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You can with YouTube

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Video may have killed the radio star, but at Buckinghamshire CC, it’s a growing medium that’s helping to showcase the services we offer, together with the initiatives and events we support.

A few months ago, we launched our YouTube channel and have already posted scores of videos. Clips have featured care and support services, culture and learning activities, community schemes and local events but there’s scope to cover much more.

We’ve also spotlighted other local initiatives including ‘Be a Better Biker’, this year’s Roald Dahl festival and Armed Forces Day, the biggest event ever organised by the council. One video, which featured our annual childminder awards, was also subsequently highlighted on the National Childminders Association website.

We’ve produced ‘teaser’ videos to publicise events and we are also beginning to use ‘podcast’ style clips where myself and my cabinet members can take the opportunity to tell the public about ourselves and our key priorities. We also ensure that video links are embedded within the council’s website and, where relevant, our Twitter and Facebook sites.

In addition, this year, we produced our first ‘interactive’ Corporate Plan which used ten video clips, many with local service users talking about their own experiences.

Video gives us the chance to be more imaginative, more relevant and more open. Why just rely on leaflets and reports when video can give councils the chance to show real services and initiatives in action? A modest investment of around £3,000 means we have the equipment and software to produce HD quality video with all footage shot and edited ‘in-house’ by our media team.

To maintain levels of accessibility, each video we produce has subtitles and a transcript can also be made available on request. Of course, it’s still early days but I recognise the enormous potential video can offer both in terms of promoting services and giving residents the opportunity to catch up on local events and initiatives. Already we know that, through YouTube, brand Buckinghamshire CC has gone global, reaching countries like the Philippines, Argentina and Thailand.

We also use video as part of our internal communications strategy in response to staff suggestions to improve the way information is passed to them. One of the ways that we have addressed that is to set up a monthly video interview with chief executive, Chris Williams. These short clips summarise what’s been happening within the council, the issues on the horizon and are available to all staff via our intranet.

We’ve also got more ideas under development such as video streaming of meetings, more video blogs and short information clips that show more details about how services are delivered and how we achieve value for money.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but, in our experience, video gives us the opportunity to use the whole dictionary. I’m very much aware that the more innovatively we can show our services, how we work and how decisions are made, the better for local understanding and accountability. Video does this for us and may work for other authorities too.

Martin Tett (Con), leader, Buckinghamshire CC

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