The concept of “digital storytelling” is everywhere these days. Literally, everywhere. You can’t attend an industry conference or read an industry blog without hearing about the importance of content and storytelling. So rather spending the next 10 minutes of your time reading about why content matters, instead I will provide insight into how Wyoming is capitalizing, and putting this theory to work.
Prior to 2015, the Wyoming Office of Tourism, like many others, took the approach of letting our iconic landscapes and activities speak for themselves in all of our brand and advertising work.
Pictures of the Tetons, Yellowstone, and Devils Tower were used predominantly in everything that we did, followed by brief copy that spoke to the things you could do while you were in our great state; and it was successful.
Segway to 2016, and the launch of the “That’sWY” campaign, and you can quickly see that the focus and strategy has changed dramatically. While our landscapes are iconic in nature, our friends to the north, south, east, and west all have similar products to compare.
It is our people, our culture, and our stories that make us stand apart. It is these stories that provide us an opportunity to connect with potential visitors through a much deeper personal connection. A connection that is formed through shared core values and interests.
A connection that is more likely to stand the test of time, and is measured at the end by true brand loyalists that will never forget the way they felt when they were introduced to Wyoming, or how they felt after they had a chance to experience it for themselves.
So, great. We’ve jumped in with both feet to a “content driven strategy.” But what does that actually mean? What stories do we tell? How do we prioritize? What content are visitors looking for? Will a national audience even care? How do we get these stories in front of the eyes of millions to ensure people are seeing them?
The honest answer: we’re figuring it out every day. What we have learned is that it requires thoughtful planning, and very early on. In fact, the production of content and video stories is the easy part. It’s the pre-planning and post-production work that requires the most attention.
Let’s break it down.
Pre-production: arguably the most important step. And really, the only step that is probably worthy of sharing insight on, the rest is standard practice.
1. What cool and unique stories do we have to tell? And who will be most inspired by this content?
Without a doubt, every destination has a million cool stories they could tell. So while reviewing, it’s important to begin to prioritize based on your audience, your market strategy, and goals. Are these stories intended to speak to our national audience? Are they more effective as an inspirational story for people who may not know us? Or as a tactile story for those who are already familiar with us? Do we have inspiration, and tactile content to serve the needs of visitors across the entire travel funnel?
Coming out of this first step, you should have a clear understanding for what type of story you’re telling, what the specific audience segment is, and what call to action you want to inspire them to take. Is a click to your website for more information? Is it encouraging them to share their own story? Is it a partner referral?
2. Are there parts of these stories that may be of interest to media?
Ideally, the answer is always yes. We’ll come back to this in a minute.
3. What is the distribution plan?
Before you even select a story to tell, you have to know (in detail) how you plan to share it. Will it simply be an article on a website? Will you use snippets for social media engagement? Will this become part of a print campaign? Digital campaign? Will portions become part of a broadcast campaign? Will there be a media/PR effort to support?
4. What assets do we need to fulfill the distribution plan?
Will this be a video? What style of footage are you hoping to capture? Will you need to gather additional b-roll to help build out the story beyond the location of the interview? Do you need still photography? Will you need shorter cut-down versions of either print or video content for use on social or other digital media channels? Do you need specific images, quotes, or story angles for media pitching?
5. What channels outside of our own can we use to distribute?
Are there opportunities to bring other partners or brands onboard to share or endorse this story? Ideally, the answer is always yes. What deliverables need to be negotiated ahead of time to fulfill partnership needs? How can you leverage others channels to elevate your message?
Though we all know the importance of using content and storytelling to inspire and drive traveler, it is certainly easier said than done. At the Wyoming Office of Tourism, we’ve found that understanding what kind of stories you want to tell and doing the long and tough work up front is key to a highly successful and visually stunning campaign.
As a Wyoming native, Kristin Phipps brings her personal passion and love for the Cowboy State to the work she does on a daily basis. As the Brand Integration Manager for WOT, Kristin leads agency wide integration of marketing efforts and manages the Agency of Record (AOR) including all advertising campaign activity and results.
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