Jori Ayers: Freelance Travel Writer as seen on Matador Network

 

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 freelance travel writer Jori Ayers. Jori is a Georgia native and a graduate of the University of Tampa. She started her journalism career at Grit Daily News before settling in Orlando, Florida. And most recently working for Matador Network. As a journalist story goes beyond mere storytelling, infusing her pieces with personal perspectives and ensuring authenticity and connection with her audience. She aims to inspire global connections through truth, honesty, humor and boundless creativity in every word she shares with the world. Welcome, Jori.

 

Jori Ayers: 1:02

Hello.

 

Angela Tuell: 1:03

I am looking forward to talking with you today.

 

Jori Ayers: 1:06

I’m so excited. Thank you so much for having me.

 

Angela Tuell: 1:09

Yes. So in preparing for our conversation, I saw that you went to the University of Tampa, and earned a BA in journalism. I’d love to know when you decided you wanted to be a journalist?

 

Jori Ayers: 1:22

Yes. So it was really a spur of the moment type thing because I was always into dance, I love dance. That’s all I did growing up. I was in everything, everything dance: ballet, tap jazz. That was really what I originally wanted to do, you know, just be a professional dancer. And the older that I got, I was like, you know, I just kind of Okay. want to do more like I want to make an impact, I want to do something different. So it wasn’t until my freshman year of high school, where we got to pick, like our extracurricular classes that we could have during the day, right, there was a journalism course that they were having. And I was like, like, I’ve always, like, heard about it, you know, and because my sister, she’s older than me, and she will always talk about it, you know, when she was in school. And I was like, okay, you know, like, I kind of want to try it, you know, so I was like, let me just go ahead and give it a shot and changed my life. It was honestly something that I didn’t think I was going to be interested in at all. But it really took just like a wide turn with photography. And we worked on the yearbook, and I got to do more writing. And it was just, it was so it was just so different that I didn’t think that I was gonna like, because I always had my focus on dance. That’s what I always knew that I was going to do and be a professional dancer. And so it was just kind of something that I was like, Hey, let me let me try and let me see if I’m gonna like this. And I ended up loving it. I did it for all four years of high school, I got to work on the yearbook, I got to do photography, I got to do little inserts in the yearbook and stuff. And I honestly just fell in love with it. And I’m very thankful for my teacher who I had Mr. Zimmerman. He was, he was great. Like he he honestly, really fast track and kind of gave me that confidence. Because when I very first went into it, I was like, No. I was like, I’m not confident about this. I don’t, I don’t think I’m going to be good at this. And he was like, No, you just, you got to keep going at it to be, you know, because I was looking up to all the seniors who were just great. And I was like, I don’t think I can do this. And honestly, we’ll give Mr. Zimmer, his his credit where it’s due because he honestly put that confidence in me. So

 

Angela Tuell: 3:56

That’s awesome. And so it sounds like you had some interesting internships in college and first journalism jobs. Please tell us more about those.

 

Jori Ayers: 4:05

Yes. So my internship at the University of Tampa was at the Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine. Honestly, such a good experience. And everybody who I worked with, were so nice and so welcoming, and just very, very helpful. I was very nervous at the beginning because, of course, this was something new for me. I was, you know, this was the start, like, it was my senior year in college. And I was like, okay, you know, I want to fast track myself to put myself in a better position for a job and I was just so nervous about it, because I was like, well, everybody be mean to me, like, be awkward, like, you know, like, I didn’t really know what to expect. And Bobby was so nice and so welcoming and helped me really helped me with just trying to get better at writing and think what to do what to look out for. So it was it was a really good experience because I know like I’ve always just hear like horror stories on most internships. So I’m very thankful that working with them really helped me excel and like really figure out the journalism career how and where to go. So it was cool. I really enjoyed it. I was like, so I was a little bit sad that like I had to leave, because in that span, you know, a couple of months, like I’ve built relationships with them. And I’m very thankful that they allowed me on their team to be an intern and to show me the ropes. So forever grateful for them.

 

Angela Tuell: 5:40

Yeah.

 

Jori Ayers: 5:42

As far as my first job that I had, outside of school was at Grit Daily News. And it was honestly, it was because I, when I graduated was around the time when like, the pandemic was kind of, you know, showing up and it really hadn’t hit yet. And then boom, right when I graduated, the pandemic hit.

 

Angela Tuell: 6:07

What timing.

 

Jori Ayers: 6:09

And I was like, oh, no, what am I gonna do? You know, I didn’t want to come back home, you know, it was like, I just, I was so ready to jumpstart my career. Because with the internship, I was like, Okay, I’m ready, like, through this thing. And then the pandemic hit, and I had to come home, and I was just, like, so distraught as everyone was, you know, I didn’t know what was gonna happen. I was just like, Okay, well, I just got my career started, you know, essentially, I got my degree. And now, here’s a stopping point. And then, you know, like, everyone else, I was just searching for jobs. Of course, I had to, you know, put my pride aside and was like, Okay, I have to come home, I have to do just like a regular retail job to, you know, keep myself going. So, I was just putting in a bunch of applications. And finally, Grit Daily News, which reached out and it was honestly, like, I was honestly, shell shocked, because I really didn’t expect anything, because with the way that everyone was talking about the pandemic, like the world was over. I was like,

 

Angela Tuell: 7:17

Oh, those days.

 

Jori Ayers: 7:18

I was like, oh, no, okay, well, I guess like, you know, I just have to kind of take it day by day. And I did, and I’m very thankful and grateful that I got that. Essentially, I would say maybe a couple of months after I graduated. And I just started putting out work there. And that was when like, it all hit me and I was like, Okay, I’m really doing this. And, of course, I had my ups and downs, because I wasn’t used to the the journalism lifestyle, you know, putting out work constantly multitasking, doing everything. So it was very shocking. And I was like, Okay, I had moments where I was like, did I choose the right major? Like, is this –

 

Angela Tuell: 7:58

It’s not a slow paced, easy job.

 

Jori Ayers: 8:00

Yes, it’s very fast paced, go, go go. And, um, I’m very close with my mom. So I would go to her and be like, Mom, I don’t know what I did. Like, what did I do? You know, but it ended up turning out good. Like, I will admit, at first, it was very hard, you know, always taken constructive criticism. It really took a toll on me to the point where I was like, am I a good writer? You know, should I continue doing this? Because I feel like everything that I put out, there was something always being said on like, not just like helping me. And at first, I wasn’t not as like, they were helping me, I was taking that as, Oh my gosh, like, this is just too much for me, like doing this. And that’s one thing that I had to learn. And I’m very glad that I had this opportunity to do this, because it has made me my thinking on it way differently than what I used to think on. Like, this is horrible. I’m doing horrible, whatever. And now I’m like, No, I’m doing great. It’s just that there are things that maybe I should change. And maybe I should add, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Because –

 

Angela Tuell: 9:07

We all can grow and learn no matter how old we are and how far along in our career we are.

 

Jori Ayers: 9:12

Yes, yes. And I am. I just started doing that. And it was something that I really had to realize, like hey, it’s okay. And I’m so glad that I did because it can be hard, especially jumping into something like boom, here you go, you have the job. So I’m very glad that like, got to experience it. Because it was it was a life lesson. Honestly, I tell everyone that it is it really truly is a life lesson. Having your first you know, gig right outside of college, you know, you think you’re prepared for it, essentially. But then once you’re there, it’s kind of like whoa, what’s going on?

 

Angela Tuell: 9:51

That’s an important story for any new journalists to hear. So hopefully there’s a lot of those listening. What type of stories are your favorite to write?

 

Jori Ayers: 10:02

Oooo, that’s a tricky question. Oh, I feel like I’m still trying to get my feet wet with, with everything. I really love writing feature stories. Just because if I can put my personal aspect on them more is like, Okay, well, you can do this when it’s okay to do this if you don’t want to do this kind of thing or anything. I really like those. I love the our quick hit pieces that are just like, hey, here’s the most expensive this and that because I’m like, I’ll tell them like, wow, I didn’t even know that was that expensive? And so I –

 

Angela Tuell: 10:39

Right, you’re learning a lot.

 

Jori Ayers: 10:40

Yeah. So it’s pretty, it’s pretty cool to see. Because each everything that I’m right, especially the quick hits, I’m just kind of learning like, wow, I didn’t even know that existed. I’m like, Oh, maybe I should plan a trip there. So I kind of just all over the place. And I’m just like, oh, this is cool. And this is neat. So everything is just kind of very interesting to me. So I feel like I have haven’t yet you know decided like, What is my favorite because I’m like an all with everything.

 

Angela Tuell: 11:07

Yeah. Are you traveling?

 

Jori Ayers: 11:09

Yes, yes, I am. And it’s, it’s really honestly insane. Because like I said, Before, I really haven’t traveled, I really wasn’t traveling anywhere at all. It’s so interesting to meet new people, because I’m a very homebody type person. And I’m very, I can be very quiet. So traveling really gets me out of my comfort zone and meeting new people and seeing new places and hearing about the history and the culture of the places. And it’s, it’s just so fun and such a unique thing to do. And I love it. I try to travel as much as I can. Just to really see the world and meet new people. And I honestly love it. I’m always like, Oh, I have to come back with family. Like I have to show them what I’ve seen because it’s just it’s such an amazing sight and to hear the history and I love hearing about the history and the culture of different hotels, different places, because it really it really builds up the location of where you are. And it really for me at least it makes me see that destination in a different light instead of other people have told you.

 

Angela Tuell: 12:23

Yeah, I love your story. Because most travel writers that I know or talk with always had that you know wanderlust and want to travel the world and did travel the world even before they became a travel writer. So I love that you’re opposite with that. What have been some of your favorite places?

 

Jori Ayers: 12:40

I would say top two Seattle,

 

Angela Tuell: 12:45

Okay.

 

Jori Ayers: 12:46

And Chicago, because they both honestly, were very just shocking. I guess I was expecting something else. And then when I got there, I was like, oh, like these are way different. And it’s way different from what you hear and what you see on TV, what you see on YouTube videos or what you just see on social media and being there to see those actual places is like, wow, like I’m actually here. And Seattle was beautiful. And I know like I was expecting it to be all dreary and rainy, and it was beautiful. I went in like September and it was 72 degrees. And they were like, Jori, you brought the Sun with you. And I was like I guess I did, but it was it was beautiful. Because everybody was talking about how they’re like it’s constantly raining here. It we have never had sun. This it was just the weather was great. And I was like I guess I just I guess I bring the sun everywhere.

 

Angela Tuell: 13:47

That’s wonderful. Can you come visit in Indianapolis because we have gray winters.

 

Jori Ayers: 13:52

Yeah, let me for it and become a bring my magic. I guess that’s what I have, I bring the sun with me everywhere I go.

 

Angela Tuell: 14:00

What have been some of your favorite stories you’ve written recently?

 

Jori Ayers: 14:03

I really enjoyed writing when I went to Austin, Texas. I visited the Food and Wine Festival. I really enjoyed writing on that as well as different food places as well as in Scottsdale. It’s just so as far as food, I feel like it’s so unique in a way of, you know, especially when you grow up in one place. And that’s what you’re used to as far as food.

 

Angela Tuell: 14:32

Yeah.

 

Jori Ayers: 14:34

Because with working with Matador and traveling to these different places, you know, I was very like okay, well I’ve never had this and I’ve never had that and I’m afraid to try this and it was so unique to hear the experiences on the different chefs and how they got started and their different foods and what they like and what they experimented with. But the Austin Texas piece was really one of my favorite pieces. And it was, I guess it was just to hear other people’s story. And that’s one thing I really, really love is to hear other people’s story, how they got started and top that on with food, you can’t…

 

Angela Tuell: 15:16

We will link to that story in the show notes so anyone listening can can read it as well. I feel like your perspective is so I kind of said this a little bit. But it’s so great where there are a lot of Americans that don’t travel very far outside of their backyard, you know, or haven’t been to just a few surrounding states. So I love that perspective that you bring in, in your writing when you when you go to these different places.

 

Jori Ayers: 15:43

Yes, I try. And that’s the one thing that I really, really try with my writing is I want to put that perspective out of those who haven’t done it, and it’s okay that you haven’t done it, because that was my first time with a lot of stuff. And it’s okay, that it is your first time. Because I feel like nowadays when we hear like, Oh, you’ve never done this, you never done that it makes you feel like I guess a “loser” as people want to write, but it’s fine. It’s, it’s totally fine. You know, I was never ashamed that I haven’t traveled outside, you know, of the country, or I didn’t have a passport. It was just something that I hadn’t done at the time. And now I’m doing it, I’m traveling, I’m meeting new people. And that’s one thing that I love to advocate with any type of writing that I do, and especially with travel writing, because like I said, I haven’t been anywhere and here I am traveling. And it’s always – it will happen. I always tell people, it will happen. And it’s okay to, for it to be your first and for you to ask questions, because that’s what I did. I was like, Well, how do I do this? And how do I do that? And what am I supposed to do? You know, and there will be people out there who are going to shame you for it, but they don’t matter. It’s okay to have that perspective. It’s fine for me that have that first, because I’ve had plenty of firsts with traveling, I don’t regret anything, it’s great. So I’ll always let people know like, it’s okay. If I can be that person to try something out for the first time to help you feel comfortable. By all means I’ll do it.

 

Angela Tuell: 17:21

I love that. I love that. And I think you know, all of us need adventure, whether it’s going to the next town and checking out oh, what’s what’s cool there that you’ve never been to? Or if it’s going to Thailand, you know, whatever it is that someone’s comfortable with. You need adventure. And it may be you know, not the table. Not the same adventure as someone else next to you. But as long as you’re feeling adventurous and like you’re trying new things, meeting new people, we all need that, I think, right?

 

Jori Ayers: 17:50

Yes.

 

Angela Tuell: 17:51

So what are your preferences when being hosted by a destination or a hotel or experience?

 

Jori Ayers: 17:58

Um, I’m really not picky. And I guess that’s because this is all a learning experience for me, or something that’s very new for me. And also, since I haven’t experienced this before. So I’m not really picky, I really I know a lot of people that I come in contact really prefer, as far as like, things that we do on trips and such to be very kind of like chill and, you know, just laid back in which that’s fine. But sometimes I prefer to be just kind of on the go just because I want to see where I’m at. I want to see the destination, I want to see what the locals are like I want to see and hear experiences from people who live there and who constantly visit there. Or just, I just want to see everything at that point, though. I just I’m kind of just like a, I would say I’m just kind of a ghost go with the flow. But I really do like to be like in the scene, you know to see.

 

Angela Tuell: 18:57

You want to soak up everything while you’re there. It’s a short time usually.

 

Jori Ayers: 19:01

Yeah.

 

Angela Tuell: 19:03

So how can PR professionals best get a story in front of you?

 

Jori Ayers: 19:08

Honestly, for me a simple email. That is that is it because I am constantly checking my emails, whether I’m on the clock or whether I’m off the clock, it doesn’t matter. Because I want to make sure I’m getting back to everyone at a reasonable time. And or if anything has come up. So a straight email to my whether to my work email or whether to my personal email will be the best way to get okay. So for me, yes.

 

Angela Tuell: 19:40

Great. Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to those of us in the PR profession?

 

Jori Ayers: 19:45

No, not I mean, not yet. Like everybody who I’ve been in contact with have been great, like wonderful, great and super great attitudes. Everyone’s nice and sweet. You know, I haven’t had anybody that has given me the cold shoulder anything, everyone has been great. So not yet, but I’m hoping I’m hoping there won’t be any. But….

 

Angela Tuell: 20:11

We’ll keep our fingers crossed. What are your hopes for the future in your career? Do you want to stay in travel writing? Or what are your big goals, I guess?

 

Jori Ayers: 20:21

I really, I really want to stay in travel writing, I really do enjoy it. It was one of those things. Like I said before, I didn’t think that I was, I guess worthy of doing because I didn’t travel a lot. But I really enjoy doing it. I get I’ve met so many people, I like to hear their story, I would love to be able to stay in travel writing and kind of just, just do more with that and see kind of see where life takes me at. I try not to put a lot on myself because I tend to already do so now. So I kind of just really take it to myself, I my model is take it day by day. So whether that is with travel writing, or is with another branch of writing. I think whatever I happen to be in in the future, I know that I’ll enjoy it and put out as much content as I can. But definitely I would love to continue to be in travel writing.

 

Angela Tuell: 21:23

Yeah, that’s wonderful. And you know, as a journalist, you don’t as much have to know the topic, but you have to be able to learn and write well, you know, learn, research and write well. So I would also love to know what you enjoy doing in your free time. I know you mentioned dancing, is that still something you’re doing?

 

Jori Ayers: 21:41

Yes, I do. And I do love dancing in my free time whether it’s around in my apartment or a class but mostly just because I really love doing like the going to do like the Barre workouts doing that. I love a nice just since I’m in That’s great. Well, how can our listeners connect with you Orlando, sitting by the pool with a nice, the nice weather. Or if I can I love you know, taking a trip to Disney every now and then. If I can if I can squeeze in some time, at the most happiest place on earth. online? Well, they can DM me on Instagram. I’m very open to any if anybody has questions, my Instagram is the_real_ayers. If they have any questions, or if anybody wants to reach out on, you know how to start their journalism career, anything I’m very open to that they can hit me up on Instagram. Or they can email me at my personal email which is JoriAyers2@gmail.com. So I’m very, very, very open to anything because like I said, I love to be able to point somebody in the right direction. Um, I know we all have different starts to our career, and different possibilities and different things that we can do. We will include all of those links in our show notes, and I And if I can be that person to guide you, or to help you or give you some type of advice. I’m more than welcome on doing that. And also anyone, any other journalists who would like to connect, I would love that. Any, anyone who would like to commit, I would love that I’m just all up for meeting new people, having new opportunities and just opening myself up to the world now. So really appreciate it. It was wonderful talking with you. Thank you so much. I appreciate this so so much. And thank you so much for having me. I enjoyed our talk and I’m so glad that I got to do it.

 

Angela Tuell: 23:53

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.

The power of travel and first experiences are the focus of today’s Media in Minutes with Angela Tuell.  Listen as Jori Ayers shares her perspective and experiences.  

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