The Sky’s the Limit…

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Every client has a story to tell, a goal to reach. We believe every public relations story and marketing goal should be approached with a “sky’s the limit” style.

That positive inspiration carries over to the Hendricks Communications’ blog, below. Offering inspiring tips, news and reflections on writing, marketing, social media and much more, join us in the conversations below!

Footnotes from the Appalachian Trail

View from Pole Steeple

View from Pole Steeple

By Karen Hendricks – I’ve been fascinated by the Appalachian Trail since my elementary school days, when I created my first ever science/research fair project on the A.T. So when I recently had the chance to write a magazine article on “the most popular hiking trail in America,” I jumped at the chance and was fascinated all over again, some 35 years later.

July-Aug 2016What is it about this natural and national treasure that draws people, recreational hikers as well as dedicated thru-hikers (those who hike the entire trail from Maine to Georgia)?

It was my privilege to interview Ed Riggs of Gettysburg, who recently completed a thru-hike of the A.T. His inspiring answers to the above questions are woven into the article.

Click here to read “An Appalachian Adventure: Happy trails await hikers on the Appalachian Trail” published in the July/August issue of Celebrate Gettysburg magazine. Many thanks to photographer Noel Kline and A.T. through-hiker Ed Riggs for the inspiring photography!

Take a Hike! Experience a day hike on the A.T.

The halfway point of the entire A.T. is located here in central Pennsylvania, in Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Cumberland County. The Appalachian Trail Museum is located almost exactly at this midpoint, telling the story of this natural and national treasure. The museum is an excellent place to begin an Appalachian-themed daytrip and hike.

One of the A.T’s most accessible and popular day hikes in central Pennsylvania leads hikers to Pole Steeple, a outcropping of rocks offering hikers a view of Mountain Creek, its valley, and Laurel Lake. According to Appalachian Trail Museum Manager Joe Harold, hikers can depart directly from the A.T. Museum on the 6-mile hike (round trip, moderate difficulty):

Start at the A.T. Museum or the Furnace Pavilion parking lot (right next to the museum). Follow the A.T.’s white blazes north on the trail. The trail starts out flat and paved. Pass Fuller Lake and continue on Old Railroad Bed Rd. The A.T. is well-marked when it leaves Old Railroad Bed Rd and takes a right turn up Piney Mountain. Hike another 1.5 miles until you see a sign for Pole Steeple and blue blazes heading to the left. Follow that to the overlook. To continue a loop hike, continue following the blue blazes down a steep hill to Laurel Lake.  When you reach the road, turn left, passing a nice spring and follow the Old Railroad Bed Rd back to the park gate and retrace your steps back to your car.

Enjoy a collection of my photos below, from the museum and my own recent adventures on the A.T. as I researched this story. Click on any photo to open a slide show… enjoy!

 

Footnotes:

  • For more info on Ed Rigg’s personal experiences on the A.T, check out his article, “One Day at a Time,” published in the magazine A.T. Journeys.
  • “The 46 miles that go through the Cumberland Valley region are some of the flattest parts of the A.T.,” according to Aaron Jumper, communications coordinator, Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau. “For day hikers, it’s not too mountainous or treacherous—it’s a good opportunity to get on the trail and spend an afternoon outdoors.”
  • There’s a tradition at the half-way point of the A.T. The “half-gallon challenge” encourages thru-hikers to eat one half of a gallon of ice cream in one sitting, at the Pine Grove General Store, close to the A.T. Museum.
  • This summer, the A.T. Museum debuts a children’s exhibit to encourage the next generation of hikers and nature lovers. “It’s a mini version of the trail, taking children through all 14 states,” Harold explains. Fun facts and colorful paths introduce children to the A.T.
  • In celebration of the centennial of the National Park Service, “The A.T. Hike 100 Challenge” encourages people to complete 100 miles of hiking during 2016—with at least one hike taking place on the A.T. Details, including cool swag you can snag: https://www.nps.gov/appa/
  • The movie “A Walk in the Woods,” released in 2015, starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, tells the story of two men attempting to hike the A.T. Movies such as this are credited with spikes in A.T. visitation.
  • It’s estimated that 3 million people visit the trail every year.
  • The A.T. is managed through a partnership between the National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, the nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy, state agencies and other public and private groups.
  • The A.T. is dubbed the “footpath for the people” by the National Park Service.
  • Virginia is home to the largest section of the trail (550 miles); West Virginia has the shortest stretch of trail (four miles).
  • Maryland and West Virginia are considered the easiest states to hike; New Hampshire and Maine are considered the most challenging.
  • The net elevation of the entire A.T. is equivalent to climbing Mount Everest 16 times.
  • Between 2,500 and 3,000 people attempt thru-hikes every year; about 1 in 4 are successful. This means about 750 people complete the entire trail annually.
  • Hikers can burn up to 6,000 calories a day hiking on the A.T.
  • Most thru-hikers walk north, starting in Georgia in spring and finishing by fall in Maine.
  • The average hiker completes the journey in six months.
  • Thousands of volunteers spend 220,00 hours maintaining and contributing to the trail annually.

Happy Trails!

 

 

 

Communications: Inspired by the WY Sky

By Karen Hendricks

Logo design is a process aimed at capturing the essence of a business through words and art, thoughtfully blended together to clearly convey the name and purpose of the business. Many logos go a step further and somehow capture and convey an intangible quality or emotional response to that business, perfectly reflecting the business’ “personality.” This identity or logo of a business plays a central role in all marketing and branding efforts.

PrintNearly 10 years ago, when my business was founded, I knew an image of the sky had to be incorporated into my logo and branding. As a communicator and owner of a communications firm, I wanted to convey the idea of open, clear communications, and a “sky’s the limit” approach that I take when working on behalf of my valued clients. (Kudos to talented graphic designer Gina Dwyer of Idea Box Creative who designed my logo–and countless logos for my clients over the years.)

The sky is infinitely fascinating, as it changes minute by minute, day by day, month to month, season to season. The swirl of clouds, the saturation of sunshine, the many shades of blue that serve as a backdrop to our cities and countryside–it’s all incredible to me.

During the past several weeks, I came to see and appreciate the sky in a whole new light. I had the pleasure of traveling throughout Montana and Wyoming on vacation with my family. I understand the phrase “big sky country” now! Somehow the sky seems larger-than-life out west, when compared to the picturesque Pennsylvania scenes to which I’m accustomed.

The wild, pure, and natural beauty of three national parks–and the skies above them–left me in awe. During this centennial year of the National Park Service (turning 100 on August 25, 2016), my family was thrilled to visit Glacier National Park (Montana), Yellowstone National Park (Montana, Wyoming and Idaho), and Grand Tetons National Park (Wyoming). How appropriate that our visit to Yellowstone, the world’s first national park, fell during this banner year of celebration.

To share this experience, I have pulled together a collection of photos and quotes in celebration of the sky. I hope they inspire you! (Note: All of the photos are from Mount Washburn, one of the highest peaks in Yellowstone National Park.)

 

Mt Washburn06

My soul is in the sky. –William Shakespeare

Mt Washburn07The sky is the daily bread of the eyes. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mt Washburn04

You must not blame me if I do talk to the clouds. -Henry David Thoreau

Mt Washburn03

The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious. And why shouldn’t it be? — it is the same the angels breathe. -Mark Twain

Mt Washburn10

I never get tired of the blue sky. -Vincent Van Gogh

Mt Washburn05

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes. –e.e. cummings

Mt Washburn08

God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars. -Author unknown, commonly attributed to Martin Luther

Mt Washburn09

There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul. -Victor Hugo

Mt Washburn02

Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue. -John Muir

Trail Blazing

Cumberland Valley Rail Trail / Credit: Cumberland County Visitors Bureau

Cumberland Valley Rail Trail / Credit: Cumberland County Visitors Bureau

By Karen Hendricks

The rails-to-trails movement–converting unused railroad lines into recreational trails–is “on track” with today’s environmentally-friendly, recycling movement. There are numerous rail trails located in central Pennsylvania, such as York County’s Heritage Rail Trail and Cumberland County’s Cumberland Valley Rail Trail.

In fact, Pennsylvania is one of the top states for trail mileage (1,763 miles) and number of trails (173), according to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit dedicated to “transforming unused rail corridors into vibrant public places.”

While I was researching rail trails, bike paths, and bicycle-friendly communities, I met some of the kindest, most genuine people who truly care about communities and ensuring that outdoor recreation is part of their community’s mix:

  • Tom Jolin, who has dedicated countless volunteer hours towards the Gettysburg Inner Loop
  • Gwen Loose, who has worked since 1997 as executive director of the York County Rail Trail Authority
  • Kristen Rowe and Aaron Jumper of the Cumberland County Economic Development Corporation/Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau, who truly enjoy promoting their county’s outdoor recreational lineup

Meet some of these trail-blazing personalities, in my latest article for Celebrate Gettysburg magazine: Trail Blazing: Exploring New Paths, Rails & Trails appearing in the May/June issue. I hope it inspires you to explore a new trail this summer!

Enjoy a photo montage of gorgeous views and sweeping vistas seen on central Pennsylvania’s trails, by clicking on any image below:

 

5 Ways NYC Inspires Writers, Marketers, PR Pros

NYC 1

Rose sculpture and city reflection, MoMA

By Karen Hendricks

What does the phrase “recharging my batteries” mean to you? I’d describe it as:

  • Needing a boost of energy; a fresh perspective
  • Seeking a change of scenery; a change of pace
  • Feeling the need to “get out of a rut”
  • Breaking free of schedules, calendars, or commitments
  • De-stressing

Visiting New York City always always recharges my batteries and leaves me energized, ready to tackle projects anew. During a recent visit to the Big Apple, I noted the top 5 ways that I believe NYC inspires those of us in the creative fields of writing, marketing or public relations:

  1. NYC inspires us to be more organized. Consider the intricate organization of Grand Central Station–the travelers flowing in and out of the station; the lists of trains, their numbers, their destinations; the precise times of train arrivals and departures; the network of hallways leading to platforms. It never ceases to amaze me. It’s like a work of art, just like the breath-taking ceiling within Grand Central. Or, simply take a walk through Manhattan and consider the traffic grid, the interweaving of streets and avenues, the synchronization of traffic lights, the ebb and flow of pedestrians.What an amazing patchwork of patterns. Surely, if NYC can connect its residents (8.4 million people) and visitors (50+ million annually) with their destinations… I can stay organized!
  2. New York inspires creativity. The juxtaposition of city life with nature always intrigues me. I cannot go to NYC without visiting Central Park for this reason. There is something about the urban landscape encircling Central Park’s lush green landscapes that captures and renews me. Experiencing nature always sparks renewal but it’s extra special within the hustle and bustle of the city. I’m moved by the beauty–of both nature and city landscapes–around me. There are millions of details within NYC waiting to be explored and experienced. New ideas and fresh perspectives always hit me in New York, plus reflecting on my experiences can trigger additional ideas.
  3. NYC encourages spontaneity. When I visit New York, my primary mode of transportation are my feet. Walking is the best way to explore the city because you’re at eye-level with all the activity. You never quite know what you’re going to see or hear around the next corner. It’s an experience for all of your senses actually. If something or someone catches your eye, it’s a reason to be spontaneous and cross the street, duck into a coffee shop, strike up a conversation, explore a business, walk through a park, etc. Being spontaneous puts you back in touch with your instincts, leads to surprises, and brings unexpected joy. It’s a great lesson to be open, more of the time. It reminds me of the quote to enjoy the journey more and not be so focused on the destination.
  4. Be curious. How often do we truly nurture ourselves? In New York, there are infinite opportunities to learn, enrich, and educate ourselves. I enjoy learning new things, visiting new museums, and expanding my horizons every time I’m in NYC. The number of museums is staggering. But museums aren’t the only conduits for enrichment–there are tours, conferences, and many other outlets for learning. We all have subjects that relate to our professional or personal lives, that speak to us. This learning process sparks newfound appreciations, new questions, and enriches our spirits.
  5. NYC inspires us to be more detail-oriented. When I’m in New York, I feel more alive. I know I’m not alone! Surrounded by stimulation, busyness, movement, an ever-changing landscape, it can be overwhelming at times. There are countless details–too many to catch them all. But if I can enjoy and focus on the key details that strike me, surely I can be inspired to let this carry over into my everyday professional life, and be more conscientious and detail-oriented.

Enjoy the photos that inspired this post, below! Click on any photo to open a slideshow:

 

Formula for Success? Treating People Like Family

Photo Credit: Donovan Roberts Witmer for Susquehanna Style

Photo Credit: Donovan Roberts Witmer for Susquehanna Style

By Karen Hendricks

Vision, talent, creativity, perseverance, and passion are five traits I believe every business owner possesses. But there’s one more common thread woven into every business’ story of success–the belief that people should be treated like family. Whether those people are employees, colleagues, clients, or customers, time and time again, I heard this message from business leaders across Central PA. I believe it’s the most important factor contributing to their success.

I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing 21 business leaders throughout the region for Susquehanna Style magazine’s “Faces of the Susquehanna Valley,” appearing in the current May 2016 issue. Their inspirational stories fill 25 pages of the magazine, and it was my joy to attempt to capture each business’ unique spirit, ingenuity, love of people, and story of success:

Do Small Things with Great Love

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Credit: JenHatmaker.com

By Karen Hendricks

Happy Mother’s Day to all women who combine motherhood with careers, leadership, and mission. What do I mean by mission? Finding your calling, your talents, your gifts–and using them to the best of your ability to make a difference in the lives of those around you, in your family, in your community, in your career.

About a week ago, I experienced an incredible, inspiring evening with author Jen Hatmaker. If you don’t know who she is, let me introduce you! I am still thinking about and savoring the words and stories she shared to about a thousand women at West Shore Evangelical Free Church, Mechanicsburg PA.

"Belong" with Jen Hatmaker, April 30, 2016

“Belong” with Jen Hatmaker, April 30, 2016

I tend to blend church, career, mission, and calling into one central guiding principle: LIFE

And so does Jen Hatmaker.

For starters, here’s what she has to say about words and writing:

“I love writing. Words are my first love, because they matter. Words actually change lives, move people, sustain us. They take us to another world when we need to go and bring us home when we need to come back. Whatever you need, words can deliver: laughter, solidarity, encouragement, thrill, courage, silliness, spirit. I have been a reader and writer my entire life, and every single day I marvel that I get to make a living with words. I hope to use them for beauty and Jesus and life. I hope to make them count.”

Some of her most inspiring words last week, to our community of women, came at just the right time to deliver an empowering, inspiring message to moms for Mother’s Day:

“Most of us, during our lifetime as women, will do small things. That’s the reality. But we can do small things, with great love.”

“Play your one note God gives you to play (using your gift, your talent, your calling). Don’t worry about the notes other people are playing, or if someone has the fancy beautiful high note. Just play your one note, and if we all play, it will turn into a beautiful song.”

“As a mom, let go of what you expected and embrace what you have.”

As a parent, Jen believes the three most important messages to impart upon our children are:

  • 1 – Be kind
  • 2 – Be you
  • 3 – Love Jesus

She believes this is a tremendous time in history for women in leadership positions:

Happy Mother’s Day… think intentionally about doing small things with great love… and enjoy making your words count.

 

Women Run the World?

By Karen HendricksNYC Women's Half Marathon 1

It was one of the most inspirational events I’ve ever experienced—the More/Shape Women’s Half-Marathon through New York City’s Central Park on April 17, 2016.

The sheer size of the event was overwhelming—nearly 10,000 women circling Central Park twice to equal 13.1 miles. I started the race in the middle of the pack, and it took me nearly 10 minutes, walking shoulder-to-shoulder with other women, just to reach the starting line. It’s billed as one of the largest all-female half-marathons in the country.

NYC Women's Half Marathon 7

Photo Credit: The More/Shape Women’s Half-Marathon

But the most significant takeaway: the camaraderie, the empowerment, the overwhelming vibe of “girl power.”

Nearly 10,000 women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and abilities, set out to accomplish a goal—to run the challenging half-marathon course on that day. I talked to women from Florida, Tennessee, Michigan, as well as New Yorkers who welcomed us all. Some had never run a half-marathon before; some had run this specific race many times before. For me, it was my second half-marathon and I see many more in my future—personally I love the challenge of that distance. A love of running brought us all together.

As a female small business owner and entrepreneur, I feel very blessed to “do what I love and love what I do.” I’m also blessed to refer business, and have business referred back to me, by many other women-led businesses. It’s an empowering network of support, not only because it involves other women, but because we often work alone for large periods of time as small business owners. This camaraderie and circle of support is very similar to what I felt in Central Park.

Many of the runners were mothers like myself—I was so honored and thankful to have my college-age daughter supporting me and cheering me on! There were hundreds if not thousands of supportive family members—husbands, sisters, brothers, children of all ages, as well as friends—cheering on the runners, holding encouraging or funny signs that made us smile, and adding to the excitement of the event.

For that one brief moment in time, on a beautiful sunny morning in New York, the ugly realities of our daily lives as women melted away. There was no “good old boys’ network.” Race, age, and appearance didn’t matter. There were no cliques, walls, or glass ceilings.

When we tackled the hills on that course, they were simply hills and we ran them together. We cheered for each other, we cursed “the Harlem Hill” together, we shared a warm feeling of solidarity together as women. In real life, we struggle up the hills that society often puts in our way.

Google defines “the old boy network” as “an informal system of support and friendship through which men use their positions of influence to help others who went to the same school or college as they did or who share a similar social background.” How many of us have come up against the old boy network in our careers and/or our personal lives? (Disclaimer: Thankfully, not all men are like this!)

I have personally experienced the good old boy network taking care of its own, through various work situations over the years, and even through my daughter’s soccer team when rules of conduct were twisted by the board–primarily men–to uphold violations by her male coach and a team dad. Sometimes we feel as though we don’t have a voice or justice. But these situations bring others’ “true colors” to light. The old boy network–one example of the walls built against women.

Sometimes the walls are constructed by other women—we encounter stereotypes and hate-shaming because we stay home with our children, or because we don’t stay home with our children and re-enter the work force. There are “insider” and “outsider” labels placed upon us, people who are “natives” or “transplants” to a region. Women can form cliques like nobody’s business. Jealousies get in the way—I have seen women form jealousy over other women’s beauty, possessions, even their children’s accomplishments or talents. Rather than being happy for each other, celebrating life’s moments together, jealousy often rears its ugly head instead. These situations often define who our “true friends” are. All of these walls, labels, and jealousies–it’s all a form of hate.

Consider these facts:

Only 2% of women around the world would describe themselves as beautiful, according to the global study,The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report, reported by Dove.

In 1979, women working full time earned 62 percent of what men earned; in 2014, women’s earnings were 83 percent of men’s. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 2015.)

A woman-owned business employs, on average, just one person in addition to the owner; women-owned businesses have average annual revenues of just under $155,000, far less than the $400,000 figure of the typical privately held business. Women seeking first-year financing to get their companies off the ground receive about 80% less capital than men. (2013 Women-Owned Business Report, published by American Express OPEN, cited in Forbes, June 2013)

In my home state of Pennsylvania, only 18 percent of state lawmakers are female. In 2015, Pennsylvania had only one statewide elected executive who is a woman and did not have any female U.S. Congress members. In the state Legislature, nine out of 50 senators were women and 37 out of 203 house members were women. Because of the low percentage, Pennsylvania ranks as 40th in the nation. (New Pittsburgh Courier, April 17, 2016)

Women reached the peak of their labor force participation in 1999, with a rate of 60.0 percent. Since then, labor force participation among women has declined, to 57.0 percent in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 2015.

In 2005, 1,181 women were murdered by an intimate partner. That’s an average of three women every day. Of all the women murdered in the U.S., about one-third were killed by an intimate partner. (According to statistics compiled by the National Organization for Women)

According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, which includes crimes that were not reported to the police, 232,960 women in the U.S. were raped or sexually assaulted in 2006. That’s more than 600 women every day. (According to the National Organization for Women)

Still there are bright spots:

Between 1997 and 2013, the number of women-owned businesses increased by 59 percent – 1½ times the rate of U.S. businesses overall. What’s more, over the past 16 years, employment by companies owned by female entrepreneurs was up by 10% and their revenues grew by 63%. Both of those increases exceed those of all but the largest, publicly traded firms. (Forbes, June 2013)

Today, more than 8.6 million U.S. businesses are owned by women. They generate more than $1.3 trillion in revenues and employ nearly 7.8 million people. (Forbes, June 2013)

Over time, women have increasingly attained higher levels of education: among women ages 25 to 64 who are in the labor force, the proportion with a college degree more than tripled from 1970 to 2014, increasing from 11.2 percent to 40.0 percent. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 2015)

 

I am an eternal optimist, a believer in what is good and right always prevails. The hashtag set up by race organizers was #womenruntheworld. Yes, for one beautiful morning in New York City, we literally ran the world, our steps in harmony encircling Central Park. As wives and mothers, we run the world and impact the next generation. As female leaders, business owners, and entrepreneurs, we set goals not unlike our half-marathon marks—regarding pace and duration. Let’s keep empowering and respecting each other, lifting each other up rather than tearing each other down, as we keep striving (and striding) for change.

Many thanks to the following females colleagues who encouraged me to write this blog, this week: Robin, Kaycee, Wendy, Lisa, and Elle. I deeply appreciate your support! XO

Photos that capture the spirit of the day: Click on any photo to open a slide show: