Following our interview with Rob Whitworth about flow motion video – ‘Norwich…A Story’ – earlier in the week, we wanted to get the perspective of Norwich Cathedral, so we’ve had a chat with their marketing manager, James Sheldon.
Find out below, how he achieved a marketer’s dream – not only getting to assist world-class photographer Rob in the filming of an incredible UK-first video, but also being given the BAFTA-winner’s finished production on a ‘passion project’ basis for the Cathedral. Great work James! (View the Norwich Cathedral Flow Motion video from Rob Whitworth below).
James Sheldon of Norwich Cathedral Talks About How ‘Norwich…A Story’ Came ABout
(All images of Norwich and Norwich Cathedral kindly provided by Rob Whitworth)
You are obviously a fan of Rob Whitworth’s work and I understand you have been trying to work with him for some time? How did you feel when he said he was going to gift the Cathedral his finished production of ‘Norwich…A Story’?
Yes, I’ve been quite a big fan for the last 3 years! It all started back in 2014, when I was working out my notice period at my previous job. I spotted an article in the EDP about Rob, who had just released his magnificent Barcelona video. At the time, I was compiling a list of things to look into upon starting my new role at the Cathedral and contacting Rob was right at the top of that list. A few months later Rob and Sue were back in Norwich visiting family and so we were able to meet and chat over coffee. I was surprised that nobody else in Norwich had approached Rob off the back of the newspaper article, but took that as my cue that this was indeed meant to be a Cathedral project! Although there wasn’t the opportunity to work together immediately, we kept in touch and on Wednesday 4 January 2017 (at 11.33am to be exact!) Rob emailed to tell me that he and Sue were returning to Norwich ahead of the birth of their second child and that he’d like to make the Cathedral video for me as a gift, or a ‘passion project’ as he called it. In truth, with Rob being based out in the Far East and needing to travel regularly for other projects, I had almost given up hope of finding a time when it would be possible to shoot a video in Norwich, so this was incredible news to start the New Year! Since then we’ve been working closely, climbing most of Norwich’s tallest buildings together, shooting the video and then planning for launch. It has been one of the best projects I’ve worked on and I can’t speak highly enough of Rob.
‘Norwich… a story’ has gone viral, reaching over a million people on Facebook, with over 6 thousand shares within days of release – not to mention an endorsement on Twitter from Russell Crowe! You must be very happy with the response so far?
I’ve been absolutely delighted with the response. In truth, I was pretty confident that anybody who had an affinity for the city would enjoy the video and probably like or share it. We had also seen big successes with video content in the recent past, notably when we announced that Dippy the Dinosaur would be coming to the Cathedral in 2020. With so many things having fallen into place just at the right moment to make this video possible, I had complete faith that it would prove to be a big hit. As well as the response on Facebook, we have seen great engagement on Twitter (including the endorsement by the actor Russell Crowe to his 2.6 million followers), we received a staff pick on Vimeo leading to 91k+ views and are also now seeing the hit counter on YouTube steadily increase with a current number of close to 38k views.
You obviously hope to see online visits translate into physical ones to the Cathedral over the coming months, have you noticed any increase in visitors at this early stage?
It’s too early to say, but based on the current 691 comments we have seen on Facebook, I suspect that we’ll have a busy summer, with many local people visiting for the first time in a while (or indeed ever!) In terms of the VisitNorwich digital marketing campaign that will be making use of the video over the next 4 months, I’d say we’ll only have a sense of its impact at the end of 2018. However, at this stage I’m confident that we’ll have a busier couple of years, in terms of tourists visiting the Cathedral, because of this video.
Could you tell us a bit more about Norwich BID?
Yes, certainly. VisitNorwich is the destination management organisation for the Norwich area and is the tourism destination marketing function of the Norwich Business Improvement District (BID). The BID’s relevance to the video project is that it is funding the VisitNorwich digital marketing campaign that will be using the video as a key piece of content to promote the city to a London audience, hopefully enticing them to visit.
This project has obviously already been a huge success (congratulations!) what is the best thing about the experience so far?
For me the best thing has already happened. Rob has created a video that has presented our Cathedral and city in the best possible light to a global audience. We all hope that Norwich will benefit from greater levels of tourism as a result, but for me personally the most pleasing thing is that we have produced something that has given everyone a little extra injection of pride about the city that we call home.