Communicating Online in New Ways
Live from Kelowna…it’s General Council Live!
People from across the country will be able to follow developments in real time from the site of the United Church’s 40th General Council in Kelowna, British Columbia. For the first time, live webcasts of General Council proceedings will be available for the whole meeting.
Presenting meeting proceedings online--known as streaming--has become common practice for almost all large organizations, notes United Church Multimedia Producer Kate Rodd. “It seemed natural for us to use streaming to try and make these meetings as transparent as possible. It also offers people a chance to see decisions being made in their entirety,” says Rodd.
In addition to presenting live streaming, the Kelowna meeting features the first official General Council blog postings by Bill Steadman, Executive Minister of the United Church’s Financial Stewardship Unit.
Steadman says his assignment as official blogger for the General Council is part of a movement by the United Church to communicate Council developments to people through as many media formats as possible. Since arriving in Kelowna, Steadman has blogged about a barbecue salmon dinner for early arrivals on August 7th with smoke from forest fires drifting to the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus site.
“I try to imagine if I were sitting in my office in Toronto or at my camp in Northern Ontario checking the blog to hear what was happening…what the campus is like, what the surroundings are like in Kelowna. We read about forest fires and see some pictures through the media, but what is it like to be in a place so close to raging forest fires with the smoke hanging in the air?”
The 40th General Council website, gc40.united-church.ca, will also feature updated Twitter postings by United Church Chief Financial Officer Bill Kennedy. “If you look at the official minutes, a lot of what you see is procedural,” says Kennedy. “It is hard to capture some of the excitement of what is going on here as well as the emotional impact.”
Around Kennedy’s neck is a badge identifying him as “Mr. Twitter.” In addition to posting short online comments and observations, known as “tweets,” Kennedy will be uploading photos and linking the tweets of other Council participants on his Twitter page.
United Church Web Services Manager Bill Gillard is spending his first General Council meeting onsite. In addition to the live streaming of proceedings, Gillard will be busy refreshing content on the news feed, which includes articles from the General Council News and video production teams.
“For each news story, there will be a direct link to the wondercafe.ca site for discussion,” notes Gillard. The Kelowna General Council also marks the first time there has been a distinct French-language site. This site will also include a news feed and video clips of French-language proceedings during the Council.