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State Posts Clips About Preparedness On YouTube

VDEM hopes to catch the attention of younger residents with YouTube clips on emergency preparedness, including one featuring Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, above.
VDEM hopes to catch the attention of younger residents with YouTube clips on emergency preparedness, including one featuring Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, above. (Courtesy Of Department Of Emergency Management)
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By Bill Brubaker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 6, 2008

Hoping to grab an audience it might otherwise miss, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management has begun offering clips on YouTube, a Web site known for videos such as "Star Wars According to a 3 Year Old," "Snow Day in Fairfax Virginia Schools" and "1-900-NERD-GIRL."

"Just about everybody looks at YouTube nowadays," said Bob Spieldenner, VDEM's public affairs director. "But our big thing is to try to reach the young generation with our messages. We want the kids who are going out there on the Internet to see what we're doing."

YouTube.com is the three-year-old Web phenomenon that allows people to watch and share videos -- some serious, some sassy, some downright silly. VDEM's YouTube channel leans toward the serious side, focusing on the agency's bread-and-butter issue: emergency preparedness.

"I'm Governor Tim Kaine," one clip begins. "Unexpected disasters can happen at any time with little or no warning. So act now to get ready, Virginia."

Kaine (D) is seated in what appears to be an elegant room, with blue walls and an ornately framed painting.

"Three simple low-cost steps will go a long way toward making sure your family is prepared for any emergency," he continues. "Get an emergency kit, make a plan and stay informed. Three ways to make a difference in your family's life."

The YouTube initiative arose out of a partnership the state forged with the site's owner, Google, in the spring. Google said it added tens of thousands of URLs from Virginia government sites to its search engine, making them easier to find.

VDEM's challenge is to make its YouTube clips appealing to younger residents, in the hope that they will take emergency preparedness more seriously and urge their parents to do the same, said Spieldenner, who unveiled the channel in a Feb. 27 newsletter.

VDEM's clips are heavy on "Governor Knows Best," delivering straight-to-the-point messages from Kaine.

Other videos attempt a little humor.

One, titled "Ready Virginia: Emergency Food Supply," depicts a husband and wife at home, with their two young sons, discussing the family's level of preparedness.

Wife: "We're in an emergency situation. We don't have extra. We have a little bit of water and a little bit of food." (She appears to be speaking hypothetically, because she was smiling at the beginning.)


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