The question of how to broadcast live video isn’t just for pro live streamers anymore; it’s for local government, too! This article covers the 9 best practices for local government to broadcast live streaming content.
Local government generally strives to be self-evident with its citizens. To get accurate information out quicker and more efficiently, live broadcasts have become popular in many local governments. Likewise, knowing how to stream live in local government contexts can increase community engagement.
Based on our experience here at Dacast, we’ve compiled a list of 9 best practices for local governments to broadcast live streaming content. These best practices include:
- Plan ahead
- Wired connection (over WiFi)
- Test, test, and test again
- Audience engagement
- Pre-event live streaming
- Quality audio
- On-demand (VOD) packages
9 Best Practices to Broadcast Live Streaming Content
1. Plan ahead
There are numerous events that local government could use to broadcast live streaming content. Council meetings, hearings, seminars, and conventions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to local government events. To set up proper equipment and plan ahead, it’s key to understand in detail how and where the event will take place. To broadcast live streaming content successfully, you also need a clear goal in mind.
Some questions to ask while prepping your streaming solutions:
- How many people will attend?
- How long will the event last?
- What are the room dimensions/space blueprint?
- How much space is available for the camera/equipment?
- Will weather/outside conditions affect my broadcast?
- Can I connect with a landline, or is WiFi the only option?
- How many people will tune in live?
2. Wired connection (over WiFi)
Next in our list of best practices to broadcast live streaming content successfully relates to an internet connection. In fact, this point doesn’t only apply to just local government–it’s a great practice for all broadcasters!
In all cases, a wired internet connection is the most effective approach to live streaming. This practice is sometimes overlooked, but it makes a significant difference in the quality and reliability of your stream. A wired connection will afford you a faster, consistent local connection. Moreover, it will allow you to use more bandwidth between you and the router.
With WiFi, on the other hand, many factors can disrupt your connection. Likewise, the proximity of your computer to the router can have a huge impact on the connection. As you’re likely aware, your computer is periodically scanning for WiFi networks–even if you already connected to one. Using a Wired Network Cable can prevent the fluctuations in connection speed that are inevitable with WiFi.
In terms of local government events specifically, most streams take place in a conference or newsroom. The good news? These are ideal settings for connecting through a Wired Network Cable. Of course, if you plan to broadcast live streaming content outside, it may be a bit more challenging.
3. Test, test, and test again
One of the most important steps that any experienced streamer will highlight is pre-event testing. Regardless of setting or event context, you want to test all the equipment before going on site. Then, you also want to run the same tests at the location of the event in the exact place from which you will broadcast live. Again, this step is crucial to the success of your live broadcast for your government event. Identifying and troubleshooting any problems beforehand will greatly improve the quality and success of your stream.
Let’s get a bit more specific. Of course, it’s okay to testing individual equipment first. However, it’s even more important to run an end-to-end test. This process involves testing the entire setup, from using the bandwidth to having the audio and video sync. This approach offers you a better representation of any potential errors that you need to fix before the event.
Even with thorough pre-event testing, issues can still arise. That’s why we strongly recommend having a Plan B in place. You even want to rehearse your backup plan as part of this step. This should be done at the same site of the event. In particular, make sure you have the strategy and equipment in place to run that backup plan if your ideal plan fails. As experienced broadcasters will tell you, you can never be sure what will happen when you go live!
4. Audience engagement
Increased audience engagement is not only one of the best ways to gain viewers for local government events. It’s also one of the best live streaming practices in general. There are many creative ways to implement this type of engagement. A Q & A segment (question and answers) at the end of your live broadcast, for example, is one effective way to interact directly with your viewers.
Additionally, the combination of a chat box during the event and a post-event Q & A section packs a great one-two punch. If you have another person or two available, they can review the chat box in real-time during the event on an iPad or a wifi-connected device. That way, they can ascertain which questions are most relevant to viewer interests. This cuts down on unnecessary topics or questions after the event and helps to focus on the interaction. The more useful the information you discuss, the more engaged your viewers will be!
Now, wouldn’t it be ideal if your audience could participate in the event while you compile data to improve future live streams? You’re in luck! There is a way to do both at once. For example, surveys and polls can be important tools in gathering information about your viewers and keep them engaged. You can track demographics and other key viewer information by offering live polls. You can even display the results live during the event.
Finally, administering surveys after your live stream can remind your viewers about the event and prime them for the next one. It also helps you to improve and get real feedback on how to broadcast live streaming content more successfully. SurveyMonkey, for example, lets you create and send out surveys for free.
5. Pre-event live streaming
While steps one through four are key, don’t forget to engage your viewers before the event goes live. The last thing you want is for viewers to join the event 10, 15, or 20 minutes early to see only a blank screen with no indication that the live stream will happen.
To avoid this, we recommend that you start streaming live 30 to 45 minutes in advance. That said, you don’t have to be on camera yet. Simply playing music, or displaying a live look-in of the location will let your viewers know that the event is still on. Think C-SPAN, but on a more local scale. This extra effort also allows you to broadcast live streaming content with a very professional look.
6. Quality audio
It’s easy to overlook this step when thinking about how to broadcast live streaming content to your community. Audio quality is just as important, if not more important, than video quality. If you’re watching a good-quality video with clear audio, you’ll most likely keep watching.
But what if the reverse happens? What if you’re live-streaming a crisp, HD video with static-y audio and lots of feedback? No one is going to sit through that video, even if the content is interesting.
It’s far too common that broadcasters get hung up on capturing the perfect video and forget that audio is just as important. To avoid that rookie mistake, test all of your microphones (including backups) and ensure a clean feed. Finally, don’t forget to change the batteries in all wireless audible devices and have extras on hand.
In the live streaming industry, there are different methods, equipment, and streaming solutions to consider. This complexity is compounded by the fact that the local government can organize many different types of events. One event may require a particular setup and can be completely different in look and content than the next one. The takeaway? Don’t confine yourself to one system and learn to adapt your setup and approach to each unique event.
In an interview with StreamingMedia, Dylan Armajani of Viacom explains: “You really can stream live from just about anywhere in the world on just about any budget and at least have your content show up online. The challenge really becomes weighing the cost vs. quality vs. possible points of failure and determining what workflow is optimal for your show.”
By 2019, it’s commonplace for users to watch video right from their mobile devices. With this trend still on the rise, multi-device compatibility is essential to broadcast live video content to all potential viewers. And this is where a professional OVP (online video platform), like Dacast, becomes key.
If you opt to host these live broadcasts on your own, you’re responsible for converting these files for mobile compatibility. This is not an easy task and can be very time-consuming. Professional live streaming platforms, on the other hand, convert these files automatically for mobile viewing.
Not only does compatibility apply to mobile devices, but it also extends to different web browsers. Viewers watching the live stream will tune in via a wide variety of browsers, all of which convert video files differently. For example, OVPs like Dacast include an HTML5 video player compatible with all mobile phones, tablets, and computers, as well as devices like Smart TVs. To learn more about HTML5 streaming video players and the advantages they provide, click here.
9. On-demand (VOD) packages
If increasing viewership numbers is a priority for your local government, then this final step is an important one. Recording and archiving your live broadcasts to create on-demand packages allows viewers to watch later on their own time.
First, VOD (Video on demand) content allows people who can’t tune in live to participate on their own time. Likewise, they won’t miss out on being informed about any important decisions that took place. VOD content also garners more attention for your live broadcasters, which can increase viewer numbers for future live events.
Using the Dacast OVP and an encoding software like OBS Studio (free, open-source) or Wirecast (for-pay, feature-rich), you can save your live broadcast right to your hard drive. From there, you can use the Dacast video streaming platform to upload that stream to your account. Finally, you can create VOD packages and embed them right to your own website.
To recap: planning ahead is crucial to executing your event goals successfully. Setup testing is a must, too. Audience engagement can really affect how many viewers you reach. In local government contexts, audience engagement is especially important for gauging feedback on certain topics and rulings.
And there you have it! By following these steps and choosing a pro streaming platform like Dacast, local government can broadcast live streaming content affordably and easily. We hope this article has familiarized you with the best practices for doing successful live broadcasts of your government events.
Looking to test out a live streaming solution for yourself? You can take advantage of our 30-day free trial by clicking the link below. We’ll have you streaming live in a matter of minutes!
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Thanks for reading, and best of luck with your live broadcasts.