FRIENDS OF SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA LAUNCH NEW WEBSITE AND COMMUNICATIONS PROGRAM
FOR TOURISM AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS
ABINGDON, VA – Friends of Southwest Virginia announced today the launch of a new informational website and toolkit designed exclusively for tourism and economic development partners and businesses throughout Southwest Virginia. The new partner website, FriendsofSWVA.org, is now available and serves as a comprehensive informational bank for development initiatives underway throughout the region.
Friends of Southwest Virginia is an economic, community and tourism development organization focused on diversifying the economy of the region through the creative economy. From working on the neighborhood level to develop community business development capacity to mass marketing the region with a unified brand, the organization works across a 19 county region of Virginia from Lee County to Franklin County.
The new website will serve as the front door to Friends of SWVA with open access to information on all areas of the organization. From updates on regional tourism collaboratives and regional SWVA brand and marketing initiatives to updates to programing at Heartwood, the new website will allow partners to interact and participate with SWVA in a more beneficial way.
The SWVA Team (Friends of Southwest Virginia and the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation) hit the road last month on their inaugural “Spring Break Blitz” to visit all 19 counties and four cities of the region in two weeks. The Blitz brought a community chat to each city and county with important updates on initiatives across SWVA coming in 2018, and how they can be better connected to these initiatives.
Today’s launch continues this communication and is part of the larger communications strategy that Friends of Southwest Virginia has been working on over the past year in partnership with The High Road Agency of Bristol, VA. In addition to the website, a new regional communications program through regular in-person meetings, email communications and social media was launched to communicate the important regional work happening every day throughout SWVA.
In-person meetings, called A Chat with Friends: Regional Updates, will be held monthly at various locations throughout the region. A new monthly email newsletter was also debuted for the first time and will be informational with similar regional updates. Partners can visit FriendsOfSWVA.org for details on the email newsletter and to register to attend the free update sessions.
“We’ve been learning a lot about our partners and their needs from our organization over the past year. The result from those conversations was the need to create a resource for partners to be able to learn more about the Friends of Southwest Virginia and the tools available to help their communities,” said Jenna Wagner, PR & Marketing Director for the Friends of Southwest Virginia and the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation.
Wagner added that “It’s been an exciting year so far. We’ve shifted a lot as an organization over the past six months, and this new partner website project and eventual revamp of the visitor website only helps to attract new visitors to our incredible region and enhance the experience of SWVA for a visitor and the people of SWVA.”
The structure and platform of the new digital experience is being driven by the 19 counties, four cities and 54 towns of the region through collaborative meetings held over the past four months.
“The region spoke and we listened and acted,” said Chris Cannon, Executive Director for the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation and the Friends of Southwest Virginia. “They wanted clearer communication and more direct ways to interact with Team SWVA and their fellow regional cohorts; this is an exciting opportunity for the region to come together in a renewed way and share their energy across traditional boundaries.”
Friends of Southwest Virginia is the destination marketing organization for the region and work to brand and market Southwest Virginia as a distinct culture and destination. The new partner website will include information about the Friends of Southwest Virginia and the services they offer throughout the 19 counties. Over the past decade, the organization has been pivotal in the development of initiatives such as The Crooked Road, Round The Mountain, millions of federal grant dollars in outdoor recreation development, downtown revitalization projects, marketing Southwest Virginia, and the construction and operation of Heartwood: The Gateway to Southwest Virginia.
The new partner website is live and available at FriendsofSWVA.org. The current consumer website for Southwest Virginia can be found here. Look for updates to this visitor website to come at the end Summer 2018.