If you’re on a deserted island and toss a bottle with a message (or your film) into the ocean, it will eventually land somewhere. But will the people who find your message be able to read it, understand it, or even care? Today’s complex media world is a vast ocean of possibilities and can be challenging to navigate. There are many ways to reach an audience at every stage of the process, from development through distribution. For example, many teams are using crowdfunding, interactive polling, focus groups, and work-in-progress screenings as means of impact outreach during production.
“The filmmaking journey itself is the impact.”
–Pooja Gupta, Multimedia Artist
Defining your outreach goals and developing strategies are integral to building a campaign. Clearly articulating an impact vision, however, can be challenging. The Active Voice Lab’s “How Do We Know We Are Making a Difference?” elaborates on a horticultural metaphor with a taxonomy of impact goals to help teams articulate their visions, “…from bringing together diverse stakeholders (Rakes), to heightening the vibrancy of social movements (Trellises), to advocating for specific policy or system change (Trowels), and more.” They encourage the impact media community to build on this metaphor, in recognition that the tools for understanding and assessing long-term impact are constantly evolving.
One of the most significant changes in recent years is the opportunity to micro-target audiences through social media and streaming. The impact campaign for Chasing Ice (2017), directed by Jeff Orlowski, is a model for clearly defined, targeted outcome goals. Its visionary change had two key objectives: to influence the public debate using the persuasive influence of family and friends through social media; and to target a national shaming campaign aimed at climate denier Rep. Pat Tiberi (Republican, Ohio). Both tactics proved successful and underscored the efficacy of organized social media campaigns.