Prove your promise with sustainable video storytelling

Imagine this scenario: as someone committed to sustainability, you stumble upon a new brand claiming to be eco-friendly. Is your first thought skepticism? Is it just another company jumping on the green bandwagon without truly embodying the values of sustainability? But then something catches your eye – an immersive cinematic video revealing every step involved in creating their sustainable product from start to finish. Suddenly, doubts evaporate as transparency takes center stage.

This is where video storytelling becomes invaluable. Through carefully crafted visuals and compelling narratives, videos have the power to transport us into different worlds and evoke deep emotions within minutes or even seconds. For brands like yours that care about sustainability, seeking authenticity amidst skepticism, leveraging these elements effectively will not only captivate but also inspire action among potential customers.

One key aspect that elevates cinematic videos above other forms of advertising is their ability to engage multiple senses simultaneously. As viewers immerse themselves in stories told through high-quality production and relatable characters (your team members or your customers), they develop trust organically by witnessing firsthand what makes your brand genuinely environmentally conscious.

But why does emotion play such a crucial role here? It’s because when we connect emotionally with content presented before us, whether it’s joyous triumphs over personal adversity or heartwarming tales about overcoming challenges, we become invested stakeholders rather than passive observers.

By sharing your brand’s authentic journey, you allow viewers to witness the passion and dedication that drives every decision. Whether it’s showcasing renewable energy sources powering your production or highlighting fair trade partnerships with local communities, these emotional connections foster a sense of shared purpose between you and your audience.

Moreover, cinematic storytelling has an inherent ability to simplify complex concepts surrounding sustainability. Through visual metaphors and relatable narratives, videos break down intricate processes into digestible morsels that resonate deeply with viewers who may not have prior knowledge about environmental issues.

On the internet, where attention spans are fleeting at best, capturing hearts within seconds is essential for any successful marketing campaign. Cinematic video storytelling accomplishes this by leveraging powerful imagery combined with compelling storytelling techniques tailored specifically for platforms like social media feeds or website landing pages.

So if you’re looking to build trust in your brand, while leaving a lasting impact on potential customers’ minds, embrace the power of cinematic storytelling through video. Showcasing authenticity will counteract claims of greenwashing as audiences connect with the values they hold dear while propelling positive change forward together.

Basically… video is your best shot to prove your promise.

2 years since launching Vertical River… 3 Things I’ve learned

Vertical River is officially two years old today. They say 30% of small businesses fail by their 2-year anniversary, so we feel lucky to have made it this far, especially because the Covid-19 pandemic has really sucked.

We announced the launch of Vertical River on April Fools Day, not because we were trying to be clever, but because that’s when we finished editing our launch video.

It seemed like a no-brainer to make a commercial because that’s just what we do. We craft creative content that engages audiences. The commercial explained our company vision (Content Creation + Amplification) and showed off our creative video capabilities. We decided at the last second to include some bloopers at the end of the video which ended up getting a lot of laughs. That leads me to the first lesson… Find ways to inject some fun into your work or you’re not going to enjoy the journey.

That commercial got us one of our first big clients, the Home Depot Backyard at the Mercedes Benz Stadium. They saw the commercial on LinkedIn, invited us to pitch some ideas to them, and they loved what we presented so they asked us to make it a reality. Here’s a second lesson learned: Put yourself out there. If you don’t share your vision, then how do you expect to grow? Take advantage of the power of video marketing to connect with audiences in an authentic way.

Later that summer, a trusted contact in our network led us to working with The Southface Institute, which led us to working with The Kendeda Fund, which led us to working with Georgia Tech, which led us to working with Mecho Shade and Epic Metals. The third lesson I take away from our early days is that “work begets work”. When you make your clients happy, they will naturally refer you to other people in their network. Word of mouth is a powerful form of advertising and fresh new additions to the portfolio are vital to a new company.

We’d love to keep looking back on lessons learned, but we’re honestly too busy to spend much time reminiscing. There are projects to shoot and edit, campaigns to strategize, and new relationships to build.

It’s been a wild two years with serious challenges and some twists and turns no one expected. We’ve kept our foot on the gas, prioritized making clients happy, and continue to have fun building this company. Thanks for being a part of Vertical River’s journey!

Our Instagram Reels “Title-Safe” graphic overlay

Link to grab it is HERE

When we started posting reels to our Instagram accounts, we quickly realized there were a lot of variables to make sure that text wasn’t getting cut off or interfering with the app’s graphic overlays.

Instagram crops the Reels video differently based on what section of the app you were viewing it from. The grid, the feed, and the full-screen modes all had different areas that were going to be title-safe areas.

In the broadcast world, there is something called a ‘Title-Safe Area’ that editors use to make sure important information doesn’t get cropped out when the video is broadcast.

So we set out to design our own “Title-Safe” overlay we could use to keep track of where we should and shouldn’t put text. But this turned out to be much more complex than we imagined.

We thought it might be helpful to others so we decided to share our instagram reels ‘title-safe’ graphic overlay. You can download that and read more behind the scenes of how we made this graphic and the problems it solves by going to this page.

Happy 1st Anniversary Vertical River

Although humor and levity can serve as elixirs for serious times, silly April Fools jokes don’t feel right to me today. This is Vertical River’s official first birthday and that’s no joke.

We really did launch this company a year ago today, and when we did we figured April 1, 2020 would be a great time for a clever joke so we started brainstorming ideas. We came up with some good material, but none of it feels right with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting every aspect of our lives.

This crisis is a unique opportunity for us all to take some time to do things we didn’t plan on doing and probably weren’t thinking about. With that as a reference point, I want to reflect a bit on what we did and learned, how we did it, and most importantly why we’re doing it.

“Start with Why”

My brilliant friend, colleague, and Vertical River co-founder Kendrick Disch introduced me to Simon Sinek’s bestseller “Start with Why” in late 2019 when we were laying the foundation for Vertical River. Sinek really challenged us to start with WHY. This is a dynamic concept that we revisit regularly. We launched Vertical River because we want to amplify the message of ethical brands and organizations that are doing good. We believe in stories that resonate in the hearts and minds of real people, and we believe in commerce and conservation working together.

This has led us to working with some incredible organizations like:

  • The Southface Institute
  • The Kendeda Fund and Georgia Tech University
  • Emory University
  • Piedmont Healthcare
  • Arthur M. Blank Sports + Entertainment
The Kendeda Building
The Kendeda Building

This “WHY” has served as a catalyst to creating visual content to tell the story of the greenest building in the southeast United States, the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design; concepting, producing and executing a content strategy featuring real ATLiens to tell the story of The Home Depot Backyard; and working closely with the Southface Institute to tell their story of being a leader in environmental sustainability and regenerative economics for more than four decades.

We love “doing the work” and we did some awesome work in 2019 like: Shooting for five days in the heat of the summer in Atlanta’s “best backyard” – The Home Depot Backyard, shooting aerial photography of Atlanta from a helicopter for use in projects for the Southface Institute and Clean Cities – Georgia, shooting the opening ceremony of the Kendeda Building at Georgia Tech, and spending the better part of a day last fall working with pro football legend Rob Gronkowski – aka GRONK.

Vertical River with Rob Gronkowski
Hanging out with Rob Gronkowski during a video shoot

What We’ve Learned In Year One

We learned a lot, honestly. Mostly to work hard, do the right thing, be creative, trust the process, and work with the best people we can. We learned to always follow the rules you put in place to keep you on track. We’ve learned to expect change and be prepared for it.

We won some business we weren’t expecting to win and lost some pitches we felt pretty good about. We leveraged all the resources and technology we could access to keep growing, and we reinvested in human and tangible resources as we generated revenue.

One of things I’m most happy about is we did all this without incurring any debt, and that’s put us in a good position to work through this pandemic. We learned about the value of having savings for a rainy day.

Another thing I’m really proud of is having donated more than $1,000 to non-profit organizations like the Waterkeeper Alliance, Best Friends Animal Society, the Khan Academy, the Southface Institute, and Clean Cities – Georgia. The charitable support helped us live up to our commitment to give back and make our world a better place, which is a big part of Vertical River’s ethos.

We learned a lot about being business partners and how to communicate with each other. We learned a lot about taxes, business finances, and LLC vs. S-Corporations. We learned about contract law and entertainment law and all sorts of types of insurance.

What we really learned is how to build and grow a service-based business that puts people first. That’s what we’re proud of and what we know will carry us and our clients through the tough times. We’re here for our friends, colleagues, partners and clients so let us know how we can help you now and in the future.


First known photograph of Vertical River strategy session, circa January 2019.


3 Micro-Documentaries featuring the winners of the AMY Awards

from left, Kendrick Disch, Angelina McEwen, Kyle Cahall

We believe in the power of storytelling to create a better world. The power to share inspiration and knowledge with our work is quite literally our reason for getting out of bed each day. So yeah, we take this stuff quite seriously.

We recently had the privilege of telling three stories about amazing marketers in the Atlanta community. In collaboration with Express Your Visions, we crafted tiny little micro-documentaries about the passions that drive Moira Vetter, Robert Carnes, and Jo Ann Herold.

We were thrilled to showcase their stories at the Amy Awards, a celebration hosted by the Atlanta chapter of AMA, which brings the Atlanta marketing community together to award the best contributions to the field of marketing each year. Each of these individuals has a unique perspective on the power of marketing to drive positive change and we are grateful to have had the opportunity to share their insights with the world.


Lifetime Achievement Award – Moira Vetter

Moira Vetter, the founder of Modo Modo Agency, started her own agency in 2007 after discovering her passion for working with agencies while employed at a tech startup. Vetter believes that Modo Modo’s success comes from their ability to think beyond just marketing and to focus on the bigger picture of business growth. But Vetter strongly believes there’s more to marketing than just growing a business – it’s about being creative and thinking outside the box to challenge the transformation of a business, division, or brand that helps communities flourish.


Volunteer of the Year – Robert Carnes

Robert Carnes advocates for the enrichment of communities through volunteering and believes in exploring different paths while learning new things through volunteer work, and then sharing the skills and knowledge he gains with various organizations. As a member of the Mentorship and Colligate Committees of AMA Atlanta, Carnes mentors and connects marking professionals with college events for student education. His common goal is to contribute to the next generation’s education and provide them with opportunities to learn from professionals. Carnes encourages volunteering as a means of personal and professional growth while making a difference in the world.


Marketer for Good – Jo Ann Herold

Jo Ann Herold, the founder and CEO of Herold Growth Consulting, believes that marketing can be a force for good. She shares her experience of using purposeful marking to help eradicate childhood hunger in the community while working as the vice president of the Arby’s Foundation. Herold emphasizes that having a clear sense of purpose and a commitment to doing good can attract like-minded individuals, foster stronger connections, and leave a lasting legacy. Her story highlights the power of purposeful marking and the importance of making a meaningful contribution to society.


We are honored to have been a part of these stories and to help amplify the voices of these Atlanta stars. Moira Vetter’s entrepreneurial journey, Robert Carnes’ commitment to volunteering and mentorship, and Jo Ann Herold’s dedication to marketing for good all serve as powerful reminders of the impact that marketing can have on society. We hope that these stories inspire others to use their skills and expertise to create positive change in their communities and beyond.

Vertical River Has Been Named a 2022 Best of Georgia Award Winner by UpCity!

We are proud to announce that Vertical River has been recognized as a Best of Georgia Award winner by UpCity!


To commemorate the top 50 B2B providers in each U.S. state and Canadian province, the UpCity “Best of” Award highlights the tremendous work being done by our partners and more in their local area. 

Awards are given based on the UpCity Recommendability Rating, which was developed to determine a B2B service provider’s credibility and trustworthiness, giving UpCity the confidence to recommend them to potential buyers seeking their services. 

UpCity is a B2B online marketplace that connects businesses to trustworthy service providers.

With 70,000+ listed providers—from digital marketing agencies, consulting firms, development specialists, and many more—over 1.5 million businesses have used UpCity to find exceptional partners for their needs. 

UpCity’s proprietary algorithm pulls from digital data points like reviews (both on UpCity and other third-party review sites), rankings in relevant search results, domain authority, website speed, and user experience to connect businesses with high-quality service providers like us.



Dan Olson, CEO of UpCity, had this to say about Vertical River:

“The team at Vertical River embraces an approach that has generated customer loyalty and both short- and long-term successes. This dedication and incredible work ethic is why they achieved a Best of Award in 2022.” —Dan Olson, CEO, UpCity

This honor has been possible, in part by our 5-star review rating on UpCity. Here is a brief sample from our notes of feedback we’ve received from our excellent clients:

“I can’t say enough about the skill, creativity and patience of Kendrick and the rest of the crew at Vertical River. They are extremely flexible and accommodating while working within our often aggressive schedules, guiding us through several revisions and a script change or two. Ultimately, they delivered two fantastic videos that wowed our target audiences. Offering script advice, finding superior voice talent, quick editing turnaround times and outstanding video and sound work, they really do it all and do it well. Even better, they’ve played a vital role in helping us with our big picture stuff, assisting us as we plan our marketing and advertising strategy throughout the year. I’m excited about our next collaboration!” —Chris Martin

“I’ve worked with Vertical River on a variety of projects from video to event support. Each time my expectations were exceeded. They are super engaged and responsive, have great creative insights and recommendations, and always deliver. I can’t recommend them highly enough.” —Elizabeth North

Thank you to UpCity for naming us a 2022 Best of Award winner, and thank you to our customers who inspire us to continue to raise the bar in everything we do. Without you, none of this would be possible.

The vertical video showdown: YouTube Shorts vs Instagram Reels vs TikTok

2021 has been an incredibly exciting year so far in the social media space, with competition amongst platforms at an all-time high. We’re in the age of the short-form video — and the big players are in the race for the attention of consumers with new product launches and features.

In 2018, TikTok made its highly anticipated US debut and in just a matter of months, the video-sharing app garnered hundreds of millions of downloads. For many marketers, first came the inquisitive scoffs at the seemingly crazy viral dance trends. But then promptly followed, was the realization of the platform’s genius marketing opportunities —  predominantly surrounding the ability to reach younger audiences around the globe (who are spending an average of 52 minutes per day on the app)  in a highly creative and playful environment.

For marketers, the brilliant thing with TikTok is that it does not require huge budgets for content creation, with spontaneous content produced on the whim having just as much chance of making noise.

The platform also gives marketers a level playing field when it comes to reach and engagement. Unlike Instagram and YouTube, TikTok accounts with even the smallest of followings can get millions of views on a new video thanks to the viral nature of the algorithm. As long as the content appeals to the audience, the engagement will follow. In fact, the platform experiences higher engagement rates than any other social media platform, meaning that for marketers, their hard work is far more likely to pay off.

Today, the app has been downloaded more than 2 billion times, taking the reign as the most downloaded app in 2020.

With all this success in such a short amount of time, it was always inevitable that YouTube and Instagram would be watching closely in a bid to try to retrieve the watch time that they have lost to the young, exuberant and wildly popular platform.

First followed Instagram Reels, launched in August 2020, providing users with a platform that looked a lot like TikTok.

Then in March this year, YouTube launched its newest feature, YouTube Shorts, competing against its fellow short-form video competitors to take out the title. Strikingly similar to its competitors, Youtube Shorts enables creators to record, edit and share short, vertical video content that connects them to YouTube’s 2 billion users.

YouTube Shorts vs Instagram Reels vs TikTok: The Differences

Instagram Reels, TikTok, and YouTube Shorts all feature many similar capabilities when it comes to creating, discovering, viewing, and sharing content. But, there are some important differences you’ll need to know – let’s take a look:

Video length: More Tok on the Clock

While videos uploaded to YouTube Shorts can be up to 60 seconds, short videos recorded on the YouTube app itself can only be a maximum of 15 seconds, whereas Instagram Reels feature a maximum video length of 60 seconds for both recorded and uploaded videos. TikTok has very recently announced it will be introducing “more Tok on the Clock”,  increasing the maximum length of videos on its platform from one minute, to three.

And when it comes to posting on the above platforms, there are many social media management tools out there that enable marketers to plan and schedule, creating the captions and previewing how each video will look in the feed. However, these tools currently do not support automatic posting to the platforms, meaning, for now, you still have to go ahead and do the manual posting… *cue groans from marketers everywhere*.

Not-so-special effects on YouTube

A pitfall of YouTube’s product is that it lacks a large catalog of special effects, unlike the wide array of AR features and green-screen options found on TikTok, which allows users to be super creative with their content. Similarly, Instagram Reels has a huge library of filters.

Sticker support

Instagram’s sticker functions have been used widely by brands across all industries to prompt interaction with their audience. From gathering direct feedback from audiences using the Questions sticker, using fun polls to drive community engagement, to donation stickers to help raise funds for the charities and causes.

Like Instagram, TikTok too offers its users the ability to get creative with stickers, including donations, polls, mentions, and hashtags.

YouTube Shorts has yet to introduce stickers, arguably missing out on a prime opportunity for brands and marketers alike to build deeper connections with audiences and gain valuable insights.

Shop til you drop… just not on YouTube Shorts

While Instagram is a social networking service first, it is also an extremely valuable e-commerce platform for big and small businesses alike. The shopping features we have become accustomed to on the platform have also been introduced to Instagram Reels, allowing content creators and online businesses to tag the products that appear in the video. Instagram has also made the recent announcement that they’re no longer a photo-sharing app, with the Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, saying the company will be focusing more on entertainment and video after seeing the success of competitors like TikTok and YouTube. For brands and creators, this means that in order to stay competitive and gain a slice of attention on the platform, videos and Reels are going to have to take priority from now on.

To date, TikTok has experimented with shopping features, though not to the extent of Instagram. This includes allowing users to add e-commerce links to their bios, launching the “Shop Now” buttons for brands’ video ads, plus the “Hashtag Challenge Plus” e-commerce feature which allows users to shop for products associated with a sponsored hashtag.

For YouTube Shorts? Our bank account balance can take a little breather from our impulsive buys… for now anyway. While YouTube is, in many ways, already a major shopping destination (I mean, who can resist a good old unboxing video?), the platform has been slow in the adoption of monetization opportunities through commerce.

However, rumor has it that YouTube is beta testing a new integrated shopping experience that allows viewers to make in-app purchases. This could completely change the way marketers approach the platform in the future.

How?  While TikTok and Instagram host content that is much shorter-form, YouTube is known for long-form videos that explore niche topics, from gaming to fashion to arts and crafts. For marketers and brands, this presents a unique opportunity to sell their products to specific target audiences. This will mean building strong relationships with creators in their industry, ensuring optimum exposure to an engaged and invested audience.

When it comes to engagement, short-form videos are likely to trump all other content forms.

For the NBA franchise, for example, Instagram Reels has enabled them to achieve a 22% higher engagement than the average engagements they’ve had from standard Instagram posts or Instagram Stories.

Since YouTube wants its new platform to succeed and stand a chance against TikTok, they are going to be making Shorts a priority, and thus much more likely to promote your Shorts to a vast audience.


As we venture further into the year, it remains to be seen which short-form video platform will prove to be the favorite amongst both creators, marketers, and consumers. Despite the differences between the trio, it’s hard to deny the similarities. But at the rate TikTok is growing in such a short amount of time, it’s difficult to see how the platform will be significantly challenged by any rival platform.

Election Day Is A Vertical River Holiday

Vertical River is making Election Day a company holiday from this day forward, and we encourage and support the effort to make Election Days national, federal, and local holidays. Voting is a fundamental right and duty of all citizens. Tuesday, November 3 is one of the most important elections in our nation’s history. It’s become clear to us that ALL elections are critically important to the success of our nation, all the way down to local elections that directly impact our daily lives.

We want our employees to spend this November 3 and every future Election Day voting and helping other eligible American citizens to VOTE. Whether or not our employees voted early, by mail, or plan to vote in person on Nov 3, we are proud to prioritize the democratic process moving forward. We also realize that there are more than just the major two- and four-year election cycles. To this end, Vertical River will provide our staff the necessary flexibility to vote and actively participate in all elections whether or not it’s considered an official company holiday. You can visit, and for our fellow Georgians, for more information on how and where to safely cast your ballot. 

Get out there and VOTE, y’all! 

#NOV32020 #VOTE #MakeElectionDaysHolidays

Additional Voter Information Resources:


#SafetyFirst Pandemic Production

Vertical River has safely been conducting on-location production shoots with clients and talent since early July and we wanted to share the guidelines we’re following to make production as safe as pandemically possible. We’re adhering to CDC, Georgia Department of Public Health, State of Georgia Film & Television Production Best Practices and encourage all in the industry to do so as well. Please contact us at if you’d like a non-branded version of this infographic for your production needs. Stay safe, mask up, and keep working (safely) y’all!




2019 Was Our Best Year Ever

2019 was the best year ever for us here at Vertical River… but it was also our first year as a company, and 12 months ago we didn’t even have a name.

So, we’ve come a long way since then and we wanted to invite you along as we take a quick look back at some of the projects that we loved working on.