WINCHESTER — Whether it’s shots panning the mountains of farmland or tight clips of a bustling downtown, the Northern Shenandoah Valley continues to utilize video to showcase local businesses and landmarks and tell stories of its history.
Winchester and Frederick County along with the Town of Front Royal are just two examples of municipalities using local videographers to capture local scenes through the lens of a video camera.
Justin Kerns, executive director of the Winchester-Frederick County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), said being able to highlight the rich history of the area is important.
“We really try hard to let the local population know and appreciate what’s in their own back yard. This plays to that local pride, because this is a very proud community,” he said. “These aren’t just cookie-cutter places. It also plays into our branding in being a unique destination because of the people that are here that make up the fabric of the Winchester-Frederick County area. It lifts the curtain a little bit and lets you see how cool the families are behind what’s here.”
Todd Jones, director of information technology with the Town of Front Royal, agreed, adding that utilizing video to showcase an area’s beauty and uniqueness is “next level.”
When COVID-19 hit the area, the Winchester-Frederick County CVB produce a video with local restaurants to thank customers for their support. A few weeks later, they produced a video to promote the area during National Tourism Week.
Now, the CVB is doing monthly minute-long vignettes with Two River Productions to showcase local businesses.
“Back in January or February, we’d conceptualized these vignettes to do on a monthly basis to showcase the cool stories we have here,” Kerns said. “It’s not just the unique restaurants and attractions and shops that we have, but it’s the people behind them that make them interesting, fascinating and unique.”
These vignettes aren’t COVID-related. Instead, they’re meant to have a long-term shelf life.
A subcommittee on the tourism board determined the structure of the schedule to include several industries in the area. The first two businesses were selected by the subcommittee. The rest will come through an application process where the subcommittee will mail out applications about a month in advance to the industry video that is coming up on the schedule. Then the subcommittee will decided on businesses to be shot based on applications.
The videos will primarily be released on social media and YouTube and will eventually be shelved on the CVB’s website. The businesses are free to utilize the videos, too.
Front Royal, which has been using video for town things since about 2013, posted a recent video showcasing the town and the surrounding area, using shots that Mirandum Pictures, a local video company, had shot previously for the town, Jones said. It’s part of the town’s Discover Front Royal #BackToNature #BackToBusiness initiative.
Jones, who has a background in broadcast, said he’s done many of the town’s videos, too, which go beyond promotion and dive into communicating changes around town such as electrical rates, trash updates and recycling information.
“On any platform, videos kind of set the standard. If you can’t communicate with someone face to face and you don’t have the ability to send out a mass text or a mass email, the best thing to do is send out a video for it,” he said. “At the same time, you can show a lot of information very quickly. Video is a great platform to communicate.”
What’s more, utilizing local videographers helps, too, both Jones and Kerns said.
“We wanted to keep this as local as possible,” Kerns said. “They knows the product and know the stories because they’re going into these places already.”
Jones said it helps having someone who’s “on the same page” when it comes to hitting the nail on the head with local content.
Though not necessarily a new way to communicate, both Jones and Kerns said communicating through video has been an effective way to reach more people as well as keep viewers’ attention.
“We really see video as something that’s absolutely necessary,” Jones added. “It’s not a bonus any more; it’s a necessity.”
On top of that, it’s fun, they said.
“This is one of the coolest things that I’ve been able to be a part of here,” Kerns said. “It lets us share with the greater community all of these cool relationships that we naturally have.”