Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Loudoun Social Media in Tourism Symposium - #SOMET

The Social Media in Tourism Symposium’s first annual in-person conference was a fantastic event last week in Ashburn’s Embassy Suites – Dulles North. The event location here in Loudoun County, VA was the result of a tough “virtual” challenge, including online voting through social media (Facebook) over the Summer – out of 27 eligible sites included in the voting, and with finalists including Nashville TN and Portland, OR, Loudoun County came out the winner! Over 100 destination marketing organization employees, supporters, evangelists, industry experts and supporting media are collaborating and learning this week about topics ranging from “What Happens in Loudoun County, VA goes on YouTube and Flickr” to “How to Measure Your Tourism Organization’s ROI”. Our local hosts, the Loudoun Convention and Visitor’s Association, a.k.a. “DC’s Wine Country”, provided lots of guidance and insight, as well as overall fabulous representation of the County to the rest of the country.

The event itself was fully marketed, promoted and organized online, using Facebook, Twitter (search for the #SoMeT hashtag), and other channels.

Here's a great recap on the event - by Jenny Matheny, and here's another - by Bill Geist.

Thanks to all the participants and organizer for making this event a great success, and helping highlight Loudoun County, VA as a premier tourism destination, along with the rapidly-growing Loudoun online marketing and social media scene!

Jeremy Harvey (LCVA) and Dorri Morin (Loudoun DED) - Loudoun Social Media Hosts!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Suburban Wildlife Rescue - What's the 411?

FYI - the Dulles South Public Safety Center phone number is 571-258-3200...Updated below! Interesting Sunday morning wildlife interaction here in South Riding - a very large horned owl was spotted yesterday by our kids fighting with a large golden-flecked hawk, and this morning was laying very alert and still on the ground at the edge of the forest and our street. A veritable crowd of children gathered to watch the owl, who observed us without seeming concern - but didn't move except to rotate its head and hiss once in a while. The hawk and a contingent of mockingbirds and cardinals intent on joining the party (mostly to harrass the hawk) very loudly continued to swoop and harrass the owl - and eventually retreated from the small throng of 3rd-graders and attendant amateur wildlife observers.

What to do? Call the Loudoun Animal Control Office?

Well, we did - and upon understanding that this was wildlife, they redirected me to the Wildlife Rescue League. Their message, if it wasn't about a deer, essentially directed me to collect the animal and deliver to a local wildlife rescue volunteer or facility...which wasn't something I'm actually trained to do right now. So I tried 411 to get the Dulles South Public Safety Center - they were unable to locate that phone number, even after I explained it was a large police and fire station in South Riding. I was eventually transferred to a Virginia-wide directory, who ended up transferring me to the Metropolitan Washington Transit Agency - the Metro folks.

I wasn't aware the Silver Line had reached Loudoun yet - but, luckily, we've posted the Dulles South Public Safety Center phone number on the front page of Dulles South Online - so I called there - only to have the phone ring about 20 times with no answer.

So, the owl sits bemused by the side of the road, the hawk and attendant pawns await further developments, and the children continue to gawk and hopefully don't get too close. This situation will likely resolve itself overnight, with the loss of a really beautiful owl...but that's our Suburban Wildlife Rescue process in action, evidently.

Thanks to the great response from the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center out of Millwod, VA (540-837-9000) for their help this afternoon in retrieving the Great-Horned Owl for care and rehabilitation...They rescue 1500 native wild birds, mammals and reptiles each year - evidently this was the second owl of the day. Pics below of the rescue...once better, our owl may be released back here in South Riding! (Keep your cats inside).

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Loudoun U13 Girls SFL Tournament - Congrats South Riding Area Team!

Congratulations to the Loudoun County, Dulles South/South Riding area U13 Girl's Suburban Friendship League team (SFL), placing 2nd in this weekend's SFL tournament play! Very close game down in Manassas against a tough Herndon opponent; final score was 3-2. Thanks to coach Todd and all the fantastic players from the South Riding and Lenah Run area team, for another fun season!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Loudoun Is for Business Badge

At last week's Loudoun Economic Development Commission meeting, MBRC committee members Bob Steere and Ed Zigo updated the group on progress of the new "Loudoun Is for Business" badge, for anyone to use on their websites to help promote Loudoun County as a great place to have a business or conduct business. Drive "heads in beds", as Mr. Krause likes to say. The badge is currently in a "Beta" or "soft-launch" status, as the technical details are tested and completed.

Loudoun is for business: Loudoun Economic Development Commission Business Community

This very unique web-enabled shared marketing asset the County's Department of Economic Development will host enables those with business interests in the County to both help themselves, and help the entire business community, drive interest and ultimately more business to the county. Here at KME Internet Marketing in Loudoun, we first introduced this concept nearly 2 years ago through posts on our Gateway to Loudoun Blog "Loudoun Business Challenge" posts and our "Made in Loudoun" campaign – and it's fantastic to see the idea come to fruition through a lot of hard work and commitment on the part of the Loudoun business community and government support!

The badge itself is carefully designed to achieve a number of objectives. It will be a fairly unobtrusive and easy-to-integrate text-only design and color, suitable to use for most websites. Including the badge (several sizes will be available) on your site, blog, community page, social media profile or email newsletter benefits both your business and the County, if implemented specifically using the included links and tags. While the actual badge code and program details are still being finalized, the ultimate HTML code elements will be carefully constructed to make sure that both views and clicks on the badge are appropriately tracked, and so that search engines can find you and this badge when folks are searching for terms like "Loudoun businesses". The badge code will also ultimately meet ADA Section 508 accessibility guidelines.

See our best-practices driven example HTML code for implementing the badge here in this blog, and on our Loudoun Marketing home page.

The badge itself links to the primary "Doing Business in Loudoun County" page, and a special Loudoun DED "Join the Online Business Community" page further describes the program. This page is being optimized further to help promote the program, its benefits and further distribution of the badge. As the program develops and experience with the badge grows, there will be many more opportunities to highlight examples of the badge in action, actual badge usage and ROI statistics, as well as more advanced versions and use cases to come.

If you have a website, or manage a website page or distributed web content of any kind (like email), and would like to help promote Loudoun's visibility to your customers and the worldwide business community – prepare to try the badge on for size! (And be sure to provide feedback to the Loudoun DED/EDC).


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Dulles Chamber of Commerce - Chantilly Community Business Partnership Event

Last week’s Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce "Town Hall Discussion" was a great opportunity for Chamber members to meet and swap ideas with local community service organizations and leaders. About 75 members showed up at Hoop Magic in Chantilly (fantastic Basketball programs, our kids included!) to an event focused on Community Partnerships, the critical needs around us and ways in which we might – as a local Dulles area business community network - offer assistance.

Speakers included Fairfax (Sully District) Supervisor Mike Frey, Kerrie Wilson of Reston Interfaith, Lynn Gilmore with Northrop Grumman, Patti Stevens of the Fairfax Office of Public Private Partnerships and Jay Garant from the Fairfax County Schools Department of Communications and Community Outreach.

Mr. Frey offered some great feedback regarding how best to ask for and offer assistance to the County and Board of Supervisors, as a business. Ms. Wilson spoke to the critical needs facing our community and all the ways local businesses can make an immediate difference, and Ms. Gilmore detailed the many ways and methods her company works closely through community partnership programs to make a local impact. Mr. Garant introduced the "Partners in Education" Fall program, with its "Give Me Five!" ways to give and get involved with Fairfax County and partner with the school system.

We extend our thanks on behalf of Dulles South's KME Internet Marketing and Arlington's Blackstone Technology Group, to the great lineup of presenters, Chamber members, the Centreville Rotary Club for a great pulled-pork barbecue, and the group of Fairfax/Dulles-area community service organizations and local businesses who manned display tables and shared information with the group...just a few of these included:

ReStore – by Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia – a resale business selling new and used building materials and home improvement items to the general public, donated by local businesses and suppliers.

Ready Virginia - a statewide public education effort to prepare Virginians for all hazards

FACETS - offering a full spectrum of homeless services to build strong families and safe communities by improving the quality of life for impoverished men, women and children. (Check out the "Lend a Hand – Help the Homeless Community Day" Nov. 7, 1:30-4PM, Unitarian Universalist Church of Fairfax in Oakton, VA – includes a fun, outdoor interactive walk with many volunteer opportunities).

ECHOworks - Every Citizen Has Opportunities, providing dependable, motivated work crews staffed by individuals with disabilities.

Volunteer Fairfax - connecting individuals, youth, seniors, families and corporations to volunteer opportunities in the Fairfax County area. Don’t miss the November 14th VolRUNteer 5K & Fun Run at George Mason University!

YouthQuest FundUsNow.com - a mechanism to raise money selling customized coffee, brought to you by the YouthQuest Foundation of Chantilly, providing support for the academic development and life-enriching activities of America’s youth.

Fairfax County Citizen Corps and Office of Emergency Management.

Find these and other Loudoun and Dulles South nonprofit organizations at Dulles South Online - Organizations.

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