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Visit Greater Grand Forks earns North Dakota Tourism's Telegraph Award

“Five in Five” began in late 2019 as a way to quickly, easily and cheaply push out videos for social media consumption.

Telegraph Award Julie Rygg.jpg
Visit Greater Grand Forks Executive Director Julie Rygg accepts the statewide Telegraph Award on behalf of her organization, as a number of collaborators and North Dakota Department of Commerce Tourism and Marketing Director Sara Otte Coleman, far right, look on in the background. The award was given to Visit Greater Grand Forks for its "Five in Five" campaign.
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GRAND FORKS — A low-cost initiative that has gotten big results in helping promote Grand Forks events and activities has caught the attention of hundreds of thousands of viewers, as well as the state Department of Tourism and Marketing.

Visit Greater Grand Forks on Wednesday received the statewide Telegraph Award for Marketing Technology during a recognition and awards luncheon at the Alerus Center. The award — given to the local entity for its “Five in Five” campaign — was presented by North Dakota Department of Commerce Tourism and Marketing Director Sara Otte Coleman and Destination Marketing Association of North Dakota President Julie Obrigewitsch. It came at the culmination of the annual North Dakota Travel Industry Conference.

“It’s amazing,” said Julie Rygg, executive director of Visit Greater Grand Forks. “This is a low-cost initiative and now we have well over 300,000 video views. Now, people are contacting us and asking ‘hey, have you thought about interviewing this person?’ Or they’re saying ‘I would like to be interviewed.’”

“Five in Five” began in late 2019 as a way to quickly, easily and cheaply push out videos for social media consumption. Rygg, who accepted the award on stage along with a team of collaborators, said the intent of the video series was to be “short and sweet” and to work alongside her organization’s “Simply Grand” campaign, which has been in place since 2002.

The “Five in Five” initiative is intended to “really highlight the simply grand things going on in the community,” she said.


Generally, that has included interviewing event organizers, business owners, the mayors of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, organization directors and so forth.

The idea is to promote “anything that is about something that a visitor and residents are interested in,” Rygg said. “We do focus a lot on events — they really are our attractions.”

The Telegraph Award, according to the Department of Commerce, is given to a “tourism person or entity with creative use of social media platforms, websites, applications or data-driven consumer marketing that has resulted in increased awareness, image and visitation.”

With 54 total videos so far and upwards of 340,000 Facebook views, “Five in Five” obviously has checked most, if not all, of those boxes.

“The cost is low and the results are high and that, of course — as marketers with low budgets in a lot of cases — is what we’re looking for,” Otte Coleman said as she presented the award. “Our winner has already gained success beyond expectations and the interest continues to grow.”

Rygg, while accepting the award, pushed praise toward her staff, saying “I am so fortunate to work with such a great team of people.”

Other awards presented during Wednesday’s luncheon included:

  • Sakakawea Award for a Behind-the-Scenes Tourism Employee: Joel Walters, Dickinson Convention and Visitors Bureau.
  • Heritage Award for a Front-line Tourism Employee: Al Michels, Scenic Theater, Lisbon.
  • Flint Firestarter Award for a Tourism Development Project: Broadway Square, downtown Fargo.
  • Trailblazer Award for Tourism Innovation: North Dakota Native Tourism Alliance.
  • The Wade Westin Award for Marketing: North Dakota Country Fest, New Salem.
  • Legend Award for Travel & Tourism Industry Leadership: Charley Johnson, Fargo-Moorhead CVB.
Related Topics: TOURISM
Korrie Wenzel has been publisher of the Grand Forks Herald and Prairie Business Magazine since 2014.

He is a member of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. board of directors and, in the past, has served on boards for Junior Achievement, the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, United Way, Empire Arts Center, Cornerstones Career Learning Center and Crimestoppers.

As publisher, Wenzel oversees news, advertising and business operations at the Herald, as well as the newspaper's opinion content.

Wenzel can be reached at 701-780-1103, or via Twitter via @korriewenzel.
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