New Tourism Video Demonstrates How We're Forging Ahead

It was a big risk.

The staff at the Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) knew that something had to be done with its existing tourism video: The fashions alone spoke of the early 2000s; the emphasis was heavily embedded in the past; and footage included attractions that had ceased to exist.

In replacing it, however, the Bureau needed to walk a rather thin tightrope. A new video had to honor our history but nonetheless be contemporary and fresh. It had to be inclusive of the county as a whole but couldn't be overlong. It had to be stylish and hip but not so trendy that it would quickly go out of date.

After weeks of shooting footage and viewing rough cuts, the final result, entitled "The MontCo Experience," was unveiled at the Bureau's annual member luncheon, November 1. The gathering at the Valley Forge Sheraton was themed "We are rockin' and rollin'," a celebration of the Bureau's founding 50 years ago, when groups like the Beatles were just making an impact.

The reaction was electric. Applause exploded as attendees reacted to the fresh, revitalized manner in which the area was presented. To give viewers a chance to soak it in wholly, the video was reprised at the end of the luncheon and before exiting, guests gathered at the two large video screens to watch it again.

The luncheon included a Twitter wall, on which were displayed messages and feedback, and the reviews were immediate and glowing. Josh Shapiro, Chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners and speaker that afternoon, later tweeted: "Was great to be at @visitvf annual luncheon. Follow them. Best CVB in PA & only getting better."

Bill Fitzgerald, Valley Forge CVB president, explains the thought that guided the production: "This video is only part of our broader effort to forge ahead and rebrand Valley Forge and Montgomery County. We have a phased approach in mind, and phase one is to get locals excited. The people who live, work, and play here have to be jazzed about the shopping, culture, outdoor adventure, dining, arts, natural beauty and history that unfolds every day in the area. Once that happens, the vibe starts to spread. Tourism leads the way."

Director of Communications John Golden was instrumental in the production, contributing feedback from its earliest, storyboard beginnings. He continually stressed the importance of drawing viewers in by engaging them in the "story" of Montgomery County.

"Typical tourism videos can be little more than a kaleidoscope of shots set to non-descript, up-tempo music," he explains. "We wanted to captivate the audience in a full experience, using today's technology. So we incorporated a number of tweets to accompany the imagery. By individualizing the experiences - a family at the Elmwood Park Zoo, zip-liners at Spring Mountain Adventures, shoppers at Suburban Square - we've made them that much more compelling."

Produced by Freshfly, LLC, a Philadelphia-based production company, the video includes county-wide footage, from the Bryn Athyn Historic District in the eastern part of the county to Green Lane Park in the northwest corner.

"The MontCo Experience" has only been posted on YouTube for just over a week and has already been viewed over 650 times. The tweet announcing it has already been re-tweeted numerous times. And in the aftermath, the Bureau received numerous emails of congratulations on not only the new approach but also the new viewpoint.

This is just the beginning, however. In his remarks to the luncheon, Fitzgerald promised that the Valley Forge CVB would be the "...stewards and leaders of all things tourism" in the county. In that role, he and the Bureau staff will be forging ahead with a number of new initiatives in 2014 and beyond, bringing the story of Montgomery County in as clear a form as possible to the widest audience possible.

Follow our progress on our website and social media outlets that include YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.