Introduction to Video Publishing

warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /var/www/drupal-5.23/sites/ on line 291.

Production and distribution need to work hand-in-hand. The type of film you make (eg. length, subject, style) will influence how you distribute it, in return the type of distribution you are planning can effect the film you make.

Even if you are just deciding what to do with a shocking, short piece of footage shot last night that you want people to see in a hurry, a little thought into planning will help you make the most of Message in-a-Box – and massively increase the positive change you can influence.

Who’s watching?

This question will have the biggest impact on your methods of distribution. Will your target audience have access to a DVD player or the Internet? Or will it be more important to screen your video – perhaps taking a tour of your film out to communities?

You may choose to target specific audiences who are most likely to take action on the issues you are dealing with, in addition to reaching a broader audience by uploading your video to the Internet. Both online (eg. via YouTube or your own website) and Offline (eg. via public screenings or TV) can complement other aspects of your distribution strategy such as direct advocacy and campaign work, community TV and festivals.

Publicise your Video

It’s also important to remember you will need to promote it after you have decided how to distribute it. From email campaigns to posters, you can work your way around Message in-a-Box to make your promotional plan. Think of it as a mini-campaign and do a simple promotional plan to decide what to do. Start here for an introduction to Publicising your Video.

Bigger is not necessarily better

When your distribution strategy is linked to grassroots campaigns and communities it may have a greater potential to make an impact than a program on television an audience has casually flicked over to.

As in all communications, it is about quality not always quantity. Getting your messages seen and heard by the right people is more important than communicating with everyone.

What’s the plan?

Pre-production is the time to define your audience and the best mediums to use to reach them. Advocacy video can only be really useful when used strategically as part of your campaign – you should never be producing your film and then left wondering what to do with it.

To create an effective plan for distributing video, make sure you have read the Strategy section, and especially the sections on Audience and Online vs Offline. The more clearly you have defined your audience, messages and campaign goals, the more effective your video will be.

Then take a look at our introduction to video distribution.

All of these issues are important to think about in the planning stages of making your film.

Video via Internet

The opportunity to share your videos has never been greater. Because millions of videos are uploaded online each day, with content ranging from dog tricks to documentation of human rights abuses, your video will be a drop in an ocean of media – unless you have a strategic distribution plan.

To use Internet distribution strategies, which can be extremely effective, you will also need to get some technical understanding of how to create videos that stream or download easily. Find out more about how to do that in our Tools for Video Publishing here, where we walk you through, step-by-step, how to compress and embed videos in a range of situations.

Even if you think your audience might not have enough Internet access to watch video online, think again. Africa, for example, has had a 1000% improvement in Internet access in the last eight years, and is predicted to become an increasingly powerful tool for people communicating in developing countries, including rural areas.

The decision of where you chose to upload your video and how you promote it will impact all aspects of your work – from your rights with regards to your video and the audiences and communities you can reach online, to their ability to download and distribute your media offline. Ensure that your video is on a site that meets your needs and will help you reach your short and long-term goals.

Video via DVD

Due to censorship restrictions and security issues, Internet access or other reasons, you may still choose to distribute your short or longer videos via DVD and hand them over in a physical form, or organise a screening event. One key benefit of screening is they are face-to-face, and can be a very effective way to build strong relationships and support each other if you are viewing difficult or sensitive material. You can also use the event for fundraising, volunteer recruitment and other campaign goals. More about DVD/VCD distribution here.

Hybrid Distribution – a bet both ways

Often, the best way forward is a combination of both online (Internet) and offline (physical) distribution, which we call Hybrid, ensuring all your key audiences get your key messages. Find out more about that approach here.


  • News items can be posted on websites, with regular updates on a situation or topic.
  • Short films can be posted on You Tube and your own sites, redistributed and linked to.
  • A video with more in-depth background or analysis might be more suited to a themed compilation on a particular issue to sit alongside other videos exploring the same topic from different angles.
  • A feature-length documentary may be better to distribute on DVD – as audiences may be more likely to watch a longer-format movie on their television than on a computer, and downloading large files off the Internet may be impractical.

Let’s take a look now at a distribution plan in a little more detail, then move on to publicising your video so people actually get to see it.

Note: You should be keenly aware of privacy and security issues when publishing, be sure to read over the Safety and Security section. Also check out WITNESS’ Things to Keep in Mind When Uploading Videos.


This section is a based upon the Guide to Digital Video Distribution.