Tag Archives: economic development

Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods

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 brother and I follow our father upstream in the Chattooga river watershed.
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 in his element on a stream near Blue Ridge, Georgia.

The Process
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.

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.

Rock Star
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.

We Speak Business

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:

It was a big project and a great experience, and I am thankful to the companies and individuals who opened their doors and took their time to help me tell a great story.

“Alexa, Does Scrooge Love Atlanta?”

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.

Happy Holidays!

Southern Charm

My most recent video production is the culmination of many other supporting video projects that have taken me across the state of Georgia, and behind-the-scenes of some incredible companies, over the past 5 years. In essence, I took a limited budget and made it in to a $250k production.

But I could not have done it without the great guys that make up the band, The Quiet Hounds. Their talent and genuine personalities carry the diverse scenes that are tightly edited to inform the next scene, and the next scene, and so on. I feel lucky to have been able to ink a sync agreement with them for this perfect song. I followed them to Athens, Georgia to record the live performance at the Georgia Theatre, and we spent a long night together at a recording studio in Midtown Atlanta. It has been a pleasure getting to know them.

How do you encapsulate an entire state in one video and do it well? That was indeed part of the challenge. I knew it could not be everything to everyone. Sure, there were sacrifices and difficult decisions along the way. But positive emotion is the great equalizer.

The video is now featured on Georgia.org and its affiliated social media properties – at all the Visitor Information Centers across the state – and baggage claim in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

I hope this experience provides you with a taste of the authenticity, beauty, diversity and “southern charm” that I have come to find in Georgia . I feel it. The band feels it. Georgians feel it. I hope you do as well.

Do me a favor. Pop the video full screen and turn up your speakers.

A special thanks to the Quiet Hounds for lending their creativity, time and music to this piece.

“Southern Charm” Lyrics

All the gardenia on the sideway dropping like they want you.
I’m a believer on the highway when they’re playing our tune
driving up slowly though the gravel nothing stopping Sunday
Summer love songing in my longing we can do this our way

Hot city you are mine

Storms on your shoulder and I call it Paradise
Everyone knows this thunder only means bright lights for us

Hot city you are mine
So pretty on my arm

Hot city you are mine
So pretty on my arm
Tell me that you’ll make this rainstorm ours
make it ours
dancing through the black night
Hot city you are mine
Oh say that you are mine
This is where my southern charm will lye

This city home, this home is you, you are my summer love song
how do you do it, how do you make it hum
My heart is warm, my blood is red, this sweat is all I have to make it up to you, make it up to you, love.

Get the Song

Southern Charm

Behind-the-Scenes

Gold Excellence in Economic Development


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.

Award Submission

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.

Primary Goals

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.

Impact

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.

Marketplace used parts of the video in a piece that aired on NPR for 3 consecutive days, and is also available online at https://www.marketplace.org/2017/02/21/world/georgia-sees-good-relationship-china-one-key-its-economic-future

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

Lessons Learned

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.

Takeaways

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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.

ROI with a twist

Delta_Sky_sm

For an upcoming Delta Sky issue I wanted to take a different approach to your typical B-to-B ad. For most metro Atlanta professionals there is more to Georgia than just ATL. On the weekends we are hitting the mountains, beaches, golf courses and soaking up that sweet southern charm and historical landmarks that no other state can replicate.

When a certain senior executive has a seat and pulls the Delta Sky from the front pocket for a flip, I hope this ad catches their attention for a moment or two and gives them pause. Should I relocate or expand to the state of Georgia? Quite clearly the answer is yes.