How Macon, Georgia, uses video to attract music fans

No matter what size your budget, you can have a lasting impact with a well-crafted video. Here’s how the city’s tourism team created enduring visual stories.

Macon, Georgia, has a long, albeit quiet history of developing music superstars. 

Artists including Otis Redding and the Allman Brothers made great music there, yet many outside the city limits were unaware of its musical roots.

The city’s tourism team wanted to change that, so it brought in a couple of young musicians influenced by these great artists to see Macon and connect with its musical history. The visits would be turned into videos that won PR Daily’s Nonprofit Award for Creative Assets, Video. 

“We picked two artists, one that was influenced by Otis Redding and then another who was influenced by the Allman Brothers,” explains Valerie Bradley, vice president of marketing for Visit Macon. The idea was to “document their trip, their journey coming here for the first time, visiting some of the places where they played, museums that are here where people can visit.”

The videos were a chance for Macon not only to honor its heritage but also to inspire other artists to visit and even record in the recently reopened Capricorn recording studios.

Bradley says YouTube was a natural choice for sharing the videos because of the way the industry is trending.

“It allowed us to be more long-form, which we felt was needed to get the story across,” Bradley says. She adds that YouTube also has a social sharing element. “Because this was such a story-driven campaign, YouTube would allow us … to tell that story more accurately,” she says.

Lessons learned

This was the first time Visit Macon ever attempted this sort of campaign, Bradley says. However, the team members knew they wanted to implement this kind of storytelling and had been waiting for the right story to come along. 

When Capricorn Studios started plans to reopen and offered a look into Macon’s musical past, the team jumped at the opportunity to create a video campaign.

One thing that the team learned was how important it was for the videos to be evergreen, despite also being a part of a one-time event. Creating a good video can be expensive, but repurposing it can extend the content’s life and stretch your investment.

“All throughout we wanted to maintain the storytelling aspect of it, the authenticity of it,” says Bradley. 

Selecting partners

The campaign featured young artists inspired by Redding and the Allmans, but Bradley says it’s not quite right to think of the ascendant musicians as “influencers.”

“These were true artists … who weren’t necessarily familiar with what we did as an organization or the overall general music heritage and history of Macon,” says Bradley. Instead, Visit Macon relied on a partner, Osborn Barr, to help source these rising stars. 

“We worked with our advertising agency, who had one of their offices based out of Nashville,” says Bradley. “So they put out an all call, and we went through those who responded and found who we thought were the best fit.”

That can be a great lesson for all communicators: Know your strengths. If you don’t have a lot of natural connections with a group or industry that you need to engage, find a partner who can help you reach the right people.

The right partner is crucial, because they can become ambassadors for your message, even after the campaign is over. Bradley says the participating musicians have become advocates for Macon, sharing their story with their own networks of musicians. 

“I feel like we’ve created ambassadors just by working with them, and they’re helping us to spread the message,” Bradley says.

Boosting and repurposing your work

After creating content, it’s important to promote it to get it in front of an audience. 

For Macon, that meant tying the videos to other efforts to bring attention to Macon’s music history and the reopening of Capricorn Records. Campaigns included billboards in Atlanta, ads in Atlanta movie theaters, Spotify campaigns and more.

However, Bradley says the budget was limited, so it was important to find ways to expand the audience organically, especially with authentic storytelling.

Bradley says the biggest lesson she learned from the campaign was the importance of creating an asset that could be flexible over time: “Make sure that you are able to get the best bang for your buck and the most longevity from your video, whatever initial capacity you’re using it for.” 

That requires creativity and vision.

“We wanted this [campaign] to be something that we could use multiple ways, on multiple channels and beyond just the initial [effort], but then also [for] the opening of the recording studio. I can see this being used two and three years down the line, because we thought about the concept, and that was one of our goals.”

When to spend the money

Bradley says every video campaign is distinctive but that this video series seemed to deserve elevated production values. 

“The subject matter lent itself to it being told in this style,” she explains. 

Part of the video involved a visit to the graves of some of The Allman Brothers Band members, she said. “That’s a heavy subject. We wanted to capture that reverence and felt that doing it in more of a storytelling—a little bit more polished—format would do it more justice than a DIY format.”

Congratulations again to Visit Macon and agency Osborn Barr on their awards win.

Ragan and PR Daily Award programs celebrate the most successful campaigns, initiatives, individuals, teams and agencies in the communication, PR and marketing industries. Enter today to win the recognition you and your team deserves.

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