With the downturn in the economy over the last couple of years, particularly in the Oil & Gas sector now coupled with the COVID-19 Pandemic it has been hard on communities particularly in rural communities. The Town of Vermilion had worked hard trying to keep our small community strong and dynamic enough to withstand the downturn. In April in-an-effort to keep our businesses we first created a category in our business directory called “Online Shopping”. Any businesses in the community that moved their product to Shopify or an online shopping platform we added and promoted to the world. Any that did not know how to do it we helped. We wanted to keep our community viable and promote them somehow online. Later in April we evolved our #ExploreVermilion campaign to market our Vermilion businesses into first of its kind and a COVID-19 Response – the #VermilionOnline Festival. From April 20 to May 31, 2020 the #VermilionOnline was a means to instill optimism within Vermilion’s business community and keep people shopping at home. The #VermilionOnline festival transformed the Town of Vermilion’s Facebook page into a hub of virtual experiences highlighting local entrepreneurs, creators & producers. The legacy includes an activated community of entrepreneurs ready to take on the future via online education & inspiration.
Who was involved? Town of Vermilion; Seekers Media; Zen Seekers; Festival Seekers; Snowseekers; Travel Alberta; 28 local businesses to reach a national audience. Seekers Media created a reoccurring Facebook-centric event where local businesses and experiences broadcast their offerings LIVE to the public. The Town conducted educational workshops and one-on-one training for Vermilion’s business community in how to cultivate a digital strategy that yields revenue generation and a sustainable approach to social media. The businesses were trained and coached to do Facebook lives. They were required to watch a training video that was recorded on ZOOM and had to sign a waiver to be on our Vermilion FB page doing a live video. We advertised the program and had businesses calling us and lining up to learn and be showcased online. Something to sustain our community through these times. Now that our businesses doors our open we are still facing the challenges of having people come to Vermilion. We are expanding our online program through a couple of avenues over the summer to keep the momentum of #ExploreVermilion and #VermilionOnline Shopping going. Follow our social media pages to see how we progress through COVID-19.
There are always challenges when you take on a project.
Progressive Thinking: We had to be innovative and progressive as a small municipality to showcase are community to the world. Funding: The timeframe was so short we had no opportunity to apply for grants and had to make the program work with inhouse dollars. We have since applied to the Travel Alberta program that just came out to see if we can obtain funding to evolve our programming further.
Creative & Technical Expertise: To increase the awareness of our Vermilion business community the Town of Vermilion entered into agreements with Seeker’s Media to assist in the production of our #VermilionOnline Festival through our social media channels our produce YouTube Channels and our Social Media Reporter. We needed assistance in-order to turn out the program fast in response to COVID-19. Indicators are attached.