While most people wouldn’t immediately connect tourism boards with geeks, the connection absolutely exists. Just look at the amazing work Visit Philly and Visit Bucks County have been doing with social media, launching fantastic Foursquare movements, awesome contests, and recently, Instagram campaigns.
So yeah, Pennsylvania tourism corporations definitely carry a geek card, especially when it comes to social media toys.
That said, this week’s Geek of the Week spotlights Jessica Lawlor. A graduate of Temple University, this social media loving, public relations pro can be found at Bucks County’s tourism office, Visit Bucks County. There, she handles marketing and communications, and in her free time, blogs away and runs marathons.
We caught up with Jess to talk about Visit Bucks, her blog, and her e-newsletter.
You’re totally open about being a geek over PR and marketing. Tell us about what you do.
Oh, yes. I am TOTALLY a geek when it comes to public relations, marketing and social media. The obsession started in college when I began taking PR courses and learned about Twitter in 2007 from a guest speaker at a meeting I attended. From there, I was HOOKED.
Twitter became a major part of my life…five years and more than 34,000 tweets later, this social networking site has introduced me to some of my best friends, helped me land internships and jobs and opened the door to opportunities I otherwise never would have found.
Now, I work at Visit Bucks County, the official tourism promotion agency for Bucks County, PA, where I’m responsible for B2B PR, e-communications, content development and social media.
On the side, I am the Vice President of Programs for the Philadelphia Public Relations Association. We plan awesome events like media panels, happy hours, behind-the-scenes events and more for public relations professionals throughout the region.
Speaking of that blog… you run a blog/e-newsletter with the theme “Get Gutsy.” Tell us a bit about it. What made you launch it?
After blogging for five years under many different names and themes, everything from a personal blog to a book review blog, I felt confined. I had cornered myself into a niche I was no longer passionate about. I took a break from blogging to figure things out.
Fast forward a couple of months. After seeing this pin with the quote “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” on Pinterest, I knew EXACTLY what I wanted my blog to be about: taking risks and not looking back. This is a theme I can absolutely get behind, and one that I know I can stick with, even as my other interests and hobbies may change.
The “Get Gutsy” theme came about as I was brainstorming names for my e-newsletter, featuring exclusive content not found on the blog. I love the word ‘gutsy’ and found that it really defined everything I was striving to communicate on my blog. From there, it became my blog’s sort-of mantra. I use #GetGutsy as a hashtag and find it’s the easiest way to describe what my blog (and life) is all about.
You’ll find a little bit of everything on my blog: tips about writing, productivity, jobs, social media and running, along with personal stories, guest posts and lots of inspiration to reach your own goals!
And on that blog, you write about how insanely active you are. Running marathons and what-not. What’s your favorite one?
I may be insanely active now, but it wasn’t always this way. In high school, I was THAT girl who literally couldn’t run the required mile.
After college, I shed 30 pounds and made it my goal to become a runner. After running my first 5K in 2011, I was hooked and continued signing up for races. In 2012, I ran 12 races and I’m aiming to run 13 in 2013. Side note: I’m not sure how many years I can realistically keep up with this goal.
My favorite race has to be the Broad Street Run. It’s iconic! There was nothing more powerful for me than running down Broad Street and seeing so many places that define my Philadelphia experience: Temple University, Center City, South Philly, the stadiums and more. I look forward to making this race a tradition.
You’ve lived in the Philadelphia-area all your life and now, you work for a tourism agency in the suburbs. So you clearly know the region. Tell us some of your favorite haunts.
Where to begin…
In Philly, it’s all about the food. There are SO many restaurants I love and I’m single-handedly working my through all the city’s Mexican restaurants in search of the perfect margarita. Right now, my favorites are Distrito in University City, Cantina Los Caballitos on East Passyunk and La Calaca Feliz in Fairmount.
In the suburbs, for me, it’s all about the experiences. There’s nothing better than wandering through quirky, yet charming New Hope on a beautiful spring day, touring (and tasting!) at a winery or shopping and eating your way through Peddler’s Village.
As much as I love the city, I’ll always be a suburban girl at heart. I truly feel I have the best of both worlds living in the suburbs, but spending lots of my time playing in the city.
Favorite places geeks will love?
My inner geek (and inner romantic!) was super excited to learn that Bucks County is home to castles: real, beautiful, ornately-decorated, concrete castles. I was in awe when I first toured Fonthill Castle and the Mercer Museum in Doylestown. Go…I promise you’ll be entranced by its history and beauty as much as I was and continue to be each time I have the opportunity to visit.
Lastly, share some of your geeky hobbies with us. Don’t be shy, we won’t judge.
My biggest geeky hobby is probably holing up at my local Panera Bread with my laptop and a list of blog post ideas. My blog is one of my biggest passions and I spend a lot of my free time (re: 5 a.m on weekdays before work) brainstorming and writing. Wait, is that even geeky? To me, it’s cool.