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Public Outreach Through Video

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In an age of information overload, public officials must use every tool at their disposal to compete for citizen’s attention on planning issues. Yet, for most organizations, public outreach efforts have not evolved much since the innovations of the Gutenberg press or New England town meeting. With the advent of affordable technology, however, some communities are engaging the public through a device that has become a fixture in almost every American home — the VCR.

Often, the public does not have the time, or patience, to digest voluminous planning reports. They need a concise overview of issues in an appealing format. A well-produced video can add the visual enhancement, pacing, and variety of format that will captivate an audience. With video recording and editing equipment becoming more accessible, communities are finding creative ways to employ this technique as a citizen participation tool.

Case Studies

In Park City, Utah, the planning staff produced a video to explain the local historic preservation program. The video uses a mix of historic photos, video shots of current streetscapes and scrolling text. The 25 minute video progresses from basic concepts to specifics on the Park City historic preservation program. Regulations come alive with visual examples of renovated properties, while narration explains how the program applies in each situation. …

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