To highlight what they’re portraying as misguided regulation of washing machines, the CEI is urging people to mail their (clean) underwear to the secretary of energy. And, they’ve prepared a quick YouTube video to promote the campaign. It’s a very straightforward but probably also fairly effective piece — it shows a CEI employee talking about the “problem” while standing in front of a washing machine in someone’s house. It’s short, uses naturalistic lighting, and the spokesperson does a good job of speaking directly to the camera.
But did the video do its job? Well, the underwear campaign got exposure today in the form of Cindy Skrzycki write-up in the Post’s The Regulator column as the featured example of the use of online video as an advocacy tool, so in that sense it’s definitely made a splash. The article stated that the video had been viewed 1300 times in the first week after its March 16th debut; as I write this, it’s been seen close to 1600 times. Not exactly a big audience (particularly since we have no idea how many times it’s been watched by CEI employees…), but we also don’t know how much promotion they’ve done. Video rarely gets seen unless you’re sending people to it.
Of course, plenty of advocacy groups have been using online video for many years, and video sharing sites such as YouTube for at least a year, but its use is increasing in frequency and quality as people get more experience with it. The U.S. presidential campaigns’ video frenzy has probably helped as well. As Skrzycki points out in her article, video’s becoming just another tool for campaigns. What matters is HOW you use it — and how well you integrate it into a comprehensive communications strategy.