What we learned from filming vox pops for a national charity

We’ve been working with one of our charity PR clients, national advocacy charity POhWER on their ‘My Dignity, My Rights’ campaign around the Government’s proposed changes to the Human Rights Act.

Government ministers signalled plans to axe the important legislation in May’s Queen’s Speech. And many charities, including POhWER, are concerned that it will impact people in the UK far more than is appreciated or understood.

So much so that more than 60 advocacy, information and advice charities have signed POhWER’s open letter calling for the changes to be reversed. 

We headed out onto the streets of Manchester and London with POhWER’s Chief Executive Helen Moulinos, to find out if people had heard about the planned changes to the Human Rights Act (mostly – no), and if they thought human rights were important (mostly – yes).

What is a vox pop?

Vox pops involve stopping people on the street and asking them what they think about a current topical issue. 

Of course, they’re not scientific. Many pollsters would rather they weren’t used altogether for that reason. But, they can give a sense of how people are thinking or feeling about a particular issue. 

And vox pops can liven up a news broadcast no end (you may remember Brenda from Bristol’s despair at the news PM Theresa May had called another election).

Here’s a few of our vox pop do’s and don’ts

Vox pop do’s

  • Explain what you’re doing and how the vox pop will be used. POhWER’s Chief Executive went out of her way to explain what the campaign was all about and how the footage would be used. This made people feel comfortable and knew the wider context. 
  • Prepare to be surprised. You don’t know what people are going to say, think or feel – that’s the whole point of asking! 
  • Check the weather before you arrange your voxpop filming day. Believe us, no one wants to be stopped and asked what they think about a topical news issue when it is pouring with rain (or if it’s a Friday afternoon and they’re on the way to the pub).
  • Accept that some people are much better than others at convincing people they want to be interviewed. Being apologetic doesn’t cut it. You need to make it sound like FUN! This is going to be GREAT! 
  • Remember any consent or permission slips
  • Say thank you. They stopped when they didn’t have to after all!

Vox pop don’ts

  • Self-select the people you ask for a vox pop based on their appearance. You never know who’s going to give you that great soundbite and from our experience it is often the person you least expect
  • Be disheartened that some people avoid you like the plague (top tip do not carry a clipboard if you want people to come anywhere near you).
  • Expect people to agree with your views on an issue – why should they? 

You can see the vox pops we filmed on POhWER’s website here.

To find out more about their Human Rights Act campaign ‘My Dignity, My Rights’ visit the POhWER website

Unlike many PR agencies we offer video production services. To speak to us about your filming needs contact us at hello@highrisecommunications.co.uk.