Catherine Smith: USA TODAY 10 Best Readers Choice Awards Manager

 

Angela Tuell  0:05

Welcome to Media in Minutes. This is your host Angela Tuell. This podcast features in-depth interviews with those reports on the world around us. They share everything from their favorite stories to what happened behind the lens and give us a glimpse into their world. From our studio here at Communications Redefined, this is Media in Minutes. Today we are talking with Catherine Smith. She is a freelance travel writer and a contractor for USA Today’s 10 Best Readers Choice Awards as the production manager. She is also the creator of HerBagsWerePacked.com, a website focused on helping women release emotional baggage through solo travel. Catherine loves history and off the beaten path travel experiences. She manages Airbnbs in Philadelphia, and dreams of one day being invited to throw a first pitch at a Phillies game. Hi, Catherine. I’m so happy to talk with you today for our podcast. 

Catherine Smith  1:03
Thanks, Angela. I’m excited to be here. 

Angela Tuell  1:04  
Yes, I have to say we got to meet in Indianapolis this summer. And our conversation was so fun. I didn’t want it to end. So I’ve been looking forward – 

Catherine Smith  1:11  
I know I was sorry I didn’t have more time. 

Angela Tuell  1:13  
Yeah. So we do today. So we must start you know, by talking about how you actually went to college for a degree in elementary education and teaching. So how did you go from that into working as a contractor with USA Today?

Catherine Smith  1:28  
So the really funny thing is, I started school as a theater major switched to education. 

Angela Tuell  1:35  
Okay. 

Catherine Smith  1:35  
And I remember when I switched saying, I feel like by the time I’m done, I’m gonna decide this isn’t what I’m doing anyway, which is a really weird thing to say, as you’re switching your major. But I truly believe like the the short answer of it is I got here because of saying yes to opportunities that seemed interesting, and seeing where they lead. The and I think that kind of has become the theme of my career, actually. But you know, so I started as a teacher, I was really fresh and excited and thought I was going to be one of those ones who like changes the world and they make a movie about me, you know, those teachers. Very, like naive. And for reasons we won’t get into based on a lot of like corruption and things in the local school system, where I am and where I was teaching, things did not work out as planned. So I left teaching and started working with a nonprofit teaching nutrition to teen parents. So I was not in a classroom full time, but I was still doing education. 

Angela Tuell  2:43  
Yeah. 

Catherine Smith  2:43  
And eventually, I said, You know what, I want to figure out how to work remote and control my schedule a little more, so that when important life things happen, I can take care of them. And it doesn’t mean not working, but having a little more say over how things go. So I started researching working remotely. And I told people like, Hey, this is what I’m trying to do. Some opportunities came up to do like VA work. And I just was saying yes to anything that let me be remote and figure out what I was doing. Along the way. I started traveling a lot. I did this challenge for myself in 2015. I started a website, it’s no longer out there, but SoonerNotLater.com. And it was – the goal was 52 bucket list items in 52 weeks, and I was trying to challenge people to take action on their goals sooner, not later. And a lot of my stuff it turned out was travel related surprise, surprise. People started saying you should start a travel blog. And I just felt like the internet was so noisy. I didn’t want to just add more noise to the internet. I thought well, what is it? Like? I’m gonna tell you how to get cheap flights? Like, how hard is that? Like, you just look, it’s already on the internet, you know? 

Angela Tuell  3:57  
Right.

Catherine Smith  3:57  
Like I just I didn’t want to do like more travel hacks. So I kind of kept pushing that aside. And for like a year people kept saying it and eventually started thinking about something that had come up when I was back in college, which we could talk about later, which eventually this phrase I had “her bags were packed” and it meant something to me. And I thought travel on my own has been something really powerful for me and so no one’s talking about solo travel and what that means and how that is powerful for women and healing. And so I said well, I’ll make a travel blog about that because I don’t hear anyone talking about that then I’m not just making more noise. So I started that and then occasionally started writing some freelance articles and one of the very first ones I wrote which was actually just about a food here in South Jersey called the panzerotti, is this delicious deep fried pizza pocket it is not a Hot Pocket is not a canoli, calzone. It’s just this amazing food that this family that immigrated here from Italy about 60 years ago, they made very popular in our region. And so I wrote the history of this food. And this article took off, and it went viral, which was really crazy. And so then I got more writing opportunities. And the more writing opportunities came up, the more I stayed curious. And the more curious I was, the more I said yes to things, which led to the pandemic, which led to no writing.

Yes. No travel writing especially, right?

Yes. And then in the midst of that, USA Today 10 Best who I had written that panzarotti article for, they said, Do you want to take over our part time, our social media? And I said, Yes, not because I like doing social media. I really don’t. I said yes, because it was the pandemic, and they hadn’t published anything in a long time. And I said, Well, how do I stay relevant to them? How do I stay connected with them? And so I just said, Yes. And I figured it out. And then a few months later, the person who was running the Readers Choice Awards left, and they said, Do you want to do this, and I honestly felt super overwhelmed, because I was still learning the social media. And I’d gone from having nothing to do during the pandemic to having a bunch of work. But I knew that it was the perfect crossroads of all my experiences. And I’m really good at organizing small businesses, organizing people, and I love the travel and the curiosity, and there’s awards for everything. And so I was like, you know, what, yeah, let’s say yes to this. So now I’m here. 

Angela Tuell  6:43  
That’s great. So as the 10 best Readers Choice Awards Production Manager, you know, what does that mean exactly?

Catherine Smith  6:49  
With the Readers Choice Awards, I am responsible for connecting with experts in various fields, because we have something like 400 awards throughout the year. And they are for everything from road tripping and grocery stores to hotels, and miles and points and rewards and everything in between. And so I connect with different travel experts and lifestyle experts and get their advice on nominations, what they think should be nominated for the different awards. And then I helped to tally that and that whole process.

Angela Tuell  7:26  
Wow. So it’s a lot of project managing too and people managing.

Catherine Smith  7:31  
Yes, it’s lots of lots of networking, lots of project management, lots of reading between the lines. All sorts of pieces. Yes.

Angela Tuell  7:41  
What is the mission, you know, or goal of these awards? And do you have a specific audience you target with them? 

Catherine Smith  7:47  
Yeah. So USA Today, TMF aims to be the go to site for reader voted and editor recommended ideas for where to go and how to spend your time. And the Readers Choice Awards are just one way we go about serving our readers in that way, and helping them to achieve their goals of traveling more and that sort of thing. Okay. And as far as the specific audience, I mean, we really are general travel. And it varies based on the award. So a lot of our awards are family travel, some of it is solo travel, some of it is a little bit more probably senior travel, some of its luxury travel. So we really have everything across the board. 

Angela Tuell  8:28  
So a big audience or a wide range of audience. So can you describe the process a little bit more of how nominees and winners are selected?

Catherine Smith  8:37  
Yeah. So I would say there’s the public facing process. And then there’s behind the scenes. So public facing, so people know, the awards. Basically what happens is every Monday at noon, we launch a series of awards, and it’s usually on some theme, like I think this week, we launched maybe ball themed awards or something I can’t play, where are you involved, but yes, the words would launch and then it’s usually seven awards. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less, and they each have 20 nominees. And so for four weeks, it’s open to the public to vote for those four weeks, they can vote once a day. And then at the end of the four weeks, there is a pause while we go through and do a double check on security and all the different things. And then we announce the winners now behind the scenes. It starts with our team deciding what the awards are going to be for the year. And then we like I said, I find experts for the various awards and some of them are people who work with us year in and year out and some of them are new. I’m always trying to make sure we’re getting new diverse voices. And that’s everything from different ages, different locations throughout the country. different genders, different races, like every across the board so that I can make sure we’re getting all perspectives on those nominees. So people make the nominations and then that our editorial team goes through all of that. And we end up with 20 nominees that we choose.

Angela Tuell  10:06  
Wow. So yeah, and you do at least you said at least are around seven of those a week.

Catherine Smith  10:11  
Yeah, on average, I think we have seven and a half a week. And there’s –

Angela Tuell  10:15  
That’s a lot.

Catherine Smith  10:15
 
 …probably 50 weeks that we do it. So yeah, it’s almost four, almost 400 on average. So 

Angela Tuell  10:15  
That is a lot. Yeah. So how does PR professionals get, you know, a destination, a restaurant, an activity, whatever it might be in front of you to be considered for an award? 

Catherine Smith  10:34  
So alright, so there’s the basic answer, which I like to say that, you know, a lot of these, I feel like we’re one of the only ones left that’s not pay to play. So a lot of people reach out, and they’re like, how do I get my client on your list? How much does it cost to get on your list? Like things like that. And, and like, I’m not knocking them.  Like, if that’s how other people do it. I don’t blame you for asking. But that’s not how we do it. And yeah, there’s no outside submission process that is part of our way of protecting the integrity of the awards. And so what I like to say is, I like to tell people, if someone personally reaches out to me, I like to say, Listen, like, we don’t have an outside submission process. I appreciate you making me aware of your nominee, I’ll be honest, and tell you that we really don’t select nominees that we don’t have personal experience with. So you know, I’m not That’s not me fishing for an invitation. But it is me saying, like, make sure you’re connecting with writers who are working for the platforms you’re interested in. And that goes for Readers Choice Awards, or anything else. You know, so yeah, if you want to get that in front of me, and you’re able to invite me, awesome. If I can come and I think it could lead to something I will. Now, of course, people in this day and age, thanks to I think a lot, a lot of like influencer type things who can guarantee coverage, a lot of people don’t want to bring you out unless you can guarantee coverage. And for us on the journalism side, like we can’t make that promise. And that’s really unethical for us to do. I like to tell people listen, like if you believe in your clients, in your business, whatever this is, if you believe in the experience that they’re offering, I would love to come and experience that and experience what else is going on in that community, don’t just have me come for like, like hydrophone thing we want this hotel to be the best romantic Hotel. So we’re going to put all this money and effort into you coming to stay at our hotel, and we’re not going to plan anything in the community for you to like, it’s a brand that does not go over well. But if you’re like, hey, come experience this and experience our community, I guarantee you there’s a story to find there, whether it leads to an award or just a different story. If you’re making the connections with writers, we’re always we’re always looking for the stories. And you know, so pick people that you trust, you could look at me and go, Okay, I want to connect with you. Because you’re at USA Today 10 Best, right? And I get right. And that’s awesome. And I love that that creates opportunities. But also that’s puts a lot of pressure on us as people especially freelancers. It’s like anything, and everything could change at any moment. And so I say pick writers, content creators that you trust to tell the story more than you’re worried about the platform. And I say that because it goes both directions. If you invited me somewhere four years ago, when I was just like, writing for my blog and writing freelance and hoping someone would accept the article, and you invited me not knowing that a couple years down the road, I would have this position. Yeah, you lucked out. Because then now all those experiences are in the back of my mind, and I can go Ooo that would be great for that nomination. Yeah, so really sort of understanding that it’s a long term investment in like marketing your, your businesses, and also understanding that it’s not always immediate results, you know, some there’s still stuff that especially with the pandemic, like there are stories, experiences, I had pre pandemic that I’m like, Well, I still haven’t gotten to write about that, but it is rolling around the back of my head, and I’m always looking for ways to put that somewhere.

Angela Tuell  14:31  
Yes, that that those are such great tips and advice. Have you noticed these specific travel industry trends, you know, towards the end of this middle end of this year?

Catherine Smith  14:40  
I laugh at this question because I do not feel like a trendy person. I always feel like I don’t I don’t know what’s happening in the world. And I shouldn’t mean when it comes to this, but I can tell you what I’m hoping for.

Angela Tuell  14:54  
Yes, that would be great.

Catherine Smith  14:55  
What I’m hoping for is that people will maybe be a little more intentional about pursuing authentic experiences and less on like what we think we should do, whether that’s based on our feed or targeted ads, or like, you know, oh, like everyone says you should go to Paris. So you should go to Paris. But like, maybe when you’re doing your research, you discover that there’s a really cool, artsy town an hour north of Paris, and you’re like, Well, I’m not really a city person. And so maybe I’ll spend a day in Paris, and then I’ll go and be out in the countryside and visit Monet’s gardens and make art, you know. So just finding the things that are authentic to them, I think is really special. And I hope we go in that direction.

Angela Tuell  15:39  
Yes, that’s great advice. We do have to go back to where you’re mentioning the travel site, focused on solo travel, and you’re also the creator of HerBagsWerePacked.com, a travel site focused on helping women release emotional baggage through solo travel. How did this come about? 

Catherine Smith  15:56  
Yes. Okay, so here’s the backstory. When I was in high school, I was in a pretty toxic, frankly, abusive situation, relationship for a few years. And it really obviously messed with my head. And then in college, I was out of that situation, and in a new relationship that was just kind and healing. But I found that my baggage from the past was always creeping up and impacting my present day. And so I was on camping trip, and I just experienced a situation where I was seeing things through my past filter, and it was impacting stuff. And I was sitting in journaling, and I just said, is it ever going to stop like, is this past stuff ever going to stop destroying the current good things, and this phrase just came to me, her bags were packed, and I wrote it at the top of the page. And I thought, one day, I’m gonna write a book, and it’s gonna be how I like overcame, like, silly. I was probably like, 21, I guess.

Angela Tuell  17:06  
Right. 

Catherine Smith  17:07  
And I was just like, I’m gonna write a book, and it’s gonna be my healing journey. And this is the title of my book. And I told just like my mom, and like two other people, and I just sat on it for years. And every now and then I try to write something and be like, am I healed yet? It wouldn’t quite get there. Then, like I said, when people started asking me to write a travel site, I reflected back on what travel had meant to me. And I just thought, throughout my 20s travel, specifically, solo travel, I had mostly solo traveled, had been such a cathartic and healing process for me of learning about myself, and growing and building confidence, and discovering what I like and don’t like, and, and all of that. And I thought, Well, gee, like that those two things connect so well together, and her bags are packed that it sounds traveling. So I find that I’m gonna make a solo travel site. And so that’s how that started. And the goal really was just to create a space for women to learn about solo travel, to share their experiences, I really believe in having women share their solo travel experiences so that other people can be inspired by that. So I interview women, it’s called Unpacking Solo Travel as a series on there where women get to share their stories and hopefully inspire others. And I –

Angela Tuell  18:36  
I love that.

Catherine Smith  18:37  
Yeah, yeah, that’s so that’s the journey there.

Angela Tuell  18:40  
What was your first solo trip? And how did it go?

Catherine Smith  18:42  
My first solo trip happened by accident. My I guess it was April 2010. It was right before I graduated college, and there was a woman I had met earlier in college, she was camping in our area, and she was doing this cross country road trip and she was married. But she said she just went on this trip by herself. And I remember thinking like, Wow, that’s so cool. And Eat Pray Love had come out. And –

Angela Tuell  19:06  
Uh huh. 

Catherine Smith  19:07  
I don’t remember. I don’t think Wild was out yet. Cheryl Strayed a while. But so I was like, alright, that’s cool. And I wish I could be like that. I wish I had that kind of confidence. And so in 2010, I signed up for a 10k in Charleston, South Carolina. And I was like, I’m gonna go I had friends who did it every year. So it’s like, oh, well, just I signed up and then I told them I was coming. They said, Oh, we’re not doing it this year. So wait, what? Okay. I said, Well, do I not do the thing I want to do because no one’s doing it or do I just figure out how to do it anyway. 

Angela Tuell  19:42  
Yeah.

Catherine Smith  19:42  
So I, you know, being a college student, I didn’t have a lot of money and it’s like, this huge event in Charleston every year so the only thing I could afford was like a little one room cabin at the K.O.A. campground with like, no water and bathroom. So I just like read this little cabin, and I went down at Charleston and I, I thought, Okay, well, and I wrote in my journal, I said something like, I’ve always wanted to be like Peg and, and she did those women who, who travel alone, not because they have to, but because they want to and, and this is gonna be really great, or it’s gonna be awful. I’m not sure which, you know. I might get murdered in the woods tonight I don’t know. 

Angela Tuell  20:24  
How was it?

Catherine Smith  20:23  
So it was an amazing time the next morning and I got up I did the run I made, I’ve met people and ended up hanging out with them like later that day. And one of them I kept in touch with now 13 years later and and so it was just a really fun weekend. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean my mind didn’t play games with me, right? Like we there are hurdles to solo travel for sure all sorts of them, but one of them is your brain messing with you. And so many times people, you know, we think that we’re doing it wrong if we feel lonely, or if we are bored or unsure about something. And in reality, like, that’s the experience and the beauty of solo travel is getting uncomfortable and experiencing what happens when you sit with that feeling. And that’s the beauty of it. Like it’s, it’s not always easy, but you learn new things about yourself, you rediscover yourself, you get to have these experiences that you don’t have to say like, Hey, what do you guys want to do for lunch today? Like you just get to go have what you want for lunch today.

Angela Tuell  20:46  
Right. 

Catherine Smith  21:21  
It’s, it’s pretty great. 

Angela Tuell  21:40  
Oh, that’s so interesting. You know, Solo travel is often seen, as you’re mentioning is transformative, you know, empowering experience. What is some of that advice that you do give women who are considering embarking on their first solo, travel adventure,

Catherine Smith  21:55  
The first thing is kind of figuring out where they’re currently at with their comfort levels, like some people aren’t comfortable, going to a movie by themselves or going out for coffee by themselves are out to eat. In that case, it’s like take baby steps, like take yourself out for a cup of coffee, put your phone away and like sit with a book or a journal, like, Be okay with yourself. Like just take that baby step for the afternoon. Other people, maybe their first baby step is doing a day trip to another town nearby and just going to a museum or just spending time alone with themselves baby steps in that way. I love to encourage people if they haven’t, to go to a movie by themselves, that is one of the most empowering experiences to start with. And that was honestly like one of my first things I did after that really horrible breakup. I didn’t know what to do with myself, I told myself to see that Nicole Kidman Bewitched that came out years ago, it was so empowering. And so I love to encourage people to take themselves to a movie. And then from there to take those baby steps with whatever their comfort level is. And then after that is learning to be in touch a little more with yourself, whether that’s your intuition or your gut, finding out what you want. So kind of going back to that. What I hope the trend is of authentic experiences, like a lot of times someone’s like, I feel like I should go to Paris. I feel like I should go to New York, I feel like you’re supposed to but it’s like, well, where do you want to go? Do you want to just spend an afternoon on a lake? Then do that. Like, do what feels right and good for you. So that’s, those are sort of some of the the first steps and I have a guide somewhere on her bags, repack so if anyone’s interested, I’m happy to send them that guide of sort of walking them through those initial steps.

Angela Tuell  23:44  
Great. Awesome. We will definitely include in our show notes, links to all of that. So I do have to also ask so besides solo travel, you also love history and off the beaten path experiences. Can you tell us about some of your most memorable travel adventures?

Catherine Smith  24:01  
Oh, sure. I mean, there’s so many of them. But it’s 

Angela Tuell  24:04
 
Hard to pick, right? 

Catherine Smith  24:05  
Yeah, no, I I’ve had some really great experiences. And I love it because it kind of is also like the places that surprise you. I got to go to Madison, Wisconsin. And while I was there, I got to spend a few hours at a circus school. It never even occoured to me that circus school was a thing let alone something you could do and that was really fun, just kind of seeing the acrobatic type stuff. And I don’t know there was this big wheel that I got to spin in that I don’t remember what it was called now, but just a lot of fun. That’s a cool thing to do. When I was in New Orleans, I got to trace the history of cocktails, where I met with a bunch of award winning bartenders, actual James Beard award winners but met with some amazing bartenders who took me around and taught me the history of the cocktails but also we got to sample different places to try them. And now it cost me more to research this article than I got paid to write it. 

Angela Tuell  25:04  
I bet.

Catherine Smith  25:04  
But it was really fun.

Angela Tuell  25:04  
Is this something anyone can do or was it connections that, you know, made?

Catherine Smith  25:10  
It was not an expense, it was more I knew I was working on this story of like the history of cocktails and where to where to find them. So if someone could read the article and go to the places, I don’t know that the bartenders would just volunteer to go drinking with you for that, 

Angela Tuell  25:12  
Right.  Right, right. 

Catherine Smith  25:24  
They might though – it’s New Orleans. And then there’s two other ones that are really special one is earlier I mentioned that panzerotti, which was my first big viral article that let them say, like, gave me the go ahead to keep writing. And I was about this beloved food to me from my, I have great memories with my dad as a kid. And we going there. And the, the funny piece of it is that the family, the grandson was in my class as a kid. And we, for whatever reason, bullied each other a lot. I mean, I didn’t think I was bullying him, but I probably did looking back and he bullied me. But it was funny because it was his family’s like business that sold us food. So I when I wrote the article, I had to get in touch with the family, obviously, to do some research. So I do this interview, tell this story. It’s really amazing. The little brother ends up connecting me with his uncle who’s in New Orleans, and they host me when I’m down there researching my other stories, get to hear like family stories like background from that way. Then I’m in southern Italy and Polya. And next thing you know, I’m in the childhood home of I guess it would have a great grandparents where they started before they immigrated over here like meeting with the side of the family that stayed behind. And I’m like, how did it get here having like, lunch with the Great Aunt of my childhood bully, talking about This is bizarre, really tracing the history of this food. So that’s the funny one. And then the serious one, I still don’t have the words for this experience. But in Mobile, Alabama, they have a really incredible African American Heritage Trail, I believe it’s called the Dora Franklin Finley African American Heritage Trail. They also have a new Heritage Center that’s recently opened. And they just they’re doing amazing things down there. I’m not even going to try to explain all of it, other than to just say that it is worth a visit. And it’s a shame because my grandparents, my grandmother’s passed now, but they lived in mobile for years. But when we go to visit, like we never didn’t like occasionally. But we really didn’t do anything. And I didn’t discover this until I was there for the funeral. And I was like, wow, there’s this whole section of downtown that I never even knew is here and these important stories. And now granted, maybe the trail wasn’t hadn’t been around yet when I was growing up, but there’s just really, it’s amazing. There’s a great documentary called, I believe it’s called The Descendent on Netflix. And it tells the story of the last non slave ship that came into the US. But it was like after it was illegal to be continuing the slave trade. And there’s just this really dark history of the story getting covered up and the ship has recently been found. And that’s what’s going on at Heritage Centers, a lot of information telling a story. And there’s just really amazing people doing amazing things down there and I encourage people to check that out if they get the chance, because it’s definitely important.  

Angela Tuell  28:35  
We’ll have to put them on our list for sure. 

Catherine Smith  28:37  
Yes. 

Angela Tuell  28:38  
So we also mentioned in the intro that you manage Airbnbs in Philadelphia, which I’m sure gives you, you know, a great perspective on hospitality and accommodations. How has this work influenced, you know, your approach to travel or what you do on that side? professionally?

Catherine Smith  28:56  
Yeah, so that one was one of those first, like steady income, travel related things that I did freelance for. I was like, Okay, this is cool, I can start spending more time writing because I have a travel related income. And this is great. It’s been a really cool opportunity because I used Airbnb for years prior to that. So I got to bring my experiences as a guest to that. And now I get to take my experiences as a host outside of that, and I get to share travel experiences, like I love Philadelphia. So I love sharing that with our guests. And then as a manager, I get to bring that to my travel experiences because it gives me a lot more sympathy when I’m in a hotel or an AirBnb and I’m like, Oh my God, I know what our cleaners go through. So like yes, I’m gonna pick all my trash up and like my mom’s like, what are you doing? Like you’re picking up every little piece of I’m like, Yes, I’m picking up every little piece of trash because those cleaners are gonna work hard and like the least I can do is make sure all the trash got in the trash can I put all the towels in one spot and that kind of thing. So it certainly helps from that perspective. I think just seeing a 360 view really is all these different pieces helped me see the different sides of the travel experience, the hosting, the experiencing it as a traveler, all of that.

Angela Tuell  30:22  
Yeah, yeah, that definitely makes sense. And before we go, could you share any upcoming projects or goals you have professionally? 

Catherine Smith  30:30  
Sure. So with Her Bags Were Packed. I will say that my goal with that is I realized over the years, I got a little bit away from my initial, my initial goal, just letting it be those conversations with women. I think we’re all easily swayed by like, this is how they’re doing it on social media. And I got to do that type of thing. And I never wanted to be the person who did tips and tricks. I never wanted that. And so getting back to I’ve been telling people, I just really want to get back to the conversations. So if you know people who want to share their solo travel stories, I told people last week, I said, I want to be the Oprah of solo travel, I want to be the one facilitating the conversations. So that’s where Her Bags Were Packed is headed. And then I have this other very special project that’s near and dear to my heart that has not launched yet. But people may have ideas, so please feel free to get in touch. I have been working on an app called Happened Upon. And the dream behind this has always been to have a app that would ping you when you’re happening upon something important and historic, because landmark historic landmarks are very expensive. They’re about six grand to put up.

Angela Tuell  31:45  
Just those little signs, right? 

Catherine Smith  31:47  
Yeah, exactly. They’re so expensive. There’s a whole involved process to get them put up. The goal with this is to take what would be historic landmarks. And I’m not saying we get rid of them. But because there’s such a process of getting them up, there’s so much information that isn’t known. For example, in South Philly, we have a Underground Railroad spot that you would never know, because there’s nothing telling you that and I I was blown away that I could be walking through my neighborhood and not know that I was passing something of such significance. And so I just want this to be something that allows you to be going about your everyday life, whether you’re traveling or on your way to work, and it’ll just go ding, you’ve happened on something important, and there will be a little blurb. If you want to learn more, you can click and learn more. There’s an option for tour guides to put in walking tours between the different locations. So it’s built at this point, we’re looking for beta testers and destinations and historical societies and places that want to provide vetted quality information. We’re not letting this be crowd sourced. It’s got to be quality information, high sources and that kind of thing. So So yeah, that’s what I’m very excited. Hopefully we’ll see that out in the world in the next year.

Angela Tuell  33:08  
Oh I love it. We will be watching definitely. And how can I listeners connect with you online?

Catherine Smith  33:13  
Okay, so on Instagram, I’m @HerBagsWerePacked. On X it’s just Bags Were Packed. I will be honest, I mostly just talk about Phillies baseball over there. On Facebook, it’s facebook.com/her bags were packed, Threads is Her Bags Were Packed. I don’t know what we’re doing on threads.

Angela Tuell  33:35  
I know, we just we just have an account, right? 

Catherine Smith  33:38  
Yeah. And then Catherine@herbagsarepacked.com is my email. And you can also get me at work with CatherineSmith@gmail.com. Are all, that all the things? I haven’t I have Tic Tok but I don’t know what to do with that either. It’s it’s a crazy world we’re living in.

Angela Tuell  33:57  
It is. it is. I think that’s covered and we will link to all of them again in our show notes so so you’ll be easy to find.

Catherine Smith  34:04  
Yes, and please do like if people have questions about awards or Her Bags Were Packed or ideas for Happened Upon, like, I love this job because I get to connect with people. So please feel free to reach out and if I don’t answer right away, feel free to send me more emails because everything gets lost in there. 

Angela Tuell   34:22
Thank you so much, Catherine.

Catherine Smith   34:24
Thank you.  I really appreciate you including me.

Angela Tuell 34:29
That’s all for this episode of Media in Minutes, a podcast by Communications Redefined. Please take a moment to rate, review and subscribe to our show. We’d love to hear what you think. You can find more at CommunicationsRedefined.com/podcast. I’m your host, Angela Tuell. Talk to you next time.

Catherine’s career success stems from this motto: say yes to opportunities that seem interesting. Listen to how this has shaped her career path and for tips on how to help your business become a part of USA Today’s 10 Best Lists, advice for women planning solo travel and insights on managing AirBnbs.

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