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.

6,959,622 viewers watched 241 politically-focused streams on Livestream from November 2016-17, leaving 5,355 comments.

48,284 viewers watched the US Department of the Interior’s Livestream in 2017.

Over 112,000 views have been generated by Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel‘s Livestream account of more than 8,000 followers, as of February 2018.

388 government organizations across 70 countries used Livestream to broadcast 10,597 events in 2017.

2 million live concurrent viewers and 3 million live watch hours were generated across 6 news networks that used YouTube to livestream the first 2016 US presidential debate. (Source:TechCrunch)

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.

Livestreaming vs Internal Conferencing Tools – Which Is Best For Your Company?

Video conferencing, web conferencing, video streaming – as more and more platforms enter the online meeting space, the lines between them and what they can each achieve are fading. Every organization has different needs for their communications strategy and because of that, one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to live video platforms. Companies examining their communications strategy are asking: What are the differences between livestreaming vs internal conferencing tools?

Which online meeting tool is a better fit for my company’s internal communications event? Can livestreaming do what a video conferencing tool does, and vice versa? Understanding their core capabilities and differences, as well as what they can each achieve separatelyand even together – will enable you to prepare and train members of your team with skills required of each. Let’s break down their differences and help you decide which is a better fit for your next live event.

Why using video for company-wide meetings is key for employee engagement

Video is no longer a nice-to-have for your internal communications; it’s a must-have. As Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff explains: “Rowing teams know that if you row together in sync, you’ll go faster.” By using video for company-wide meetings, your leadership can communicate their vision more clearly and consistently across a global workforce. In turn, employees also have an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback in real time, helping them lean in to your company’s vision.

Employee engagement can have a profound impact on your company’s business performance, with the cost of disengaged employees estimated to account for $450-$550 billion in lost productivity per year. Companies today are looking for more impactful ways of engaging with their employees, and live video is the only scalable solution for global companies looking to communicate as one team. It is no wonder why it has become the most popular and accessible go-to communications tool – the barriers to entry are lower than ever, and all-in-one livestreaming platforms have made it simple to broadcast your live event to an engaged audience.

Video/Web Conferencing Tools For Business Communications

What Conferencing Platforms Do
While the features of these platforms vary, the value of web and video conferencing is the same: they provide two-way video communication with audio, video, and screen sharing technologies across two or more locations. These online meetings are typically conducted via desktops and laptops – rarely through a full-scale production.

Examples of Video/Web Conferencing Platforms
GoToMeeting, WebEx, Skype for Business, Adobe Connect

Benefits of Video and Web Conferencing Platforms For Business Communications
These online meeting platforms enable two-way online interaction in real time between hosts and participants, with near-zero audio and video delay.

Challenges of Video and Web Conferencing Platforms For Business Communications

  • While conferencing tools are great for online meetings of small groups, they are less equipped for larger audiences. Some platforms have limits of up to 200 concurrent attendees while others like Adobe Connect charge based on your audience size. This also means that you will need to purchase another tool for marketing events or external communications.
  • Your participants may want to watch your video on-demand after the live event. While tools like GotoMeeting, WebEx, and Adobe Connect offer recording services, most conferencing tools aren’t built with sharing and overall long term content storage and management in mind.
  • The ability to introduce production value, such as adding graphics, videos and picture in picture, on these types of platforms can be extremely limited.
  • For the purposes of optimizing bandwidth to enable real-time sharing, conferencing tools are often constrained by video quality and various software requirements. Often participants have to download some software update to join the event, which can be confusing and time consuming.
  • Web Conferencing platforms have very restrictive video and audio quality, due to the limited audio/video capture capabilities, and low resolution encoding.

Livestreaming For Business Communications

What Livestreaming Platforms Do
Livestream technology enables you to broadcast HD plus quality video (1080p) to tens of thousands – or even more – in near real-time.

Examples of Livestreaming Platforms
Livestream, UStream, JWPlayer

Benefits of Livestreaming For Business Communications

  • One of the key differences between online conferencing tools and livestreaming platforms is video quality. Conferencing tools typically offer a resolution of 640×480 while platforms such as Livestream offer a more dynamic and professional experience with multiple camera angles, supporting higher video quality with broadcasts up to 1080p.
  • Livestreaming platforms are designed to make uploading, storage, and management of your on-demand videos in a central account easy. A great user experience could be the difference in whether your viewers choose to engage with your videos, long after your live event is over.
  • The best way to identify what can be done better with your next event is to look at the data. Platforms like Livestream give you the opportunity to get to know your audience across multiple streaming destinations with real-time data from our native analytics dashboard. This will help you understand how your employees are engaging with your message.

Challenges of Livestreaming For Business Communications
In comparison to most conferencing platforms, the live interview workflow on Livestream requires ample testing and preparation. While it can be done, two-way communication is extremely limited when it comes to a live interview setup. Our remote live interview enables you to switch back and forth one at a time between guests. You can invite as many guests as you like to the event but you can only select one guest at a time to go live. Guests will also only be able to hear the host speaking to them during the preview mode (when they’re not live on camera) so cutting back and forth live on camera is required.

Livestreaming vs Internal Conferencing: Which is Best For You?

Ultimately, Web/Video Conferencing Is for You If…

You Want Real-Time Interactivity
Video conferencing tools will work if you’re looking for a continuous back and forth real-time voice conversation with a limited number of people, with virtually no audio or video delay. If you don’t need to add graphics or other production elements, these solutions do the job.

Livestreaming Is for You If…

You Want a Versatile Solution for a Larger Audience
Depending on the software, most video conferencing platforms or online meeting tools have a limit on the number of participants that are able to join the event. Livestreaming, on the other hand, creates a more engaging and compelling experience, allowing you to reach, impact – and scale – to millions. Livestreaming also allows you to use polling, chat, and other tools to engage with your audience in real time.

You Want Simplicity for the Viewer
Some online conferencing platforms call for client software to be downloaded while others require a certain browser. Participants then have to call in via multiple toll free numbers depending on their location. With Livestream, all your participants need is a URL link and they’re all set to join your live event from any device, wherever they are.

You Want Production-Level Quality
Quality matters. According to Brightcove, 62% of people are more likely to have a negative perception of brands that publish poor quality video. As video becomes increasingly ubiquitous in how companies are communicating, think about what a smooth high-definition video experience can do to take your online meeting or live event to the next level.

You Want an All-in-One Solution
Looking for more advanced features otherwise not offered with entry-level products? Livestream offers an all-in-one solution by combining the Mevo camera with our live production switching software, Livestream Studio, and cost-efficient hardware, at a fraction of the price of a complete multi-camera live production.

Think livestreaming is the right fit for your live event? Explore what our different plans have to offer, depending on your needs and budget.