Jenn Gjerde writes stories about adventures in Nebraska
By Brenna McFadden
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
No typical day exists for Jenn Gjerde.
Gjerde, public information officer for Visit Nebraska, travels the state and then spreads stories about what she’s found on her adventures.
Gjerde, a graduate of the journalism college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has always loved the Plains state. Since growing up in Omaha, Gjerde has lived in several parts of the state, including out west where she explored attractions like Lake McConaughy.
After graduating, she worked as a reporter at KNOP, a television station in North Platte. Later, she moved back to Lincoln and found a career at KLKN, a station that she interned at while in college. Gjerde decided soon after to look for a new outlet where she could use her skills in editing, writing and photography in more of a public relations way.
Living all across the I-80 stretch has helped developed her enthusiasm for Nebraska so when she heard about the job at Visit Nebraska, she jumped on the opportunity.
“It’s easy to promote something you love,” Gjerde said.
Her job consists of road trips and promoting places through social media, emails and newsletters. Sometimes she gets the chance to provide information and photos to freelance writers wanting to put together a story for larger news organizations like USA Today.
When asked about the challenges of her job, Gjerde talked about the unexpected. She said some stories that take time to put together might not always get picked up by as many media outlets as she hoped.
“It’s almost on the flipside too,” Gjerde said. “You know there is something you didn’t really put that much time into and it’s PR gold and it’s like how did that happen? It really is unexpected without a lot of data and research behind it.”
Another challenge that Gjerde faces daily is how to treat everyone fairly. It can be hard to make some of the longer drives up to the northeast or northwest part of the state. Visit Nebraska must represent the whole state so she tries to give equal love to all the different areas.
Gjerde says she has to prioritize her trips.
“We’ve got to give everybody love because they deserve it — because they’re just as great as our metropolitan areas.”
Recently, she made a trip up to Nebraska’s panhandle where she visited the curator of the Museum of the Fur Trade. The museum aided in the making of “The Revenant,” a film that won several Golden Globe Awards and Oscars. Gjerde had the opportunity to write a feature story and promote it around the time of the Oscars.
Along with seeking out stories, Gjerde receives requests for promotion. Social media provides a free platform for such information and is the best way to promote events that are quickly approaching.
When comparing the different platforms Visit Nebraska uses, Gjerde said, “Facebook is definitely our top social media, mostly because most age ranges have a Facebook account.” Instagram is a close second and Twitter follows behind in third.
Gjerde also helps lead longer campaigns, like seasonal travel guides. During the fall and winter, Gjerde and her team plug away at the spring and summer travel guide and vice versa. Planning larger campaigns relies heavily on the ability to organize and look ahead.
When asked about her favorite part of her job, Gjerde said it is the opportunity to share stories of great Nebraskans.