2021 BC Economic Development Award Winner
Blended owned media and unpaid media story-telling via Instagram, LinkedIn & community newspaper channels.
What started as sharing a few photos with the local newspaper, the Columbia Valley Pioneer, while they faced a staffing shortage, turned into a regular weekly section called, #LiveColumbiaValley.
Rather than paying a professional photographer or reporter to cover events, the Columbia Valley Community Economic Development Officer, Ryan Watmough, shared his photos of local events, meetings and good examples of community economic development practices for inclusion in a Page 2 feature each week.
We have long known that attention spans are decreasing quickly and so we have leveraged Ryan’s photography skills to share local stories and inspire residents, business and prospects to see that great things that are happening in the Columbia Valley. While larger social media channels like Facebook and Twitter are used, too, he has found a niche with use of Instagram and, more recently, LinkedIn, with our target audiences.
With no budget for marketing, an extensive library of photos was developed at work, while walking the dog, shopping and exploring all seasons in the Columbia Valley. Photos are selected and posted in a timely manner, sometimes cueing people to attend a meeting, take note of a new amenity, or as proof that events happened. And with this growing image library, photos can be used to promote upcoming events, and have been shared with other local organizations and businesses as part of their promotions (e.g. Kootenay Clothing Co.’s Lake Windermere Whiteway fundraiser).
Economic developers cannot expect local residents to read and understand every report and media release issued about the importance of spending time and money locally. However, residents will respond to a 1,000 nudges by way of images and a few engaging words (sometimes even less than 144 characters).
The daily social media updates and weekly newspaper publishing helps prove to residents and elected officials that their EDO is working, is attending meetings, and is even understanding and distilling this research, practices and insight into content available to everyone.