Oconto County joins Uniquely Wisconsin initiative

Counties association effort will develop promotional videos spotlighting the county
Warren Bluhm
News Editor

Oconto County is getting in on the ground floor of a Wisconsin Counties Association promotional campaign called Uniquely Wisconsin.

The county board voted unanimously Jan. 18 to commit $60,000 in American Rescue Plan Act dollars to sign onto the effort, which uses videos and other resources to highlight what makes Wisconsin and its 72 counties special.

Initiated by the same initiative that produced the long-running “Discover Wisconsin” series, the focus is on economic development, community engagement, quality of life or tourism. Videos produced for the first eight counties have already generated 1.6 million views, and a feature on Stoney Acres Farm’s “Farm to Table Pizza” in Marathon County earned Chicago/Midwest Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Achievement for Lifestyle – Short and Long Form Content.

“It’s pretty amazing what they’ve done in a short period of time,” County Administrator Erik Pritzl told the board in pitching the program.

The $60,000 buys a county three dock-series short-form videos of up to six minutes, a 60-second social media edit video, a five-minute segment of a broadcast documentary on the “Discover Wisconsin” regional TV network and access to the B-roll footage acquired during production of the video.

Oconto County will also be featured in an episode of the organization’s podcast “The Cabin,” along with a number of blog posts, e-newsletters and social media mentions.

“They come on site with a team; they work with you to develop your story,” Pritzl said. “You do have to select something or some things to highlight. They’ll talk about the feasibility of those ideas — that’s another thing that they do — but then they take it, they run with it, they shoot, they do all the work, produce the videos and hand you the content when they’re done.”

Pritzl and County Board Chairman Al Sleeter said the Uniquely Wisconsin project has been a popular topic at the association’s regional and state conferences.

“There’s a lot of excitement over it,” Sleeter said. “I think it’s an excellent idea. We can highlight our county’s hunting, ice fishing, snowmobiling.”

It will take a few months for the developers to wrap up other projects and begin work in Oconto County, Pritzl said.

“Wisconsin’s unique and Oconto County’s certainly unique, and this would get it out there,” he said. “You’re talking about 1.6 million views through social media through the YouTube series, and that’s incredible in terms of reach and promotion.”

He encouraged the board to get involved now while there are still a lot of possibilities.

“The longer you wait, though, I think the more challenging it’s going to be to find something truly unique,” Pritzl said. “I thought of some ideas, and we’ve been bouncing those around, and well, this county over here kind of picked up on that already, or this county’s already highlighted that feature. … You’ll find once you get to 26 or 30 counties, those ideas are starting to get more difficult the further into it you get.”

Supervisor Jolene Barkhaus said she’s noticed Oconto County is not represented in statewide promotional materials as much as more urban counties, such as La Crosse or Dane.

“If we can get more people looking at how awesome and unique Oconto County is, it’s an opportunity,” she said.