By: Grant Merritt, The News Reporter
Columbus County was ahead of the curve. Prior to the global pandemic, the Columbus Chamber of Commerce and Tourism was already producing a video touting the area’s outdoor attractions, which have become particularly appealing to visitors looking for plenty of space for social distancing.
“I like to call it ‘Paradise Outdoors,’ which is Columbus County,” said Chamber President Jennifer Holcomb. “We’re just going to do as much as we can to tell people about Columbus County.”
The one minute and 40 second video, part of the “It’s In Our Nature” campaign, was produced by Inspire Creative Studios in Wilmington. Jonathan Medford of Whiteville is one of the company’s founders and owners. Holcomb said she was happy to have local talent create the video that will be part of an advertising campaign and featured in an Our State email “blast” distribution. View video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftto6xuS--c
“A lot of times with being a rural community, a lot of people don’t recognize it as a destination,” Holcomb explained. “We have so much to do here, from Lake Waccamaw and the rivers, to Daddy Joe’s and Maze Craze. There is a lot to do here.”
The Chamber will spend money to advertise the video through sponsored posts on Facebook, pre-roll ads on YouTube and 15, 30 and 60-second clips on all social media platforms. Holcomb wants the video to appear in as many news feeds as possible across social media.
“I like to call it ‘Paradise Outdoors,’ which is Columbus County,” said Chamber President Jennifer Holcomb.
The outdoors are “what we have, and it’s already in place. It’s underutilized,” Holcomb said. “And so our other attractions that are indoors like the museum, but when you think about Columbus County and bringing people here for a long weekend, the outdoor recreation is paramount to that. That’s what we’re trying to focus on, and once they get here, then they find the restaurants, then they find the shops, then they find the museum and other things to do. That outdoor rec is our hook.”
“That’s what we do,” Holcomb said. “We present our community in the best light possible.”
Fearing the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on the advertising campaign, Holcomb took a few days to realize that people in Columbus County are looking for things to do. With people working from home and kids being out of school since March, Holcomb said the timing was perfect to release the video. Concluding the filming portion of the video in December and planning for an April release, Holcomb said she wanted to be strategic about when to launch and where to put it under a limited budget.
“Our market is a drive market anyway,” Holcomb explained. “Within reason, people who are staying at the beaches or Wilmington are looking for things to do.”
“It’s In Our Nature” was filmed and produced by Inspire Creative Studios and features Columbus County’s outdoor activities. The video is part of an advertising campaign to enhance tourism and attract visitors from area beaches.
Holcomb said that visiting the Fair Bluff Riverwalk was a “phenomenal” way to get exercise, connect with nature and spend time with family outdoors while allowing for distancing to protect against COVID-19. With big attractions shutdown, she said that it was a big opportunity for the Chamber to let people know what Columbus County has to offer.
Holcomb encouraged community support online with tagging and sharing the video production on social media to have an already “organic” promotion outside the sponsored advertising space.
“In an environment where it’s easy to be negative,” Holcomb said. “Let’s all get behind something that’s positive. That’s our community. We want to invest in our community. We need to be the promotional arm of our community.”