Historic England, the overseas equivalent of our preservation organizations in the US, recently launched a “Keep it London” campaign to help shape the planning of its nation’s capital, urging that, “the city must evolve by building on its unique character and identity, rather than by turning into a generic city.” The campaign contains the usual list of recommendations, solicitation for contributions and letters, and offers of updates through email and social media. More interesting, however, is the “I am London” video that accompanies the campaign. Listen carefully and in four minutes, you never hear the words, “history,” “preservation,” “old,” “save,” or “historic.” Instead, the faces and voices of dozens of diverse people personify buildings, giving these mute places emotion and personality. Compare that to the approach used by the US National Trust for Historic Preservation in their video, “Lives Rooted in Places.”
Who’s the target audience for each video? Which video would resonate better with your members and donors? With your community and neighbors? Which one speaks better to outsiders than insiders? What emotions are involved? Do they tell viewers what to think or feel, or do they let them unfold in the viewer?