Tourism director hopes to pair website videos with local busineses

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK | News-Telegram Managing Editor

Dec 6, 2007 - Joey Baker is worried that local business people will think Jackie Vadas may be trying to run a scam on them.

Why? Well, she's offering to sell a unique product that will be on an Internet site. Oh, and she's from New York.

But not to worry — the fresh-faced Vadas is the real deal, and so is the company she works for, CGI Communications Inc. of Rochester, N.Y., which has partnered with more than 900 municipalities and chambers of commerce across the United States to offer "high-impact marketing and promotion products to community leadership and municipal management."

CGI is creating a series of streaming videos for the local tourism board's website, which is getting an extreme makeover under the direction of Baker, who serves as tourism director for the area.

"From the town's standpoint, I think it's going to be a profound improvement and a big step up," Baker said. 

CGI is also approaching businesses about creating web content that will coincide with the tourism videos, a sort of synergistic method to couple the information about the area with the businesses that offer services tailored to those interests.

But there are so many scams reported in the area that Baker was concerned local business owners would shy away from an unkown company.

"We just want to make them aware that this is a legitimate program," Baker said.

CGI Communications, Inc., formed in 1988, is built on delivering high-impact marketing and promotion products to community leadership and municipal management.

"Whether the products are streaming One-Click web-based videos, V-Mail video emails, or community highlight movies, they all foster community spirit and pride," the company states on its website.

CGI is also partnered with the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Texas Municipal League and has built content for such Texas cities as Lubbock, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, Fort Worth and Nacogdoches, to name a few.

One reason Baker wanted to work with CGI is the relationship between CGI and Google.

"We are one of the biggest content providers for [Google video]," Vadas said.

Consequently, videos that are created by CGI enjoy a "preferred" status in Google's search engine, meaning the local site will pop up nearer the top of the list when a search is made for "Sulphur Springs" and "tourism," for example.

"When you do a search for Sulphur Springs, it will be brought to the top of the search results," Vadas said.

One of the goals of the tourism website is to reach both potential visitors and those looking to relocate to the Sulphur Springs area. And because the videos will focus on what are essentially the "quality of life" assets of the area — such as housing and labor markets, education, health care, and attractions and leisure activities — it's a good fit for Realtors, banks, home repair businesses and health care providers who want to pair their web ads with the tourism site.

Vadas said the feedback from the business owners and representatives she has met with this week has been positive.

"A lot of businesses will feel it doesn't work for them," said Baker. "But  there are some who are in need of this service."

Vadas is only in Sulphur Springs for this week and will be leaving Friday at mid-day but can be reached by contacting Baker at 903-885-5614 or 903-885-4911.

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