Engage with Video to Improve Local Transport

If you’re trying to improve safety of local transport, or raise awareness of highways maintenance work that people forget happens every day, video is a great way to get your message across.

Those ‘ah-ha’ moments, when we finally understand where someone else is coming from feel really good, but don’t happen as often as they should.  Why?

As strange as it may sound, if we want someone to understand us, we need first to understand the world from their perspective.  We need to understand and respond to our audiences’ needs before they are willing to understand us.

Whoever you are and whatever you want to communicate, if you want your message to be received and acted upon, it needs to be seen, shared and talked about.

Once you know who your target audience is, and how you want them to feel and react once they have watched it, then you can explore fun, shocking or more oblique perspective shifting ways to convey this as a story.

Why a story?

To grab anyone’s attention we must appeal to their emotions; if we haven’t made them laugh, cry, be angry or in shock, then we’ve not succeeded.   

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel.” (Maya Angelou)

Make it emotional

Local transport has suffered long enough from the failure to portray humility and effect emotion.  If we’re going to transform local transport services with less money then this needs to change.

Here’s how highways maintenance teams from Torfaen and Worcestershire councils, Metro trains and Volkswagen have used video to raise awareness of things important to them.

Each of these video’s are very different, but they all show just what’s possible with a little lateral and creative thinking, local talent in the case of Torfaen and Worcestershire, and a determination to engage more effectively, which is crucial for improving public services.

UPDATED 28 October 2014

1) The power of Twitter brought this to my attention:


In East Sussex, local children take on the roles of highways staff in this great video that highlights the roles and jobs of the highways team in East Sussex County Council.  It’s great fun and educational, well done to all involved.


2) To encourage people into engineering, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) have created this very polished video explaining all about Engineering Happiness (#engineeringhappiness).  It is fab fun to watch and although a little long, mixes humour and information together in a great package.  I understand it features staff from the projects highlighted – well done all


3) ‘At Work In Highways’ – Highways Manager Jon Fraser highlights the activities of the Worcestershire Highways Maintenance Team as they fix potholes across the county.

This video hit national headlines when it was launched in March 2013, with comments ranging from fun and enjoyable to a waste of taxpayers money. An angry response is perhaps understandable given the condition of local roads across England, where according to the Asphalt Industry Alliance annual ALARM report, around £12 billion funding would be needed to restore all local roads to a good condition.

Local highways authorities are always looking for ways to improve their service, and this video does a great job of showing what Worcestershire is doing with the resources available.

4) ‘In The Depot’ – Torfaen Council’s Highways Team raise awareness of the works of winter maintenance teams

This video explores some of the common safety issues when out and about in winter, and explains some of the work activities of the highways winter maintenance team. It also inspired Worcestershire highways team to create ‘At Work In Highways’.

5) ‘Dumb Ways To Die’, Metro Trains uses cartoon characters and a very catchy song to raise awareness of safety around trains (83 million views)

6) Volkswagen takes the shock approach for Hong Kong movie-goers in raising awareness of risks of using mobile phones when driving

Have you created videos to engage?  What were your experiences?

If you’re thinking of creating a video, then go for it.  Here are a few quick tips:

  1. The initial few seconds of the video are crucial to capturing interest; make it unusual, something you wouldn’t see every day.
  2. Move quickly into a ‘journey’ (metaphorical or literal); with one or two key characters and a shifting and changing background to build the storyline, through a mixture of clarity and contrast toward a climax.
  3. Music can be a great way to set the emotional scene and pace, or momentum, as in the examples above.


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