o Minimal technical skills are required – A blog can be easily main-
more highly. Blog entries often include many outgoing and incoming
tained and set up. WordPress allows you to set up your blog in 15 links between other websites. This also gives a higher ranking.
minutes with no cost. However, if you have never used the Internet This process is called Search Engine Optimisation or SEO, which
before you may need some help with setting up your blog and some is covered in more detail on page 116. It’s an important factor to look at,
help initially maintaining it. depending on your audience and strategy.
o Posts are published chronologically – A blog automatically
arranges everything you post in date order, with the latest addition Blogs & the Social Web
appearing at the top. It allows you to organise your posts by using Vast numbers of people are using blogs, social networks, photo and
categories and keywords that make it easy for you and your readers video sharing sites, and these are important marketing and engage-
to find material on your blog. You can use as many categories and ment tools. Building your buzz in these spaces is a good way to recruit
keywords for each post as you wish. advocates to your cause.
o Posts are automatically archived – Every post you make is auto-
Getting the right bloggers to write about your campaigns (blog
matically stored as an archived entry by date – and, if you choose, by outreach) is a good way to reach interested people. So if you’re working
category. Again this makes finding material for both you and your in human rights, you could start by contacting human right bloggers.
readers simple. You can also integrate your own and your stakeholders’ social
o A blog can be “interactive” – Readers can engage with you, the
media (p. x) feeds into your blog or website to keep it vibrant.
writer. This can be done in many different ways. For example, readers Build traffic and search rankings by exchanging links with relevant
can leave comments on your blog and you can leave comments on blogs and other sites, and remember that a personal request works best.
other people’s blogs. You can make links in your blog posts to other A good way to start is by commenting on other blogs that are writ-
blogs. Other blogs can also link to you. ing about your topics. It’s also a good idea to have a blog as part of your
o Content is easy to publicise – Because of the way it is designed,
site; it’s an easy way to keep the content fresh and the site alive.

100 101
Learn what kind of blog posts will attract traffic – sometimes it’s requires a higher level of technical skill and additional software.
a simple as using the right headline. No one knows for sure which blog
posts will attract traffic, although there are many different opinions. The Grassroots organising
main thing is to develop an authentic voice, and monitor your Web stats Blogs are probably the most simple and flexible way to incorporate
to learn what your audience likes. “citizen journalism” into your organisation’s toolbox of tactics. They
Your blog can be a tool for bringing the attention of your audience can help in the general work of documenting and sharing information
to bear on specific points and perspectives. To accomplish this, it is within your constituency. They can also be used as a focussed strategy
important to be focused about developing your content, and to consider for changing perceptions and myths about countries, people, cultures,
all the relevant variables. and issues. For example:
o Define your audience – Is your audience local, national, regional or o a blog campaigning to end Female Gentile Mutilation (FGM) in
international? You need to think about prioritising depending on Somalia could include myths and facts about the role of religion and
your organisation’s mission statement, aims and objectives. You culture in perpetuating the practice.
may wish to define a primary and secondary audience, which may o a blog on land rights in South Africa could include historical perspec-
effect which language/s your blog is in, for example. tives on why land rights are an issue as well as regularly updated news
o Define your message – Be clear about what you want your blog to on local government polices, legislation and actions by the land rights
do. Is it to campaign for a specific change on a particular issue? Is it to groups in the country.
inform people about the work of your organisation? Is it to document Blogs enable anyone to write their own stories, to report local
(for example, human rights abuses)? Is it for all three? news, to conduct local campaigns in a global space. They take the phrase
o Identify your allies – Identify those organisations and groups who “think locally, act globally” to a possible conclusion, because blogs allow
are able and willing to support and work with you. You can link to you to build visible relationships with other organisations throughout
them on the front page of your blog in what is called a “blogroll.” You the world that are working on similar issues.
can also link to their content in your posts, and collaborate with them In this way, blogging enables the margins to move to the centre.
to produce content . It allows any organisation or movement to globalise its work or cause.
o Use categories & tags – Blogs allow you and your readers to assign Blogging means that you are able to meet other organisations and
topic codes to each post. “Categories” are managed by the blog people from across the world with similar perspectives, and together
authors, and are used to index or organise your posts into subject you can change the shape of the global conversation.
headings. You can select any number of headings for your blog, for
example environment, health, education. Although you can use Flexible usage & collaboration
many categories for each post, too many can be confusing. “Tags” are A blog can be maintained by just one person, or it can be run collabora-
keywords that you can freely add, they are not fixed like categories. tively by as many people as you wish. It can even be contributed to by
Instead of working like headings, they are used to help searches and different members of a network or coalition.
inform people about the content of your post. This means that everyone in your organisation can contribute,
Tags are used extensively in blogging and social networking sites and thus the blog can help to strengthen organisational cohesion and
such as Flickr, YouTube, etc. working relationships. This is true even if your organisation has a wide
o Choose your language carefully – Choosing which language you geographical reach. Because a blog can be updated remotely, and even
wish to use on your blog is an important decision. It is important to simultaneously from different locations, you can be very creative and
consider using appropriate local languages when communicating use it strategically. With a little planning ahead, your organisation can
with others. However this has to be weighed against using languages take the technology “on the road.”
with a larger footprint that may reach a wider audience, such as
English, Spanish or French. In an ideal world bloggers could translate Building a community through blogging
their blogs into a number of languages, for example a local language In many countries the ‘blogosphere’ serves as a space where indepen-
and a more ‘international’ language, but this creates more work and dent journalists and activists are creating an alternative form of media

102 103
and using this as a way to organise and build communities. This is not necessarily agree with you. If they return they return because you
particularly important in countries where there is a lot of censorship. are reaching them in some way.
In Egypt the blogging community acts as key space for the op- o Do not force people to register on your blog in order to comment.
position movement to organise and to tackle political and human rights Most people won’t bother and will just go away. Keep your blog open
issues that mainstream media do not cover. The Omraneya site http:// and use comment moderation instead. serves as a central hub for the Egyptian blogo- o Read other people’s / organisations’ blogs and make comments. This
sphere and citizen journalism community. will help to publicise your blog. By building relationships with other
The Mzalendo ( blog in Ke- bloggers, whether locally or internationally, you create a community
nya was co-founded by the blogger Ory Okolloh. Its mission is to “keep that will support you in your advocacy and campaigns, and you in
an eye on the Kenyan Parliament.” turn can support them.
In the Malaysian blogosphere recent developments have shown o Publicity is important which means you need to register your blog
how influential bloggers can be in the political sphere. Jeff Ooi is a on a blog directory, contact other bloggers who you feel will be
Malaysian IT consultant and activist who writes a popular blog known sympathetic to your cause and inform them of your blog or even of
as Screenshots ( Jeff was recently elected to particularly important posts. Bloggers are generally helpful – if you
parliament. ask for help they will respond so do not be afraid to ask for support.
o Change your blog in response to changing needs, audiences, political
Checklist – best practices for effective blogging climates and just because sometimes it’s nice, like changing the layout
o Choose your blog name carefully. If you use a name other than your and colours in your home.
organisation’s name, make sure it fits in with your organisation in o Do not use technology just for the sake of it. Use appropriate technol-
some way. Changing your blog’s name is like starting all over, so be ogies. If your bandwidth is low, then do not use video. Use a podcast
sure to get the right one. if you believe audio is the best way to communicate a particular piece
o Create an “About” page with information about your organisation, of information.
the purpose of the blog, a list of contributors and any other key o Support other blogs by adding badges and banners or cross-linking to
organisational information. relevant posts.
o Keep your design simple; do not clutter your blog. You want to focus o Include a “Contact Me” form in your blog or give your e-mail address
on content. Don’t add flashing icons or music, and choose two or in your “About” page so that readers can contact you. Always write
three colours and a simple layout that is easy to follow. out your e-mail address in order to avoid spammers. For example
o Post often. It will take time for your blog to become known in the should be written me at yahoo dot com.
blogosphere. The more you post, the more comments you make
on the blogs of other people or organisations, the more your blog Twitter & micro-blogging
will become known. If posting often is not possible try at least to be Twitter ( is an application that allows you to
consistent and organise a “posting schedule” so that your readers will send and receive messages between a group of colleagues or friends, us-
know to expect new posts every couple of weeks or once a month ing text messages (SMS) on a mobile phone, through a webpage, or from
according to the schedule you decide. Erratic posting looses readers. an instant messaging client like Jabber. Twitter will allow you to send di-
o Write good quality texts that readers can benefit from. rect messages to one person or to a closed group of contacts. It is useful
o Try not to make your posts too long. Remember people are reading as a system to send the same text message to a small group of people and
on a computer and not on paper. If you need to publish a long docu- it can be updated (and read) via mobile phone or on a computer. One of
ment you can set up a separate page on your blog for documents, the advantages of Twitter is that it can be effective in areas or in urgent
which you can link to. situations in a way that the Internet can’t. However its great disadvantage
o Revisit old posts. If you are writing on an issue important to you, at the moment is that using it will incur the cost of an international text
return to other posts and build on them. message unless you are in the US, the UK, Canada or India.
o Get to know your readers. Treat them like friends, even those who do Although Twitter has been used for a range of advocacy purposes,

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including by Egyptian human rights activists to let people know they tend the benefits and reach of citizen media by connecting online media
are safe or that they have been arrested, there has been some concern activists around the world and supporting their best ideas. An Introduc-
over privacy and authentication methods on Twitter. Therefore caution tory Guide to Global Citizen Media (http://rising.globalvoicesonline.
is advised in putting sensitive information out over Twitter. See http:// org/blog/2008/01/16/a-introductory-guide-to-global-citizen-me- dia/), offers context and case studies which show how everyday citizens
for more info. across the world are increasingly using blogs, podcasts, online video,
Twitter will also allow you to create a ‘badge’ for your website and digital photography to engage in an unmediated conversation which
which automatically displays your Twitter feed – these are available for transcends borders, cultures, and differing languages.
Blogger and Typepad but are also available as customisable ‘widgets’ Reporters Without Borders ( produce
that they claim will work on any Web page. a Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents (
The Asia Pacific Network of Sex workers, which works on health b4kxj) which gives tips and technical advice on how to remain anony-
and human rights with sex workers, has set up a Twitter feed (http:// mous and get round censorship by choosing the most suitable method and has been using it to publicise their campaigns. for each situation. It also explains how to set up and make the most of a
For example on June 4th they used Twitter to publicise their campaign blog, how to to publicise it (getting it picked up efficiently by search-
against the new Suppression of Human Trafficking law which equates all engines) and how to establish its credibility by observing basic ethical
sex work with trafficking and has led to massive closures of brothels and and journalistic principles.
widespread human rights abuses against sex workers in Cambodia. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (
For more information on how Twitter has been used by news pro- have produced a Legal Guide for Bloggers (
viders and journalists see these links: lg/) which is mainly focussed on US law.
editors/category/twitter Transitions Online ( supports
ter_for_journalists.php young, up-and-coming journalists in Eastern Europe and the former
For more information on how Twitter can be used to help commu- Soviet Union.
nities, go to:
to-help-communities Social Networking & Web 2.0
Promote & connect
Support for bloggers (& online social networkers) Recent innovations in digital technology have produced a range of so-
There are organisations working to support individuals and organisa- cial networking tools (often called web2 or Web 2.0 tools) that you can
tions that use blogs to further their cause. Most of the resources linked use to publicise your blog, to network with other blogs and to add more
to below are available in many languages. content to your blog. All of the following are powerful ways to make
Global Voices Advocacy (http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline. your blog accessible to as wide an audience as possible:
org/projects/) is a project of Global Voices Online which seeks to
build a global anti-censorship network of bloggers and online activ- Syndication – Blogs can be “syndicated” by using RSS feeds (see p. x).
ists throughout the developing world that is dedicated to protecting This is done automatically if you create your blog using WordPress or
freedom of expression and free access to information online. Blog for a Syndication means that anyone can subscribe to your blog
Cause. – The Global Voices Guide to Blog Advocacy (http://advocacy. and receive automatic notification that your blog has been updated. This explains means that they don’t have to visit your website all the time to know
how activists can use blogs as part of their campaigns against injustice that it has new content. You in turn can subscribe to other blogs via
around the world. They also produced the guide to Anonymous Blog- their syndication (RSS feeds) and receive automatic updates.
ging with WordPress and Tor, which is included in the online version of
this toolkit. Social Bookmarking Tools that allow you to save blog or Web pages
Rising Voices ( aims to ex- that you feel will be useful to you at a later date and which you want to
share with others. It is the same as using the ‘bookmark’ or ‘favourites’

106 107
feature on your Web browser, but this allows you to publish your favou- o digital photo storage and sharing site.
rite sites for others to see. Some examples are:
 o audio storage and sharing site.
o Delicious: o storage of text, video and audio files.
o Blogmarks:
o Furl: Web-Rings – are communities of blogs that you can join or create your-
o Simpy: self. There are thousands of web-rings around in all sorts of categories
and issues. See
Blog Directories allow you to register your blog with sites that draw
together communities of bloggers around issues of concern and interest, Social / Community News sites – allow you to submit your blog
take a look at: posts, or posts from other organisations or individuals, if you wish to
o Technorati: publicise something they have posted.
o Blogdigger: o Muti: an African social news site:
o Blog Pulse: o Newsvine: a global news site:
o Digg: a global technology news site:
Aggregators are sites that automatically check for new posts from o Indymedia: a global news site focussed on grassroots political orga-
blogs and list these in real time as they are posted. Some are topic nizing:
related; others are regional or issue-based.
To give you some examples, blog aggregators with a national and Carnivals are weekly, bi-month, or monthly roundups on a particular
regional focus in Africa are: issue or topic – such as the Carnival Against Racism or the Carnival of
o Afrigator: an all-Africa aggregator; essential if you are running an Positives. You can set up your own carnival and invite other blogs to join
African-based blog. in. Don’t expect your carnival to take off immediatel, it takes time and
o Kenya Unlimited: also includes East Africa. perseverance for it to gather momentum.
o Blog Africa: Comments & spam
o Blogalaxia: This one is particularly use- One of the biggest mistakes bloggers make is not protecting their site
ful if you are publishing in Spanish. from “Spam.” Spam messages are unsolicited, unwanted, irrelevant,
Of course many countries and regions have their own equivalent. A or inappropriate comments and contributions, especially commercial
more international example is: ones. has an inbuilt Spam protector that allows you to
o Global Voices: provides lists of blogs and topics from across the enter specific words that will filter out spam. It also allows you to use
world. comment moderation – any comments that are deemed offensive can
be deleted.
Online Communities – allow you to publicise your blog and become However, comment moderation should really only be used if
part of a community with other bloggers. someone is using offensive language and not because you don’t agree
o MyBlogLog: with the comment – if you use it more frequently, you will deter partici-
o Facebook: pation.
o Tribe.Net:
o MySpace: Examples
o Friendster:

Online Media Storage – sites allow you to store, share and view a Oro Sucio (
range of media such as digital photographs, videos and audio files like follows the topic of mine exploitation and its political and environ-
podcasts. mental impact in Argentina. The blog publishes documents that are the

108 109
result of collective fieldwork. They also keep in contact with people and Black Looks (
organisations that are involved in environmental activism in Argentina is a Pan African multi-issue activist blog that covers a range of issues
and across the world. around human rights and social justice. It is a highly successful, award-
winning blog that has been running for three years. The blog’s success
is based on regular (almost daily) posts that use a variety of styles
(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 movement relationships
Sabbah’s Blog ( across geographical and other dividing lines.
is an informative blog created to highlight human rights violations
against the Palestinian people as well as to highlight the reality of Pales-
Jackie Tumwine
tinian lives in the Occupied Territories. Its content consists of reports,
commentary and video.
is a “dedicated tobacco control advocate” from Uganda. By reporting
country by country on anti-smoking legislation, as well as on gender
Sokwanele ( and child rights issues around tobacco, she works to fight the toll that
is a Zimbabwean based single-issue activist blog that uses commentary, tobacco takes on people’s lives and to magnify the work that disparate
news reports, video and photography to highlight the human rights groups are doing to make a difference. Jackie’s blog is an excellent
abuses and repression in Zimbabwe. It provides an example of how example of how a one-person blog focused on a single issue can become
blogs can be used anonymously in countries and situations where a continental resource and part of a campaign.
revealing your identity could be harmful and a risk to your safety.
Sokwanele’s success is because it has been consistent and makes regular This Is Not My Country
posts that are informative and campaign-based. They have consciously (
built a network of supporters – both bloggers and readers. Devious Diva has used her blog to highlight the lives of the Roma
communities in Greece: the racism they experience, their marginalisa-
tion, the poverty of their lives, their lack of access to health and educa-
Abahlali baseMjondolo ( tion and lack of rights within Greece.
is a grassroots social movement of shack dwellers in Durban, South
Africa. Their blog has internationalised the struggle of the shack dwell- E-mail Marketing
ers against police harassment and municipal evictions through news E-mail can be an incredibly effective way to reach decision-makers and
reports, declarations and opinion / commentary articles. The Abahlali get your message across to thousands of people.
blog is both a source of information on land rights and informal settle- Many experts think e-mail is still the key tactic to use in com-
ments in South Africa, and a means of mobilising international support municating your cause. In this section we’ll show you how to make the
and funds for organising campaigns to lobby for land rights. They have most of this tool by designing an e-mail campaign, making your e-mail
used their blog to highlight the plight of informal settlers in other coun- messages clearer, creating and sending e-newsletters and managing your
tries such as Zimbabwe, Haiti and Kenya, and have also built links with contact lists.
social movements in these countries. Abahlali uses a mix of text, photos Why is e-mail such a powerful marketing tool?
and video on its blog. Because it has the potential to:
o Directly reach decision makers with a personal communication.
o Propagate your message and build awareness. A successful viral

110 111
e-mail campaign, where people pass the message on to others, has the Target your e-mails as accurately as possible
 While e-mail gives
potential to reach thousands. you the ability to reach thousands of people with a click of a button, the
o Build relationships, keep interested individuals and organisations up- more you personalise your messages and target them to the interests of
to-date and involved with your activities via e-newsletters and ad-hoc the reader, the more effective they will be.
e-mails. Ask the recipient to forward your message to others who may
o Be cheap, as there is no or very low cost. be interested 
Encourage the recipient to pass your message on to
If you want to promote your organisation and reach decision- appropriate friends, without encouraging them to become spammers
makers at all levels – locally, nationally or internationally, then e-mail themselves.
can be perfect for you.
Links and resources
If you have a website, post additional information about the cam-
o “ Ten Tips for Writing Effective E-mail Alerts” from ONENW
paign there and link to it in your e-mail so people can get more details
and information.
o “How to Gather E-mail Addresses From Your Members, and What
To Do With Them” from ONENW
Best practices for e-mail marketing
Don’t show all recipients in the ‘To’ box 
W hen sending an e-mail
o “Put E-mail to Work (Without Becoming a Spam Artist)” from
don’t put all the e-mail addresses of the recipients in the ‘To:’ box,
Grassroots Fundraising Journal
instead enter them in BCC. That way no one can copy the other e-mail
http://www.grassroots fund-raising .org/magazine/feature23_1.html
addresses that you have sent the message to and misuse them.
o “14 E-mail Do’s and Don’ts” from TechSoup
Don’t pass on viruses
 It’s very important to check that the computer
you use has a proper virus protection programme.
Don’t spam
 Don’t sell or pass on e-mail addresses you have to people
Build your e-mail campaign
who might use them for indiscriminate commercial e-mails (known
Be clear about your objectives Your e-mail campaign should be
as spam). This can get you blacklisted, and result in your e-mails being
a tactic that is used within a larger advocacy strategy (see p. x). You
blocked by the ISPs.
will obviously be using other tactics as well and your e-mail campaign
Make sure you update your list
One of the things that can annoy
should fit seamlessly into your strategy and have clear desired outcomes.
people most is if you get their personal details wrong, so if people e-mail
Consider other forms of communication, such as phone calls and postal
you with changes make sure you update their details.
letters, and make sure before you begin that e-mail is the right tool for
Have a privacy statement in the footer of your e-mail & give
reaching your target audience.
people the opportunity to unsubscribe I
 rrespective of whether you
have a data protection law in your locality you should have rules about
Know your audience 
Consider who will receive the e-mail when you
how you store and use data. Always include an e-mail address at the bot-
compose it. Be compelling, use language your audience will respond
tom of any e-mail you send to allow people to unsubscribe. For example:
to, and keep it clear and concise. Make sure you clearly state what you
“If you no longer wish to receive e-mails from us please send an e-mail
would like the recipient to do as a result of receiving the e-mail.
to with ‘unsubscribe’ in the subject line”.
Instigate partnerships with other organisations that already have a
Take steps to assure that you keep the list of your e-mail ad-
strong reputation. This will increase the chances of people reading and
dresses private 
Make sure you keep e-mail addresses secure and
acting on your e-mail.
that they are not public in any way, particularly if you are working with
sensitive information.
Have a follow-up plan 
Know what you will do if people respond to
Always include a link to your website Y 
 ou hope that people will read
your e-mails, and what you’ll do to follow up if they don’t. Make sure
your e-mail and want to learn more. Provide them with a way to do that
that you decide how you want follow-up contact to happen and when.
by including “for more information” and a link to your website. Once
Always record how many e-mails you’ve send out for each campaign or
they get to your website they may find more things that interest them.

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message in a series, and how many responses you receive to each e-mail. A great archive of examples of advocacy e-mail messages to sup-
Over time this will help you get a measure of what does and doesn’t porters can be found here:
Managing databases
Plan for your message to be forwarded 
It is very easy for a recipient
E-mail programmes have address books with the capacity to store a
to forward an e-mail to someone else. Make sure that your e-mail con-
variety of information about each contact. In the initial stages of devel-
tains background information and ways for new people to get involved.
oping the list this capacity could be used to build up information about
contacts. Using personalisation such as first names in e-mails increases
Get people to read the e-mails that you send them
response rates.
If you want to use e-mail for an advocacy campaign there are a few
As your list grows you will need to consider how you store the
things to consider:
contact and response details of your supporters. Using a database to
o Use a clear & compelling subject line. This is probably the most
store the details or manage your contacts will give your organisation
important part of the content of the e-mail since this where they will
extra flexibility. You could use a spreadsheet to track these and your
determine if recipients want to read the body of the e-mail. Be careful
exchanges with them if the number of contacts is very small.
not to use a heading that may be filtered out as spam, such as ‘urgent’.
If you are trying to manage a large contact database over time you
o Send your e-mail in plain text format. Your e-mail programme or
will fine a CRM system (client relationship management system) very
browser will have the option to e-mail in plain text or HTML format
useful. This will not only allow you to keep track of contacts, but also to
(which is laid out more specifically with images, colours and stylised
keep track of your interactions with them and to target them specifically
headings like a Web page) . However it’s better to send a message
according to groupings you create or subjects that they have expressed
in plain text format because plain text messages are often regarded
interest in.
as more personal than HTML. What’s more, ISPs (Internet service
Two free and open source CRM’s worth investigating are Civi-
provider) sometimes screen out HTML messages as spam.
CRM ( and Sugar.
o Personalise the greeting. ‘Dear <name>’
CiviMail ( is the mass-mailing com-
o Make sure the main points you wish to make are viewable in the first
ponent for Civi-CRM, which allows you to engage your constituents
part of the e-mail – called ‘above the fold’, as people often make a
with personalised e-mails and newsletters. It works alongside Internet
decision about whether to continue reading based on what’s in this
content management systems like Drupal and Joomla too. With
initial part of the e-mail.
CiviMail you can:
o Break your paragraphs up so none are more than four lines in length.
o Target mailings by including or excluding any number of CiviCRM
groups, or previous mail recipients
E-mail systems
o Personalise your messages using mail-merge tokens.
Building a list o Track when recipients open your message.
One of the potential benefits of e-mail is in building a list of people who o Track click-throughs.
are sympathetic to your campaign and may support it in a variety of ways. o Manage bounces and unsubscribe requests.
Ask anyone who provides you with contact information for their You can also manage event registrations and donorship pro-
e-mail address. Explain exactly how you will use it, for example to keep grammes with CiviMail. It’s a very powerful piece of Open Source
them up to date with your activities. 
Use e-mail campaigns to build magic.
your list. When you have an important issue you can ask supporters to If CiviMail doesn’t meet your needs, have a look at commercial
forward your e-mail messages to colleagues and acquaintances. services that can help with managing your e-mail marketing campaigns
Only add people to your e-mail list who have expressly agreed for a reasonable price. The time you will save and the results you get
to receive e-mail from you. Be careful not to ‘spam’ people, as this will might make the expense well worth your while.
deter support.

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E-newsletters query to the websites listed in its index and return a list of websites that
Communicating regularly with supporters, funders and advocates are most relevant.
ensures your message is uppermost in their minds. You could: Search engines work in a variety of ways and each has a differ-
o Establish a calendar with an e-newsletter on a regular basis, fort- ent logic. The world’s leading search engine – Google – is a crawler
nightly, once a month or every two months, say. based search engine which means that it ‘crawls’ the Internet collecting
o Keep your newsletter fairly short – equivalent to a couple of sides of keywords and references and people then search through what it finds.
A4 paper. Google then uses a complicated set of criteria to decide where sites
o Give concrete feedback about activities. come in their listings. The most significant of these criteria is whether
However, always be sure not to abuse your mailing list. Bombard- your site is linked to by other sites. Other criteria are whether the
ing people with e-mails can result in people signing off your list or search term/s appear in your:
putting it on to automatic spam. You should carefully plan your regular o Domain name
communications over the year. Experiences vary as to whether this o Title and description tags
should be 10 e-mails a year, fewer or more. o Headings, or
You need to gauge your audience and their level of interest in your o Elsewhere in the text of your page.
work, but you should always be aware that a single well-targeted and While Google is the most popular search engine, it is worth remember-
conceived e-mail will be much more valuable then a large number of ing that there are lots of other search engines, like Yahoo and Altavista,
e-mails people may or may not be interested in. and that these use different logics. For example, other search engines
If you have specialist information that some of your audience may such as the Open Directory project are ‘human powered’ and take sub-
be interested in, try targeting a smaller group of people with this more missions from individuals; they also have entries created by editors.
detailed information on the basis of interest. This section covers ways that you can improve the chances of your
content being found through search engines. As different search engines
When to e-mail? have different logics for how they prioritise WebPages it’s useful to
Once you know how to e-mail effectively, it’s time to get a clear idea of know how they work and what to focus on. It’s always worth remem-
when to do it. In many ways the timing is similar to that which applies bering that there are ways of buying placement on search engines like
to issuing a media release via traditional marketing techniques, and it Google, but for most NGOs it’s better to try and optimise your website
should run in parallel with other tactics, for example: so that your site gets placed higher up in the rankings without you hav-
o When you have a major announcement to make ing to do this.
o Some crucial information has come to light If your organisation’s website it being built by an outside contrac-
o When you want people to take action tor they may attempt to charge you extra for search engine optimisation.
o For the launch of a new campaign or initiative However it won’t take you long to submit your site to the main search
Remember always to include direct links to key pages on your engines. Building your organisation’s linking strategy requires specialist
website (if relevant) and a call to action. knowledge of your field, so as an insider you are probably best placed to
do this.
Creating search-friendly websites with SEO You can submit your site to search engines at the following Web
Now you’ve created your website you need to make sure people are addresses:
looking at it. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of ensur- Alltheweb -
ing that your Web pages are accessible to search engines and are built in Google -
the right way to help them improve the chances that they will be found.
The best way to get people to your website is through a search Who is looking at your site?
engine such as Google. Search engines enable people to find what they The most accurate way to measure the success of your website is look at
are looking for on the World Wide Web by typing a keyword or phrase your website’s statistics and study the behaviour of website visitors. This
into a search field. The search engine will match the keyword search is a really helpful way of working out what you are already doing right,

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and what you could do better. The tools you use to do this are called o Keywords & phrases – need to be relevant to the content and
Web analysis tools.  There are various free tools available for doing this separated by commas. Avoid repeating a keyword more than 3
including Google Analytics ( times.
The most important information to examine is the number of visi- o Alt tags – including keywords in alt tags can help your search
tors or unique visitors, since this figure gives the most accurate impres- results.
sion of a site’s audience.
Keywords – some words are better than others

The site analytics will also show you the number of hits your
Keywords are words that users enter into search engines to describe the
site receives, but his number can overestimate the popularity of a site
information/service they are looking for. You should make sure that
because it counts the loading of every item on a page, not the viewing of
you find keywords for your site that are relevant to your organisation
a page overall.
and to the field you are working in. Look through the online and offline
Other information which your website statistics will offer:
content produced by your organisation to find inspiration for this.
o Referring search engines – Details on which search engines deliv-
You should be careful not to choose a lot of terms that are vague
ered traffic to the website.
or generic as there may be many websites out there already using these
o Referring keywords – Details on keyword phrases that were used
terms, and this makes your content harder to find. You should ensure
to find your site. If people are using keywords to search for your site
that you include words that are being used by your target audiences in
that you aren’t using in your site content or metadata (the keywords
search engines. You can use website statistics to find this information.
you use to describe your webpage), then you could use this informa-
There are some free tools to help you choose keywords:
tion to identify new keywords to include in your site in the future.
o Unique monthly visits – It is 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
Search Friendly Guidelines
your site already or were looking for something on a search engine.
Whether you create your organisation’s site yourself or work with out-
o Site paths (entry & exists) – This shows how many users entered a
side contractors you should aim to stick to the following guidelines:
site per page and how many left per page. This is useful to check the
o Relevant, easily accessible content is the key to attracting and retain-
effectiveness of high-ranking Web pages. For example if a particular
ing your audience. Use simple language. The content of your site
page on your website, such as your homepage, is used 100 times as an
should be as easy to read as possible and shouldn’t use jargon from
entry page for your site and only 10 users clicked beyond that page,
the sector your organisation works in.
90% of the possible visitors were lost.
o If your site is created using a content management system such
as Drupal you should ensure that pages can be indexed by search
engines by giving them URLs (web addresses) that use a directory
Metadata is a set of tags used to describe a Web page. It provides infor-
structure rather than URLs that contain ‘query strings’ or characters
mation such as page author, creation date, what the page is about and
such as question marks which will not be indexed. So for example a
which keywords represent the page’s content. A Web browser does not
URL that ends  /news/document/latest.html is more likely to show
display metadata but the machines accessing the page can access and
up in search results than one that ends  /news/document/?23950.
efficiently record data from it. Many search engines use metadata for the
creation of their indexes.
o Important pages should have permanent URLs.
Make sure each of the pages of your site contain the following:
o Avoid using Flash as search engines are unable to properly index
o Title tag – Text that appears on Web page title bars and search
Flash-based content.
engine results pages. This should be about 60-80 characters.
o Search engines have trouble indexing pages from sites with frames so
o Description – The short line of text that is displayed in the search
try and avoid using frames in your site design.
results of most search engines. This shouldn’t be more than 100-200
o Content quality is especially important for entry pages such as the

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homepage, which are linked to from other sites. You should ensure Links and resources
that entry pages contain lots of the keywords that you wish your site The following websites will help build your understanding of search
to be known for. engine optimisation.
o Community-created content is very popular with search engines so
consider adding content to your site such as comments, blogs and Idealware: Being Found on Search Engines

wikis, which are created by site visitors.
o If you are working with an outside contractor to create your website
A great article from Idealware – a leader in the NGO technology
make sure they are prioritising search engine optimisation in their support field – which shows how “The content and structure of your
strategies. website can have a dramatic effect on how easily potential constituents
o “Semantic mark-up”, such as heading tags, tell the search engine that
can find you via search engines.” Covers 10 steps that can help search
some pieces of content are more important than others, so try and engines find and prioritise your site content.
use them. Idealware : CMS Features for Search Engine Optimization
Accessibility More information from Idealware on how to make sure the content
Making your site accessible to a broad range of users, including those management system used by your organisation to maintain your site is
with disabilities, is not only good practice, but can also improve your helping with your search engine optimisation.
search engine listings and make your Web content more accessible to
users in general. Introduction to SEO | The Nonprofits SEO Guide
The accessibility guidelines to follow are those created by The
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which you can read online at Good Keywords – Find the best keywords for your pages
There are many resources available online to help improve the ac- Good Keywords is free Windows software for finding the perfect set of
cessibility of your site such as which is a free keywords for your Web pages.
Web accessibility evaluation tool.
Search Engine Optimization– Search Engine Watch
Linking strategies
As well as optimising the way your website is programmed you should An in-depth guide to search engine optimisation from one of the
also ensure that your site is being linked to from other sites as this will leading sites in this field
boost your search rankings. In particular search engines are looking Google’s own site for webmasters
for links from reputable, high quality sites. If you want to find out how
many sites are linking to your site just type into This site offers inside knowledge on crawling and indexing issues and
Google. This will bring you back a page of details on who is linking to introduces tactics that can enhance and increase traffic to your site and
your site. You can use this to help identify more organisations that you connect you with your visitors.
could ask for links.
You can also try the following:
o Offer to exchange links with partner organisations, or find organisa-
tions to exchange links with by searching for keywords that describe
your area of work.
o Encourage your supporters to link to your site from social networking
sites and blogs.
o Comment on blog entries and include links to your site in your com-

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VIDEO – Be seen, & heard!

Video strategy
Before you start planning your video you need to decide whether video
is the right medium for your campaign. The most effective videos are
carefully planned and linked into a broader campaign strategy.

The basic principles are the same, whether you are:

o E-mailing a link to a 30-second piece of shocking, unedited foot-
age sent in by a brave victim.
o Sending carefully edited documentaries on DVDs to key people.
o Planning a grassroots video screening campaign, with support
materials for action.
There are many other variations on using video.

You need clear goals & a plan to achieve your objectives.

Once you have read our essential Strategy section (p5), start reading
this section to decide:
o Does video have a place in our communications mix?
o Do we have the basic resources to plan, create and distribute a
simple project?
o What about a more advanced video project?
o How would video fit with other channels we are using?
o Have you taken into account the security and safety issues
involved in making a video for your project (p160)?

The most successful video activism is designed to support a specific

campaign, where video is used with other tools such as websites, written
reports, briefings and organised actions, in support of a specific, defined
objective. These videos have clearly-identified target audiences, and a
strategic plan for production and distribution built around these.
The opportunity to share your videos has never been greater.
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 (p164).
There is no reason video can’t be in your toolkit. So let’s go deeper
to find out how to plan, create, and distribute video, which is one of the
most powerful tools available to help activists drive home a message.

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Advantages & disadvantages o Video as a grassroots education and organising tool for communities,
As with all channels of communication, video has its strengths and individuals and groups supporting your work
weaknesses. Our video checklist will help you consider this further. o Viral, humorous short animation
o By mashing up or remixing existing materials (video footage, audio,
Advantages Disadvantages
o Streaming footage about your campaigns on the Internet
Powerful medium. Can convey Not right for all audiences – o Producing a video public service announcement
high emotion, personal stories. people need access to viewing o Producing a video documentary
technology (eg. Internet, DVD o Video as a source for news broadcast and archive footage
player). o Presenting focused, action-oriented video to decision-makers
o Video as a deterrent to further abuse.
Multi-sensory – see and hear Not best for all content (eg.
information. maps, charts, lengthy text). In-depth at WITNESS
This list is based on WITNESS’ Effective Strategies for Video Advocacy.
Production and distribution Costs and technical knowledge
Read descriptions for most examples at
getting much easier and more can be higher than other media
accessible. (but not necessarily. Can be
Real life examples 
To look at some real life examples look at our
inspiring list on the Message in-a-Box website under Video > Video
Good for low literacy levels. Can put allies in danger. Some Strategy > Examples.
Burmese monks were identified Styles & Techniques
To get an idea of the styles and techniques that
via video and killed by the junta. might suit your project, see page 133.

WITNESS’ Video Action Plan Go deeper and further with: WITNESS
and maps out a series of questions to o Video for Change book (
consider in developing a plan to integrate video into human rights advo- o Video Advocacy Institute – intensive training for budding video
cacy. It is useful, no matter what your context. Take a look now to create advocates (
a tailor-made plan for your campaign, even if you only answer some of Also see Make Internet TV (
the questions.
Key stages in working with video
NOTE: The WITNESS VAP was last updated early 2005 and focuses Understanding how to plan your video production project will make
heavily on broadcasting footage via traditional media (eg. TV a huge difference to your success. Even with a simple project, each of
news) and
longer documentary or DVD distribution. Internet activism these stages and many of these steps will still apply.
has come a 
very long way in the last three years.
o Planning – see Video Action Plan.
Video advocacy techniques o Identifying which locations, interviewees, facts and figures, images,
At its simplest level, you might just e-mail a link to a video clip online, graphs, logos, archive footage etc. are required.
or arrange a meeting to show someone important footage you have
uncovered. Beyond this, video advocacy can take many forms. Here is a
list of powerful ways to create positive change.
o Video evidence before a court, meeting or tribunal

126 127
Story-boarding o Video camera – It can be as minimal as a mobile phone or digi-
tal camera with a video function.
o Software – The online version of this toolkit will direct you to
free, Open Source tools where they are suitable and accessible
Post-production to most users, and to proprietary tools where no free tools are
Logging and transcribing footage available.
o Editing o Computer – If you plan to do any editing (it is possible to avoid
o Titles, subtitles and credits this, or to contract editing out to others) the most expensive
Translation resource needed will be a fairly powerful computer. Most
o Screening a rough cut for feedback medium-range, new computers these days will be able to handle
o Final tweaks and checks basic video editing. If your project is large or your computer
o Sound mixing lacks the necessary resources you might need to be creative and
o Preparing your video for online and offline distribution. find a way to access a machine through a large NGO, university
or community media centre.
o Production – Other key factors to consider are any production
o Distribution
costs related to shooting the video, and editing and distribution
Promotion costs such as printing DVDs and distributing them.
This is not a linear process. All of these steps need to be considered in
People & Time
advance, for example promotion might require still images to be taken
Videos can range from high impact, tightly edited one-minute pieces to
on set during production. Don’t wait until the end of your project to
documentaries and features an hour or two long. They can even be just a
think of it!
short piece of unedited footage from a key moment.
Generally speaking, the time needed to make a well-produced
Internet Video – The Simple Guide
video piece can be estimated as one day for every minute of edited
For a simple look specifically at planning Internet video projects, see
video time.
what the people at Make Internet TV have created to help explain things
Making an effective film requires some creativity and dedication,
so one or more people should commit themselves to overseeing the
process from the planning stage right through to distribution. Don’t
Tip: In video advocacy, tactical distribution (p167) of your video is
be afraid to ask more experienced film-makers for advice, and you can
the key element in creating change. It is often less important how many
learn a lot by helping out with other peoples’ projects before starting
people have seen the video, than whether the video has reached the key
with your own.  Decide in advance how much time can be dedicated to
audiences who have the power to make a difference. The same point
completing the film?
applies for all communications.
Working to a key date? Go backwards
If you need the film finished in time for a particular event, plan back-
Cost & resources wards from that date, giving yourself plenty of time to allow for any
The cost of making a video is now very low compared to even five or ten technical hitches etc. The first stage of any video making is planning,
years ago, but there are still a few things you are going to need, depend- and well over half the total time will need to be dedicated to editing and
ing on the type of video project you are planning. to distribution.
If you are planning to edit together existing materials without
Audience & Distribution
creating new footage, then you will not need a camera.
o Your audience will have the biggest impact on your methods of distri-
bution – will they have access to a DVD player or the Internet?

128 129
o Or will it be more important to screen your video in public, perhaps o Camera work
taking your film on a tour of communities? o Sound recording
o You may choose to target specific audiences who are most likely to o Video and effects editing
take action on the issues you are dealing with, in addition to reaching o Managing licenses
a broader audience by uploading your video to the Internet. o Music and sound mixing
o Both can complement other aspects of your distribution strategy such o Transcription and translation
as direct advocacy and campaign work, community TV and festivals. o Encoding for Internet and DVD
All of these issues are important to think about in the planning stages o Packaging design and promotion
of making your film.
What is the length of your video?
o Pre-production is the time to define your audience and decide which
o What length and language do you think will be optimal for your
are the best media to use to reach them. Advocacy video can only be
primary audience?
really useful when used strategically as part of your campaign, which
o If you are choosing to target multiple audiences, will these require a
means you should never be producing your film and then left won-
different language or length of video? If so, will you need to make one
dering what to do with it. Other independently-produced material
video or will you need to produce a series of video clips to engage
will not have a natural home in mainstream media channels so it is
your different audiences?
equally important to plan ahead.
o Are you creating one video or a series of related videos?
For more information on what to think about before filming,
Tip: Bigger is not necessarily better. When your distribution strategy is
download the PDF at http://Message
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.
How you chose to distribute your video and how you promote it will
More about audience on page 6 and video distribution on page 167.
have an impact on all aspects of your work.
Skill levels We have a dedicated section about this, to read about this subject
Filming – For gathering video, simply being able to use a camera ef- in more detail go to page 167.
fectively and get the sound recording right is all that is required. Most The type of film you have made will be important in deciding how
community video volunteers learn to shoot images and record sound you choose to digitally distribute it. A shorter news piece may be suit-
well within a few days of starting to practice. You can also edit existing able for a website that contains regular updates on a particular situation
footage or even use still images with sound and music to create your or topic, where the website contains links to other text or pictures relat-
production.  ing to the event you are covering in the video.
Editing – Requires a higher skill level to do well, but it is also increas- A video with more in-depth background or analysis might be more
ingly accessible to the beginner. You also have the option of finding a suited to a compilation focussing on a particular issue, so that it sits
volunteer who has more experience, or of paying a professional. alongside other videos exploring the same topic from different angles.
Distribution & screening – can be done by anyone with access to cop- A feature-length documentary may be better distributed on DVD, as
ies of the video, screening technology (e.g. computer, projector) and/or audiences may be more likely to watch a longer-format movie on their
a screening venue. televisions than on a computer, and downloading large files off the
Summary – Some of the skills you’ll need to have, access or develop Internet may be impractical for them.
are: When you consider distribution options and key audiences in
o Planning and budgeting advance this will have an effect on what sort of video you will make.
o Liaising and co-ordinating with interviewees, funders and others Distribution can be done in a number of ways, online or offline.
involved in the process

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Physical (offline) distribution stories, and talk about their hopes and fears for themselves and their
o face-to-face meetings children. 
These interviews and conversations are shown alongside
o private screenings sequences of daily life that demonstrate the continuing challenges
o screenings at key events (public meetings, conferences, hearings, facing villagers in the war zone in 2006, in which they are always liv-
festivals or briefings) ing in fear and facing possible threats. They stay in small groups near
their fields, living in temporary homes and avoiding their villages in
Internet (online) distribution
the plains. They have very little food, no opportunities for education,
o Via Internet sites and blogs
limited healthcare, and no security. 

We travel with them through the
o Linked to an e-mail campaign
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
Synopsis – Message, story & storyteller
carry on their backs, and prepare to set off again to escape a renewed
Imagine you are in an elevator with a potential donor for your video

The video closes with an explicit call –  in the video as well as
project. You have only ten floors, or 30 seconds, to give your ‘elevator
in an end title-card –  for support as well as for pressure on the govern-
pitch’, a brief description of what your video is about, what the viewer
ment to stop the attacks.
will see and why it is important. Are you ready? Could you give such a
description? About narration & ‘voice’
This is an important exercise to enable you to express concisely the Remember that compelling and memorable individual and personal
message, story and storyteller of your video. Try writing a brief guiding stories are part of most powerful videos and stories. Evaluate how your
paragraph or synopsis that explains what viewers will actually see and primary audience would respond to your storyteller(s), while being
hear in your video. mindful that an “expert” interview may give credibility, and may help
o This should not be a summary of the video’s message or an analysis, to elaborate nuanced legal or policy obligations. Often a balance of the
but a description of how you visualise the story unfolding. two kinds of voice (the voice of personal experience and that of expert
o Think visually and verbally; every word should describe something opinion) will be best to cater for the different ways in which audiences
one will see in the video. respond (head and heart). This can be achieved in a number of ways
o Your synopsis can also incorporate the style and feel of the video, for and relates to your overall treatment, not just your choice of narrator, for
example, whether you are looking for a fast music-video feel, a more example when you decide whether facts and figures should be narrated
slow-paced story or a series of stark images interspersed with title- or displayed and whether to put them before or after personal accounts.
cards, write the synopsis accordingly. If you plan to use a central narrator in the film, who would be your
o To build your synopsis, start by identifying the most important key first choice of narrator and how will you get access to this person? Nar-
messages (see p. x) of the video. rators can play a very useful role in helping to structure the film, and to
o Once you have done this, focus on the details such as who will be fill in gaps in information. However, for some audiences, narration may
your storyteller(s), and what tools you will use to unfold the narra- be perceived to be manipulative or indicative of a particular point of
tive. view or opinion.
Other issues to consider when choosing a narrator include cred-
Example synopsis
ibility, gender, national origin, celebrity recognition, and availability/
Here is an example synopsis about a video on internally displaced
people in Burma:
This video shows the continuing insecurity faced by people displaced
Styles & techniques
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 Delivery Method & Length
facts of the action, including how many people were displaced, using The habits of your intended audience, and the resources available to
a series of title-cards. Then the villagers show us how they live in a them should have a bearing on your delivery method, the length of your
community hidden in the jungle, relate their experiences and personal video, and whether you decide to make an ongoing series.

132 133
Do your intended audiences have regular and broadband access to Sequencing your video
the Internet? DVD players? TVs? Do they attend public gatherings? A sequence is a series of shots that you put together to cover a particular
Based on the answers to these questions, you should be able to idea or action. Try to prepare an outline or list of the sequences you
put together an effective strategy for meeting your audience where they need to tell your story. Make sure to describe what the viewer will see
are most likely to watch your video. For instance, if you’re reaching out and hear: who is doing what, and what are they saying? 
to workers who may not have Internet access, a 20-minute DVD about
labour rights might be appropriate. If you’re raising awareness about Visual Element
over-fished seas among college students, you may opt to create a two There is a wide range of visual elements or techniques you can use to tell
minute humorous animation, distributed over popular video sharing your story. Here are some that you may choose:
services and social networks. o Images & audio of events happening – people doing things, per-
For more, see the section in Strategy Overview on Audience (p6). haps talking as they go, without commentary.
o Landscapes & ‘general views’ – locations and inanimate objects
Which style best supports your goals?
that are part of the story or its context.
o Interviews – The resources needed to create a video interview can
o Conversations observed – people talking while aware of the cam-
be relatively minimal, and this can be a simple and highly effec-
era, but not being interviewed directly.
tive communication technique. Armed with a simple camera and
o Hidden camera – conversations or people talking to each other, with
microphone, basic shooting technique, and thoughtful questions, you
the camera unobtrusive or even hidden. Note: there are ethical and
can create an engaging piece of media that can be used to introduce a
security questions to be considered.
person, an idea, or even to spur viewers to take action.
o Re-enactments – factually accurate recreations of scenes that could
o Covering Actions – Examples of this type of video are varied, from
not be filmed, or that happened in the past. Remember that there
secret recordings that highlight injustice to video documentation of
may be credibility problems with this in the human rights context,
a march or gathering. Such documents can often be simple to record,
particularly if the reasons why a scene could not be filmed, or needed
but be aware of the possible ethical and security implications of
to be re-enacted are unclear to the audience.
releasing this type of video publicly.
o Expressionistic shots – often symbolic or artistic, to represent a
o Testimonials – can engage both the individual testifying and the au-
concept or provide visuals where you do not have access to the loca-
dience watching. They can be used to build solidarity, to spur groups
tion, e.g. in historical interviews.
to action or to promote your organisation.
o Manipulation of imagery – using slow motion, fast-forward, etc.
o Drama/Fiction – Often people assume that activist video has to be
o Still photos, maps, graphs or documents – either static, panning/
non-fiction. But fiction or drama can be emotionally engaging tools
tracking or zooming in or out.
that ask real questions of their viewers and offer new insights.
o Text – including on-screen titles, headlines, names/affiliations and
o Humour – is a good way to get people to open up and see the absur-
graphics used for creative and informational purposes. (Subtitles for
dity in a policy, idea, or stance. Obviously it can be mixed with many
the hard of hearing and translations to foreign languages have also
of the styles mentioned here.
traditionally been added in the edit, but are increasingly treated more
o Animation – Some types of animation require special skills, tools,
efficiently as separate digital files. See Translating Video (p157).
and/or software. However, it can also be achieved very simply with
o Archival footage – this could come from a professional archive, or
a digital stills camera, a marker pen and a white-board. Bear in mind
personal memorabilia, and possibly from other films. Remember
that advanced animation can be a slow process.
footage from a commercial source is usually expensive and it’s com-
o Music Video – Combining engaging visuals with music can have
plicated to get permission to use such footage.
powerful results. Consider adding text if your message is too subtle.
o Blank screen – used to separate images or sequences and help the
Read more on how to make short Advocacy Videos Without a
viewer to reflect on what they have just seen or heard, to prime them
Camera on page 158.
for what is next, indicate a change of sequence or location, or to
emphasise sounds.

134 135
Audio or Sound Elements Compression
o Interviewee –  you can use audio recorded alone or use the audio Compression is a way to reduce the size of audio/video data files. Com-
from a video interview, or use both the video and audio. pression algorithms are typically referred to as audio/video codecs (see
o Conversations –  either recorded with the participants’ knowledge below). As with other specific forms of data compression, there exist
or unobtrusively/secretly. many algorithms to achieve the compression effect.
o Narration –  could be a ‘voice of god’ voice-over, or be spoken by
the filmmaker or by a participant in the story.
A format is a medium for storing audio and video. Examples are mp4,
o Synchronous sound –  background sound recorded while filming.
.mov and mp3.
This kind of sound is very valuable to help smooth out an edit.
o Sound effects –  individual sounds recorded while filming, or at a Codec
later point. A Codec is any technology for compressing and decompressing data.
o Music –  this is usually added in the edit. Some popular codecs for computer video include MPEG, Indeo and
o Silence –  the absence of sound can indicate change of mood or Cinepak.
place, or prompt the viewer to refocus on the screen.
Content Management System
A content management system (CMS) is a computer software system
Recording Methods
for organising and facilitating the collaborative creation of documents
o Mobile phone – depending on the type of phone you have, these can
and other content.
be great for extremely brief sound-bites or clips, covert recordings, or
regular interviews. Learn about what your phone is capable of, and Peer to Peer, P2P
how to extract the video from it after shooting, before you rely on it A peer-to-peer (or P2P) computer network is a network that relies
for recording anything important. For more see Mobile phone video primarily on the computing power and bandwidth of the users of the
(p148). network rather than on one or more servers. Sharing of content files
o Digital camera – there are many types of digital camera, and most containing audio, video, or data in digital formats is very common.
of the limitations and possibilities of using mobile phones for video
apply to digital cameras too. Test your equipment first.
Podcasting is the method of distributing multimedia files, such as
o Digital camcorder – if you’re distributing your media on DVD or
audio/video programs or music videos, over the Internet using either
want to achieve a professional-looking final product, this is a good
the RSS or Atom syndication formats, for playback on mobile devices
choice. It is worth being aware of all the benefits and disadvantages
and personal computers. The host or author of a podcast is often called
before investing in this technology. Many of these devices are large,
a podcaster. Podcasters’ websites may also offer direct download or
and unsuitable for covert recording. However, they are essential when
streaming of their files; a podcast however is distinguished by its ability
higher-quality footage is wanted.
to be downloaded automatically using software capable of reading RSS
o Found footage – existing photos and video can augment your video
or Atom feeds. Podcasting with video files is called Vodcasting.
projects, and are also useful when you don’t have access to a video
camera of any sort. Your best bet is to try for a simple and powerful Streaming media
message. For more on this see Finding videos (p188) Streaming media is media that is consumed live while it is being deliv-
ered. Streaming is more a property of the delivery system than of the
Video glossary media themselves. The distinction is usually applied to media that are
Some video jargon in plain English. distributed over computer networks; most other delivery systems are
either inherently capable of streaming (radio, television) or inherently
VCD/DVD ripping non-streaming (books, video cassettes, audio/video CDs). The word
Ripping is the process of copying audio or video from a CD/VCD/ “stream” is also used as a verb, meaning to deliver streaming media.
DVD to another medium or onto another CD/VCD/DVD.

136 137
Transcoding Plan a Production Timeline
Transcoding is the conversion from one codec or format to another, like You will need a realistic schedule for the pre-production, production,
making an MP4 into an OGG. Transcoding can also refer to recom- post-production and distribution of your video. The time required for
pressing files to a lower bit-rate without changing formats. these will depend on the nature, scope and strategy of the particular
project, and on any deadlines, as well as on the time and energy that you
VCD/DVD authoring
and others involved are able to commit to the project.
The process of getting video or series of videos into a CD or DVD disk
that will play in a VCD/DVD player. The process often includes adding
menus and other graphics. Special Note: Safety & Security Questions
What is your organisation’s policy on security and on consent as it
VCD/DVD burning relates to people interviewed or filmed for your human rights docu-
Burning is the process of writing files or video files onto a VCD or DVD. mentation? Do you need to create one? You need to consider this quite
This requires a CD/DVD writer. seriously when planning your video. Below are some questions you
Video capture might like to consider.
The process of digitising analogue video (for example, converting from o Are there any security risks associated with the filming and wide-
VHS tape in a VCR to a file on a computer) is called video capture. spread dissemination of the video footage (outside or within the
country), either for yourself or the person who has filmed the footage
Pre-production plan or for the people featured in the video? What are the risks? How will
At this stage, you have your key messages, your story and your you mitigate them or reduce them?
storyteller(s), now you need to identify any gaps you may have in your o What further research do you need to do on the security risks for
research. people appearing in the film whether it is shown locally, regionally or
These common questions can help you get started; however, you internationally?
should include additional questions that are relevant to your specific o What kind of consent process and documentation will you need to go
organisation and video advocacy plan. through with people you film?
o What footage is already available – and how can you use it? o What permissions will you need to film in the different locations
o What are the audio and visual components that you hope to include where you would like to film?
in the video? To find out more about security see our Video Safety & Security
o What do you currently have access to and what do you need? section.
For each of the elements below, consider what is the material, how
will you obtain it and if there are any copyrights in place, which would Resources
mean negotiating with the owner of the rights in order to use it. Video Recording Devices
o Video or audio interviews produced by others Picking tools for recording video can be daunting, often it’s best to
o Footage shot by your organisation begin with the simplest technology possible.
o Footage shot by television stations or other videographers For more detailed information on cameras check out our dedicated
o Photos section on creating video (p145).
o Music As quality is improving every year as prices drop, be sure to get
o Other sound sources (not music or interviews) up-to-date information. This guide was published in October 2008 and
o Printed materials related to the subject of your video even six months can make a difference.
Archive video and photo material, as well as music, can be difficult Check our Who’s online section (p7) first for more information
and expensive to license. However there is a range of “open content regarding this vital issue, which will have an impact on the planning of
licensed” material out there. See the Finding Videos section (p. x) to help your project from beginning to end.
you find free, or low-cost material.

138 139
Tip: It’s always best to get accurate advice from someone who really Examples
their stuff before investing in new gear. If possible, borrow equip- These examples are designed to stimulate ideas and illuminate the grow-
 to try it out before making major purchases. Consider visiting a ing, dynamic nature of video activism. Please keep in mind that this is
university, community media centre, or tech-savvy supporter for not an exhaustive list and is only intended to be a sample of options,
advice. and that these strategies are not mutually exclusive.
As you will see, many activist videos use simple pieces of footage
to maximum effect. You don’t have to direct a masterpiece, just use what

*Quality key Low = View in a reduced screen on computer or other device (eg.: a low end mobile phone or digital camera)

Very to extremely high = Can be suitable for TV broadcast.
Note: the higher the quality (or resolution) the larger the data
you have (or can get) effectively.

extremely high
Extremely low

Very high to
to very high

Very low to

Video to inform & educate
Low to

From documenting injustice and recording testimonies, to amplifying


voices through short public-service announcements, these examples

highlight how wide-ranging and dynamic video can raise awareness.

digitised onto computer (you’ll

gadget to carry around, charge

need a big hard drive, Firewire

Can be bulky, footage must be
recording time may be short,
somewhat difficult to enable.
switched on are traceable (a

Poor audio quality, another

and times that the phone is

port, and a video card), an-

short recording time limit,
security issue), phones are

Older cameras may have a

Images and the location

up, insure, maintain etc.

Video bloggers / debate on police brutality (Egypt > Global) 

other tool to look after. 

poor audio quality

For many years, human rights organisations have reported that torture

file for distribution via the Internet. Medium to high quality is best for Internet download.
and abuse are rife in Egypt’s police stations. It wasn’t until videos

High = Can be suitable for DVD distribution (for example: high end digital camera).

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: http://
simple, very small and light. Free
phone network. Once set up, it’s

small and light. Can be low cost.

technology, long recording time

Upload video directly from cell-

(if you needed a phone) or low

cost. All-in-one device. Handy. Additional videos:

Once set up, it’s simple, very

All-in-one device. Handy.
Simple, lots of recording

Highest quality, robust

time, easy to use, small

Viral online animation / “Meatrix” factory farming satire


The Meatrix is a four-minute online animation that spoofs The Matrix
Comparing video recording devices

movies, while educating viewers about the problems with factory

farming and today’s meat and dairy supplies. The film is a humorous
and creative satire. When it launched in November 2003, this viral film
broke new ground in online grassroots advocacy. It has been translated
Increasingly they include
digital camera and video

Most digital still cameras

into more than 30 languages and is widely considered one of the most
Digital-8 or MiniDV
Eg. Flip Video, Vado

successful online advocacy films to date, with well over 15 million view-
Pocket Video Cam

have a video mode

(look for a USB or

Digital camera 


ers worldwide. Organization: GRACE and Sustainable Table: http://

Mobile phone

USB camera

Firewire port) 


140 141
Animation / Chevron “Toxico” Campaign Environment / Greenpeace’s Oceans Campaign (global)
(South America > global) 
 Breathe in, breathe out, a silent 60-second video, is one of Green-
ChevronTexaco are known to have dumped over 18 billion gallons peace’s most viewed videos online.
of toxic waste water in the Ecuadorian Amazon, which is the largest watch?v=tzcGFUsL4HM
oil-related environmental disaster in the world. Amazon Watch works
Human rights / Amnesty’s Unsubscribe Campaign (global)  

with indigenous and environmental organisations in the Amazon Basin
Videos: Making of the Video: http://
to defend their rights. 
Video: Video about the Unsubscribe

Video to build your base of supporters Human rights / Amnesty’s “The Cell Tour” (global)
It is essential to link your video to actions that viewers can take to This video enables online viewers to see Amnesty’s replica of a cell at
learn more and build pressure. Many videos link to online petitions or Guantánamo touring the US. See how people inside the cell react to the
pledges, which ultimately help build your base of supporters by inviting experience. Then record your own message and add your voice to the
them to sign up to your e-newsletter or outreach tool. thousands protesting against illegal US detentions. Video: http://cell-
Celebrity campaign / 30 Days for a Million Voices
(US/Burma > global) 
 Offline action –  communities watching & acting together
The US Campaign for Burma’s (USCB) 30 Days for a Million Voices Many videos can be built into grassroots campaigns, with a decent sup-
project brought together dozens of celebrities and well-known advo- port network and accompanying screening materials, such as informa-
cates to call for one million people to join USCB’s global movement to tion packets, handbooks or manuals. Here are a few tips to make your
support human rights in Burma. 
Videos: screenings more effective.
maitcantwait Campaign: o As with all advocacy projects, plan them strategically.
o Develop materials and guidelines for stimulating discussion and ac-
Online action – create, collaborate, connect, go viral tion around the video.
Online video advocacy on sites including Facebook, the Hub, YouTube o Consider providing handouts with a clear call to action (see p. x).
and other social networks allow you to share short video clips that sup- o Make sure you provide technical information to the organisers of
porters can use and share online and via offline screenings. Sometimes, screenings (length, language, type of projector and screen required).
these clips can ‘go viral’ generating a splash of attention for your advo- o As with all events, checklists are essential.
cacy. They can be linked to websites and e-mail campaigns to encourage
people to sign petitions, pledges & statements of support. New tools
also allow you to help people to collaborate online to create and share Youth-led response to prison system / Books not Bars
their own media in support of your campaign. As with all online work, (USA) 

both your primary (supporters) and secondary (audience) groups must This video documented the inspiring youth-led movement against
have Internet access. the growth of the US prison industry, particularly in California. It was
linked with an Action Pack that provides examples of tangible ways for
Religious harmony / Avaaz – Stop the Clash of youth to participate in the movement to reform the prison system, and
Civilisations (global) 
 created extensive lesson plans for high school students that examine
One of the all-time top videos on YouTube, Avaaz’s video debunks the incarceration-related issues within a human rights framework. 
myth of a fundamental clash between Islam and the West and exposes 
More background to the
it as a problem of politics, not cultures. project:
stop_the_clash sk=view&id=111&Itemid=60

142 143
Water Rights / Stop The Privatization of Water (India) 
 Environment / Greenpeace’s Kleerkut Campaign (global) 

This video informed slum dwellers that the Mumbai Municipal Author- Kleenex, one of the most popular brands of tissue products in the
ity was planning to privatise their water supply. After the screenings, 300 world, contributes to the destruction of ancient forests. Greenpeace
people instead of the usual 60 showed up for a government meeting on does a great job using video in its Kleerkut campaign. Organisation:
water and demanded that the officials come clean about the plan and Greenpeace campaign: Video: http://www.
the costs to slum dwellers. Shortly after that meeting, the government
halted the privatisation plan in that part of Mumbai, and started supply-
ing water twice a day instead of once in that particular area. Organiza- Other examples
tion: Video Volunteers – 
Video: o WITNESS case studies: php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=24&Itemid=60” 

o The WITNESS ‘Video for Change’ book (
Video in Corporate Campaigning forchange) addresses many of these potential approaches in more
For many corporations, their brand is their identity. Once muddied detail.
or tarnished, stock prices and profits can drop, and jeopardise their o Videos from the international NGO the International Rescue Com-
strength. Culture jamming with video can turn the table on who’s got mittee:
the power. o Campaigning videos from the international NGO Action Aid:
What is Culture Jamming?
Culture jamming can mean many different things. It often involves
Create video
changing mass media images to produce ironic or satirical commentary
Once you’ve got your plan, you need to go out there and get your foot-
about the images themselves, using the original medium’s communica-
age. Keep in mind that you don’t need expensive cameras, computers,
tion method. See for
and gadgets to create a compelling piece of video. Starting with a solid
plan and using minimal equipment to create a concise and effective
video is far better than pouring all of your resources into technology,
Environment / Culture jamming / Chevy Tahoe’s SUV Ad
leaving yourself with too little time and energy to create a compelling
(US > global)

This section covers shooting on simple devices like mobile phones
As part of a cross-promotion with the NBC TV show The Apprentice,
and digital stills cameras, as well as the more standard ‘camcorders’. It
General Motors launched a contest to promote its Chevy Tahoe SUV
also reviews how to get video footage from DVDs in order to mix it into
(note: an SUV or four-wheel drive is a big car that uses a lot of petrol,
your productions. We then turn to how to prepare your content through
usually owned as a status symbol). At, viewers
editing and translation.
are given tools to create their own 30-second commercials. Naturally
For an overview of the different camera formats look at our video
enough, environmental activists stepped in to make the most of the
resources section on page 140.
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.” 

Digital Video (DV) Camcorders generally give a much higher level
Competing TV network CNN called it one of the “dumbest mo-
of control over both picture and sound quality than equipment like
ments in business history”
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

144 145
budget for accessories such as tapes, microphones, larger batteries etc, it will become hyper-responsive and pick up every little noise. In some
which can add to your load. cases this might be good, but often it is best to have manual control over
Despite these disadvantages, if you need the improved image and the input level from the microphone.
sound quality, a camcorder is worth your while. Camcorders are great White balance controls – For more control over the colour balance in
for any project that needs to look crisp on a full screen computer, TV, your picture, look for a camera with white balance settings. Pre-deter-
projector, or DVD. mined settings are okay, but manual white balance gives you the ability
to make white actually look white in the existing lighting conditions,
Purchasing a DV Camcorder
and makes skin tones look more natural. If you’re using a professional
Standard or High Definition (HD) – HD is unnecessary for most
editing suite, you can white balance to some extent during editing.
Web-based video projects. Instead, get a better-quality microphone or
Ergonomics & user interface – Even if you buy online, we recom-
better lights. If you have got the funds to buy a High Definition cam-
mend trying a few brands of DV Camcorders in stores before you buy.
corder, see Choosing HD (
Hold a variety of models and brands to see which shape is most com-
Recording medium – If you’re getting a DV Camcorder and want to
fortable, or ergonomic, for you. Look into the viewfinder and make sure
edit your footage, we recommend models that use mini-DV tape. Some
you’re satisfied with your ability to hold the picture steady. If you travel
camcorders record to DVD or hard drive – they will compress your
a lot, make sure the camcorder is a comfortable size.
footage into a format that may not be compatible with your editing
Digital stills camera
Compatible computer port – Your computer needs to have an input
A digital camera is small, very easy to manipulate, and can be kept
port that matches the port on your DV camcorder, so make sure you
handy at all times. It is not intrusive and is great for doing interviews. In
check what ports your computer has in advance of making a purchase.
fact, you can quickly and easily publish digital camera footage without
At the very least, your computer needs to have either a USB 2.0 port or
editing it. However, there are two main problems with digital cameras:
a Firewire port (also known as i.Link or IEEE 1394). Many PC laptops
o Different models record in different formats, and some of these
and some PC desktops do not have a Firewire port, while all Mac com-
formats are not readily compatible with Windows Movie Maker
puters have Firewire ports.
(see Incompatible Video Formats:
Battery life – DV Camcorder Review Sites (
DV_Camcorder_Review_Sites) are often a good source for finding
o Certain cameras have time limits for video recording, so you’ll want
realistic battery life (manufacturers often report optimistically high op-
to make sure the camera you use can record video for longer periods.
eration time). If you plan on recording outdoors for extended periods,
you should consider buying a spare or higher capacity battery. Purchasing a Digital Stills/Video Camera
Image & sound quality – You can find examples of the image quality o Video resolution – Resolution is the number of horizontal pixels
produced by various machines on DV Camcorder Review Sites (http:// by vertical pixels that a camera can capture. More pixels equals better Some sites even review quality images. Many digital cameras shoot 320x240 pixels of video,
the internal microphone quality. If you really want great sound, you’ll but some shoot 640x480 pixels.
need to use an external microphone. Make sure your camcorder has an o Frames per second (fps) – Frames per second is exactly what it
audio input jack to receive the sound. sounds like – the number of video frames captured in a second. Many
digital cameras capture 15fps, but some capture 30fps.
Advanced Features o Short recording time – Some digital cameras can only record video
If you’re looking to get superior sound and video, here are several for a short time (30-45 seconds) before they must stop and write the
advanced features to look for. footage to memory. Others can record until the memory card fills up.
Automatic gain control – for better audio, find a camcorder with the Check these limits before purchasing your camera.
option to turn off Automatic Gain Control (ACG). ACG automatically o Battery life – Independent Digital Camera Review Sites (http://
changes the sensitivity of the microphone, so that in a quiet situation are often a good

146 147
source for finding realistic battery life estimates for digital cameras o The cost of making video on mobile phones is relatively low.
(manufacturers often report optimistically high operation time). If o You can send videos directly between phones for free using Bluetooth
you plan on recording outdoors for extended periods, you might Mobile phone video quality is fine for creating short videos for
consider buying a spare battery. broadcast on video sharing websites. However only a few very high
o Proprietary batteries – Some cameras require proprietary end phones are capable of producing anything approaching broadcast
batteries, while others operate on standard AA or AAA batteries. quality video which is 30 frames per second, 640×480 resolution. You
Proprietary batteries may provide longer life, but they often require a should bear in mind that these phones are very expensive.
recharging station and cost a great deal more to replace. Proprietary Mobile phones can be used anonymously in most countries if they
batteries can become obsolete and be hard to replace. Standard are prepaid (also known as Pay As You Go) rather than on a contract,
batteries are more affordable and available almost anywhere in the and unregistered. However calls on mobile phones and the phone’s
world, but might not provide as much shooting time. location can be traced through the mobile network provider. If your
o Image quality – Some Digital Camera Review Sites (http://mit- phone is seized it may contain personal information such as contacts, post footage shot from telephone call logs, texts sent and received, and photographs.
specific models of digital cameras. Otherwise, you’ll need to rely on
Resources You’ll Need
the resolution, frames per second, and mega-pixel count for a very
o Mobile phone – Any mobile device which records video will do.
rough estimate of picture quality.
Generally the newer the phone the better the lens and the chip
o Ergonomics & user interface – Even if you buy online, we recom-
which records the video. Some phones have simple video editing
mend trying a few brands of digital cameras in stores before you buy
programmes that allow you to add and shorten clips, add photos, text
one. Hold a variety of models and brands to see which shape is most
and a soundtrack. Different models of phone have varying limits on
comfortable. Try putting it in your pocket or bag – to check the bulk,
memory, maximum file size for playback and recording and resolu-
not to hijack it.
tion limits.
o Sound quality – Don’t count on good-quality sound from a digital
o SIM card – The SIM card is used to store information on your
camera. Just get as close to your sound source as you can. It is also
mobile phone, including its phone number. An unregistered, prepaid
possible to Record Audio Externally (see
SIM card provides the most anonymity. In some countries you do
cord_Audio_Externally) and synchronise the picture with the sound
not have to register when you buy a phone. The SIM card must be
after making the recordings, during the editing process, but this adds
registered to a mobile phone network before you can send video.
a lot of time to editing.
However you can record video and send by Bluetooth or transfer
o Storage space & format – Most cameras come with a low-capacity
onto a computer without registering with a phone network.
memory card, which you’ll probably want to upgrade. Just make sure
o Memory card – Memory cards provide extra capacity for storing
you get a card in a compatible format. The amount of shooting time
recorded video clips. They are compact, rugged and easily swapped
you can record to a given card varies from camera model to model,
when full. They come in several types, such as SD, miniSD, microSD,
and also depends on resolution and compression settings.
M2, microM2... so be sure to check which kind your phone needs.
They are also used in digital cameras, video game consoles and music
Mobile Phone Video
players. Currently, they hold from 512 Mb to 4 Gb and beyond. They
Why use a mobile phone to create and distribute video?
usually sit in a slot in the side of the mobile phone.
o They are widely available and accessible.
o External microphone – The mobile phone’s built-in microphone
o You can create, distribute and sometimes edit video content from the
may not give high audio quality when recording video, as it is
same device.
designed for making phone calls. It works best for very close sounds,
o They are small, unobtrusive and easily carried.
and it is generally pointing towards the camera person rather than at
o You can film discreetly and clandestinely.
what is being filmed. You may be able to use an external microphone
o They can be particularly useful in repressive media environments
when recording. This could be the microphone on the phone’s head-
where filming with a video camera may not be safe or possible.

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set, connected either by a cable or by Bluetooth. You may also be able Top tips for Mobile Video
to attach a self-powered microphone, usually with a phono adapter to o Choose the highest quality setting your phone can handle. Each
the phone’s AV socket. Usually this only works with a more expensive mobile phone will have a range of video settings, usually found under
phone. “Camera”, then “Settings”. The most common are, in order of highest
o Memory card reader – A memory card reader allows you to transfer to lowest quality:
GA 640×480, 
VGA (quarter VGA) 320×240

data quickly from the phone to a computer. The memory card is QCIF 176×144
 SQCIF 128×96
taken out of the mobile phone and put into the card reader, which is o Save to a memory stick or memory card, not to the phone. This set-
attached to a computer with a USB cable. ting is usually found under “Camera” then “Settings.”
o USB cable – Many mobile phones have a USB socket. A USB cable o Set phone to silent. If you are filming clandestinely, make sure your
allows you to transfer data quickly from the mobile phone to a com- phone is set to silent and does not beep or make a shutter sound
puter. when you are filming. Note that some models of phone will not allow
silent recording.
Basic steps to Mobile Video Usage
o Get in close. Cameras on mobile phones are designed for filming
o Film the event or interview. This may be one single clip or a number
people a few metres away in good light, so get as close to the action as
of clips. One of the simplest videos can be a single shot interview
of approximately 3-5 minutes. The videos are usually saved in 3gp for-
o Shoot in good light. The cameras work best in natural light without
mat, a simplified form of the MPEG4 codec made for mobile phones.
strong contrast. The picture tends to be particularly poor at dusk and
This compresses the videos heavily to reduce the file size and the
at night.
bandwidth requirement.
o Avoid zooming. The quality of the image deteriorates markedly.
o Transfer content to a computer for editing or distribution. The sim-
o Get close to the sound you want to record, particularly in interviews.
plest way to do it is by connecting the mobile phone to the computer
If you use an external microphone place it close to the sound you
with a USB cable. You can do this also using Bluetooth, infrared (IR)
want to record.
or via a card reader. Once you have connected the mobile phone and
o Keep videos small. If you are sending videos to or from phones, keep
the computer, the phone will appear on the computer as an external
the file size small
drive. You can browse the phone to find and transfer the video clips
o Do a dummy run. Make sure you can shoot and upload the videos
o Edit the video on the phone or on a computer. The most common
without any technical hitches.
approach is to edit on a computer. This allows for more sophisticated
editing, such as working with longer pieces, adding subtitles or voi- Security with Mobile Video
ceovers, and incorporating effects. Once the video clips are on your In some situations, filming may compromise your safety. Here are some
computer, you can edit them with software like iMovie, Windows steps you can take.
Media Maker and Open Movie Editor for Linux. If you want to dis- o Preserve your anonymity: use a pre-paid, not a contract phone, and
tribute the completed video by mobile phone, you must save it in 3gp unregistered SIM card and top-up cards. Supporters can buy top-up
format . cards on behalf of the phone user.
o Distribute the video. Read more on Distribution elsewhere in the o Supporters should send the phone user the top-up access code by
toolkit. Youtube Mobile will allow you to upload videos directly voice or text.
from a mobile phone. Generally you are given an e-mail address to o Protect your personal information – if the phone may be seized, do
which to send the video so your phone must have Internet capabili- not store personal information such as contacts, photos, call records,
ties and the costs of data transfer can be high. There are a number of outgoing text messages. It may be sensible to have two phones and
services (such as Qik, Flixwagon and PocketCaster) that allow you use one of them just for filming.
to stream live video from your phone. This can be useful in an urgent o Delete backed up videos – once the video clips have been transferred
or fast-moving situation. You must register in advance and install an to a computer or another phone, delete them from your own phone
application on your phone. or swap out the memory card.

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o Hide your location – a mobile phone has functions other than record- o Keep Recording – It’s smart to record a little more than you think
ing video. When it is switched on it connects to the mobile network you need, as you will have more to play with when you’re editing. A
provider’s base station and reveals its location. The phone may have a minimum ten seconds per shot feels like a long time, but you will get
GPS application. You can keep the phone turned off with its battery used to it.
removed when not in use, and not enable the GPS application. o Stabilising your Camera – Keep an eye out for architectural or
natural features that can help you stabilise your shots. Walls are good
Mobile Video Examples for leaning against, and if you’re able to use a tripod, it’ll make your
shots 98% more stable.
Clandestine reporting
o Zooming – Avoid making your viewers motion sick with excessive
Myanmar/Burma cyclone, 2008 Mobile phone and camcorder videos
zooming and/or panning. We recommend that you turn off your
of the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis were compiled into DVDs. These
camera’s digital-zoom feature . Because Internet video is often viewed
were sold in Burma and smuggled out of the country.
in a small window, it is good to stay tightly framed on your subject. 

o Dollying – Dollying is physically moving the camera, while it is fixed
Publicity to an object. We recommend wheelchairs, cars, skateboards, tricycles,
Students for Free Tibet In August 2007 a group from Students for or improvising using anything with wheels. Have the camera person
Free Tibet rappelled down the Great Wall of China. The action was sit on the vehicle or object while someone else pushes.
live streamed via mobile phone videos using Skype to New York, then
posted online on Youtube:
 Common Mistakes o Shooting too much – Be clear before starting to shoot exactly what
you want to film, and why.
Filming o Not paying attention to the sound – Badly recorded or poorly mixed
Unfortunately many low-budget videos suffer from bad camera work. A sound can ruin an otherwise excellent video. Use an external micro-
few easy techniques can make your video much easier to watch and help phone if you can, and check the sound levels are even before releasing
get your message across more easily. your final edited product.
o Lacking Essential Equipment – Check you have everything you need,
Holding & Shooting if possible the day BEFORE the shoot, so that you have time to obtain
o Single Hand – One basic technique is holding your camera with one replacements. Check your camera and microphone are working, your
hand and supporting that elbow with your free hand. Keep your el- batteries are charged, essential cables are packed in your camera bag.
bow near your body, as this will give you the most leverage and allow
you to hold the camera for long periods. Batteries & tapes
o Two Hands – Sometimes it is more comfortable to hold a camera o Whatever camera and microphone you are using, try to carry at least
with both hands. Again, keep your elbows near your body for im- one fully powered spare battery and a charger for each, if you have
proved leverage and stability. one.
o Above the Head – If you’re shooting events with crowds, you might o Recharge your batteries whenever you can – you never know when
need to hold your camera over your head. If you have a swivel view- you may need them.
finder, this is no problem. However, if you’re using a camera without o If travelling abroad to film, ensure you have the necessary plug adap-
an adjustable viewfinder, it takes a lot of practice to film what you tor for any chargers.
want when you can’t see it. o Carry as many tapes as you can. There is nothing worse than running
o Video Blog Style Interviewing – If you’re using a small camera, you out of tapes in the middle of an important shoot. Even if you don’t
can hold it, facing you and at arms length, and capture yourself and need them all yourself, you may be able to help out a fellow film
your interview subject. This technique is tricky and definitely requires maker who has run out, or to copy someone else’s footage using a
practice. Firewire or USB connection.

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o Try not to use the first and last minute on a DV tape. scene with white cardboard or other reflective material. Outdoor
o Be careful to avoid ‘time code breaks’ in your footage, and worse, lighting can be great in the morning or evening, just remember that
taping over your material. This is easiest to avoid if you resist the your lighting won’t be constant and will eventually get too dark or too
temptation to play your footage back while still in the field. light. Cloudy days are best for getting even lighting.
o As soon as you have filled a video tape (or other storage medium), o Shooting indoors – Keep the strongest light to your back, whether
label it clearly but briefly with what footage is on it, and also note the it’s a window with sunlight or a lamp. If you’re using purely artificial
date. You may wish to mark the tape with the name or a code for the lighting, try to get as many lights on as possible–you can use distance
project it was recorded for, and a number in sequence as soon as you between subject and light to get things looking more evenly lit.
are using more than one tape, disk or whatever.
o Keep your tapes safe, dry, cool, away from magnetic sources and out Editing
of direct sunlight. Once you’ve shot your footage you need to edit it. The following are the
o When you have a chance consider making backup copies of your basic steps you’ll need to go through.
tapes or discs – clearly labelled – and keeping them in a different loca-
tion for security in case anything happens to the originals. Label & Log Your Footage
o Keep all your video equipment in a strong, padded and waterproof Documenting and getting to know what material is on which tape is the
bag. Keep recorded tapes separately in case the camera is stolen – first step towards making a good film. Collect and label all the material
thieves are not interested in your material, but you are… and unlike you will be working with, and make sure it is all in a format you can use.
an (insured) camera, your footage is irreplaceable. If you have any more than maybe an hour of footage to work with, it is
o Audio & lighting worth making a log to help you note and find particular shots when you
o Sound quality is sometimes considered less important than visuals, need them.
but many experienced videographers would disagree. Bad sound can
How to log:
spoil an otherwise great production.
o Watch all of your tapes, making notes in three columns as you go:
Audio tips o The start and end time code of the shot
o Stay close for good audio  – Always get your microphone as close as o What is happening on the screen and in the audio
you possibly can to the sound source you want to capture. If your o Any comment, for example if a shot is worth using, the sound is bad,
microphone is internal or attached to your camera, move everything etc.
up close. You can structure your log in various ways, and log your material
o Hand-held or external microphones – When using an external more or less thoroughly, but whatever you do, make sure it is consistent,
microphone, it’s good to attach headphones to your camera. If there and label each page clearly.
is a problem with the microphone or connectors, you’ll hear it before
you’re ready to publish or edit your footage. Plan Your Edit
o Getting the best sound possible – Decide which sounds you want to Once you’ve got your footage together, it’s time to pick out key ele-
capture and focus on isolating those sounds as best you can. If you’re ments and think how to put them together in a sequence that commu-
doing an interview in an apartment, switch off all fans, turn off noisy nicates your message. If you’re making a journalistic piece, be sure you
computers, and close any nearby windows. Also consider moving put ‘who, what, where, when, and why’ at the beginning. You can also
your subject away from unwanted noise. 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
Lighting tips
idea, called a ‘paper edit’, before you begin, you’ll be much better able to
o Shooting outdoors -Generally, you will want to keep the sun behind
make decisions along the way. For more on this subject make sure you
your camera. When possible, avoid shooting in full noon-day sun, as
look at the Video strategy section.
it casts harsh shadows on a person’s face. At noon, you’re better off
shooting in full shade and optionally bouncing extra light into the

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Basic Editing distracting.  Where possible, let the images, sounds, and the people
To begin, you should you only need to do basic cutting and re-arrange themselves tell the story.
footage, clip edges, and add simple titles and transitions. Basic editing o Be creative – Consider the rhythm of your piece. Pauses in the speech
systems that often come free with a computer operating system are allow the audience to reflect on a powerful point, to enjoy dramatic
usually well-suited to these tasks. For Windows there is Windows footage or a joke.
Movie Maker ( o Be patient – Don’t get discouraged if the edit goes slowly. It can take
updates/moviemaker2.mspx), for Mac there is iMovie (http:// time, but will get easier as you gain more experience. - however more recent versions of
OS X no longer come with iMovie for free. For Linux we recom- Get Feedback
mend the open source Kdenlive (, however Once you have ‘rough cut’ your video, watch it from your intended audi-
please note that this doesn’t have many features. ence’s point of view. Better still, arrange a test screening for a few people
If you have to add lots of titles, it may be more useful to use subtitle from your intended audience. Afterwards, encourage them to discuss
software to create separate digital subtitle files after the edit than to the video so that you can collect feedback to improve the final version.
‘burn’ the subtitles into the image during the edit – which will get in the
Questions for yourself & the test audience:
way of any other language subtitling you need to do later. See Translat-
o Does everyone understand all the language?
ing Video (p. x) for more information.
o Does anybody’s speech need subtitling?
o Is there too much information or too little?
Advanced Editing
o Will the audience know what is happening (who, what, where, when,
Non-linear editing suites are more complex and far more expensive than
the basic editing solutions available by default with Windows and Mac.
o Does it keep their attention throughout?
If you require multi-track editing, more complex titles or special
o Does it make people laugh? Should they be laughing at that point?
effects, you might consider non-linear editing software. Options
o Is there any important information missing?
o Will it move people to action?
o Adobe Premiere Pro (
o Will they know where to go for more information?
for Macintosh or Windows
o Final Cut: for Macintosh
After Filming
o Sony Vegas (
For more on After Filming see the WITNESS After Filming Guide on
family.asp) for Windows the Message in-a-Box website under Video.
o Cinelerra ( for Linux (not
recommended for beginners, but it is free and open source) Translating video
If your video is to reach its broadest audience, it needs to be understand-
Tips to Remember able by people from other parts of the world – including those who are
o Keep it short – The most common problem that new editors run into
hard of hearing. For this to happen, it first needs to be transcribed, then
is that they can’t bear to leave anything out. Don’t be afraid to ask for translated into the languages of your target audiences.
help with cutting away excess. Be especially wary of poor footage,
incomprehensible speech, repetition, distracting or irrelevant sounds Original Language Transcript
and images. To make your video interesting and appealing,  make a The first and most important step in translating video is to create an
very short project the first time around. accurate, digital transcript of all the words spoken in the final edit of the
o Tell a story – Whether you are making a feature, documentary, or art
film. This should be a plain document of the full spoken word audio,
piece, remember to tell a story that engages the viewer. plus any text titles on screen, written out in a text document in the
o Don’t overdo the effects – A good video can be ruined with too many
original language.
effects. If they’re overdone, or they’re not done well, they can be

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Each phrase or sentence should be written on a separate line, with Gharbia who with his colleague Astrubal (http://astrubal.nawaat.
the start and end time code (hour:minute:second:frame) at the start of org/) uses found footage, remixing techniques, graphics, animation
the line, like this: and screen captures to produce videos with a focus on human rights
00:01:10 00:01:20 This is a film about people resisting water advocacy in Tunisia. The fact that Youtube and other video sharing
privatisation in Bolivia sites have been blocked in Tunisia (http://advocacy.globalvoiceson-
00:01:23 00:01:32 and the repression that they suffered is in part
You can create such a document easily using free software like testimony to the power of such subversive videos. Read more about
Jublr, and save it as a .SRT file. Jublr is an open source program for creat- the background to media censorship and freedom of speech in Tunisia
ing video subtitles. An .SRT file is the way these subtitles are stored and on the Human Rights Watch Website (
saved. More about Jublr on the Message in-a-Box website under Video docs/2008/01/31/tunisi17621.htm)
> Tools for Creating Video. Sami attributes part of his success the fact that he uses the Tunisian
propaganda machine against itself, for example by using government
Using/Sharing the Transcript or Subtitle File slogans and showing them over images of political prisoners. Other vid-
The resulting original-language transcript can be uploaded with your eos show images of the Tunisian dictator Ben Ali in a washing machine,
film, and included for distribution on any DVD or other offline format. making the point that a military dictator can’t wash off his military and
It can also be attached to digital copies of the film using the VLC security background.
player, as closed captions for the hard of hearing and for screening in Sami feels that using video is a great way of reaching audiences
noisy environments. such as younger people who might not be interested in more conven-
Most importantly, it can be sent as a text file to translators for easy tional campaigning techniques, and points to the comments on his You-
offline translation – even those who cannot watch the film can help. The Tube channel as proof of this.
translator needs simply to replace the original language phrases on each These videos also help make potentially complex issues such as
line with a direct written translation, keeping the timecode in place to transparency and accountability accessible to audiences who might not
ensure the right phrase goes in the right place. This new file can then be immediately connect with them. One of the most innovative videos
used as a subtitle file in the same way as the original-language file. made by Astrubal used Google Earth to track the use of the Tunisian
Even if you don’t have funds for translation, you should still create presidential plane to expose how it had been used at taxpayers’ expense
an original-language transcript and share it when you publish the video. for unofficial shopping trips and holidays.
You might find people autonomously take on translating your film into
Tips for video creation
their language.
o Use big icons or images that have resonance in your culture or popu-
For more see the guides to Making Subtitles with Jublr and using
lar culture icons such as ‘Big Brother’.
VLC to view subtitles on the Message in-a-Box website under Video >
o For simple and effective video use a tool that can record what you
Tools for Creating Video.
are doing on your desktop computer this way you can, say, build
something based on Google maps or Google earth and then animate
Additional Resources
the navigation of the software.
o Sami recommends tools such as QuickTime Pro, which make it really
easy to animate still images using simple copy and paste techniques
Making advocacy videos without a camera
and then to add text and filters.
Some of the most powerful advocacy videos that have been created in
o If your target audiences have slow Internet connections, use more
recent years have been made without a camera. Short three and four-
text in your videos and use compression (see Message in-a-box
minute videos such as those made by Avaaz ( have
website under Video > Tools for Publishing Video) to make the file
reached enormous audiences around the globe through video sharing
sites such as Youtube.
One of the leading exponents of this method is Sami ben

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Tips for video dissemination & publicity o What permissions will you need for filming in the various locations?
o Disseminate the same video on multiple platforms. This is especially o Is video the best way to obtain and share the information you need
important now that sites like YouTube are being blocked in many (rather than audio, text etc.)?
Planning ahead
o Post a comment alongside a famous or notorious video on YouTube
Preparations for filming in any potentially hostile environments should
as a way of directing traffic to your video.
include a risk assessment. Hazards can occur during filming, during
o Link to your video from as many blogs and websites as possible.
distribution or at a later date, and include:
You’ll be able to track on YouTube which websites are directing
o Threats or violence against anyone involved
people to your video.
o Being discovered filming covertly or without official permission
o Set up an RSS feed of your content and have these feeding directly
o Detention/arrest/kidnap of people filming, being filmed or trans-
to your Twitter and Facebook accounts so that your followers from
porting footage
these networks can see your work.
o Failure of security arrangements intended to protect information and
o In situations where video sharing platforms are blocked you can
spread video between mobile phones for free using Bluetooth con-
o People failing to realise the risks they may face when they give con-
sent, or failing to take precautions
Video safety & security Precautionary Measures
Video is a powerful tool, which can be dangerous for you and for the o Make sure you have careful, skilful people involved in planning,
people you work with. Before embarking on a sensitive video project, research and filming.
you must ask questions about your own safety and that of your subject. o Establish clear protocols for consent (see next section).
This section of the toolkit takes you through some key things you’ll o Use suitable equipment.
need to consider if you are covering sensitive issues or think you might o Pay attention to personal and information security.
be working in a difficult security environment. o Make communication arrangements for before, during and after film-
We don’t want to scare you off from attempting to use video, but to ing.
alert you to potential hazards and help you work through how to mini- o Make emergency arrangements for yourself and the people you film,
mise risks to everyone involved. Where there is a will (and some plan- both during and after the filming.
ning), there is nearly always a safer way. If in doubt, talk to colleagues o Have a clear exit strategy.
and share the responsibility of decision-making. In all situations, there is
no substitute for trust, respect, clear communication and being sensible. Consent
Where possible, video makers should ensure that people they are film-
The First Rule - Do No Harm
ing have given free, prior, informed consent to becoming involved in
The first set of questions to consider in doing your risk assessment is:
a film. This is particularly important when featuring minors or other
o What kind of retaliation may you or others face? Is the risk worth it?
people who are not in a position to take full responsibility for their
o Could the methods you use backfire and prevent you from attaining
words and actions.
your advocacy goals?
A human rights or social justice filmmaker should consider three
o Is it both safe and useful to record and/or share this video with these
levels of permission and consent: written, on-camera and informed
people at this time?
o Is everyone involved aware of all the risks involved? What kind of
o Written consent: The same kind of legal paperwork that TV chan-
consent process and written approvals will you need to go through
nels require, but that has limited legal standing. The ‘release forms’
with people before you film them?
may be difficult to understand for people with limited literacy or
o What research do you need to do on security risks for people appear-
exposure to kind of language they are written in.
ing in the film if it is shown locally, regionally and internationally?
o On-camera consent: This is where the person to be filmed is actually

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filmed hearing the full explanation of their part in the project, and Some ideas to help you conceal someone’s identity during filming:
giving their name and clear consent on camera. o Ask the person not to mention specific names or places
o Informed consent comes from understanding possible risks and o Ask them not to wear distinctive clothes
benefits of being on camera, and making a choice to be there, and to o Use strong back lighting to turn the person’s image into a silhouette,
stipulate an acceptable level of risk. This may include the possibility with them either facing the camera or in profile
of withdrawing permission to use the footage in the future, if the level o Purposely make the footage out of focus so that the person’s face can-
of risk increases. Usually the discussion of risks and benefits, and the not be recognised.
process of informed consent, happen off-camera. o Don’t light the person’s face
o Film their hands or another part of their body rather than their face
Protecting anonymity
o Film from behind them so that their face is not visible, or film them
Sometimes people are willing to appear in a video only as long as they
in profile
can’t be recognised. The identity of people on film can be deduced in a
o Film them with a cap shading their eyes (eyes are the most recognis-
number of ways, not all of which are equally obvious:
able part of a face)
o Their face is visible
o Their name is provided in the dialogue or on-screen Safe handling of video tapes
o Their clothing is distinctive o Know where all your copies are, and label them with clear instruc-
o Their voice is recognisable tions in case they go missing
o They refer to locations or people who are identifiable and specific o Destroy rough cuts of videos where identities are discernible
o They are seen in the company of people who can be identified o Ensure public scripts do not reference identities
o Keep records separate from tapes to protect identities
You can most easily hide the identity of someone who you have filmed o Label clearly how footage can be used: e.g. only as evidence or for
either while you are filming, or during the editing process. private screenings
During the editing process your options are: o Avoid heat and humidity, and unnecessary rewinding of tapes
o Using a digitized effect over the whole face or other identifying o Make back-up copies of important material and store them in a
marks, or placing a digital bar over the eyes only secure location (ideally a temperature-controlled archive)
o Obscuring identifying marks in the foreground, background or on
Responsible treatment of video footage
the interviewee (for example, a logo on a shirt)
o Maintain clear communication with those involved
o Using sound edits to remove names of people and places.
o Honour any commitments made during filming
o Distorting voices to make them less identifiable.
o Edit ethically - avoid ‘guilt by association’
o Using only an audio track.
o Remember the power and the dangers of contrast, juxtaposition and
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 inter-
o Avoid emotional manipulation and over-dramatisation
view location (sometimes with the interviewee seen in extreme long
o Acknowledge the impact of violent imagery
shot), alongside the audio track of the interview.
o Respect the audience, field and facts
o In general you have more options if you shoot footage in the field
o Consider the impact of distribution on the people who film or are
without compromising the image, and then alter the image in the ed-
iting room (if you are going to be editing). However, security should
o Be aware of secondary trauma issues
always be your main concern. If there is a serious possibility that your
original material may be confiscated either during transport from Appropriate use
the filming site or from an archived location, then it is a good idea to Not all video is appropriate to show to all audiences all of the time. If a
conceal the identities of your subjects as you film them, and it may be video features extreme violence, humiliation or other disturbing mate-
unwise to have subjects identify themselves on camera. rial, consider providing a warning to viewers before they can access it.

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It may be more suitable to keep such material for use as evidence in a Tip: Even if you are just deciding what to do with a shocking short piece
court case than to release it freely into the public domain. of footage shot last night that you want people to see in a hurry, putting
Try to think about the various people who may see this video, and a little thought into planning will help you make the most of Message
what uses they could make of it. For example, might security forces in-a-box, and massively increase the positive change you can influence.
identify individuals for arrest or repression? Might one ethnic group use
the video to misrepresent the actions of another for the purposes of fo-
Who’s watching?
menting inter-ethnic strife? If someone is being victimised in the video,
This question will have the biggest impact on your methods of distribu-
might replaying it on screen turn them into a victim again and again?
tion. Will your target audience have access to a DVD player or the
Possible questions for on-camera consent: Internet? Or will it be more important to screen your video - perhaps
o On-camera consent can include answers to the following questions: taking a tour of your film out to communities?
o Please state your name and the date of this interview You may choose to target specific audiences who are most likely
o Do you understand what we are doing? to take action on the issues you are dealing with, in addition to reach-
o Please, in your own words, explain so that we are sure. ing a broader audience by uploading your video to the Internet. Both
o Do you consent to your interview being included in this project, online (for example via YouTube or your own website) and offline (for
including video and (state various forms of media you may use, example via public screenings or TV) distribution can complement
including print, photos and Internet)? other aspects of your distribution strategy such as direct advocacy and
o Are you aware of all the people who may see the final video? campaign work, community TV and festivals.
o Are there any restrictions on using the information you provide us with
or on how we can use the video itself that we need to be aware of?
It’s also important to remember you will need to promote your video
o Are you aware that you can stop the filming process at any time, to
after you have decided how to distribute it. From e-mail campaigns to
ask questions, to take time out or to withdraw entirely?
posters, you can work your way around Message in-a-box to make your
Resources promotional plan.
If conducting interviews for a documentary, you may want to consider Think of it as a mini-campaign and do a simple promotional plan
using a release form. to decide what to do. For more on promotion see Publicise your Video,
Witness have produced a useful text on Safety and Security in on page 186.
video making:
Bigger is not necessarily better
forChange_SafetyandSecurity_Titled.pdf - Meet journalists, filmmak-
When your distribution strategy is linked to grassroots campaigns and
ers, and human rights defenders who work undercover, in war zones
communities it may have a greater potential to make an impact than a
and in threatening environments, both at home and abroad.
programme on television that an audience has casually flicked over to.
As in all communications, the important issue is quality rather
Publish video
than quantity. Getting your message seen and heard by the right people
Once you’ve made your video you need to make sure it’s seen. This
is more important than communicating to absolutely everyone.
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 What’s the plan?
how to distribute your video online and offline. Pre-production is the time to define your audience and decide which are
the best media to use to reach them. Advocacy video can only be really
Introduction to video publishing
useful when used strategically as part of your campaign - you should
Production and distribution need to work hand-in-hand. The type of
never be producing your film and then left wondering what to do with it.
film you make, its length, subject matter and style, will influence how
To create an effective plan for distributing video, make sure you
you distribute it. The type of distribution you are planning can also
have read the Strategy section , and especially the sections on Audience
affect the film you make.
and Who’s Online? The more clearly you have defined your audience,

164 165
messages and campaign goals, the more effective your video will be. Examples
All of these issues are important to think about in the planning News items can be posted on websites, with regular updates on a
stages of making your film. situation or topic. Short films can be posted on You Tube and your
own sites, redistributed and linked to. A video containing in-depth
Video via Internet
background or analysis might be more suited to a themed compilation
The opportunities for sharing your videos have never been greater.
on a particular issue, so that it sits alongside other videos that explore
Because millions of videos are uploaded online each day, with content
the same topic from different angles. It may be better to distribute a
ranging from dog tricks to documentation of human rights abuses, your
feature-length documentary on DVD, as audiences may be more likely
video will be a drop in an ocean of media – unless you have a strategic
to watch a longer-format movie on their television than on a computer,
distribution plan.
and downloading large files off the Internet may be impractical.
To use Internet distribution strategies, which can be extremely
effective, you will also need to get some technical understanding of how
Let’s look in a little more detail at a distribution plan, then move on to
to create videos that stream or download easily. Find out more about
publicising your video so that people actually get to see it.
how to do that in our Tools for Video Publishing (Message in-a-box
Note: You should be keenly aware of privacy and security issues
website under Video), where we show you step-by-step how to com-
when publishing. Be sure to read the Safety and Security section. Also
press and embed videos in a range of ways.
check out WITNESS’ Things to Keep in Mind When Uploading Videos
If you think your audience might not have enough Internet access
to watch video online, think again. Africa, for example, has had 1000%
improvement in Internet access in the last eight years, and the Internet Making a strategic distribution plan
is predicted to become an increasingly powerful tool for people com- Strategic distribution of the video is the key element in achieving posi-
municating in developing countries, including rural areas. tive change. It is often less important how many people have seen the
The decision of where on the Internet you chose to upload your video, than whether the video has reached key audiences with a power
video and how you promote it will impact all aspects of your work to make a difference.
- from your rights with regards to your video and the audiences and Videos can be distributed through:
communities you can reach online, to their ability to download and dis- o Private screenings
tribute your media offline. Ensure that your video is on a site that meets o Screenings at key events and public meetings
your needs and will help you reach your short and long-term goals. o Conferences, hearings, or briefings
o Using rapidly developing online distribution tools.
Video via DVD
o Many successful campaigns use different video strategies simultane-
Due to censorship restrictions and security issues, poor Internet access
ously, so that one approach builds on another.
or other reasons, you may still choose to distribute your short or longer
o For example, you might release the same or different edits to:
videos via DVD and give them to people in a physical form, or organise
o Television stations
screenings. One key benefit of screenings is that they are face-to-face,
o Grassroots networks, via screenings
and can be a very effective way to build strong relationships and support
o Online social networks
between viewers, especially if you are viewing difficult or sensitive mate-
Private meetings with decision-makers, in tandem with written reports
rial. You can also use the events for fund-raising, volunteer recruitment
and other advocacy tools
and to further other campaign goals. More about DVD/VCD distribu-
You can consider the possibilities for these hybrid online/offline
tion on the Message in-a-box website under Video > Publish Video.
strategies while analysing the makeup of your audience, what action
Hybrid Distribution - a bet both ways you are seeking from them and what tactic is best to reach them (for
Often, the best way forward is a hybrid of both online (Internet) and example in-person screenings or online through your website or social
offline (physical) distribution, ensuring that all of your key audiences networking site).
get your messages.

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Some important questions Author: Use an individual’s or an organisation’s name.
o What are the time constraints within which your video would be Date: Make sure people know when the video was made.
most useful? Description: A succinct description which will help people to un-
o How will your audience view your video? Does your audience have derstand what they will be watching if they click to download or play.
access to the Internet? If so, what are the best online tools and spaces Syndication tools like RSS will only display the first few lines of your
to reach them? description, so write the text so that the first sentence can stand alone.
o Will it be useful to develop accompanying materials such as a briefing Keywords: A well-thought-out selection of keywords will help people
pack, action kit, fact sheet or screening manual to go with the video, who are looking for material like yours find it. License: assign a license
for example on a multi-media DVD and/or in print? If so, what to your work so people know how they may use it.
information would they contain? (See our print section and DVD Contact: Make sure that viewers can reach the video producer and
publishing for ideas and support.) distributor if they want to make contact.
o Who will be your allies in getting the video to your intended audi- Further information: Provide links to the organisation that produced
ences both nationally and internationally (for example researchers, the video, and also sources of further information on the subjects raised
NGOs, action networks, media organizations)? Are there important in the video.
groups within your existing audience who have the connections to Image: Select a ‘thumbnail’ image that will accompany information
reach your larger intended audiences? about your video - this can be a still from the video or a graphic of the
o How can you involve these groups from an early stage in your video title.
advocacy process in order to secure their commitment? Additional Resources. This kind of ‘information about information’
o What online spaces, such as blogs, social networks, online forums, is known as metadata. The (
and video sharing sites, as well as your own website/list-serve and network has developed a technical standard for this information - the
e-mail list, can you use to reach your intended audiences? process is documented at
o How much do you need to develop a presence in these spaces? data_working_group.
o What level of mainstream media exposure are you looking for with
this campaign? Publish video online
o What concerns exist in terms of the current and possible representa- Here are some major features to look for when choosing an online
tions of the subject matter in the mainstream mass media? (Internet) distribution platform.
There are other ways to publish video, for example onto DVD for
Publishing checklist physical sharing, so look at our Introduction to Video Publishing first.
Once your video is online it will take on a life of its own. Ensure that o Commercial or Non-commercial: Can your video sharing service
your video is on a site where you can append information you want your be bought or sold? What is the motive of the owners or creators of
audience to know: what the video is about, why it is important, who the service? Can ads be placed next to your videos?
made it, how can they learn more and, if it is calling for an action, what o Video Time Limit: Some sites limit the length of the video to a
actions can they take. If your video will be seen elsewhere, for example certain number of minutes. If you are posting a long video you should
embedded on another site or downloaded for offline distribution, make check this.
sure the essential information is still available in the video itself. o File Size Limit: Most sites have limits on the size of the video file. If
you are posting a large video you should check this.
Information you need to include o Videos Embeddable: Flash videos can sometimes be embedded in
Title: Give your video a clear, informative title (and subtitle if neces- external websites and blogs for instant playback.
sary). Attach a license and select a range of keywords that apply to it. o Mobile Phone Uploads: Some mobile handsets are capable of
This “metadata” is important to help your video come up in online recording videos and sending them over the wireless phone network.
searches. The process varies greatly from handset to handset and from service

168 169
provider to service provider. Also see the section on Video & Mobile How to upload a video to YouTube
o Non-Flash Video Formats: Is the user limited to watching the video
in Flash video format? This can limit the distribution of your video.
o Videos Downloadable: Having the video file available to download
from the site can give more flexible access to viewers who might want ( is the most flexible of the commercial plat-
to watch offline, or who don’t have the bandwidth to stream.
forms and has the fewest limitations on how and where your videos are
o Open Content Licensing: Some sites make it easier to use alternative
presented. It also presents your video at a higher quality than YouTube.
and open licenses.
Time Limit: none
o RSS 2.0 with Enclosures: RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a tool
File Size Limit: 1 Gig
for pushing your videos out to sites and viewers automatically.
Videos Embeddable: yes
o RSS 2.0 Search Feeds: This will let other sites pick up your videos
Mobile Phone Uploads: yes
based on tags and search terms.
Non-Flash Video Formats: yes
o Region and/or Issue Based: If you’re working on a particular issue,
Videos Downloadable: yes
say environmental justice, you’ll reach more of your core audience if
Open Content Licensing: yes
you host your video on a site dedicated to that issue.
RSS 2.0 with Enclosures: yes
RSS 2.0 Search Feeds: yes, with enclosures
Commercial video sharing sites
Region and/or Issue Based: no
There are hundreds of commercial sites which allow you to publish your
video online. Below is an overview of five of the more popular sites. You Vimeo
should be particularly aware of security issues when publishing on com- ( has a slick user interface and does a great
mercial platforms. One of the major disadvantages of many commercial job of streaming higher quality video. However, it falls severely short in
platforms is that ads are placed next to your video. Many of these sites terms of how the videos can be exported and displayed on external sites’
operate as online social networks. aggregators, and of search-friendliness.
Time Limit: no
File Size Limit: yes (500MB per week, total)
YouTube ( is the biggest video sharing site in the
Videos Embeddable: yes
world, so it’s a fantastic way of reaching a large audience. Ensure that you
Mobile Phone Uploads: yes
have a promotional campaign to direct people to watch your video. Addi-
Non-Flash Video Formats: user option
tionally, remember that as there are so many videos on YouTube, it might
Videos Downloadable: user option
be harder to reach and engage an audience there than in other spaces.
Open Content Licensing: no
RSS 2.0 with Enclosures: yes, Flash player only
Time Limit: 10 Minutes (with basic account)
RSS 2.0 Search Feeds: yes, Flash player only
File Size Limit: 100MB (1 Gig with multi-file software)
Region and/or Issue Based: no
Videos Embeddable: yes
Mobile Phone Uploads: yes Facebook
Non-Flash Video Formats: no If you are already running a campaign using Facebook (http://www.
Videos Downloadable: no then sharing video on the site can be very
Open Content Licensing: no powerful. The videos you post on Facebook are however largely limited
RSS 2.0 with Enclosures: no to the groups or campaigns you’re connected with on the site.
RSS 2.0 Search Feeds: yes, no enclosures Time Limit: 20 minutes
Region and/or Issue Based: no File Size Limit: 300MB

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Videos Embeddable: no Open Content Licensing: yes, Creative Commons/Public Domain
Mobile Phone Uploads: yes RSS 2.0 with Enclosures: no
Non-Flash Video Formats: no RSS 2.0 Search Feeds: no
Videos Downloadable: no Region and/or Issue Based: no
Open Content Licensing: no
RSS 2.0 with Enclosures: no
EngageMedia ( is a non-profit collective pro-
RSS 2.0 Search Feeds: no
viding media tools to activists, campaigners, communities and citizen
Region and/or Issue Based: social network based
journalists. You can upload and view videos about social justice and
Myspace environmental issues. Their primary focus is on the Asia-Pacific region,
The limitations on MySpace ( are similar but video from other places is also welcome. EngageMedia aims to
to those on Facebook. When you publish a video in your profile, it is create an online archive of independent video productions using open
viewable only by people who directly visit your page. content licenses and to form a peer network of video makers, educators
Time Limit: none and screening organisations. Materials are mostly English with some
File Size Limit: 100MB Asian languages.
Videos Embeddable: no Time Limit: no
Mobile Phone Uploads: via external service only File Size Limit: 300MB
Non-Flash Video Formats: no Videos Embeddable: yes
Videos Downloadable: no Mobile Phone Uploads: no
Open Content Licensing: no Non-Flash Video Formats: yes
RSS 2.0 with Enclosures: no Videos Downloadable: yes
RSS 2.0 Search Feeds: no Open Content Licensing: yes
Region and/or Issue Based: social network based RSS 2.0 with Enclosures: yes
RSS 2.0 Search Feeds: yes, no enclosures
Non-profit video sharing sites Region and/or Issue Based: yes (Asia-Pacific, Social
There are a number of non-profit video sharing spaces focussed on Justice and Environment)
social justice, environmental or human rights issues. The WITNESS Hub
The WITNESS Hub ( is an online video com-
munity for human rights where you can upload, watch and share videos, ( contains thousands of
and take action to help end human rights abuses. It is a free service
digital movies which range from classic full-length films, to daily alter-
designed to serve, connect and mobilize individuals, groups and organi-
native news broadcasts, to videos of every genre uploaded by Archive.
zations working to protect and promote human rights worldwide.
org users. All of these movies are available for download, often in very
WITNESS also offers training, support and resources, plus RSS
high resolution, and are freely licensed, so it’s also a great place to find
feeds and a large and growing archive. WITNESS is a non-profit organi-
footage for use in production.
sation that uses video and online technologies to open the eyes of the doesn’t focus specifically on social change issues but it
world to human rights violations. It empowers people to transform per-
is a key space used by many advocates and free culture enthusiasts.
sonal stories of abuse into powerful tools for justice, promoting public
Time Limit: no
engagement and policy change. In English, French and Spanish.
File Size Limit: none
Time Limit: no
Videos Embeddable: no
File Size Limit: 100MB
Mobile Phone Uploads: no
Videos Embeddable: yes
Non-Flash Video Formats: yes
Mobile Phone Uploads: yes
Videos Downloadable: yes

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Non-Flash Video Formats: no World Social Forum TV
Videos Downloadable: yes ( offers hosting for material relevant to global
Open Content Licensing: yes social movements.
RSS 2.0 with Enclosures: coming soon Time Limit: no
RSS 2.0 Search Feeds: yes File Size Limit: 150-200mb
Region and/or Issue Based: Global, Human Rights Videos Embeddable: yes
Mobile Phone Uploads: no
Estudio Livre
Non-Flash Video Formats: yes
Estudio Livre ( is a col-
Videos Downloadable: yes
laborative environment focused on the production and distribution of
Open Content Licensing: yes
media created independently with free software. Estudio Livre allows
RSS 2.0 with Enclosures: yes
any user to create a live audio or video streaming channel.
RSS 2.0 Search Feeds: yes, no enclosures
Time Limit: no
Region and/or Issue Based: social movements
File Size Limit: 200MB
Videos Embeddable: no Other video-related sites
Mobile Phone Uploads: no o Transmission ( International Network of
Non-Flash Video Formats: yes Social Justice Online Video Projects
Videos Downloadable: yes o Clearer Channel (
Open Content Licensing: yes o IMC Video - International independent media (http://video.indy-
RSS 2.0 with Enclosures: yes, see: o - India ( Artistic, experimental site, content
RSS 2.0 Search Feeds: yes documenting peoples’ lives. In English.
Region and/or Issue Based: (Brazil, Activism and Free Software) o People’s media Chamsesang - South-Korea (
Commercial or Non-commercial: non-commercial o v2v - Germany (
o Oneworld TV - (
Politube ( is a video and audio sharing web- The Witness Hub
site that distributes media from independent media outlets and activists The WITNESS Hub ( an online video com-
on politics, society and the environment. In English. munity for human rights where you can upload, watch and share videos
Time Limit: no and take action to help end human rights abuses. The Hub, which is in
File Size Limit: 200MB English, French and Spanish, allows you to upload human rights-related
Videos Embeddable: yes videos, images and audio files in a variety of formats. With each media
Mobile Phone Uploads: no item you upload, you can provide detailed context and link informa-
Non-Flash Video Formats: yes tional resources, events and actions that users can take to protect and
Videos Downloadable: yes promote human rights. Additionally, the Hub has a toolkit (http://
Open Content Licensing: yes section that features video animations on how
RSS 2.0 with Enclosures: yes to incorporate video into your campaign work and best practice when
RSS 2.0 Search Feeds: no filming and distributing your video.
Region and/or Issue Based: World Politics
Eight suggestions to make your media easy to find
o Through the Hub, you can classify your media by country, region and
human rights issue, add detailed context to each media item and tag

174 175
each piece with key words to help other Hub users find your media will be much smaller than video files from a DV camcorder, however,
easily. The more context you provide, the easier your work will be to depending on the camera settings, you may still need to compress the
locate, and the better the quality of information on the site as a whole. footage for distribution online.
o Provide a descriptive title, for example: “Rights On The Line: Im- In the Message in-a-Box website under Video we look at applications
migration on the Mexico/US Border”. you can use to prepare your video for online distribution, specifically
o Provide detailed context to describe your media, and what viewers Avidemux for Windows and Linux and iSquint for Mac. You can also do
can do to learn more. See the video mentioned above for an example. simple Web exports using Windows Movie Maker or iMovie.
o Provide links to information resources, events and actions viewers Features to look for in these applications include “batch encod-
can take to learn more and support your work. ing” so you can line up many files to encode at once, with settings you
o Add tags to your media. For example: Mexico, USA, immigration, can save and re-use. The more support for various codecs and formats,
human rights, border, discrimination. the better. A resource containing guides for encoding is http://www.
o Upload a thumbnail image that draws attention and attracts interest
to your video. How you compress your video is really a question of who your
o Feature Your Group or Organization’s Videos and Work on the Hub audience is, how you intend them to watch it and what you hope they
o The WITNESS Hub has individual and group channels where you might do with it. If your audiences have good Internet connections,
can feature your videos and calls to action in one place. See Amazon you might choose to make a large, high quality version available for
Watch’s group page as an download. If your audiences have more limited net access, you should
example or set up a group page yourself: probably consider making a lower quality version that is easier to down-
share/groups) load or stream.
Compression is always a compromise between the size of the file
Additional Links
and the quality of the video. High quality = large file and vice versa.
Find thousands of videos, groups and resources on the Hub Map
If you have multiple audiences you should consider a variety of
types of delivery, which will entail compressing your video in differ-
View the full list of Hub’s RSS feeds:
ent ways: a large version for screenings, a Flash version for distributing
To learn more about what content is appropriate for the Hub, read
online, another version for distribution as a DVD etc.
its Content Review Policy.
To see the wide variety of media formats you can upload, how to Offline distribution
compress your files and how to embed your media from other sites, Television, DVDs, VCDs, screenings and passing files face to face are all
please see its Upload Guide. incredibly important distribution mechanisms you need to consider.
To learn more about your safety and security online and when Whilst there might be a lot of hype these days around online video
filming, or to see tips on how you can remain anonymous for security distribution, offline methods remain extremely effective and should not
reasons, read its How to Protect Your Safety and Security Guide. be underestimated. The vast majority of the world’s population doesn’t
See WITNESS’ Video for Change book, available in seven languag- have Internet access, and only a small minority have access to the broad-
es: band connections required for publishing and receiving video online.
See Who’s online? (p7) to work out what your specific situation is.
Preparing Video for the Web
This section takes you briefly through creating DVDs and VCDs,
Once you’ve finished editing your video you’ll need to compress it, or
putting on community screenings and ways in which you can combine
reduce its file size, and encode it into a format that is viewable online.
online and offline distribution to reach the right audience.
Files from your editing application are far too large to transport on to
the Web 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 DVD & VCD Distribution
downloaded. DVD is an important way of distributing your video work, particularly
Video files originating from mobile phones or digital stills cameras if your key audiences don’t have good, or any, Internet access. Addition-

176 177
will play back VCDs and in many areas of the world
ally if your film is long it will be difficult even for many people with
o VCD players and the VCD format in general are so popular that they
broadband to download it, especially if you want to distribute it in high
are more widely available than DVDs.
DVD stands for Digital Versatile Disc; they can be burned in many
different formats and used to store any kind of data. DVD discs can have
Distribution Options
a single layer of information burned on one side (single-layer), two lay-
There are a few different options for distributing your video on DVD or
ers 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
o Submit your video to existing compilations. The producers of the
of video or other data. DVD-Video discs contain video encoded in the
compilation will look after distribution for you, though you can ar-
MPEG2 format.
range to be responsible for distributing copies in your own area.
DVD-Video discs are designed to play back in DVD players or
o For small numbers of copies you can duplicate DVDs or VCDs your-
using DVD playback software on computers with DVD drives installed.
self if you have a CD or DVD burner in your computer
The video is compiled along with graphics and sound for interactive
o If you anticipate distributing a larger number of discs, you can author
menus into the DVD-Video format during the DVD authoring process.
a master disc and have it professionally duplicated. Prices are con-
VCD stands for Video Compact Disc and is basically a CD
tinually dropping for duplication.
containing up to 74 minutes of video, in a format both hardware VCD
o You can then choose to either set up an ordering system yourself on-
players and most DVD players can play back. The video on a VCD is
line or through the post, or pass the discs on to a mail-order company
encoded as a standardised form of MPEG1 - an old video compression
that may have their own online credit-card ordering facility to take
standard that requires less computing power to play back than many of
the trouble of filling orders and delivering them out of your hands.
the newer and more sophisticated codecs that are available. MPEG1-
VCD is comparable to viewing a VHS video tape in terms of image Tips for Making a DVD
quality. o Decide what content you wish to include on the DVD; video seg-
ments may include the programme itself and additional video such as
a trailer or extra footage, while in the menus you can also include text
DVD & VCD - Advantages & Disadvantages info about the video and the issues concerned, links to further infor-
The advantages of distributing your video on DVD over VCD: mation, production stills, logos and some audio loops for background
o Quality - DVD uses a more sophisticated and better compression music.
standard and can also hold a lot more data than VCD. o One of the advantages of the DVD format is that you can include
o Interactivity - the ability to create complex menus, subtitles and sub-titles for different languages, or original language subtitles can be
simultaneous video streams for additional camera-angles etc. Famil- activated for the hearing-impaired, so prepare translations if you have
iarity - audiences in some parts of the world are much more at ease the time and resources.
with DVD technology. o Work with a graphic designer to create images for menu backgrounds
and buttons or create them yourself
The advantages of distributing your video on VCD over DVD: o Import your video into your DVD authoring application - some ap-
o Cost - the price of blank CD media is lower than blank DVD media plications will let you import the DV file you have exported from an
o Distribution - as CDs are an older technology many more people editing program as it will be transcoded within the application itself,
have CD players installed in their computers while others will expect you to have encoded the video as MPEG2
o Ease of copying - many more people have access to a CD burner than that conforms to DVD specifications.
a DVD burner and can therefore copy your movie for others them- o Arrange your content within intuitively designed menus that will be
selves. easy for users to navigate.
o DVD player compatibility - the majority of hardware DVD players o Create the DVD master using your authoring application and test

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it on a DVD player to make sure it works correctly, including all the also use screenings to raise money for your cause and to sell copies of
menu buttons. your video.
o Make sure you author your DVD as region-free (known as Region
Advance planning
0), enabling the disc to be played on DVD players sold in different
o What are the aims and objectives of the screening? To increase public
regions of the world. You will still have to choose to author the DVD
awareness? To raise funds for your organisation? To mobilise old and
as either PAL or NTSC depending on where in the world you are
new supporters? Deciding on your aims and objectives first will help
going to distribute the discs.
with planning the rest of the event.
o Copy this master using a DVD burner and a DVD burning applica-
o Decide on a good name for the event and write a one-paragraph de-
tion or take it along with graphics for the disc and jacket to a profes-
scription, including information about the film, and what, if anything,
sional duplication company for bulk copies to be made.
else will be happening on the night.
Tips for Making VCDs o Consider who your audience will be - the general public or a specific
o Export your video segments as MPEG1 using the MPEG1 VCD community?
settings for either PAL or NTSC, depending on which territories you o Decide what kinds of videos and issues you will be presenting besides
will be distributing the disc in. your own, and whether there will be other entertainment (music,
o Import your MPEG1 video files (in the .mpg format) to your VCD poetry, dance, etc.) or speakers.
authoring or CD burning application. Many CD burning applications o Establish a contact person and phone number for each group in-
will let you author a VCD as one of their options. volved in the show.
o Choose to burn your CD in the VCD 2.0 format. Each video file you o Decide who will get any money that is raised through ticket sales or
import will create a separate chapter on the disc that can be skipped donations. Is this a ‘benefit’ for a particular group? Many venues will
forward or backward to using the DVD player remote control or take a proportion of the ticket receipts. Tell people what you plan to
media player software on computer. do with any money you raise.
o Burn your VCD and test on software media players and on your o Line up your participants, groups and videos and establish a mini-
hardware DVD player. mum of commitment from everyone involved.
o Choose a Host or Master of Ceremonies (MC) to introduce the film
(and any other parts of the ‘show’). You want someone confident, in-
In the realm of Free and Open Source software there are some tools for
formed and outgoing, who can make an impression on the audience.
creating DVDs and VCDs. These are adequate but not brilliant. If you
o What can s/he ask people to support or do after they leave your
want to make a professional quality DVD with advanced menus and
show? Are there other relevant events to announce at this show? Get
graphics we suggest you look at proprietary software like
flyers and fact sheets for coming events and related issues to hand out
DVD Studio Pro
to people as they come in, to pass around during the MC’s intros, or
for Mac or Adobe Encore
to have available at a literature and merchandise table, where you can
miere/encore/ for Windows.
also sell or give away copies of the film(s) you are screening.
If you can’t get these tools, or have more modest requirements, you
might find these useful: Venues & schedules
o Windows - Check what is available at potential venues in terms of: o Video and audio technology - what is already there, what do you need
o Linux - to bring?
o Mac – 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?
Screenings can be a great tool in campaigning work. Because they bring
o Times of opening and closing, what time the screening should take
people together they can be used to get people to take action. You can

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o Any charges for use of the venue or resources right technology to play all the media you will bring.
o Whether the location is easily accessible for your desired audience o Write notes for the host, including list of who is speaking, who pro-
duced the videos, action points, other events to flag etc.
Other considerations specific to your screening needs
o Decide on final timings.
It may take months to get a slot and to be included on the venue’s
o Make a Sign-Up Sheet for your audience to get information that can
calendar, advertising, website and other outreach. Or you might not
be useful in the future. Be sure to ask for Name, Phone Number and
care so much about that (although good advertising greatly improves
E-mail Address or postal address.
attendance); maybe you can negotiate for a show on an off-night when a
o Confirm times and responsibilities with all the people involved in the
cinema, community centre or club has nothing else scheduled.
screening. Who runs the projector? Who collects any money? Give
o Find out the deadline by which the venue will need the final descrip-
them the basic schedule of the night and ask them to turn up at least
tion of the show for use in their calendar, publicity etc. Include at
2 hours before the show to help set up (depending on how much they
least one compelling graphic (often a still image from the video itself)
are involved). Determine who will stay to help clean up and gather
that describes the show and the issues involved.
your materials.
o Consider serving refreshments if none are going to be available at
o Call/text your friends, activists, everyone you know to remind them
the venue. Make contact with a local and supportive caterer: this can
about the show. This works. Make a follow up call to your local media
be another way to raise money, if you charge for drinks or snacks.
Discuss how any arrangement will work, financially and logistically.
o Set up at least two hours before the show: check that all video and
Publicising the Screening audio equipment is set up and cue any tapes/DVDs/Files
Design a flyer, using a description and graphic as a minimum. See the o You are responsible for the show. That means you need to stick
guide to Making an information leaflet (Message in-a-Box website around to help clean up cups and papers and other trash left on the
under Print) for information on how to use Scribus to do this. Be sure floor, that you make sure you get the money from whoever was taking
to include the admission price, if you have one, or suggested donation. it at the door, and that any chairs and tables are in order.
Write a Press Release explaining the ‘who, what, where, when and o Have fun, that’s half the reason to do another one!
why’ of the show, and suggesting how your screening is connected with
Hybrid distribution
political actions or events, thus helping the media to find an ‘angle’ for
Publishing videos on-line is a great way to make content available to
coverage. Send the press release plus flyer to your local media.
the whole world. But sometimes you can’t rely on Internet access: poor
Some other tips for publicising your screening:
connectivity, lack of local Internet providers and censored network
o Circulate Internet and e-mail postings
connections are common obstacles. When that is the case, there are
o Borrow and build an e-mail list of interested people and organiza-
some alternatives. Distributing digital files is not only about using the
tions. You can surf the Internet for local organizations to mail to.
Internet. Portable digital storage such as CDs, DVDs, USB pendrives,
o Postal mailings may be more expensive than they are worth unless you
memory cards and even mobile phones allow content to be saved and
are an organization with some cash flow, or there is no alternative.
then circulated physically. Other options include public screenings
o Explore other ways to announce your event.
(read more about this in the Screenings section), the use of low-power
o Make invitations to allied groups who might want to share their pub-
TV transmitters or the creation of distribution points with burn sta-
lications etc at the event. Find out if they need a table or space made
tions - computers configured so that anyone can make copies of digital
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 organi-
This section explains how you can download videos that have been
sations and NGOs that would support the event.
published on online video websites and convert them to formats for
Planning your screening distribution offline, as well as providing links to sites explaining more
o Watch all videos and plan the order you’ll show them in. advanced methods of hybrid distribution.
o Check for any audio or video problems, make sure you will have the

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USB flash drives, memory cards & mobile phones References
Flash drives are very effective portable media storage devices that are
becoming increasingly cheap. Memory cards can usually be found inside
digital cameras and other equipment. They can be accessed by dedicat-
ed memory card readers or by connecting the camera to the computer read
with a USB cable. Usually, flash drives, memory cards and some mobile
Video syndication
phones are recognized by any operating system as removable devices
Video Syndication is a great way to share and find content. Some Web
and can be used like any other media: drag your files to the appropriate
TV shows have managed to use these technologies to reach massive
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.
Syndicating your videos will help you to distribute your video
Some mobile phones offer also Bluetooth wireless connectivity:
widely, to reach your target audience reliably, and to present your videos
you can transfer files to and from an enabled computer, or directly
in a high-quality manner. The key to syndication is having a media RSS
between mobile phones.
feed, which is basically an up-to date list of all of your latest videos.
Local video distribution: Burn stations These feeds are also often referred to as video podcasts or vodcasts.
A “Burn Station” is a computer configured to record selected digital The RSS feed allows your viewers to subscribe and immediately re-
content to CDs, DVDs or other digital media. They can be seen as ceive your latest videos as soon as you upload them; it’s like TV over the
distribution points for digital content. Some projects offer a dedicated Internet. Search engines and websites love RSS feeds, because they’re in
interface for browsing, selecting and saving or burning the files, but you a standard computer language. The simplest way to get an RSS feed is to
can accomplish basically the same results on any PC which holds your sign up to a site that produces RSS feeds for you, or to start a video blog.
data files and has a CD or DVD recorder.
RSS for Viewers
By setting up such a station you can remove the need for individu-
Individuals can subscribe to your RSS feed using an Internet TV ap-
als to have their own high-bandwidth Internet connections. Files can be
plication, like Miro. When a user has subscribed to your feed, you know
loaded onto the burn station by hand from other computers, DVDs or
they’re always getting your latest videos.
USB flash drives, or if you have a fast net connection, downloaded for
redistribution. RSS for your websites
o RSS is also important for getting your feed published in aggregation
o sites, guides and search engines. If you have described your videos well
o using accurate key words, people will be able to find them when search-
ing for something on that subject. When other people publish video
Micro TV Transmitters
with RSS, you can subscribe to feeds of their videos, selecting by author
Low-power video transmitters can be a good way to mobilize a local
or by search terms, and pull their videos in to your website automati-
community and offer an alternative to mainstream TV channels by
cally - see finding videos.
showing citizen media. One successful initiative is the Telestreet move-
ment in Italy. Assembling a TV transmitter requires a little bit of techni- How do I get my RSS?
cal know-how. Depending on where you are, there might be legal issues Many video publishing services have an RSS feed associated with your
to be observed as well. username - Make Internet TV has a tool for finding your RSS feed
o How to create a Micro TV transmitter ( ( If you’re not
view/Local/TeleStreet) using one of these services, you can check the FAQ for your video host.
o How to Build the Simplest TV transmitter (http://anarchy.translocal.
Further Resources
o RSS Feeds (p86).
o Video Blogging with WordPress (see Message in-a-box website

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under Video) Elsewhere in this toolkit you can find out how to embed video in
o Video Podcasting with Miro (see Message in-a-box website under a WordPress blog (Message in-a-box website under Video > Tools for
Video > Tools for playing video) Publishing Video. You could also take a look at Showinabox (http://
o Finding Videos (p188)., a technology for setting up your own video blog.
Video blogging examples
Publicise your video These examples help show the range of video blogging, and where this
Just putting your video online does not mean it will be seen by anyone, medium can go.
let alone your intended audiences. It is up to you to spread the word.
The Web offers a huge range of powerful tools to connect your Rainforest Action Network’s Greenwash of the Week (Funny &
audience to your content. As access to the Internet continues to grow Informative)
at a rapid pace, individuals and organisations around the globe are de- Each week, Rainforest Action Network “” pro-
veloping tools to connect with each other in a series of quickly-shifting duces a video blog highlighting the most disturbing Greenwash tactics
networks for change. from some of the world’s worst corporate polluters. http://understory.
Take a look at our Internet Strategy section on page 83 for more
on this issue.

Create an online home What is Greenwashing?

If you’re using an online service to host your videos you might want Greenwash (green + whitewash) is a term used to describe the percep-
to consider setting up a blog or website where you can compile them tion of consumers that they are being misled by a company regarding
all. This will help people find your work and will also allow you to have the supposedly benevolent environmental practices of the company or
more control over the space: you can add your own design, provide the the environmental benefits of a product or service.
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.
Tibetan Uprising (Timely & Action-focused)
Look at our guide to setting up a WordPress blog (Message in-a-
Tibetan Uprising, a blog with regular videos from Tibetans living in
box website under Internet > Begin Blogging) to help get you started.
exile in India, provides daily updates about activities ranging from their
march to Tibet as part of the Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement
Video blogging
before the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, to footage of the violence and
Video blogging, or vlogging, uses video as a medium for blogging.
crackdown within Tibet. Video plays a regular part in this blog, along
Video entries are made regularly and often combine Web syndication
with photographs and audio and daily updates and analysis.
tools to allow for quick distribution of content over the Internet using
RSS or Atom syndication formats. This allows viewers to subscribe to
your content and watch it at their convenience. Prisoners in Freedom City
Incorporating video into your blog and distribution strategy with From Beijing residents, human rights and blogging activists Hu Jia and
syndication tools can be an exceptional way to combine your regularly Zeng Jinyan, “Prisoners in Freedom City” documents Hu Jia’s time un-
updated content online with your videos. For example, if you were able der house arrest, where he was barred from any and all contact with the
to produce and publish video on a regular basis, you could use it to outside world. Hu Jia was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison
point your audience towards your primary online presence (your web- for “inciting subversion of state power”. He has repeatedly campaigned
site or blog) and keep them informed and engaged. By doing so, you for the rights of people with HIV/AIDS, for religious freedom, and for
can ensure viewers will see your video and be able to see the essential Tibetan autonomy, as well as for the environment, free speech and the
information about your campaign and how to support it. release of political prisoners.

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More information on Hu Jia: want to search for works that are available for commercial use or works
(activist) that can be modified but are only for non-commercial use, you can
Link to video: choose material through the search engines and websites available.
On finding content that you require, you will usually find the
Mizzima News (Informative)
license (or a link to the license) at the bottom of the page, or when you
Mizzima News was established in August 1998 by a group of Burmese
click to download the image. On doing this you will get the required
journalists in exile with the aim of spreading awareness about the situa-
information about which sizes of the image are available for download
tion in Burma and promoting democracy and freedom of expression in
(original, medium, small) and a link to the text of the license.
Burma by improving the flow of information in and out of the country
If the material is licensed under a Creative Commons license, then
and through advocacy and lobbying. Mizzima incorporates video into
the link will lead you to the text version of the license, which tells you in
its posts on a regular basis, serving as a window through which the
simple terms what you can and can’t do with the work.
international community can peer into news-starved Burma.
For instance, the Share Alike license will tell you that you can use,
modify and distribute the work, as long as any work you make is also
Alive in Baghdad licensed under a CC license.
Alive in Baghdad provides a weekly video for global citizens interested Besides the CC search engine, you can also use the Google search
in the real life political, military, economic and social situation in Iraq. engine, that provides the possibility to look for materials based on the
Iraqi journalists produce video packages each week about a variety of type of license under Advanced Options.
topics on daily life in Iraq, bringing testimonies from individual Iraqis, For more see the Guide to Open Content Licensing (p13) and
footage of daily life in Iraq, and short news segments. WITNESS’s Guide to Finding Video Clips for Re-use.
Aggregating Video
The Miro Player is a great way to subscribe to video feeds and to search
Finding & playing video
channels of content. Because Miro is an aggregator it can bring together
Now that you’ve put your content out and told people about it they
videos from a range of different sites all in one place. Miro also allows
need to be able to find it and play it. In some cases this might simply be
you to search for videos on popular sites by author, title, keyword etc,
a matter of watching it embedded in your website, but they could also
and to download them.
subscribe to your video podcast feed or use free software like VLC to
If people publishing their video have added enough information to
play the videos theyve downloaded. Elsewhere in this toolkit you can
describe their video effectively you should be able to find a reasonable
find out how to subscribe to video podcasts using Miro. See Message
range of stuff.
in-a-box website Video > Tools for playing video for more on VLC &
You can visit and search the big centralised video hosts like
Youtube ( and Google Video (http://video.
There are millions of videos out there and thousands more added for films referring to your area of interest. You should also
each day. How do people find what they are looking for or content that
visit the various non-profit video publishers (see p. x), where you can
might interest them? Luckily this is a well-known problem so quite a bit
find an interesting range of material.
of work has been done to make this easier.
With the new generation of video sharing sites, you do not have to
The resources below will help you find footage to use in your own
visit each of these sites in turn. Most video sites will have an RSS feed of
film, aggregate videos from a variety of sources and help you build up a
the content they produce which you can aggregate in Miro or subscribe
broader picture of the issues you’re campaigning on.
to in an RSS reader (p86) like Google Reader, Sage, Bloglines, etc.
For more on how to use Miro to subscribe to feeds see the Miro
Searching for Open/Free Content
Guide on the Message in-a-box website under Video > Tools for play-
You can find video that is available for re-use by looking for material
ing video.
using open content licenses through the Creative Commons website
Additionally there are ‘Video Feed Aggregators’, sites that pull
( After choosing whether you

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together the most interesting videos from across the net, allowing you Transmission
to search material from a range of video publishing sites, ‘aggregated’ in
one place and presented in your web browser. Websites like Transmission is a network of citizen journalists, video makers, artists, and ‘suck’ a range of critical researchers, programmers and Web producers who are developing
media feeds, and search among all the content they discover across the online video distribution tools for social justice and media democ-
net to display results according to your searches. racy. Their objective is to make independent online video distribution
If you have a website of your own, you can display in your own site possible (using FLOSS) by building the necessary tools, standards,
other people’s videos about the issue that you campaign on, or feeds documentation and social networks.
specific to your region. You can use content management software like The Video Activist Network
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 The Video Activist Network (VAN) is an informal association of
that touch upon your own area of work and interest. activists and politically conscious artists using video to support social,
If you are interested in using Drupal you might want to look at economic and environmental justice campaigns. The website is a collec-
these modules: tion of showcased videos, events like screenings, useful tutorials, how-to
project/feedapi_mapper guides and other materials on video activism, including links to other
video activism resources on the Internet.
Links and resources
Further information on Open Source and Video Activism Floss Manuals
Make Internet TV FLOSS Manuals is a site providing free manuals about free software. The manuals are intended to introduce you to software that you might
Make Internet TV is a step-by-step guide for creating and publishing find useful, software that is made available under licences that allow you
video on the web. The site covers shooting, editing, licensing, compress- to download and use them for free. Much of this software is extremely
ing, uploading and promoting video on the Internet; it illustrates these sophisticated but the basics are usually quite easy to grasp if you have
topics with screenshots, photos, screencasts, graphics, text and more. the core principles outlined clearly in front of you.
Witness Streaming Suitcase
Witness works with with people who defend human rights, training The Streaming Suitcase is a resource for those wanting to learn to stream.
them to use video for documentation and to create change. The website The material is all licensed under Creative Commons and is free to
hosts news about campaigns, invites involvement by means of support download and distribute. The manuals are all available online, and can
and volunteering and contains valuable training material and resources be downloaded in PDF files, or in a print-friendly format. The manuals
on using video for advocacy. Its sub-project The Hub “http://hub.wit- will also be updated periodically so check them for updates. You are also” showcases human rights videos and campaigns from around welcome to include the manuals page within a frameset in your own
the world. webpage. This way you can provide a manual from within your own site.
EngageMedia Linux Multimedia Resources
EngageMedia is a video sharing site distributing works about social is a collection of links to various Linux resources avail-
justice and environmental issues in South East Asia, Australia and the able on the Internet. The links are arranged under a long list of catego-
Pacific. It is a space for you to upload and find critical documentary, ries. The multimedia resource page has quite a comprehensive list of
fiction, artistic and experimental works. links to multimedia software projects. The site also has links to various
other general Linux resources like tutorials and documentation.

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Linux in Film advocates bacause they open up new channels for outreach and new techniques for campaigning. The proliferation of mobile phones is also
film_production opening up opportunities for organising and engagement in ways that
Linux in Film is a Wikibooks project that lists links to useful tools were previously unimaginable. As each of these technologies is taken
and resources for video production starting from Storyboarding and up, they become increasingly interconnected: Mobile phones feed into
Budgeting through to Authoring for various media like the Internet, websites; websites become radio stations. The offline world and the
VCD and DVD. It also has a lot of interesting links to information like online world begin to merge.
professional filmmakers who use Linux for production, other Linux
Advocates and the Use of Information and Communications
multimedia resources and more.
For many advocates, the information they gather and distribute is
dyne:bolic their principal asset. Whether they are bearing witness to legal, human rights or environmental violations, identifying injustice or exposing
dyne:bolic is made to serve the needs of media activists, artists and misconduct, they rely heavily on their ability to capture, represent and
creative people, as a practical tool for multimedia production: you can distribute information.
manipulate and broadcast both sound & video and find tools to record, For them, the rise of Free and Open Source Software and other
edit, encode and stream.Most devices and peripherals are automatically technologies represents a new era in campaigning.
recognized: audio, video, TV, network cards, Firewire, USB and more;
and all using only free software.

We hope that Message in-a-box has inspired you!

Over to you...
Tactical Technology Collective believes that for people to be able to act Please let us know your feedback and stories on how
on issues that affect their lives, they must have access to accurate infor- you’ve used the materials in this book by emailing us at
mation and the means and freedoms to respond to this information. and be sure to visit the website
To increase the transparency and accountability of the large forces for updates at
in society such as governments, corporations and public institutions,
people need access to accurate, easily-understood information about
issues that affect their lives. The principles of accountability, participa-
tion, freedom of expression and the free flow of information frame all of
Tactical Tech’s aims and methods.
Since the early 1990’s, new technologies have significantly trans-
formed methods of creating information and opened up channels for
alternative forms of communication.
New technologies, such as Free and Open Source Software,
(FOSS) embody the principles of inclusivity and freedom of expres-
sion. By providing people with tools that they can freely share and
modify, new technologies have created opportunities for individuals
and communities to act independently, and for civil society to gain and
distribute information for itself without relying on official channels.
The rise of Web 2.0 technologies and the increasing popularity
of user-level tools and services have been important for marginalised
communities because they create greater opportunities for self-pub-
lishing and dynamic information sharing. They are important for rights

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Descriptions and sources for illustrations used are as follows:

page 34: Cover of El Varejón magazine.

page 38: Cartoon e-card by Sokwanele.

page 38: I want to go home – The plight of the Kgeikani Kweni, the first
people of the Kalahari; this website advances the case of the San people
or the Bushmen, the indigenous people of the Kalahari desert.
page 46: Working women in India. Kanthamma is a story about a
female construction worker who leads a difficult life. The author of the
comic is J N Sitra and the artist is Mithradir. The comic was published
by the Institute for Cultural Research and Action in Bangalore. http://
page 49: The Education of Girls by Ms. Koku Katunzi, an Assistant
Information Officer in the HAKI ELIMU-organisation (Right to
Education). Her story is about a Maasai girl, who wishes to go to school.
Her mother talks to her father, who in the end supports the idea, but
only on the condition that the girl’s Maasai traditions are respected and
that she will not be subjected to a ‘foreign’ culture in the school. In the
last panel she is on her way to school together with a friend.
page 53: Activists traveled to China as tourists and hung a banner
calling for a free Tibet from the Great Wall. The banner read “One
World, One Dream, Free Tibet,” a parody of the the official slogan for
the 2008 Olympic games in China: “One World, One Dream.”
Photo from Indymedia
page 61: Zapatista radio station in Mexico. Photo by Oriana Eliçabe
page 99: Screenshot of Abahlali baseMjondolo blog - a grassroots
social movement of shack dwellers in Durban South Africa.
page 110: Screenshot of Oro Sucio blog. Oro Sucio follows the topic of
mine exploitation and its political and environmental impact in

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