Is it possible to create high-quality content at scale?
Absolutely. For proof, simply take a look at what VISIT
FLORIDA is doing.
Sunshine State’s official
source for tourism information, which is operated as a
public/private partnership, creates a staggering amount of good content.
While the pieces vary widely in length and format – ranging from
in-depth written stories to short social videos – they are all well-executed,
informative, and engaging.
Recently we chatted with Kevin McGeever, Senior Editor at
VISIT FLORIDA, to find out how the organization creates so much exceptional
content, and learn which trends in the space he’s watching closely right now.
Check out the Q&A below:
Q: Starting broadly, how do you approach content?
A: My background is in
journalism. I spent 30 years as an editor for both print and digital. What we
are producing at VISIT FLORIDA with a statewide network of 100-plus reporters,
filmmakers, photographers and influencers is strong feature journalism.
We are looking to provide valuable information. We seek to
make potential visitors aware of great destinations and experiences in Florida,
from the world’s most popular theme parks to lesser known treasures like the
Gumbo Limbo Nature Center.
We use professional journalists because we want to report and
produce compelling and reliable stories.
We insist on this authenticity because our audience,
especially Millennials, demands it. The storytelling should be accurate and
should include people who look like me.
Q: What types of content does Visit Florida publish?
A: Videos, articles, and original photography.
A written piece might be 500 to 1,000 words. Among the
photojournalists in our network is a Pulitzer Prize winner.
A video might be 30 seconds – a drone zoom-out to reveal a
beautiful location or a 360-degree experience – or, at 60-90 seconds, it might
be the sort of longer feature that you see on a newscast.
We also have an influencers program in which people create
videos, written pieces, and photography that they share with their own
We distribute this storytelling on VISITFLORIDA.com, our YouTube
channel, on our Florida channel on Connected TV, and nationally on Video on
In 2016, the content received more than 60 million actual views.
Not reach or spread. Not impressions. Views.
Q: What share of your audience is domestic versus
In 2015, we had 106.6 million visitors and 86 percent of
those were domestic (from the United States). So that’s the meat-and-potatoes
of our visitor volume.
Canada accounts for the largest share of international
visitors, and then Great Britain, Brazil, Germany, and Mexico. Latin America is
very important for us, as is China.
It’s important to know that more than 90 percent of Florida vacationers
are repeat visitors. Coming here has meaning for people, and they come again
Q: How do you ensure that the content you’re creating is
reaching the right people? Which distribution methods work well for you?
A: First, we’re lucky enough to
have an active and engaged organic base. There’s visitflorida.com, our social accounts; YouTube is huge; we also have the
Florida channel on connected TV and Video on Demand with Comcast and
We also do paid media. We target the audience segments that
are important to us depending on a specific campaign’s goals.
For example, we’ll do targeted campaigns aimed at people
living in cold climates who are looking to escape winter.
These efforts often involve multiple departments at VISIT
FLORIDA: brand, advertising, public relations, promotions, media buying and content. We
currently have a “Love, Florida” campaign running for a month in London which
includes more than a dozen Florida tourism partners and incorporates influencers,
social activations such as Someecards, promotions on Heart Radio London, and big
photography takeovers in the Tube stations.
Q: We love the videos that you’ve been creating for the VISIT
FLORIDA YouTube channel. Is video increasingly a big focus area for the organization?
A: Absolutely. Video accounts
for probably two-thirds of our storytelling now.
The data shows that people consume visual information at an
exponentially greater rate than words. Plus video consumption keeps soaring on
mobile devices. Our YouTube channel had 26 million views in 2016.
The innovations with video storytelling increase the cool
factor as well. You can tell such incredible stories with things like drones
and 360-degree cameras. It’s especially effective when we’re trying to reach
certain audiences, like adventurers, or those who like certain types of
A: How are you creating all your content? Is it all done with
an in-house team?
A: We use more than a dozen
freelance videographers as well as a number of production companies. These are
all very skilled, talented people who have worked in all of Florida’s major TV
markets as well as CNN.
We have teams we turn to in different parts of the state, so
there’s a couple in South Florida, a couple in Tampa Bay, in Central Florida,
northeast Florida, and so on.
Q: Are there a few pieces of Visit Florida content that
you’re especially proud of?
One example is a video we created called Be a
Princess for a Day at Walt Disney World. It’s this sweet story about
a four-year old girl becoming a princess, and it’s narrated by her mother. You
can’t help but get a little wobbly after watching it.
Another example is not one piece but a body of work. Last
October, Florida was a national news story as Hurricane Matthew approached. Nielsen,
the media organization, conservatively estimated that the wall-to-wall coverage
cost $40 million.
Fortunately, the vast majority of the state was spared the
worst of the storm, but people out of state were only seeing footage of
floodwaters, closed theme parks, and beaches getting battered by the ocean.
That was the perception that we had to counter.
Our response was Florida Now. Every day for three weeks we
had eight video teams reported first from
areas unaffected by the storm – Tampa Bay, Southwest and Northwest Florida,
Greater Miami and the Keys.
When the affected
areas – from Flagler County to Jacksonville – were ready to receive visitors,
we reported from those locations.
We used Facebook
Live – there were six such reports.
We produced 40 other
video stories – typically using FAA-certified drone operators to emphasize Florida’s
Then we amplified
those videos on YouTube and targeted likely travelers.
It was daily
journalism with targeted paid media to give the good work a boost.
Q: Final question, which content trends are you watching
As I mentioned earlier, there’s a lot happening with video.
Things like 360-degree video are still evolving, and we’re already doing a lot
with it. In a Socialbakers blog post about 360-degree video successes, VISIT
FLORIDA was mentioned along with Nat Geo and NASA. That was gratifying.
360 has a lot more potential for us. Our videographers are
still mastering how to tell a good story in that format.
Beyond that, we’ll include more Facebook Live in our thinking
this year. Up until now we haven’t done much storytelling around events because
the events have little shelf life. A live approach may make more sense with
those, especially with some of our destination marketing organization partners.
Finally, something we’re already doing more of is using the
powerful new options of distribution platforms. So, we’ve been diving into
Facebook’s Canvas and Carousel offerings. We’ve got a head start there, but I’m
sure there’s more to come.