Why make a $38,000 video to promote Northfield now when we already have one that’s good enough?

I was surprised to learn that the Northfield EDA voted 6-1 last week to have a $38,000 video made “to create a short promotional video highlighting the distinctive characteristics and qualities that make Northfield an attractive place to live, work, attend school, start a business, or simply visit and play.”  The EDA will contribute $15K towards the cost. See pages 11-19 of the EDA packet for 5/27 and this week’s Nfld News: EDA to pay for video that promotes city.

City of Northfield home page w/ Northfield Video TourBookOver a year ago, the City approved the making of a series of promotional videos by CGI Communications, funded entirely by advertisers, called the Northfield Video TourBook. It’s been sitting on the left sidebar of City’s home page since then. For your viewing convenience, I’ve combined all 5 videos into one below.

I blogged about the videos last May, critical of the fact that the embed code wasn’t being made available.

It may be that the quality of a $38K video will put the freebie to shame.  But a few questions:

  • Is this a good time to spend this money, in the middle of a recession, with a budget in tatters and a $14.4M police/fire facilities bond soon to pitched to taxpayers? Yes, yes, I know, it’s money from separate silos.  But it’s all taxpayer money and it sends a mixed message to the citizenry. “$43K for laserfiche? No problem! $15K for a promo video? No problem! Sunday library hours? No way! City interpreter? No way!”
  • What has been tried with the current Northfield Video TourBook to promote the city? Why isn’t it promoted on the EDA website? Why isn’t it promoted on the Chamber’s website or the Chamber’s Visiting Northfield website?
  • Why is an expensive video better than the EDA using a free blog, free Twitter account and a free Facebook page, in which real people are available to interact?  The Chamber/CVB is doing a pretty darn good job with their CVB Facebook page and CVB Twitter account. Why not the EDA?

Here are the 5 Northfield Video TourBook videos, all rolled into one. I’ve deliberately captured the screen area around the video window since the advertisers who helped to pay for it are displayed there:



  1. Robert Palmquist said:

    Thanks Griff, I hadn’t seen those videos before. BTW, what did you use for your screen capture?

    June 10, 2010
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    Hey Robert, I used Snagit 10 to capture and then Camtasia Studio 7 to boost the audio and produce/publish it to Screencast.com

    TechSmith rocks

    June 10, 2010
  3. Kathie Galotti said:

    On the face of it I’d have to agree–this isn’t a prudent use of funds at a time when government funds are really at an all-time low point.

    June 10, 2010
  4. kiffi summa said:

    Does it matter that the one vote against this on the EDA was the one person on the EDA most qualified/knowledgeable to vote on a project like this after a 45 year career in Television and documentary as well as industrial promotional film…. A person with clients like AT&T, the Fed Dept of Health Education and Welfare… and oh yes… the person who made the 70mm film which was used to promote the City of Chicago, and shown at the Water Tower in Chi for 8-10, maybe more years?


    June 11, 2010
  5. Griff Wigley said:

    Today’s Nfld News editorial: It may seem like a lot of money, but EDA video project does make sense.

    And the videos already on the city’s site, funded solely by local businesses, are not owned by the city and therefore cannot be distributed. In other words, they can’t be sent to entrepreneurs looking for more information about what our community is like.

    Finally, research shows that the global trend online is toward watching more and more video. Online traffic researcher Comscore reported that in April 178 million U.S. Internet users watched an online video during the month.

    As long as the EDA retains ownership and the rights to disseminate this video, it seems a logical and appropriate investment for the authority.

    Let’s see if I understand the logic.

    • The City needs to own the video so it can distribute it to entrepreneurs
    • Research shows that most people are now watching videos online
    • But the EDA still needs to own the video so it can distribute it,  presumably a DVD, snail mailed

    What’s wrong with providing entrepreneurs a link to the video we have already? 

    Why not negotiate the rights with CGI to distribute the current video in DVD format?

    June 12, 2010
  6. Kathie Galotti said:

    Griff, That was my immediate reaction as well.

    June 17, 2010
  7. Tracy Davis said:

    The City/EDA need to think through what part video plays in their overall communications and/or marketing strategy. Oh, wait a minute… I don’t think there is a communications or marketing strategy. Or even a policy.

    Never mind.

    June 17, 2010
  8. I wouldn’t vote to spend a year’s wage for a video. People can do it for far less.

    June 18, 2010
  9. Madelyn Hartke said:

    Good one, Tracy.

    This is stupid, I could make a high quality video for $500. Sincerely, any college student with their campus equipment could do this job, and probably do it better than “the professionals” from Whatever Corporation. Come ON. $38,000???? I’m blown away by this decision.

    June 22, 2010
  10. Tracy Davis said:

    Madelyn, didn’t your mother ever warn you about shooting your mouth off in public, especially without fleshing out your argument? Tsk, tsk.

    June 22, 2010
  11. Griff Wigley said:

    Never mind that mother behind the curtain, Madelyn. I’m glad to have your comment. 😉

    June 22, 2010

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