The communication of health messages by moving image is not new! Take a look at this video produced by the British Ministry of Health in 1945, warning of the dangers of sneezing in public (note his smoking a pipe in the movie theater is amusingly not mentioned!)
No, video messages for health are not new, but they are certainly more accessible and easier to make than they have ever been before. Telling your story and broadcasting to the public through multimedia sharing sites such as You Tube and Vimeo has opened up opportunities to get your message across in a myriad of visually stimulating ways. The proliferation of pocket camcorders, phone video cameras and movie editing software means your organization can dive in to this method with minimal financial investment.
Producer, Director and Actor Anthony Veneziale, shares some tips for making videos for health.
Be unexpected and surprising.
Between 1946 and 2011, the the Central Office of Information in the UK was the government’s marketing and communications agency. For anyone who has lived in the UK, these “government-sanctioned-horror-compacts” as described in this article by Tom Seymour were certainly unforgettable, unsettling citizens into avoiding a whole variety of dangerous behaviors. They sprang on unsuspecting TV viewers between their favorite shows and often stole production tactics from the horror movies of the time, packing a punch and definitely checking that ‘unexpected box.’ Coming in at barely 30 seconds, this example entitled ‘Julie knew her killer’ sends a powerful message about seat belt safety.
Make it visually interesting
Making a video, that looks good and has fun, captures and retains the attention of your audience. Yes, even health messages can look, or sound, cool. One such successful YouTuber with his own channel of videos is Dr Zubin Damania, also known as ‘Z Dogg MD’. His video productions make use of entertaining mock music videos featuring popular songs while getting the message out on various health issues. In the example below, an R ‘n B remix is used to discuss reduction of hospital readmission. Say wha?!
Know your goals
As with all social media activities, be sure to asses your expectations of your video communication. What is it you want this video to do? One amusing and effective information film by the Durham Academy school admministrators was used in conjunction with a health announcement about head lice in the school. While hitting those targets of being entertaining, interesting and short, it also manages to include useful information on dealing with head lice!
[Note click on the link within the video to watch directly through you tube as viewing through Vimeo has been disabled by the video creators.]
Experiment with everything
Non profits and other health communicators have only just begun to explore the possibilities of using video for health communication. There is a lot of room for creative expression so don’t be afraid to experiment in how your convey your organization’s message. The following interactive video, entitled ‘Condom, No condom?’ was produced for the National Health Service (NHS) in UK as part of a sexual health campaign. The video allowed users to choose whether or not a young party goer buys, and uses, condoms. Follow up videos show the consequences of these choices which include sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.
The strength of these tools is not so much in the building of an audience (going viral is actually a rare experience) but rather for effectively engaging with supporters you already have. Again, integrating your video making with other social media tools such as your website or blog, will maximize the impact of your messages.