by David Hewson
If you’ve been following my posts so far, you’ll know that I’ve beentravelling in Europe for drug policy reform-related reasons – click here to see Part 1, about my trip to Berlin at the end of May. (Coming soon – Part 3, about my trip to London, England for the SSDP UK conference and other events!)
This post is about the first part of my trip, in April, when I went to Scotland to interview some impressive people working in the Scottish national naloxone programme: Stephen Malloy, the programme’s lead trainer, and Kirsten Horsburgh, a nurse and local lead in the programme, who has been teaching people to administer naloxone in emergency situations.
How it all happened
Twitter. Amazing, the connections you can make.
At the 55th UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March, delegates passed a resolution supporting naloxone as a way to prevent drug-related deaths. Stephen, Kirsten and I all found ourselves tweeting about this, and I asked them if they’d be willing to do an interview about naloxone. They agreed, and when my travel plans ended up taking me to Scotland, we were able to do it all in person.
For more information on how things got started, check out my earlier blog post announcing the event.
Technologically, it’s not that difficult to do something like this. With an Internet connection, a laptop with a webcam and our own UStream channel – which only took 2 minutes or so to set up – we were able to set up a livestream for viewers around the world. We then simultaneously shot the interview with a handheld camera (thanks to Austin, one of Stephen’s colleagues at the Scottish Drugs Forum), and that’s the video we posted to YouTube. It’s not HD television, but when you’re doing something for the first time, it’s best to start small.
More important than the technical details was letting people know about the event, and making sure we had some good questions for our interviewees to answer.
Facebook turned out to be the key to both – not only did it allow me to recruit from our fans in Canada, but it also made it easy for Stephen and Kirsten to spread the word to their friends to the UK. I only created a Facebook event page several days before the interview, but within a few hours we had tons of confirmed guests and a bunch of great questions on the event wall for me to ask.If I did it all over again, I would have focused more on Facebook, and started using it earlier
We also established the#CSSDP hash tag on Twitter for people to interact with each other, and live-tweet any thoughts or questions they had while watching the interview livestream. We decided to use the general hash tag of #CSSDP instead of something more specific, eg. #NaloxoneInterview2012, because:
1. It directs people to our organization (eg. people see the #CSSDP hash tag, Google “CSSDP” and find our website).
2. We can reuse a general hash tag in the future and take advantage of any press we have already built with it.
In theory, both of these facts will help us build our online profile. This theory was partly validated for me when several British NGOs started spreading the word that #CSSDP was a new health-related hash tag to watch on Twitter.
The day of the interview
On the big day, I had planned to meet Stephen at the Scottish Drugs Forum (SDF), where he works. Within minutes of arriving, I already had a picture of myself with a naloxone injection kit:
The SDF offices somehow gave me the impression of a Silicon Valley start-up: bare furnishings and boxes stacked all over the place, but a sort of general hum and excitement, and that wonderful feeling of important things getting done.
I got into a discussion with Graham Mackintosh about SDF’s new Hepatitis Scotland program. Our conversation was cut short by a ringing telephone – busy busy – but what I did learn was enough to get me thinking about some collaboration opportunities with him in the future. (Canadians working in hepatitis – got any ideas??!)
From Glasgow, we took the train to Edinburgh to meet Kirsten and figure out some last-minute details, and the rest you can see for yourself on YouTube.
In my humble opinion, the interview went smashingly. Apart from being charming guests, Stephen and Kirsten enjoyed the opportunity to talk about their work and spread the word about naloxone, and our audience enjoyed learning about a powerful form of harm reduction that is already saving lives.
Personally, I really enjoyed the experience, and already have some ideas for some further interviews we could do down the road, if that’s something our supporters are interested in. So let me know what you think (comment below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org), and we’ll take it from there.