Introducing Spots

The topics that Select Committees investigate can be dense and difficult. But that doesn't mean they aren't interesting to a very wide audience - they just need to be opened up.

We've been researching the way that other organisations - The Telegraph, Channel 4 News, The Guardian, RightsInfo - attempt to tackle difficult topics like these. If we can effectively open up inquiries, we'll see more and more people wanting to engage.

Explaining the 'why' behind an inquiry

When we launch inquiries on Twitter, we always try to showcase a question: How can we secure a future for England's parks? How will leaving the EU affect environmentally-friendly land use?  These unanswered questions explain the inquiry's genesis. They are the 'why' behind an inquiry.

Sometimes, though, the 'why' needs a bit of unpacking. This means that a stripped-down graphic is not always enough to do the job properly. This, coupled with the fact that users are increasingly seeking out video, means that we need to find a video solution to this challenge.


This is where Spots come in. Spots are short videos - 30-60 seconds usually - that overlay text on photos and video to explain inquiries. They open up the background, context and objectives of an inquiry to a wider audience who may otherwise be confused or turned off by specialist terminology. We've so far tried this out with a few different topics - animal welfare, Sustainable Development Goals, the Northern Ireland border after Brexit - and found that they are performing very well.

A shareable and cost-efficient video format

We produce these videos in-house, which means that our cost-benefit analysis of these videos boils down to time rather than money. We measure the number of views against the amount of time spent creating each video. So far, Spots are proving to be the most cost-efficient way to create videos. This is helped by the fact that we can template these videos, making them very quick to create.

So - we're going to be making more of these, and will continue to evaluate them as a way of opening up inquiries to ever more people.

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