Locally Crafted Goods: Telco-Produced Video Series Spotlights Rural Entrepreneurs

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    Computer-automated production lines and shipment schedules. Smartphone-initiated stock trades. Skype-made business deals.

    These are the things we associate with commerce in the modern world. As technology—particularly, the Internet—continues to permeate every facet of today’s business landscape, true craftsmanship seems to fall deeper and deeper into the shadows of irrelevance. But the folks at Little Rock, Arkansas-based Windstream Communications recognize that the foundation of the American economy isn’t made of wireless signals and iPhone apps; it’s made of people.

    So, rather than highlighting Windstream’s cutting-edge tech services—and how those services are driving economic development in the company’s rural service areas—the telco’s latest marketing campaign turns the spotlight on the people who make up the fabric of local economies.


    The project, titled “Locally Crafted Goods,” features four short, documentary-style videos on independent entrepreneurs. Their products range from recycled paper (please visit Porridge Papers — they are awesome!) to leather saddles, but the one thing they all have in common is that they’ve built a livelihood around working with their hands—not their computers, tablets, or smartphones.

    That’s not to say technology doesn’t have a place in their ventures; obviously, it would be tough to run a small business without a website, or at the very least, an email account. But what’s refreshing about this video collection is that Windstream and its tech offerings are virtually absent from the stories, except for a brief “Windstream presents” text line at the beginning of each video.

    It’s a progressive approach to marketing—and one that has garnered a good deal of media attention. In fact, the New York Times recently published a feature article on the project. “Our brand is committed to providing services that connect rural communities and we believe that this Locally Crafted platform is the perfect extension of our brand position,” Michele Shaw, the director of consumer marketing at Windstream, said in the Times article.

    While all of us here at Telco Americana love celebrating the amazing things that rural telcos are doing to fill in the technological gaps in America’s underserved areas, it’s nice to see a telco celebrating the people who make those areas so special and so worthy of investment.

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