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Wilmington is hoping its attempt at comedy builds a grassroots community of visitors and locals that spread the word on Wilmington instead of having to dole out funds for expensive ad buys.
They’re no Ellen Degeneres, but to be part of the new spread the Wilm campaign a roomful of business officials and city leaders posed for a selfie Tuesday morning.
The pictures, which would eventually be spread on social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook, are part of a marketing campaign from the Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“It’s a little quirky, but we’re hoping that’s going to catch on,” Kim Hufham, the president of the New Hanover County Tourism Development Authority, said of the YouTube video created to promote the initiative.
In the video, a “film director” scouts various regions of New Hanover County, including downtown Wilmington, Fort Fisher, Carolina Beach and Wrightsville Beach, for a movie he’s considering.
Throughout the clip, various children pepper in tourism facts about the region.
Information included is that in 2012 tourism raked in roughly $460 million to the region and that the area ranked ninth out of the state’s 100 counties for tourism dollars.
The end of the movie features local well-known residents who do their best to encourage visitors to see the Port City and the outlying region. And to, ultimately, spread the Wilm.
The StarNews’ own Si Cantwell was one of those residents.
The video is only one facet of the marketing campaign, which targets both local residents and tourists.
Hufham said the campaign will be driven by what has already become popular for tourists researching any possible destination: the Internet.
“We want people to have a one-of-a-kind experience and then share that,” she said.
It’s become commonplace in vacation planning to visit websites like Yelp, Trip Advisor or similar sites to read consumer reviews before booking anything.
Those reviews, Hufham said, could be a driving force for the campaign.
“The better a destination looks, the more opportunities for people to share,” she said.
There are dangers to having a campaign based-on the interaction of others though, Hufham admits. That’s why the tourism community will re-energize the effort as needed.
“That’s why it is very important we do an aggressive public relations campaign,” Hufham said. “That’s why we have a tool kit available.”
The tool kit is available online and includes the YouTube video and printable signage local businesses can post to help promote the e-based initiative.
To learn more about the campaign visit www.spreadtheWilm.com or search the hashtag #spreadtheWilm on Twitter.
(c)2014 the Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.