If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then what value can be placed on a streaming video seen by thousands of YouTube visitors from across the globe?
That level of exposure, according to Anne Jenkins, who sells Medford to businesses and conventioneers, is priceless.
"It's so nice to put up a video so people can really see what's going on here," says Jenkins, senior vice president of the Medford Visitors and Convention Bureau.
It is Jenkins' job to entice entrepreneurs and vacationers to choose Medford as their preferred destination. The Visitors and Convention Bureau has been making tourism videos highlighting popular spots in the Rogue Valley for a number of years. However, when YouTube hit it big in 2005 — to the tune of hundreds of thousands of visitors per day searching through millions of virtual videos — Jenkins realized the market for the bureau's video was limitless.
"We've been putting videos on (YouTube) for two years and it's worked out really well," Jenkins says.
Advertising Age magazine named YouTube the fastest growing Web site of 2006, with 100 million video clips viewed each day and 65,000 new clips posted per day.
A Visitors and Convention Bureau clip posted on YouTube focuses on the area's natural attributes, such as the Rogue River, Mount Ashland, Roxy Ann Peak and Crater Lake, then takes viewers on a virtual tour of celebrations, businesses and attractions, including the Medford Jazz Jubilee, Britt Festivals, the Pear Blossom Festival, Hanley Farm and Butte Creek Mill.
There's more than official tourism videos highlighting Medford on YouTube, however. Type "Medford, Oregon" into the YouTube search field and almost 3,000 videos pop up.
You can view local cage fighters pummeling each other into submission inside the octagon and skateboarders doing rail slides at various schools in Ashland, Central Point and Jacksonville. One person walked through Target at the Rogue Valley Mall with a video camera running and posted a three-and-a-half-minute video of people shopping.
The Mail Tribune has posted videos shot and edited by reporters and photographers on YouTube for two years. Some clips capture breaking news, such as Mr. Thom's Salon on South Stage Road burning to the ground and an Ashland police sniper shooting a cougar out of a tree. Others focus on feature topics, such as elderly citizens describing their experiences during the Great Depression.
Every time it snows in Southern Oregon, you can bet there are people out with digital cameras capturing the blowing white stuff to post for the world to see.
Southern Oregon University graduate Will Volpert has posted more than 50 videos of his family's rafting company speeding through Class V whitewater on the Illinois and Klamath rivers.
Volpert, marketing director of Idaho River Journeys, says the widespread exposure gained through YouTube has helped his business grow in unexpected ways.
"Sometimes people find us on YouTube and book trips before they discover us on regular search engines," Volpert says.
Volpert sends his guides out with cameras to snag footage of good runs. The videos are quickly edited and sent to customers to relive their trips. The videos are a hit, he says.
"Because YouTube is fairly user-friendly, it's easy to edit and post the videos," Volpert says. "That helps us because a lot of the time we aren't home for very long before we have to head out on another trip."
The whitewater videos can be viewed at www.idahoriverjourneys.com or by typing the company name into the YouTube search box.
Jenkins thinks YouTube will continue to play a large role in showcasing the Rogue Valley to the virtual masses.
"It's a good way to share our experiences and show the rest of the country what we're all about," she says.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.