We as higher ed web people have many choices when it comes to embedding videos on our sites. More and more, we’re turning to YouTube to host these videos for us.

For the most part, I’m fine with that. We don’t have to worry about bandwidth and storage, we get decent analytics and get the added bonus of YouTube users stumbling across our videos.

That being said, I’m seeing a trend lately that’s been bothering me – and it’s one that can potentially make our institutions look bad.

People – when you’re embedding a video from YouTube, for the love of crackers turn off “Show related videos.” It’s a simple checkbox. It looks like this:

Checking that box can save you quite a bit of embarrassment. Case in point:

Georgetown University is about to launch a major capital campaign. It’s an amazing video – it’s beautifully shot, beautifully edited and is just really compelling. Here it is:

I guarantee you that video was not cheap to produce. I was watching it on their campaign site, where it was embedded, and was really engrossed in it. I was good until it ended and the YouTube player showed me related videos that it thought was relevant to the launch of Georgetown’s capital campaign. Front and center: one showing off the fact that rapper Wiz Khalifa spends $10,000 a month on weed.

I’m serious. Here’s what it looked like:

I can pretty surely say that Georgetown doesn’t want to promote Wiz Khalifa’s drug habit. I’m sure it doesn’t fit in with their mission (the embalming process video that also shows up is a bit creepy too.) I’m sure they don’t want people to leave their campaign site and videos confused why they’re linking to drug videos.

For something that’s critical to a university, such as a campaign video, I would probably host the video on my own, or use JW Player to grab it from YouTube directly.

If you can’t do that, and have to use a YouTube embed, you really should turn off the related videos. Don’t play poker with your career.

Update: Looks like it was oversight and is on its way to being fixed.

I’ll be leading a webinar tomorrow for HigherEdExperts.com, talking about tips and tricks of good video production (often on a tight budget.)

Karine describes the series as:

“Professional Photos, Videos and Live Streams 101″ is a 3-webinar series that will help you learn (or train your campus content contributors on) how to take photos, shoot videos and live stream events like a pro. With tighter budgets and the increasing need for multimedia content, more and more communication, marketing, publication and web professionals are asked to take photos, shoot videos or live stream events without any formal training. This series is designed to offer winning strategies and practical tips to improve the quality of your photos, videos or live streaming events on a shoestring for teams who can’t rely on a professional photographer, videographer or live streaming expert.

I’m just one of three speakers this week, including a great tutorial on campus photography by Judson Copland, Director of Creative Services at Oklahoma Christian University and how to do live streaming by Seth Odell, Communications Associate at the UCLA School of Public Affairs and the host of Higher Ed Live.

If you work with video or photography, there will be a lot to learn. The HigherEdExperts webinars are well-run and the presenters are top-notch (well, Judson and Seth are, for sure.) The prices are affordable, and in addition to the live show, you get access to a recording and handout materials. It’s a good deal, especially if you aren’t able to travel to conferences in this tight budget environment.

We as web people at colleges are spending a ton of time lately thinking about creating web content specifically for YouTube. Whether it be class lectures, interviews with students or your President having some fun on campus, YouTube is compelling because it allows us to reach a ton of people worldwide, for free.

But, there’s a downside to some of this as well. With cell phone cameras, Flip cams and even the fact just about every laptop and netbook has a camera, there are a lot of opportunities for students and others to capture things happening at your institution, both positive and negative, some flattering for your institution and some not.

Take this video from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee for example. In it, a student gets into an argument with an instructor during class, It ends with the student being taken to the ground by security officers, handcuffed and led out of class. Of course, a student quickly got out their phone and started recording. Warning: definitely NSFW.

I’m guessing this is not the type of thing that officials at UW-M are not really excited to see get out there.

The same thing happened at my institution recently, when a group of students protested during halftime of a basketball game. It was posted to YouTube and Facebook group started within minutes of the event happening.

The take-away here is that we’re getting to the point that we should be assuming that everything is going to end up on YouTube, good and bad.

What can we as web and marketing folks do about this?

I think the days of doing nothing are quickly coming to an end. We’ve got to be proactive, and here are a few steps to get you going on monitoring what videos are being posted about you.

I’d recommend searching for your institution in YouTube and grabbing the RSS feed that YouTube provides and adding that to your Google Reader or RSS reader of choice so you’re updated when something new is posted. Second, I’d recommend having a set of steps laid out ahead of time outlining what your (and by you I mean your group/department/institution) response will be.

Perhaps one of those responses will be a video of your own, with one of your institution’s leaders – the fight fire with fire approach. This isn’t a higher ed example, but here’s such a response from Domino’s Pizza after a video of store employees doing nasty things went viral. This video is straight, and to the point. Mr. Doyle could use a bit more charisma, but it’s good just the same.

What do you think about videos like the UW-M one above or the response video?