The Shenandoah County Tourism Council during its virtual meeting Tuesday received updates on a new marketing campaign the department is hard at work on this week.

The campaign’s finished products will be the result of $50,000 the department was allocated by the county’s board of supervisors for “very specific COVID response messaging.”

A tourism video and photography shoots have been happening all week and will continue. The team is going into businesses and getting footage of people with masks and showing safe practices and with the goal of easing consumer fears.

“We really felt the best way to spread the message to show what our businesses are doing to help ensure public safety and that this is a safe destination to travel to would best be told through a PR strategy than it would be a simple advertisement,” the county’s Director of Tourism and Economic Development, Jenna French, said. “We can get into more detail there and paint that picture for people.”

The project will culminate with a campaign through The Washington Post to get the messaging out to the Washington, D.C., metro area and Northern Virginia through a six-week digital campaign as well as some print focus.

Video and photography also will be used on county tourism social media platforms and the team will also be getting “evergreen” material that they can use for months and years to come, French said.

The county has also been focused on putting more emphasis on blogs about tourism and attractions in the area.

Shenandoah County Tourism and Economic Development Coordinator Brenda Black added that more blog writing will take place in the coming weeks and months, including on the Spirits Trail program, which was awarded a $10,000 grant and kicked off this month with a blog post and digital components to showcase hiking, biking and farmers markets in the area.

In other news, French said the county’s Board of Supervisors is set to approve an additional $750,000 of CARES Act money to help small businesses.

The original $500,000 that was allocated has already been distributed, and French said applications for the next round of payouts are being accepted so that they can be reviewed and approved once the next round is approved.

Additionally, a $500,000 community development block grant has been made official, bringing the total amount of money toward helping small businesses in the county to $1.75 million, a figure French said was “pretty incredible.”

The money is available to anybody who could have applied previously but now includes home-based businesses, which are eligible for up to $7,500, and tourism-facing nonprofits as well as farms and agriculture businesses.

French said if you applied before and didn’t receive money, the application is still valid and in the pipeline for approval.

— Contact Matt Welch at mwelch@winchesterstar.com