I’m off to a new chapter in life. After 7+ years of working with the state of Georgia, my family and I have moved to Seattle. Julia (my wife) took a job offer with HBO that, as the saying goes, we could not refuse. That places me in the hardly ever enviable category of what HR types call the “trailing spouse.” Fear not, lad, I say, this is not the first time, and you will figure it out.
Thanks to the team for a great send off, and for this funny poster with images including the Governor – Attorney General – publisher of Fortune magazine – Porsche test track – Chinese delegation – and a video shoot for a German Investment video where I convinced a CEO to shoot a mountain biking scene with me. I especially like the “We Speak Buh-bye.” 😉
In my tenure working for Georgia, USA, I’ve collaborated with executives from many global brands to elevate the business environment here. One of the greatest joys of my job has been the opportunity to peel back the layers and look inside the inner workings of companies and their leaders. But when I learned of Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods in Blue Ridge, Georgia, it especially caught my attention.
My youth was filled with fishing expeditions. Growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, my father took me out in the boat seemingly every weekend. We were also fortunate enough to share a mountain house, and a former fly fishing camp, in Cashiers, North Carolina with 9 other families from Charleston. It was here that my father taught me how to use a fly rod. When A River Runs Through It came out I thought the brothers in the movie held an uncanny resemblance to me and my brother (I’m the nicer one). But that movie, and Robert Redford’s voice, absolutely encapsulated the deep and intricate love one can have for rivers.
Speaking of famous people, rumor had it that President Jimmy Carter had one of Oyster’s fly rods. So I made my way up from Atlanta to the Georgia mountains to learn more.
Meeting Bill Oyster
Bill Oyster is the consummate entrepreneur. When he was 15 his father drove him to the local airport, so that he could then fly off in a plane with his pilot’s license in hand. He joined the Navy when he was old enough, but he ultimately decided that wasn’t his future. Bill jumped in to professional cycling instead where he dominated the sport until he was injured. Meanwhile, he majored in Art at the University of Georgia and fished whenever he could. He tried his hand at real estate, but there was a call for something different. His wife, Shannen, suggested that he make fly rods. Bill got his hands on some relatively underground books on the craft of making fly rods, and he taught himself the trade. Easier said than done, but of course now he is an expert at it. He also happens to be a master engraver.
Bill sources bamboo from a small region of China that is renowned for producing the perfect tensile strength. He fires the bamboo with a blow torch, cuts it down to strips, and then planes it out to an exact triangle. These pieces are glued, compressed, cured and eventually fortified with resin. The eyes and handle are then attached in addition to any custom engraving. These rods are beautiful works of art and highly functional as well. Bill’s customers range from plumbers to presidents to members of the royal family. But he has taken this manufacturing business above and beyond.
Bill Oyster of Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods in his workshop in Blue Ridge, Georgia.
Bill Oyster of Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods in his workshop in Blue Ridge, Georgia.
Bill Oyster of Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods in his workshop in Blue Ridge, Georgia.
Giving it Away
Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods not only makes a product you can buy, it also teaches you how to make it. This is unusual for a company to do something like this, but instead of cannibalizing business, it has made it blossom. Bill and Shannen hold classes every month, and attendees can work alongside them – and their expert staff – to make their own fly rod. And because their shop is a stones throw away from some world-class trout streams, you’ll have every chance to whip some water. People come from all over the world to attend, so if you are interested in doing this yourself then sign up now because there is a healthy waiting list. You may also want to join them on one of their various fishing adventures around the world.
Bill and Shannen’s business is so unique, and has done so well, that they were recently recognized as a Small Business Rock Star. I had the opportunity to return to Blue Ridge to produce this video celebrating their win. Of course Bill is a natural on camera as well.
I was recently tasked with creating a new video for the Global Commerce team here in Georgia, USA. This is not a simple task given the diversity of industry sectors the Global Commerce division targets for recruitment and relocation. From Aerospace to FinTech to Food Processing, each industry has its own requirements for success – with one exception. They all require talent to innovate and grow. Coupled with the tried and true approach of, don’t listen to us, listen to the companies that are here, and now you have a strategic approach to keep the narrative succinct and applicable to all.
This video project took me to a myriad locations across the state of Georgia:
Stogner Hill at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport at dawn to shoot footage of planes taking off and landing.
UPS’s new SMART Hub, which is 1.2M square feet, or the size of 20 football fields. And I love the fact that every morning UPS drivers do calisthenics together before departing on their rounds.
In the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains with Bill Oyster, owner of Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods.
In the brand new Telluride on a 2-mile test track at Kia Motors Manufacturing in West Point, Georgia.
In addition, the port of Savannah – headquarters for Gulfstream – King’s Hawaiian’s food processing facility in Hall County – the data center for InComm – the new Cyber Center in Augusta – Sany in Peachtree city, which is the same location “Avengers: End Game” used for their headquarters – and the list goes on.
I also spun out three separate videos from the larger finished piece:
Update (May 21, 2019): I am pleased to learn this project has been awarded a Gold Telly Award.
At the end of the fiscal year I was approached by our deputy commissioner of film about producing a new film industry video – this was something I helped her produce a few years ago. The original piece was designed to illustrate the diversity of jobs and people the film industry employs, as well as the economic impact that radiates out, in some cases, from unexpected sources. Folks who are not deeply embedded in the industry do not always think about the carpenters, electricians, and people who supply contact lenses for zombies, so we wanted you to hear from them.
I thought about her request for a minute, but I ultimately suggested we do something different. The older video was still relevant and useful, so why not go an extra step and leverage the creative talent we have here in Georgia through a more thematic, possibly animated piece, that is whimsical and fun? And instead of locking up all our hard work in to one video file, let’s expand it out into a complementary web experience. She agreed!
You’ve probably seen the peach logo at the end of your favorite movies and T.V. shows, but another way film production companies can qualify for tax credits is by producing a film about filming in Georgia. Historically, we have not showcased these productions on Georgia.org, so I wanted to bring these in to the web experience to further leverage credible comments from famous producers and actors.
So here we began. We first looked around for some qualified animation companies in Georgia, of which there are many. But ultimately we landed on Floyd Country Productions who produces the popular hit show, Archer. There is always that bit about budget and deliverables that needs to get worked out, but suffice to say they were awesome to work with. The bonus came when Amber Nash agreed to do the voice of the character based on herself. We cranked on the script and got it to be about as non-governmenty as we could, while also delivering the salient stats and facts. Meanwhile, styling and character development were underway along with plans for the web experience.
I approached the web experience with the same outline of the script. The scrolling parallax design is divided in to sections that emphasize tax credits, jobs, workforce development, studio development and tourism with the final call-to-action sending the user to main film page with additional resources. The copy and associated video is designed to bolster that section with personality and proof of perspective from actual producers and actors.
We launched the whole thing on Film Day at the Georgia State Capitol. An audience of film industry people were gathered, and the Film Works video was warmly received. I even heard a “bravo!”
The same day we launched a digital marketing campaign on Facebook and LinkedIn, and the MPAA even picked it up and distributed it through their network.
It was great to finally see the end result grow wings and fly. You can check out the whole experience at Georgia.org/FilmWorks.
Now what to do when the deputy commissioner of film approaches me to do something new again?
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jay Neely of Gulfstream Aerospace to discuss their operations in Georgia. The following video is a result of that conversation.
Gulfstream is a native Georgia company whose headquarters have been located in Savannah since 1967. Today, more than 12,000 Georgians design, develop, manufacture, market, service and support the world’s most technologically advanced business-jet aircraft.
Aerospace products are Georgia’s No. 1 export ($8.3B) and the state’s second largest manufacturing industry generating a $64B economic impact.
Timelines are not new. But how you use them can always be improved.
In the world of multi-channel marketing, no single mode of communication is 100% effective. That stands as true today as it did when I first started saying it over 10 years ago. Some want a video. Others, well, a case study. Got to have a brochure. Is that page optimized for SEO? Somebody get out a press release. You get the drift. I started to think about all of these supportive, yet disparate, pieces of content, and how they could be more aligned.
Then there is the matter of time. How evergreen is one piece of content or collateral?
In the world of economic development, a project may not be deemed successful for a year, maybe 3, or even more. Companies can create meaningful impacts in jobs and investment over decades. And many times it is not just because of one factor but because they were supported by multiple entities. Maybe they used an existing industry team for an expansion. Maybe they used an international trade team to grow their exports. Maybe they used an innovation lab to incubate a new product or solution. Maybe the company used workforce training to generate the type of talent they need. Maybe it was all of these?
After a few seconds the timeline is designed to move. This is a great feature in terms of generating interest, moving users across time, but also for tradeshows where it wil move and feature different content items.
Of course it is built to be responsive to desktop, mobile and tablets, with each having slightly different layouts and functionality.
There are multiple ways to navigate the timeline either by filters, interactive dots, arrows, as well as secondary arrows below.
The larger pulsating dots indicate that this particular moment in time is more significant in terms of, for example, growth over time, or just more of a comprehensive story. But you can do simpler stories as well.
After build-out of the timeline began, I started to run in to situations where a significant item happened, but then another significant item that was directly related happened later. How do you leverage something in the past to point to the future? The Timeline also includes a field to indicate the update.
Each story has its own unique url so that it can be promoteed individually via social media, paid media or earned media.
There is complete control over the timeline through a Drupal 8 content management system so non-technical staff can add, remove and edit stories.
Could have gone back to any time in the past but chose a round number of 2010. The reason for this was to be able to populate the timeline with enough stories for a successful launch. All of these stories are written in-house, so I needed a timeframe that was manageable. That’s not to say we won’t look back further as we grow it.
And that is the last point I’d like to make. The timeline is completely scalable, and a great asset that can continue to evolve.
My latest video production is complete. It was quite a journey, but one that I thoroughly enjoyed. It is always fascinating to peer behind the curtain and see how global brands operate. But the best part is figuring out how best to tell their stories, and do it in a manner where the personality and the “real factor” shines through. This video is designed to be a handshake reaching across the globe to Japanese executives who are thinking about doing business in the United States. Even now, Georgia is home to more than 500 Japanese facilities employing over 30,000 Georgians.
Footage was captured at the JapanFest in Atlanta, the Cherry Blossom Festival in Macon, and company locations in Norcross, Peachtree City and Monroe. But the crux scene is at the restaurant. I was able to get each of the companies to Nakato, the oldest Japanese restaurant in Georgia, for a tatami-style dinner. Even the owners of Nakato, along with their daughter, joined us for a very special evening.
The culture and tradition of Japanese people is one of humility and respect, and it was an honor to work with all of the individuals it took to make this project a reality.
If you saw my Connect post in March then you know I recently launched a new internet of things video that focuses on cybersecurity, fintech, health IT, and telecommunications. In addition, I recently interviewed Facebook’s Global Data Center Site Selection Director on why they chose their most recent location for a new data center.
Whatever you think of Mark Zuckerberg’s recent testimony to the Congress and Senate (insert Orrin Hatch meme here), it is pretty cool to see a company investing so heavily in renewable energy. Not only that, Facebook is evolving local utilities’ practices of energy creation with their economic weight.
My goal is always to practice what I call “real marketing.” In other words, leveraging the perspectives of your end customers or stakeholders to tell future prospects why their lives will be better using you, your products and/or solutions. Therefore, I have invested considerable dollars and time in to pursuing thought leadership in videos, case studies, articles, whitepapers, profiles, etc.
Most of the videos I produce are from the perspective of real executives speaking to the facts. But in the case of this most recent video, which highlights the strengths of Georgia’s cybersecurity, fintech, health IT and general information technology sectors, I needed to take a more commercial approach. Why? Well, part of the reason is due to how fast technology companies change. The other is because cyber and fintech companies are reluctant to share too much information. I wanted this video to be as evergreen as possible.
So instead I leveraged my 15+ years of experience in software development and interactive marketing to convey these strengths with real statistics, a tight script, and some visually stunning graphics. Much of the imagery runs contrary to one another in the natural world, and yet, they metaphorically relate in this context. The bonus is that it works really well on a really big flat screen at tradeshows even with no sound.
This is the 3rd in a series of foreign investment videos I have produced for the state of Georgia. I would have preferred to conduct actual interviews in Korean with the executives, but I was not able to get any of them to do so. Obviously a cultural nuance. They only want to be perceived as working, and speaking on behalf of the company is very uncomfortable. Therefore, I went the script route with a professional narrator.
As always, I thoroughly enjoy getting inside these companies and see how they function. My other favorites were shooting at a very popular Korean BBQ restaurant in Atlanta called, Breakers. In addition, we had a Saturday shoot at the Korean International School where over 400 students practice their Korean almost every week. The same day we visited the Korean Fest where we captured wrestling, dancing, drumming, and my favorite – I was able to get a calligrapher on camera drawing out, “Welcome to Georgia” in Korean.