Do you want to know how to run an online picket line? Here is a guide from the Victorian Trades Hall Council who ran the world’s first online picket line in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic to launch digital actions for the campaign for #WageSubsidyForAll. They have kindly shared the guide in case you want to run your own.
In light of the COVID-19 crisis, Victorian Trades Hall Council created the as far as we know, world-first Online Picket-Line tactic and format to overcome the barrier to members taking multiple campaign actions and the isolation in this time in digital actions.
The livestream took place on 31st March 2020 and went for 9 hours continuously with segments on migrant workers, retail and hospitality workers, occupational health and safety experts, superannuation, interviews with journalists and members of parliament. To see videos go to the Facebook page.
We created this format to launch digital actions for the campaign for #WageSubsidyForAll.
- Schedule your actions like a picket. Schedule every minute on the picket line. Scheduled activities are sequenced to keep everyone working together, and for community support to get demands. Scheduling in an online picket line is done through segments guiding actions.
- Intentional actions build morale, community support and escalate demands.
- Your stream is a guerilla radio station. Build community by making it engaging all day. Includes segments having fun but our tasks are urgent and serious.
- Licenced Zoom account or other webinar/meeting platform
- Facebook page or group
- Livestream adapter which transmits webinar to Facebook live, like Wirecast or the free version described below!
|A broadcast schedule
|A guide for hosts
|A guide for guests
|Roles for tech team
|Program information slides
|Text script reminder for hosts and guests
- Strong internet connection for tech team, hosts and guests
- Computer with two monitors for tech team
- Webcam for each guest with microphone – or smartphone
- Burner phone for questions with producer
|To plan segments and broadcast
|Tech producers (3)
|To manage broadcast and zoom, wirecast and facebook live. At least 3 people
|Supporting tech producer (1)
|To be an assistant to the tech producers and send scheduled texts to guests and hosts
|Tech issues support (1)
|Someone to forward issues to tech team
|To drive the segment and plan what will be discussed.
Content, organising and comms
Content for Livestream
- Action directed content: Tactics and asks should direct your choices on content
- Short segments: 10 -15 mins between two guests and switch
- Push the medium: Find creative, culture-jamming ways to present information
- Choose date and time for broadcast, choose length of broadcast. It should be a time which makes sense with your members or audience.
- Decide tactics first then build content so it connects in story or in campaign advice for digital tactics. Allocate asks and digital tactics in your program first.
Example; call talkback radio 8-10am; tweet storm 10am – 12pm, 8:45 – 9:00 speak to retail worker about their experience to share on Talkback.
- Short segments which are 15 minutes or less: use the template here.
- Hosts are organisers or elected officials. Best to cast people who are comfortable with facilitation, are energetic and dynamic when speaking.
- Guests are storytellers, workers experience, unheard perspectives or expert advice.
- Ideally two people (two people in a zoom meeting broadcast) at any given time in the zoom call as more can be more difficult to stream.
- 2-3 mins transition per segment This allows preparation for guests and to run on time. Have an animated slide. (We do not go through that here but amazing guides if you Google).
- Have back-up presenters Have 1-2 people ready to jump in anytime if something goes wrong with hosts of guests.
- Fun segments hold engagement and allow people to enjoy their tactics. Example: a hospo worker explained why hospo workers needed a wage subsidy while doing a cocktail tutorial for the quarantini.
- Be creative and see if people can give a tour of where they are. Example: Antony did a tour of the Hall by putting an iphone on a stick.
Organising turnout for Livestream
- Involve stewards, leaders, delegates and get them to be guests, they will invite people to watch them. Give them turnout goals.
- Large blast email and chaser email connected to event on CRM.
- Email 10 mins before to join with facebook live link.
- SMS blast 5 mins before to join with facebook live link.
- Tweet link for Facebook live.
- Connect to a petition on megaphone.com.au
Comms support for Livestream
- Promote event on Facebook to your audience
- Involve journalists
- Reach out to union social media influencers
- Promote posts on Facebook
- Instagram stories, tik tok, Facebook and twitter to promote.
Technology Set-Up (prior to livestream)
- You’ll need to use some broadcasting software… If you’re planning on doing anything more complicated than pointing a webcam at someone and streaming,
- We used a program called Wirecast, which allows the broadcaster to cut between different shots or “cameras” of the broadcast between various sources. This allows you to use pre recorded videos, multiple presenters, animations, graphics and music into your stream.
- Wirecast is a program that lets you broadcast whatever you need to any host, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitch – but only to one source at a time.
- Wirecast is a paid product that costs around $980 AUD. It’s available at www.telestream.net/wirecast/ There is a free alternative product that performs very similarly called Open Broadcast Software (OBS) (https://obsproject.com)
- Tutorials for both Wirecast and OBS are all over the internet. This OBS tutorial would be a great starting place.
- The most important thing to remember is to test frequently. Before hosting and big streams, it’s essential to create a Facebook testing page, and test as many aspects of your Wirecast or OBS set up as you can.
- Test the following:
- The audio is coming through clearly on every shot
- The stream quality is not too high for your internet speed to “keep up” with
- There is no echo coming through (an echo can quickly make a stream unwatchable)
Technology set-up (during live stream)
- Watch the zoom video here
- Waiting room in Zoom
- Keep someone monitoring the stream, if the internet plays up it can cause issues. Your audience will also let you know if there are technical issues. This person can also cut between animations, cameras and music, so they will need to be familiar with the software.
- Have an animation or slide you can cut during any technical difficulties.
- Being responsive to comments is best practice. Responding to comments is the best way to prompt more comments.
Have as much interaction as possible.
- Have hosts who can roll with the punches
- Track comments and respond to them
- Ask participants to invite people to the screening
- Make the tactic fun
- Fishbowl the tactics eg: create a Twitter account and send a tweet live, helps everyone focus on the action — and you help less confident activists step up.
- No longer than 15 mins per segment
Using this guide
Original work of Victorian Trades Hall Council. We welcome your suggestions for improving this guide. We also welcome you to use it and adapt it for your own training subject to the following terms and conditions: You may reproduce and distribute the work to others for free, but you may not sell the work to others. You may modify the guide, but may not remove the attributions to Victorian Unions and Victorian Trades Hall Council.
To see document in its original format see Google Doc.
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