Smithfield Herald

Online videos highlight Johnston County attractions

Patrick Brown, host of TLC's "Home Made Simple," is featured in a series of tourism videos on Youtube. Here, Brown stands in front of a store at Carolina Premium Outlets.
Patrick Brown, host of TLC's "Home Made Simple," is featured in a series of tourism videos on Youtube. Here, Brown stands in front of a store at Carolina Premium Outlets.

Johnston County is starring in a series of videos produced for the web by a local production company.

The Johnston County Visitors Bureau, the Smithfield-Selma Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Clayton have all hired Cary-based Digital P Media to produce videos for web sites like YouTube. They say they’re hoping to reach a growing online audience to help attract visitors – and businesses – to the area.

The Visitors Bureau last shot a promotional video in the mid-1990s, said director Donna Bailey-Taylor. Viewing habits have changed with the advent of online streaming video, she said.

“The way people watch videos today is different,” Taylor said. “They want to watch something much shorter, and they’re interested in certain things.”

The bureau hired Digital P to produce five videos showcasing the county as a destination. They went online this moth.

Each video, uploaded to YouTube on the channel VisitJohnstonCounty, runs between three and four minutes long and covers a theme. The five themes are agri-tourism, shopping, arts and entertainment, history and heritage, and outdoor recreation.

“People today really have a lot of special travel interests,” Taylor said. “We tried to appeal to those.”

Online viewers tend to be looking for information on specific subjects, said Peyote Perryman, president of Digital P Media. The key is to focus on specific subjects and make short, separate videos about them.

For example, he said, the county’s agricultural base makes it a prime destination for food lovers, so the company produced a video on agri-tourism.

“You don’t want to say you have to sit through this section to get to the section that interests you,” Perryman said. “If someone is interested in history and heritage … you make a video that addresses those interests.”

In the videos, Patrick Brown, a North Carolina native and host of the TLC show “Home Made Simple,” serves as a tour guide for visitors. He visits numerous attractions around the county, including The Clayton Center, the Hastings House in Smithfield, Hinnant Valley Vineyards near Pine Level and Carolina Premium Outlets in Smithfield.

Taylor said the bureau wanted the videos to stand alone but have a common thread tying them together. The series is called “JoCo Traveler,” and Brown is the guide for each one.

Perryman said his company found Brown doing voiceover work and asked him to star in the videos. “He’s a native who was looking to do some more work here to help promote North Carolina,” Perryman said. “So that was a good fit.”

The Smithfield-Selma Chamber of Commerce is also looking to Digital P to help it bring more business to the area. Chris Johnson, who sits on the chamber board, said board members were impressed with Digital P’s previous work for the county and the town of Cary.

The chamber is especially interested in marketing four local sites that have certified by the state for industrial use. That means wooing larger companies that often have to answer to investors.

Johnson said he was in talks with a representative for one company who asked for a video about the area so he could show it to investors. Johnson said he didn’t have one.

“It came from an individual looking at Smithfield and asking for something I did not have,” he said “They’re trying to sell a community to their investors.”

The chamber has begun working on a series of videos targeting companies that are considering opening in the area.

“Whether it’s a chain restaurant or someone buying 100 acres of land, we want it to fit all our purposes,” Johnson said.

By the end of June, the chamber hopes to have three videos – one each for Smithfield and Selma and one giving an overview of the area. Perryman said crews recently finished shooting footage and are now editing 10 hours of interviews with local business owners on why they chose their location.

Eventually, the 10 hours will become three- or four-minute videos that Perryman hopes will prompt businesses to take a closer look at Johnston County. “If they’re interest is piqued, they’re going to keep going and find out more,” he said.