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 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.
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.
I recently returned to Nicaragua to welcome 2018 and take advantage of the world-class waves, constant offshore winds, and diverse landscape and culture. Again, I was not disappointed. I would keep my mouth shut it if it were not for the fact that Nicaragua is now regularly featured on travel sites like the New York Times. Gringos are not the only ones carving it in to the next Costa Rica. Nicaraguan investors know what kind of assets they have at their disposal.
Nicaragua has in fact been exploited since the Spanish arrived in 1522. The usual pillaging and plundering, along with the circulation of small pox, did a number on the Chorotega. Nevertheless, the contributions of the Spanish are still appreciated today. Granada is a charming colonial city reflecting the Spanish-Moorish architecture of the time. They also constructed the San Pablo Fort to protect Granada from pirates in 1789, and it can still be visited via boat.
Later on in the 1800s a dubious character from Nashville, Tennessee by the name of William Walker did significant damage on his filibustering campaigns in Central America. Not only did he burn Granada to the ground, but he also poisoned the wells with dead bodies that spread Cholera and killed some 10,000 Nicaraguans and Costa Ricans. Walker eventually paid for his actions when he found himself in front of a firing squad in Honduras.
Fortunately, Granada has time and again picked itself up and rebuilt. Before the Panama canal was constructed this was the shortest distance from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Cornelius Vanderbilt would steam up the San Juan River in to Lago de Nicaragua, and then make the short transport over to San Juan del Sur area on the coast of the Pacific. This route pumped money in to Granada and helped it to recover.
A few things you must do in Granada:
Visit the San Francisco Convent to see the statuaries that have been excavated from Zapatera and Ometepe. A couple of these guys are in the Smithsonian, but you can see 30 of them all together in the same room. Each one represents the leader of the time, so they all have their own personalities. This is a highly informative account of their origins.
Check out Mi Museo where there are many artifacts from Pre-Columbian times. It also helped me to understand where the Chorotega came from and when.
Take a boat tour out to Las Isletas. These islands are a result of a massive explosion from Mombacho. Lots of wildlife, and you get to see the San Pablo Fort.
Visit Volcan Masaya at night to see lava pouring from the crater. You definitely want to get there early to avoid waiting in line, but it is worth it.
Tour the coffee plantation on Mombacho and then hike out to the stunning views of Granada and Lago de Nicaragua.
If you still have time then head over to Pueblo Blancos to see local artisans at work. You will save yourself some money, for the shops around Granada certainly mark their prices up.
There are a couple of reasons why Nicaragua is safer than say El Salvador, Colombia, or Honduras. After the Nicaraguan Revolution, the country created a democratic police state in that each community would have at least one dedicated police officer that everyone knew. A bad apple arises, and they deal with the issue quickly. Second, drugs from Colombia and elsewhere go up the Caribbean side, so there are no cartels in the Pacific region.
Still, I wouldn’t drive at night. But during the day I generally went wherever I wanted. In the dry season you can get a way with a 2-wheel drive vehicle. But if the price is not much different then go with 4-wheel. I did end up using it along the coast to drive a section of road that terminated on beach front. It also gave me more confidence on dirt roads with potholes and stream crossings. In short, you are not limited and instead prepared for anything.
I’d tell you more about the surf breaks, but I just can’t do it. You’ll find it somewhere else. 😉
But I will tell you that I look forward to returning soon.
This is a project I worked on in conjunction with Dad’s Garage to bring a little fun and light to the competitive nature of economic development. The whole nation is competing for 50,000 jobs and the economic injection that come with Amazon’s second headquarters.
On the surface it would seem to be a relatively fun project to work on, and it was, but it was also fraught with ways to go terribly wrong. Any time you are taking jabs at your own city and state with good old sarcasm, it has the potential to go either way.
Certainly tested it on a variety of demographics and ethnicities before releasing. Fortunately, it was well-received.
The key was the redemption at the end that came from the dream sequence, and a little inspiration from Quentin Tarantino.
The launch was set to coincide with Christmas Eve, the same timeframe the original Scrooge goes through his transformation, and was coupled with a targeted Facebook spend both in the Seattle, Washington area as well as Metro Atlanta.
I am pleased to share that I won three Gold Excellence in Economic Development Awards for a China Investment and Trade Campaign, a project in the category of Video, New Media and Specialty Website of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).
The honors were presented at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 19, during the IEDC Annual Conference, which was held Sept. 17 – 20, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
“On behalf of the IEDC board of directors and Excellence in Economic Development Awards Advisory Committee, congratulations…participation in the awards program sheds light on…stellar projects which other communities can now use as a benchmark.” – Michael Langley, FM, CEO of GREATER MSP, Minneapolis–St. Paul, MN, and 2017 IEDC Board Chair
The 3 IEDC Gold Awards for video, new media and specialty website are a result of a multichannel marketing strategy deployed in-country in China using cutting-edge technology and creative strategies to generate new leads and increase website traffic.
“The awards process is a thorough, non-biased and multi-layered process. These are extraordinary accomplishments for all winners, and an overall great effort by all participants. We look forward to next year’s awards competition,” Langley said.
About the International Economic Development Council
The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 5,000 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities, by creating, retaining and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth and provide a stable tax base. From public to private, rural to urban, and local to international, IEDC’s members are engaged in the full range of economic development experience. Given the breadth of economic development work, our members are employed in a wide variety of settings including local, state, provincial and federal governments, public-private partnerships, chambers of commerce, universities and a variety of other institutions. Among many activities which benefit the economy, IEDC’s members create high-quality jobs and develop vibrant communities. www.iedcONLINE.org.
Georgia’s relationship with China is very important. We operate two offices in China – one is in Shanghai and the other is in Qingdao. Georgia exports to China have grown by 59% since 2007, exceeding $2.5 billion in 2016. The Sentury Tire announcement in Troup County, Georgia in September 2016, which represented 1,000 jobs and $530M in investment, is just one example of the 50+ Chinese companies operating in the state today.
These factors and many others were the catalyst for pursuing a new international investment video for China that would be used in digital marketing both nationally and internationally, in prospect meetings here in Georgia and abroad, as well as on international missions to China with the Governor’s office and various delegations.
It was extremely important that this new China video be credible, informative, different than your typical marketing video, and in their native language.
The video would then be further bolstered by a multi-channel approach using digital marketing.
The goal of this project was to create a Chinese investment video that would represent the business and lifestyle environment of Georgia, as well as showcase the Chinese companies that have already chosen Georgia as a place in which to do business.
The completed video would ultimately give senior-level decision makers from China a good understanding of what it would be like to live and work in the state. Through their experience with the video, they would ideally put Georgia on their short list of places to consider locating or expanding their company.
The video would also need to work well in 15 and 30 second commercials to be shown in China through targeted placements in both paid and earned media channels as well as hosted on Georgia, USA’s branded video, social and web properties both nationally and internationally.
The video would be further bolstered by supporting website and social media strategies and channels both nationally and internationally.
The video has been extremely well-received and has served as one of the primary vehicles for our Chinese web presence on Georgia.org (http://www.georgia.org/international-business-china) as well as our new in-country Chinese website WeSpeakBusiness.cn. In addition, it is prominently featured on our new WeChat site, YOUKU account and Tencent.
Furthermore, we have seen a 200% increase in traffic from China to Georgia.org since the video was launched. And since its launch in late March 2016, WeSpeakBusiness.cn has so far received 20,000 Unique Visitors.
Note: We use IP recognition to serve dedicated Chinese widgets and web pages on Georgia.org to visitors from China. In addition, the Chinese flag with a link to this section of the website is prominently displayed in the header of the Georgia.org. You can see some of that experience here – http://www.georgia.org/international-business-china
Taking the time and money to capture the life of an international person living and working abroad is incredibly effective in developing an emotional connection with the viewer. One only needs to watch the video to see this is indeed the case. But it takes a lot of careful negotiation and time to develop the trust and ultimately convince a very busy and private executive to invest the time it takes to create this kind of video. Before a video camera is ever turned on we have done quite a few things:
– An extensive amount of research on the company’s brand, operations, employees, and competitors.
– Met with company executives and stakeholders.
– Thought very carefully about the target audience and any cultural nuances.
– What kind of supporting locations and footage would bolster the story?
– How much can we realistically cover with the budget available?
– How much crew do we need?
– What filming permits do we need?
– What will be the timing for each shoot and where?
Once the video shoots have taken place there is a considerable amount of time spent selecting the right scenes and quotes, conducting the translations, developing the script and choosing music.
Video marketing is not new. But how these stories were approached and crafted is not only creative but very effective in bridging the gap between two very different cultures.
We have pursued some very innovative measures to publish the videos in China by getting beyond the great firewall of China and hosting our own native website, establishing a WeChat account to bolster the conversation in China, and investing in key influence leaders like Cheung Kong Business Review to further carry our message and results.
Both 15 and 30 second commercials were cut from the full length video to satisfy different audience behaviors and publishing channels.
By using IP recognition on Georgia.org we are able to serve dedicated widgets and landing pages to Chinese visitors that prominently feature our new video as well as our WeChat account.
We have also setup dynamic synching across both our American and China sites to ensure the translations and data are always up-to-date in real time.