The thing about the Oregon Coast, says Zak Shelhamer, is the more you get to know it, the more there is to know.
“When you first drive by you feel like you’re experiencing something new but you also feel like you know it. As you do that same drive, new, hidden gems are revealed to you every day. I’m always taken aback by them,” Shelhamer says.
In his new position as OCVA Destination Marketing Coordinator, Shelhamer is well poised to help visitors make their own magical discoveries and rediscoveries of the Oregon Coast.
“The accessibly of this place is unbelievable,” he says. “Pull over at any spot and you will find one of the best views on the West Coast.”
An accomplished photographer and cinematographer, Shelhamer comes to OCVA with exceptionally well-honed chops in influencer development, branding and media marketing in the outdoor adventure world. As a commercial and documentary filmmaker, he’s made more than 400 videos of kayaking, mountain biking, climbing, mountaineering, base jumping and other extreme sports, which have drawn more than 200 million views. Forbes called him “#1 Instagram photographer to follow,” (to date, 152,000 people have taken that advice) and the Huffington Post named him “Best Adventure Traveler.”
Shelhamer also founded and led the now shuttered Campaign Collective in San Francisco — a full-service creative marketing agency with clients like Ford, Jeep, Yeti, Outside TV, Australia Tourism, Visit Banff, Go Hawaii and Visit Sun Valley. Shelhamer says the agency specialized in talent acquisition, social media marketing, custom content creation and data-driven campaigns. He also worked as creative director at GoPro and grew that company’s outdoor division from four to 150 employees.
How does a guy with a resume like that land in a humble Oregon town like Yachats? Shelhamer says it’s the power of the Coast.
“It’s about promoting something I’m passionate about and something I believe in. I believe the Oregon Coast has a lot of potential,” he says. “I realized how much of a need there is for this place to be promoted in the correct way. I want more talented people to move here and visit here.”
“Bringing Zak on board is a huge win for the Oregon Coast tourism industry and our partners,” says OCVA Executive Director Marcus Hinz. “He’s a good listener and understands our marketing isn’t as straightforward as marketing a widget. After all, our coastal cities and villages aren’t ‘products;’ they are communities.”
Hinz says Shelhamer will be working on the OCVA website as well as social and digital marketing plans for destination development projects like Live Culture Coast, the Wild Rivers Coast Food Trail, the Oregon Coast Trail and Whiskey Run Mountain Biking Trail. He says Shelhamer’s experience in scaling up marketing operations like he did at GoPro is especially relevant to the Coast.
“We are going to learn a lot of new things from Zak and our hope is that he is going to take us to a new level we don’t even know yet,” Hinz says.
An avid surfer and fly fisherman, Shelhamer first fell in love with the Coast on a road trip with his wife Whitney as they drove from San Francisco to visit family in Washington. Along the way they found themselves daydreaming, as so many visitors do, about finding a place to land along Oregon’s Coast. Then they passed through Yachats.
“This is the first town that felt like home,” Shelhamer says. “We fell in love with the place and the people.”
The couple relocated three years ago. They bought a house in Yachats and opened a retail space in Florence called Manna where Whitney creates handcrafted jewelry and sells a selection of sustainable goods and apothecary items.
Shelhamer started his new position in September. As he begins, he says he is excited to help tell the story of the Oregon Coast.
“People out here are exceptional at what they do, but they don’t boast about it. They are very humble and those stories need to be told.”