Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Making of “I am a Technical Woman”

I always enjoy having Jerri Barrett write for Nonprofit Conversation. She brings great insight on how to use, really use, technology to advance one's nonprofit. In addition to other things I do, I also do media distribution for government agencies and nonprofits. I get videos placed on hundreds of Public, Educational and Government (PEG) access television channels around the country. The videos air for free and that air time is worth millions of dollars to my clients.

I can't tell you how many government agencies and nonprofits have videos sitting on their shelves and aren't distributing them. What good is it to produce a video for internal consumption? Jerri tells you how to make your video go "viral." Enjoy. Bunnie

The Making of “I am a Technical Woman”

By Jerri Barrett, Vice President of Marketing, Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology

Two years ago (2007) I attended my very first Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC), which is put on by my non profit – the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology. It being only my second week on the job I was amazed by the incredible diversity of the women present at the conference – young and old, all races, and representing over 23 countries and almost all 50 states that year. But what really captured my attention was how happy everyone was. This was a technical conference, with a strong professional development component, but a technical conference nonetheless. Why was everyone so happy? My marketing mind at that moment told me that I needed to find a way to capture this feeling.

Months later as we were planning the 2008 GHC I proposed the idea of a video booth with a professional film crew. We needed professionals because the previous year’s team of volunteers and staff had accidentally overloaded and fried the inside of our video camera. We did get our footage but much of it was grainy or too dark to use. The film crew happened, thanks to a sponsorship by SAP, and we made a plan. Everyone that the film crew interviewed we captured saying I am a technical woman.

Once we completed editing all the footage we had over 99 instances of women saying I am a Technical Woman, computer scientist, etc and we had men saying I support Technical Women. Finally the video was completed.

The next step was the challenge. we had created this simple video and we wanted as many people in the world see it as possible. So I created a multi stage launch plan for the video involving both traditional media through our public relations firm and our communities (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter). Once I’d shown the video to my colleagues it was agreed that it would be shown at the 2009 GHC on the morning of the first keynote session. Most of our attendees would be gathered in the room to see the Keynote speaker. Simultaneously a number of things would happen:

The video would be introduced and shown to the audience of 1600 women. In the introduction to the video, I encouraged everyone in the audience to twitter about the video and direct people to our website where it could be viewed. The video was launched on Youtube and embedded in our website. A press release was launched as the video was being shown with a link to the video embedded in it. The press release and link were posted on Linked In and Facebook the same day. Teachers attending a K12 Workshop hosted by Anita Borg Institute, CSTA and The University of Phoenix all received DVDs of the video. On our website we offered downloadable versions of the video so that people wanting to show it at a conference wouldn’t have to stream it.

The results have been amazing:

1. The video has been viewed over 6850 times on Youtube.
2. The video has been downloaded from our website over 217 times to over 26 countries
3. When we launched the video over 700 people twittered about it in the hour after it was shown.
4. Over 40 different bloggers shared the video on their sites in the first month after launch
5. Numerous friends of ABI posted a link to the video on their facebook page.
6. The video has been shown at conferences in Japan and Australia.
7. The video is being shown in classrooms across the country.

My favorite outcome was from a co-worker who sent her 7 year old to school with the video. The response back from the second graders – I didn’t know that technical women could be so cool.

The question now is – how do you define a viral video? For me the definition is whether it is having an impact and people are sharing the video. In both cases that is a definite yes.

So please watch the video and let me know what you think about it. And be sure to show it to your daughters.

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