*UPDATE - OCT 2017* A number of the links in this post are not accessible as the YB website has been unpublished. If you would like to read anything discussed below that is not available, please contact me.
What did I set out to achieve?
In term two, I wanted to expand on what I had established in term one; I wanted to focus on building the YB brand image and audience and move away from administrative work. I wanted to tie the movement closer to my art practice and explore innovative ways to establish the brand nationwide. I laid out how I planned to do this in the YB strategy document:
Set up as an NPO (Non-Profit Organisation)
The first objective I aimed to achieve in second term was setting up as a NPO (Non-Profit Organisation). By doing this, I hoped to give YB more credibility, whilst also laying the infrastructure for the movement to grow in the future. My research into other Privacy organisations had found that almost all groups seemed to be registered as charities. I believed this was the correct course of action, so built on my feedback from last term and arranged a meeting with the Executive Director of LUSU, Claire Geddes, to discuss pitfalls of setting up as a charity, as well as asking for some pointers that would help me run the organisation successfully. During our conversation, Claire informed me that establishing a charity was difficult given the rules set out by the Charity Commission which restrict political campaigning by a charity. Given what I wanted to accomplish, we came to the conclusion that a private company was likely the best option. What’s more, in conversation with Charlie Dunmore (The Supporters Officer for ORG [Open Rights Group]), I discovered that ORG were set up as a private company as being a charity would restrict the campaigns they could run. These conversations meant I had to rethink my objective, as well as the timeline for achieving results. As a consequence, I have had to push this objective back until the easter break/third term, at which point I will look to take the necessary steps to set up as a private company.
Read the notes from my conversation with Claire below.
Establish an understanding of the issues of giving up privacy and why privacy is important. Outline how people can protect themselves.
The second objective I wanted to deliver in second term was creating a wider understanding of Privacy issues with the general public. This included having active social media accounts, holding events and creating scenarios (or happenings) for the public to interact with. I wanted to focus more on an art-centred approach, using graphics and videos to deliver my messages. This was in part due to my term one feedback - I needed to use art-centred approaches to tie the project into my studio practice, as well as my understanding of social media users (I know from experience that people interact with videos and graphics more than standard posts). These approaches would involve collaboration with various different groups and would be targeted at specific demographics for differing purposes. For example, I wanted to make a satirical music video similar to Ricky Gervais’s ‘Equality Street’ to target University students. This video would involve Lancaster-based talent and was due to be filmed in Alexandra Square on campus. Similarly, I wanted to create a short 30 second breakdance video using a Lancaster University society that would target teenagers aged 15-18. The intention behind the video was to grab the attention of this demographic and get them to want to learn more. On top of this, I wanted to hold at least one event on campus in collaboration with the Politics society. All of these smaller projects were to tie in to an advertising campaign with a catchy slogan that I could push out on social media. This campaign would be used to target a nationwide audience and aimed to increase engagement to at least 30 people through Facebook and Twitter daily posts.
With this art-centred approach in mind, I set about researching how to organise and structure an advertising campaign through reading books by Stuart J. Agres (‘Emotion in Advertising: Theoretical and Practical Explorations’ 1990) and Jerry Jewler & Bonnie Drewniany (‘Creative Strategy in Advertising’ 2001) and taking inspiration from past and current campaigns. I took note of two ORG campaigns currently being run: New Government Jobs and Careless Laws Cost Liberties and mapped out a number of key ideas to be wary of. Following a brainstorming session and discussions with peers, I landed on the phrase ‘#NothingToHide’ as the campaign slogan. The idea behind this title was to show that just because you have nothing to hide, doesn’t mean privacy is not important. It follows on from the argument that people often use against me, maintaining “I don’t do anything wrong, therefore I have nothing to hide.” The campaign was designed to combat this train of thought; to show that privacy is important even if you have nothing to hide, flipping the phrase on its head. The campaign began on the 12th February with a simple graphic on Facebook which was boosted for £10. This initial post reached 1,156 people and was engaged with 31 times. Following the launch, I considered ways to increase engagement through using videos, as well as posting regular updates on Facebook. I also looked at creating another animation similar to the ‘Who Are We’ video released in December. Whilst I was able to put together one animated video ‘The Investigatory Powers Act - Explained’, the other videos never substantialised due to issues with timetables.
Deciding to settle with the slogan ‘Nothing To Hide’ was risky as there was a high chance of misconceiving and confusing the audience. As with the name ‘Your Bubble’, I was unsure whether an audience would be able to understand or engage with a slogan that posits an argument against what the campaign stands for. If someone believes that they have nothing to hide, how does a campaign expressing ‘Nothing to Hide’ change their opinion? If a person only sees the slogan of the campaign, will they understand the ideas behind it? I questioned whether my intentions were clear enough - would people be able to connect with the campaign at all? I had explored emotion in advertising and wanted to hone in on this. With this in mind, I approached a number of friends and course mates and asked whether they believed the slogan to be clear, whether it portrayed the ideas that I intended and whether they connected with it? From conversations with these people, I found that the slogan was clever but only when things were properly explained; many found that an explanation had to be given for the phrase to make sense. Building on this, I created a new page on the YB website that outlined the notions behind the ‘Nothing To Hide’ campaign. I had attempted to reach out to University Professors within the marketing department for their thoughts and tips, but received no reply. I believe if I had had these peoples’ help, I could have developed the campaign and its title further and built a structured action plan. Looking at the campaign and it’s development so far, I believe I need to carry out further market research to see whether the wider public engage with its intentions and title. With this information, I can look to target key demographics and use the title to start conversation. Given what my peers said, it may be worth reconsidering the title of the campaign and trying a new approach. Saying this, however, I feel the title draws people in and makes them want to learn more. I will look to conduct market research in third term.
Creating content for the ‘Nothing to Hide’ campaign was far more onerous than I had originally thought. My plan to collaborate with university students and societies meant I had to work with conflicting timetables and deadlines, many of which prevented the completion of final products. While I had planned to shoot three videos by the end of the term, I was unable to follow through on any of these proposals. I was able to meet with a number of those involved (as the time-lapse below shows), but was unable to create anything of substance. I feel I may have been too ambitious with what I wanted to achieve and may have done better if I had focussed on delivering one successful project or if I had used myself as opposed to looking to other people for help. Using myself could have proved to be a detriment, however, as teamwork and collaboration are key to growing the movement. Indeed, at this stage it is word of mouth that will help build YB, and collaborations are important to the project (my interview and meeting with the staff at ORG showed me that this was the case). In term three, I will look to mobilise the people I initially reached out to and will ensure that these projects are completed and delivered upon. I will also consider scaling back my ambitions so I have material to show when the degree show rolls around. This may include expanding my ideas beyond videos and graphics and considering innovative and intriguing ways to deliver material the campaign. For example, I have discussed a collaboration with Sara Procter which involves hosting a chatroom/website on the dark web. This could provide some interesting insights into people’s awareness and thoughts on privacy issues on the internet - are these people using Tor to escape surveillance because they are breaking the law or because they want privacy? Do they feel safer using Tor? What’s more, I will look to host happenings in Alexandra Square and try to engage University students with projects that raise awareness. With these projects, I will ensure that an end product is deliverable and try not to be too ambitious with the final product.
The video below shows an early brainstorming session with two people I intended to use in the music video. The Soundcloud file shows the song we planned to sing over for the music video.
While I struggled to deliver the videos for the campaign this term, I was able to organise one event in collaboration with the Lancaster University Politics society, Amnesty International society and the Labour Club: ‘The Government is Watching You. Do you care?’ on March 7th. I originally reached out to the President of the Politics Society who agreed to help share the event, as well as book the lecture theatre. I attempted to reach out to all political groups (including the Conservative society and Lib Dem society) to ensure all views were represented but received no reply. I chased up members of the Conservative society in the days prior to the event to try to balance the panel but didn’t find any willing participants. This meant the panel held a pro-privacy bias which may have had a detrimental impact on the debate itself. Overall I think the event was a success, but this bias was evident throughout and is something I will look to improve on in the future at the next event. On the night, we faced a room booking altercation but were able to quickly fix this and change the location within the building. While this could have negatively affected the event, I had help from a variety of people who redirected audience members to the correct lecture theatre so this was not an issue.
Read my full analysis of the debate here: https://www.your-bubble.com/blog/the-government-is-watching-you-do-you-care-debate-analysis
Expand the community nationwide
Using the techniques outlined above, my main aim for term two was to build the YB audience - to increase likes on Facebook to 150 people; to engage high profile targets outlined in the YB strategy document; to grow the website membership and recipients of the monthly newsletter and to have a variety of successful paid advertisements that helped spread the brand name. I struggled getting responses from the high-profile targets that I reached out to. In many cases, I didn’t receive any responses. In one instance, I decided to tweet Eduardo Usturan - Head Privacy Lawyer at Hogan Lovells Lawyer firm in London - having sent him an emails two days before. While Eduardo didn’t respond to my email, he did respond the following morning to my tweet through my website. When I followed up, however, I never received a response despite repeated attempts to reach out. Similarly, I was in prolonged conversations with Liberty Human Rights Group, but was unable to capitalise on this connection due to conflicting timetables. I was successful in contacting ORG, however, and was able to interview the Executive Director Jim Killock and meet with their Supporters Officer Charlie Tunmore for support with YB (Read my analysis on this meeting here). In these conversations, I learned about the true scale of ORG’s work and set the foundations for a partnership with the organisation. As a result, my outlook for YB changed from being a nationwide movement to being a Lancaster-based movement. ORG already have a strong following up and down the country, so it is difficult to compete/lead this organisation. Working in a partnership, however, helps both YB and ORG expand and achieve key aims. I decided that I would have more success targeting a Lancaster audience and then expanding to another city in the future, as opposed to trying to create a nationwide audience. Again, I found that my scope from the previous term was too large and this became clear following the meeting with ORG. My aim now is to grow the movement in Lancaster alone. This includes creating and distributing content relevant to the city, like my report on Lancaster’s outdated CCTV system and targeting advertisements to this area. Since changing my perspective, the Facebook page has grown by 12 likes in the last 28 days, up 500% on the previous 28 days.
I believe that I did not utilise my social media accounts to the extent I should have done this term. While I was able to arrange events and meetings with high-profile targets as intended, I did not grow the audience to the intended 150 members. I feel this is mostly due to the lack of original or intriguing content on the page and is something I need to look to expand on in term three. What’s more, I feel I spent more time, effort and resources trying to reach out to high-profile targets, as opposed to building a home grown audience. Again, I will look to draw on this in term three and really focus in on the Lancaster area, creating engaging and interesting content for people to share and digest easily. This term was an important adjustment period for me to find the balance between administration work and creating content and I feel I got this balance wrong. In term three, I will look to learn from my mistakes and will try to better establish and maintain this balance. There were successes: I was able to send out 2 newsletters, the number of people receiving these newsletters increased by 4 people and the number of engagements on posts went up as the term progressed. I was also able to run some successful paid advertisements which helped boost posts and events. As stated, I will look to establish the foundations I have laid this term in term three and will seek to explore innovative ways to grow the YB audience while continuing to tie the movement within an ‘art’ bracket.
In the slideshow above, you can see some of the attempts I made at contacting High-Profile contacts. Of the people I reached out to, I received replies from Eduardo Ustaran (Head Privacy lawyer at Hogan Lovells); Martha Spurrier (Director of Liberty Human Rights Group); Pam Cowburne (Communications Director at ORG) and Tim Berners-Lee (Founder of the World Wide Web). Of these, only ORG and Liberty followed through with responses. I never heard from Privacy International, Big Brother Watch, TheLadBible and Jaclyn Wilkins amongst others. Below you can hear a follow up phone call with Privacy International - an organisation that never responded to my attempts, despite multiple efforts.
Upon reflection of this term, I believe I struggled to find the correct balance between administration work and creative work. I think I spent too much time reaching out to prospective endorsers and high profile targets as opposed to thinking about the content I would push out to the wider public. As a result, I do not think I have a strong body of work to complement my desires and aims for the term that I set out in January. Whilst I believe I can build on this next semester, I think I need to pay closer attention to artists in this area (like ¡MEDIENGRUPPE BITNIK) and look to find innovative ways to express the ideas that I care deeply about. Towards the later stages of the term, I found that I was getting more ideas as a result of looking at these artists. If I spend more time investigating artists working in this area next term, I think I can deliver on the objectives I set out in the strategy document. Currently, I do not think YB has provided the spark that I initially intended when I first drafted its conception.
Saying this, I was successful both with my meeting with ORG and my event on campus. Both of these experiences helped develop my understanding and thinking towards the movement and have shaped my direction with the project. I have found collaboration to be a key part to the progression of the movement and will seek to expand on this next term. While I did have trouble with timetables and conflicting deadlines, as noted in this blog, I will try to collaborate wherever possible in third term and seek to expand the YB audience in Lancaster.
In comparison with Term one, I feel this term was slightly disappointing. I did not capitalise on the progress I made in the first semester. Saying this, however, my failures have helped develop my thinking and prepared me for third term and the degree show in June. I understand what is too ambitious and have lowered my scope so I can start to look to make meaningful change.