Communicators Conference Recap: Emily Forsha & Kate Jorgensen

Create Compelling Visual and Video Content

By Michael Farr

State tourism agency Travel Oregon saw a great injustice when considering the so-called “Seven Wonders of the World.” How could their beautiful state have not made it anywhere on the list? This needed to be rectified.

And thus was born “The Seven Wonders of Oregon” marketing campaign.

Travel Oregon community manager Emily Forsha and project manager Kate Jorgensen spearheaded this wonderfully successful campaign that introduced Oregon landmarks to the world and extended their organization’s digital reach by hundreds of thousands of people — including a 500 percent growth on Instagram.

How did they do it? By creating quality and engaging content, harnessing the hashtag, partnering with rising social media personalities and capitalizing (and rewarding) people’s natural tendency to share their experiences.

Forsha admits the digital space is crowded and billowing over with competing content. But she also suggested that the capacity to reach specific, targeted audiences has never been greater.

“People are looking for really personalized, specific information,” she said. “We can now create content for everywhere and anywhere. We’re not tied to one physical product.”

Although digital media is certainly crucial for modern marketing, physical products are definitely not out. Travel Oregon used creatively designed “Seven Wonders of Oregon” patches to reward fans for sharing and contributing to the campaign.

“The bridge between the digital and physical is super engaging to consumers,” Jorgensen said, reflecting on how coveted their patches became. “When we set out with these, we didn’t say, ‘Please take a photo of that and tag Travel Oregon.’ But almost everyone did.”

The trick is recognizing why and when people access your product and creating content that caters to that. In Travel Oregon’s case, they see themselves as “destination curators” that people use as a trusted resource for travel inspiration and trip information.

“Everything we do from a platform and content perspective supports that objective,” Forsha explained.

Harnessing digital communities also requires a user-level understanding of the various platforms. Travel Oregon carefully vets new social media sites before jumping aboard, Jorgensen said. Does this community have the type of people we want? How do they share content? Not every type of content is suitable for every platform.

Partnering with social media personalities was especially important at the beginning of the “Seven Wonder of Oregon” campaign, the women explained. Most were up-and-comers who were eager to latch onto new brands to expand their own audience.

These “influencers” agreed to travel to the Oregon landmarks featured in the campaign and post content using the “Seven Wonders” hashtags. Their above-and-beyond enthusiasm had a viral effect across the digital space that lasted long after the campaign’s launch date. In fact, the highest peak of online engagement occurred well after the campaign’s initial launch.

Using social listening tools, the Travel Oregon team was able to observe significant upticks in uses of keywords associated with Oregon landmarks throughout the length of the campaign. They even noted an increase of tourism to the sites covered in the campaign.

“That’s one thing we really feel we can take away,” Jorgensen said. “We really did change the specific conversation a lot.”

Follow Forsha @emilyforsha, Jorgensen @gunrack and Travel Oregon @traveloregon.