Lots of really incredible people come through our building at the Open Society Foundations. It’s almost impossible to keep up with. Over the summer, my colleagues on the Communications team and I together developed and launched a series to take advantage of the myriad perspectives, topics, and work that people who visit Open Society offer. It needed to be quick to produce and quick to edit, so we could keep a relatively constant flow of pieces coming out. This isn’t daily news, so two to four a month was our original aim.
There were a couple of challenges around the project. Namely, we wanted this super short (1 to 2 minutes, tops) video to be shareable and interesting to a wide audience primarily through social media. So we needed to develop a line of questioning and focus that would bring new ideas to viewers in a brief amount of time. Research by our web team shows that people are most likely to click on content that poses an intriguing question or implies some sort of valuable information or surprise. Working backwards from the types of questions we’d like to pose for people to click, we figured out some stock questions and devised a guide for more specific ones.
The other challenge was around identity for the series. We have a lot of interview-based video content. How could we set these videos apart from other and create a sense of consistency? Our graphic designer colleague developed some graphics, we workshopped them as a group, and he and I collaborated on a little intro bit that looked good but wasn’t overkill.
It’s also been a great experience interviewing interesting people from various backgrounds, sometimes with little time to prepare. And a lot of times we’re talking about issues or topics that I don’t have a lot of existing knowledge about, so it’s a challenge and fun exercise in interviewing.
So far, the series has done really well. The few we’ve done so far have been among the most viewed and shared content on the website. It’s also proven to be versatile and a good vehicle for responding to breaking and developing news situations in which people from our staff and grantees need to comment. For example, a couple of weeks ago, there was a lot of controversial news about Roma people having their children taken away because authorities suspected they were trafficking children because their child was blond. We produced and posted a piece with the director of the Open Society Justice Initiative describing and commenting on the situation which added to the ongoing conversation.
Check out some of the other episodes we’ve made below:
Why Do People Stereotype Black Men? Ask Your Brain. – Alexis McGill Johnson At Open Society
A Freedom You Can’t Take for Granted – Novelist A.M. Homes At Open Society
A Modern-Day Robin Hood Takes Aim at Poverty – David Hillman At Open Society
For Roma Families, a Racist Myth Returns with a Vengeance – Jim Goldston At Open Society