Livestreaming for Governments: How To Reach Your Community

Livestreaming has become a valuable tool for governments to increase civic engagement. Governments of all sizes have taken to streaming city council meetings as a way to communicate their message to their community. Several cities such as the City of New York have passed bylaws that require local governments to start streaming city council meetings. By livestreaming, governments are demonstrating transparency and accountability; it also provides real-time and accurate information to citizens quickly and efficiently.

Why You Need to Stream Your City Council and Government Meetings Online

Mobile + Digital Is The New Normal

According to a Nielsen Company audience report, the average American spends over 10 hours a day online. Technology has become an everyday part of our lives. Gone are the days where someone will physically make a complaint at city hall. They’re more likely to voice their concerns over phone, in a tweet, or an email. When constituents want to look up community events for the month, they are also more likely to look online. Streaming press conferences, town halls, and government meetings online gives governments and city councils a real opportunity to meet their constituents where they are.

Constituents May Not Be Physically Present

While constituents may want to attend every meeting, the reality is that they can’t always be physically present. You might be located far away, transportation might be a challenge, people may be on vacation. Give constituents the flexibility to fit your meeting into their day – whether by livestream or on-demand – and be rewarded with a more engaged audience as a result. Give constituents the option to watch the livestream at a time that suits them, from the comforts of their home, and they will very likely get more out of it and tune in more often.

How Local Governments Are Using Live Video

Many municipalities and governments are addressing these challenges and providing their residents with more ways to observe and engage by streaming city council meetings.

In 2014, New York City passed legislation requiring all community boards to livestream their board meetings.

The city of Austin, Texas streams 3,100 video clips to its residents each month.

Many others in Arizona, North Carolina, Chicago, and Los Angeles are also streaming city council meetings several times a week on average.

59,691 viewers watched the US Department of the Interior’s Livestream in 2016.

367 government organizations across 36 countries use Livestream.

80% of audiences would rather watch live video than read a blog. (Source: Livestream and New York Magazine “Win a Free Mevo” Survey)

82% of viewers prefer live video to social posts. (Source: Livestream and New York Magazine “Win a Free Mevo” Survey)

78% of people watch videos online every week. (Source: Hubspot)

67% of viewers say quality is the most important factor when watching a livestream broadcast. (Source: Livestream and New York Magazine “Win a Free Mevo” Survey)

100m hours of Facebook videos are watched every day. (Source: Recode)

A livestream of a Chicago City Council meeting.

5 Things You Need to Consider for Your Government Livestream

Smarsh’s “Facebook Live: Best Practices” shares a few best practices to make livestreaming for your city council or government a success.

#1 What Is the Purpose of Your Livestream?

As with any strategy, your livestream should be built on a goal or purpose. Some considerations: Who is your target audience? What information do you wish to communicate? That purpose may evolve as your livestreaming efforts expand, but it’s important to bear in mind what the main focus of each livestream is, who you aim to reach, and how success will be measured.

#2 Announce and Promote Regular Broadcasts

“LIVE” doesn’t mean “by surprise,” says Smarsh, an archiving platform. Announce, promote and share upcoming livestreams through your social media accounts and remember to direct them to the channel or platform you’re broadcasting from. Smarsh recommends regular scheduled broadcasts, such as a weekly or monthly community wrap-up, to build a consistent following over time.

#3 Train Your Spokesperson for Branding and Consistency

Do not underestimate the importance of training your live video representatives to ensure messaging of your organization is consistent across the board. Consistency and emphasis will help reinforce your livestream “as a knowledgeable and trustworthy source of quality information in the community,” says Smarsh.

The City of Chicago livestreams its Police Academy Welcome.

#4 Repeat Key Information

When livestreaming during an emergency, it’s worth noting that viewers are more likely to retain key information when they are repeated. Smash recommends repeating key details such as phone numbers, websites, names and locations at least three times during an emergency. They should also be shared on social media channels and your website.

#5 Drive Your Audience to Social

Whether it’s a livestream or on-demand video, make a habit of sharing or forwarding the content on social media platforms and encourage your viewers to do the same. “This built-in audience is essential to helping you spread the word to your entire community,” says Smarsh.

What Governments Are Saying About Live Video

“Livestreaming board meetings is an efficient and inclusive way to encourage more citizen involvement in the county government process.” – John Barkley, County Administrator, Greene County, VA

“Livestream has been tremendous in facilitating the Chicago Mayor’s Office’s ability to connect with residents. Chicagoans can just go to the City’s website from any device and view the mayor’s events live in real time.” – Ankur Thakkar, City of Chicago Office of the Mayor

“2.9b people are online. If you can’t use video to get to them, you’re irrelevant.” – Dana Berchman, Chief Digital Officer of Gilbert, AZ

Looking to livestream your next council meeting? Find a platform plan that suits your needs and budget.

Live Event Trends from Convene and Livestream

Planning an event is about creating a memorable experience for your attendees and generating return-on-investment for your business. In this webinar we explored event trends with Convene, a New York-based “workplace-as-a-service” platform. Convene partners with 70% of New York’s Fortune companies to plan meetings, events, and conferences, which means they know what event marketers and planners can expect in 2018.

Read on to discover next year’s top live event trends.

1. Immersive Event Experiences

In 2018, you want to leave your event attendees feeling wowed. Events should be exciting, fresh, and new. You want your attendees to walk away – or close their browser – and feel that they had a unique, transformational experience. According to Convene’s Julie Starr, this is called an “immersive event experience.”

Follow these pro tips to create an immersive event experience:

Know Your Audience
Understand who you’re targeting and who you’re communicating with. Get really specific! Who are your attendees? Millennials at their first job? More senior executives? Once you understand your attendees – or the ‘who’ of your event – you can focus on setting a meeting theme or through line.

Set a Meeting Theme  
The most successful events have a strong theme. The theme or through line is the ‘what’ of your event – what you want to communicate to your event attendees. This theme can be expressed through the content, food, or design of the event to make it feel more immersive.

Design the Agenda
This is the fun part of planning your immersive event experience. When you lock down the ‘who’ and ‘what’ of your event, you can move on to hiring exhibitors and speakers, booking food and beverage vendors, and planning content. Think of this as the ‘how’ of your event. How you are going to make your event happen?

2. Technology-Assisted Collaborations

From interacting with employees in other locations, to event-specific hashtags and Instagram filters, technology has already made a major impact on how planners design meetings, as well as how they enable interaction at events.

2018’s top technology-assisted event collaborations will be social media integrations, livestreaming, augmented reality, and virtual reality. To create meaningful ROI, event marketers and event planners will need to continue to invest in new and creative event technologies.

Pro tip: Maximize usage of your technologies by alerting your guests to their existence. If you have a social media “wall” with real-time posts, mention it during a presentation or add related copy to your event materials. If you are livestreaming your event, make sure you promote the link across your desired marketing channels. Send emails, post on social media – do whatever you can to make sure that your audience knows you’re livestreaming.

3. The ROI of Livestreaming Your Events

Livestreaming allows you to amplify the power of your meetings and events outside of your physical space. This means reaching an exponentially larger audience than you would if you restricted your events to an in-person audience.

There are many ways to generate ROI with livestreaming. Streaming your events boosts future ticket sales, expands your brand reach, and even allows you to monetize with pay-per-view and subscription options.

Pro tip: Post and promote your broadcast after you’re done streaming. Your stream can generate ROI for as long as it lives online, providing value to your company or organization hours, days, months, and years after your event ends.

Download Convene’s Ebook to discover more 2018 trends.


Watch the video below to learn:

  • How to create immersive and innovative event experiences for your customers and prospects.
  • Best practices for using technology to boost engagement before, during, and after events.
  • Ways to boost your marketing event ROI.