The Annual Arkansas Folk Festival is arguably the largest and most popular of its kind in the country. The festival features roots music and bluegrass and takes place in Mountain View, Arkansas. Described by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 2019 as “one of the Natural State’s most venerable yearly gatherings,” the event is one of both cultural and economic importance to the Stone County Community.
As was the case with many events, the festival was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The festival, usually held the third weekend of April, was set for its 58th edition, an important event for the rural Arkansas city highly dependent on tourism and the festival bringing in thousands of visitors. But it was not to be in 2020.
After the annual Arkansas Folk Festival was postponed and eventually canceled, Stone Bank got creative and honor the music that has become synonymous with Mountain View. The bank had a relationship with Ozark Highlands Radio, which is produced by the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View and airs on over 130 public and community radio stations all across the country. Ozark Highlands Radio is a weekly one hour program featuring musical performances, past and present, as well as segments on the cultural history and tradition of the greater Ozarks region.
So, the idea for “Cabin Fever 2020” was born. The bank and its ad agency worked the with executive producer of the radio program to recruit a handful of area performers to record segments for a virtual concert. The online concert streamed online Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. at cabinfever.stonebank.com.
The first priority of putting together the pieces was to develop a plan to produce the actual “concert.” The timeline was tight. Musicians were given roughly 10 days to record and submit their performances. The budget was limited and there were no real outside costs associated with video production. The only budget items were paid advertising and publicity efforts. Obviously, the biggest challenge was the timetable, while daunting, was manageable due to tight coordination and total cooperation from all participating entities. We were also competing with a plethora of virtual concerts flooding social media.
After the air date was determined, the bank and its PR team swung into action with just a little over a month to put everything in place.
Within two weeks, the team had:
- Established the name of the event, “Cabin Fever 2020”
- Designed a logo
- Solidified the partnership with Ozark Highlands Radio to procure musicians ensuring that there were no copyright infractions
- Planned for video production and live streaming
- Produce a news release to be distributed to over 200 news outlets
- Designation of the charity, the Committee of 100
- Advertising and promotion to increase awareness of the event including an aggressive social media campaign, radio commercials, and newspaper ads
Cabin Fever 2020 was a success on several fronts:
- The event received major news coverage in the state’s largest newspaper, several daily newspapers including those located in the markets where Stone Bank has locations.
- Radio interviews by the two largest public radio stations in the state.
- Notable online mentions by the leading business publications and news sources.
- According to the Global Web Index Report in April 2020, only 34% of baby boomers were spending their time in quarantine streaming video. Given that the advertising budget and time were significantly limited, attracting and retaining an audience who are the least inclined to stream online video content was no small feat.