Monday, November 30, 2009

Cop-Proof Citizen Review Board, Part 3

No need to stop with print ads to get a CRB going, (see last Cop-Proof post). There are TV sets in everybody’s house. Why not use them too?

TV Ads

Once local newspapers have been canvassed and saturated, move on to TV. There are 2 levels of free TV advertising that can be accomplished with a little motivated negotiating—

· Local broadcast TV channels, both network affiliates and indie channels

· Cable company’s public access channels

The bigger your city is, the more local channels there will be to contact, therefore, a greater number of opportunities. TV channels are required by the FCC to offer a certain amount of segments per week for community announcements. Sometimes, these announcements are added between network programming or during commercial breaks, and sometimes attached to news programs at 6AM, Noon, Afternoon and 11PM. Any and all are good and free to the advertiser, as long as the message is a public service. Just supply the channel with the script, and one of their on-air personalities will read it, along with the other announcements of the day. No control, however, in exactly which daypart it will happen.

Cable companies, again by FCC requirements, devote a channel or two in their basic cable offerings to public service needs. Check your cable lineup for a channel like this. They could be anywhere in the spectrum, but will probably appear in the first tier, somewhere below channel 18. These public access channels originate at the cable company itself, and are not satellite feeds. They are there for your personal use.

Each cable company is different about what they offer, but some or all of the following is freely available from your cable outlet on at least one channel---

· Scroll loops containing text only w/music

· Scroll loops with voice-over

· Full video feeds.

Take whatever comes without charge, respecting our motto.

Scroll Loop

For a scroll loop, write a short, announcement style script, with essential contact info and meeting schedules. They will print this out on the screen and slowly scroll through it, along with all others they have that day, and then repeat them 24/7. The text will probably be backed with classical music from your local NPR radio station. (Not bad!)

Scroll Loop w/Voice-Over

If you can get a scroll loop with voice-over, they may give you a trained radio voice to read your script. (Even better!) If so, make everything easy to pronounce and understand, and provide info in addition to the text that compliments it. The total voice-over will probably only last 15 seconds at best, so keep it below 30 words.

One more thing: avoid complicated website or email addresses. If an email address is to be broadcast in text or voice form, set up a dedicated email box address for this purpose, (free from your ISP; mine allows me 6 email boxes), and make it a name that can be remembered after one reading or hearing, like CityCRB, with your city name in place of the word “city”, or JohnCRB, with your or your organization’s name in place of “John”. Better yet, make up one of your own!

Video Feed

Video feeds of your meetings will be broadcast on the community service channels your cable company provides at their convenience. One hitch on this one: Somebody, provided by the citizens themselves, has to own the equipment to record the video of the meeting and it must rise to a minimum standard to be copied and broadcast by the cable company. No, it doesn’t have to be a George Lucas film, but it must have discernable audio and video quality. In these days, video cameras are common, even high-end ones, among the citizenry. Find a citizen, even advertise for one, who can join your ranks and do the job for you, again, without charge. Also, make a few DVD copies for the organization. It will come in handy.

The videos are handled in the same way as the text and voiceover announcements. They are broadcast in a rotation with others 24 hours a day. The good news is free exposure. Bad news is there may be no way to predict when the video will be shown. It is one of the drawbacks to not having to pay for it. Even so, watching your personal interview or recent meeting on TV will be a big boost to the cause of getting citizen review with teeth, fully backed by the mayor, town council or legislature.

Any ideas of your own? Any revisions to these ideas? Run it up the flagpole and see who salutes it! More on this subject later. (Not saluting, getting a citizen review panel advertised!) :-)

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