Strengthening Community and Business Growth

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RCAM Case Study: Building the 21st Century Workforce

In 2009, Hillhouse Creative was hired by the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) to develop branding, visual identity and all informational and marketing tools for the new Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing (RCAM), located in downtown Kingsport’s (Tennessee) Academic Village. RCAM is a 26,000-square-foot teaching facility designed to provide advanced manufacturing training to fill job-skills gaps faced by local business and industry. Both the Academic Village and RCAM were established through the efforts of AMP, a public-private coalition created to address workforce development issues. The partnership includes the city of Kingsport, the state of Tennessee, local industries and Northeast State Community College.

Project Goal

Local industries, such as Eastman Chemical Company and Domtar Corporation, faced losing hundreds of employees annually due to the retirement of baby boomers in this location’s working population. AMP solicited Hillhouse Creative to help educate local residents about the urgent need for trained workers and the high-tech training opportunities now available through RCAM. Monthly meetings were conducted with members of AMP to evaluate efficacy of campaign efforts.

Methods Used

Hillhouse Creative’s team developed a strategized, 18-month campaign that applied direct, first-person messaging (“I am the 21st century workforce.”) and portrait photography of real workers to hit home the reality that advanced training and job security were within reach through RCAM. Using the theme “Building the 21st Century Workforce,” the campaign we initiated included the following elements:

  • Development of new logo and visual identity (applied to business cards, letterhead, vehicle wraps, environmental graphics, signage)
  • New website,
  • Overview video: “The RCAM Story: Building the 21st Century Workforce”
  • Testimonial and informational videos clips displayed on website and YouTube
  • Various rack brochures directed at advanced manufacturing students
  • Scheduled series of press releases and PSAs (print, radio, TV)
  • Various print ads for magazines and local publications


When our 18-month campaign was launched in 2009, RCAM had 145 students enrolled in its semester training programs. By 2013, enrollment at the facility had increased 190 percent.

In 2009, Harvard University’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance presented its American Government Award to the Kingsport higher education initiative, which includes RCAM.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Hillhouse Video Works Tackles Troubling National Issue

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Hillhouse created a public service documentary to highlight our nation’s urgent need for criminal justice reforms.

In 2011, the United Way of Greater Kingsport contacted Hillhouse Video Works LLC about producing a short-form video for one of its charities, John R. Hay House, a local nonprofit facility that helps people re-enter society following incarceration. During production, Hillhouse film director Steve Newton and Jane Hillhouse (owner of Hillhouse Video Works) heard heart-wrenching stories from offenders who struggled heroically to rebuild their lives. They also learned troubling statistics related to sentencing practices and the high rate of recidivism in Tennessee. Hillhouse Video subsequently launched a nonprofit film project called “Outcasts: Surviving the Culture of Rejection” to highlight these issues.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row_content” equal_height=”yes” content_placement=”middle” css=”.vc_custom_1475159915336{margin-right: 0px !important;margin-left: 0px !important;border-right-width: 0px !important;border-left-width: 0px !important;padding-right: 0px !important;padding-left: 0px !important;background-color: #f4f4f4 !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/2″ animation=”wpb_left-to-right” css=”.vc_custom_1510149478652{background-image: url( !important;background-position: center !important;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}”][vc_empty_space height=”300″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″ animation=”wpb_right-to-left” css=”.vc_custom_1474396620732{padding: 80px !important;}”][vc_custom_heading text=”BROADCAST ON EAST TENNESSEE PBS:
“…a great local program that our viewers need to see.”” font_container=”tag:h3|font_size:24px|text_align:left|line_height:1.5em” google_fonts=”font_family:Raleway%3A100%2C200%2C300%2Cregular%2C500%2C600%2C700%2C800%2C900|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal” css=”.vc_custom_1510151169853{padding-bottom: 30px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row_content” css=”.vc_custom_1510150875577{padding-top: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

Project Goal

Led by accomplished film director Stephen Newton, Hillhouse Video Works began developing a 71-minute documentary in 2012 to spotlight the high rate of re-offending – or recidivism – that occurs not only in Tennessee but across the nation.

Methods Used

The staff of Hillhouse Video Works conducted numerous hours of research and taped more than 100 interviews to produce the film, which shows how:

  • Offenders often don’t get the help and resources needed to break the cycle of recidivism and, thus, live perpetually in a culture of social rejection.
  • American prisoners are being exploited as free labor for industry through the so-called “prison industrial complex” – a system that perpetuates incentives to lock people up with little or no attention given to individual cases or prisoner rehabilitation.

Go to the Culture of Rejection site to view a trailer of “Outcasts.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row_content” content_placement=”middle” parallax=”content-moving” css=”.vc_custom_1510151372863{margin-right: 0px !important;margin-left: 0px !important;border-right-width: 0px !important;border-left-width: 0px !important;padding-top: 90px !important;padding-right: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 90px !important;padding-left: 0px !important;background-image: url( !important;background-position: center;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/6″ animation=”wpb_left-to-right” css=”.vc_custom_1475160542035{background-position: center !important;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″ animation=”wpb_right-to-left” css=”.vc_custom_1474396620732{padding: 80px !important;}”][vc_custom_heading text=”Recommended by Video Librarian:
“…this is a solid title that will be especially welcome in regional collections….”” font_container=”tag:h3|font_size:35px|text_align:left|color:%23ffffff|line_height:1.5em” google_fonts=”font_family:Raleway%3A100%2C200%2C300%2Cregular%2C500%2C600%2C700%2C800%2C900|font_style:700%20bold%20regular%3A700%3Anormal” css=”.vc_custom_1510151202131{padding-bottom: 20px !important;}”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row_content” css=”.vc_custom_1510150883776{padding-top: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]


A world premiere for “Outcasts” was held April 26, 2014, in Blountville, Tennessee, through which Hillhouse Video Works showcased the urgent need for criminal justice reforms across our nation.

The following has since occurred:

  • Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam appointed a task force dedicated to making criminal justice reforms in Tennessee. Gov. Haslam was featured in “Outcasts.”
  • Our film was selected to air twice on East Tennessee PBS during 2014; other PBS stations are currently being approached.
  • Our film was featured at the YES! Film Festival held November 2014 in Columbus, Indiana.
  • “Outcasts” was one of 32 films jury-selected for a free, public screening at the Down East Flick Fest held in April 2015 in Greenville, North Carolina.
  • Our film was named a 2015 AVA Digital Platinum winner by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals.

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Sustaining Marketing Relationships

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Mapes Case Study: Developing E-commerce Website

Our relationship with Mapes Piano String Company, based in Elizabethton, Tennessee, is perhaps our oldest – dating back more than 35 years. Historically, Hillhouse Creative has provided Mapes with public relations, general branding and print advertising services. A family-owned (four generations), global manufacturer of piano strings, springs and specialty wires, the company was the first in America to make piano wire (since 1912) and the first to patent the piano wire manufacturing process. The company has been the sole strings supplier for Steinway & Sons, a leading piano maker, for more than a century. Today, Mapes manufactures wires and springs for numerous industries, including the U.S. Department of Defense.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row_content” equal_height=”yes” content_placement=”middle” css=”.vc_custom_1475159915336{margin-right: 0px !important;margin-left: 0px !important;border-right-width: 0px !important;border-left-width: 0px !important;padding-right: 0px !important;padding-left: 0px !important;background-color: #f4f4f4 !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/2″ animation=”wpb_left-to-right” css=”.vc_custom_1475159817037{background-image: url( !important;background-position: center !important;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}”][vc_empty_space height=”300″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″ animation=”wpb_right-to-left” css=”.vc_custom_1474396620732{padding: 80px !important;}”][vc_custom_heading text=”“Our relationship with Mapes Piano String Company, based in Elizabethton, Tennessee, is perhaps our oldest – dating back more than 35 years.“” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Raleway%3A100%2C200%2C300%2Cregular%2C500%2C600%2C700%2C800%2C900|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal” css=”.vc_custom_1510753462766{padding-bottom: 30px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row_content” css=”.vc_custom_1475160385418{padding-top: 30px !important;padding-bottom: 30px !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

Project Goal

Mapes came to Hillhouse in 2013 requesting assistance in developing an interactive website that would allow for around-the-clock, online purchasing of piano strings by general consumers and existing clients. In particular, Mapes wanted clients living in different time zones to have immediate access to placing orders, which would significantly reduce turn-around.

Methods Used

Hillhouse developed a website through which Mapes’ customers could set up password-accessible accounts and place piano string orders in real time simply by entering their instrument’s model and serial number. The automatic ordering capability applies to pianos made by leading piano makers, including Steinway & Sons, Baldwin, Mason & Hamlin, Yamaha Grand Pianos, Yamaha Upright Pianos, Pearl River, America Sejung and Kawai.

The site is extremely user-friendly, with large click-tabs for ordering specific products. In addition, step-by-step instructions are provided for how to measure strings that need replacing, as well as how to package damaged strings being sent for duplication.


When Mapes’ new website – – went live in 2013, the company was the first in the world to offer piano strings for sale via real-time e-commerce.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][/vc_row]