About Karen Hendricks

Professionally: HendricksCommunications.com For Fun: OfftheMerry-Go-Round.com

Introducing TheBurg

Harrisburg, PA

By Karen Hendricks

Central Pennsylvania is one of the most unique media markets in the country. That’s because unlike most markets geographically focused on one city, the Central PA media market combines four cities clustered together, along with additional medium-sized outlying towns. Often called “Hilly,” for its acroynm of HLLY, the area encompasses the capital city of Harrisburg, along with Lancaster, Lebanon and York.

Each city has its own unique personality, yet together the cities of HLLY form the heart of central PA–a region where urban landscapes give way to rolling farmland, where technology and tourism merge with manufacturing and agriculture to form the top industries.

My career, geographically speaking, has come full circle. I began my work in the HLLY market by living and working in Harrisburg in 1993; a recent move back to the Harrisburg area after 22 years in the York/Adams region feels like a homecoming of sorts.

So I consider it an exciting honor to begin writing for a Harrisburg-based publication that I’ve admired for its quality of writing and journalistic integrity for a long tme, TheBurg.

I hope you enjoy reading my first two pieces for TheBurg, with links below:

Born to Run: Fred Joslyn takes his love of running around the midstate, across the world (TheBurg, August 2017)

Hoppy Trail: Best of the West Shore featured in the Cumberland Valley Beer Trail (TheBurg, July 2017)

Al’s of Hampden in Enola



Susquehanna Valley Staycations

By Karen Hendricks

A “staycation” is defined as “a vacation spent at home or nearby,” according to Merriam-Webster. Here in the Susquehanna Valley of Central Pennsylvania, there are infinite possibilities for summer staycations, saving traveling time and shrinking vacation budgets, with the added benefit of seeing our hometowns in a new light. In fact, some of the state’s top tourism destinations are right under our noses.

One of the most authentic staycation experiences can be found at one of the “farm stays” within A Lancaster County Farm Stay, an association of 20 bed and breakfasts and guesthouses that welcome families with children. Not only do these accommodations provide pretty, pastoral farm settings, but they also offer behind-the-scenes tours and opportunities for couples or families to experience farm life.

I headed to Airy Hill Farm B&B to preview their rustic, back-to-basics farm charm.

“Airy Hill Farm Bed & Breakfast: Life as it should be,” reads the sign aside the winding driveway, in the midst of lush, rolling green farmland, shady clusters of trees and several babbling brooks. Situated in northern Lancaster County, just a few miles from Lebanon County, Airy Hill Farm B&B is named for its picturesque
Lancaster County backroad, Airy Hill Road, in Manheim…. click here to read the full article, Susquehanna Valley Staycations: Finding Farm Charm and More–Locally, a cover story in the June issue of Susquehanna Style.

Enjoy a few photos I snapped along the way, below! Fun fact: I covered this story in between snowstorms during the winter of 2017, attempting to make the photography look as “summery” as possible for publication in June.

Coulda Woulda Shoulda: Baseball Stories You May Not Have Heard (Yet)

By Karen Hendricks

Just in time for summer, York County author Chris Williams has released a book of 12 little-known yarns about American’s favorite pasttime, baseball. I am so proud of Chris, a former radio colleague who is a fellow writer. Best practices call for us writers to write about what we know, and Chris certainly knows about baseball.

Could the 1966 Cubs be the best team to ever finish in last place? Would Greg Luzinski, Fernando Valenzuela, or Eric Gagne have had the careers they did, if they hadn’t been September call-ups? Should Dick Allen be finally elected to the Hall of Fame? Chris tackles these questions and more, including the unusual case of a rookie who hit .313 in his rookie season only to be sent back to the minors the following year.

The book is sprinkled with statistical analysis, along with human interest stories, and nostalgic memories. Chris recounts a childhood trip to one of baseball’s historic ballparks with his own father, and he transcribes an invaluable recording made by his great-grandfather Jacob “Jake” Jeremiah who played professional baseball in the early 1900s. Baseball simply must be in Chris Williams’ blood.

Congrats, Chris, on the fantastic book, perfect for summertime reading by fans of all ages.

Click here for more information and ordering! 

Savor Gettysburg Food Tours: As Authentic as it Gets

Straight from the vine…

One of the biggest buzz words right now is “authentic.”

According to Merriam-Webster, “authentic” is defined as “real or genuine; not copied or false; true and accurate.”

Chances are, whatever your field of work, the concept of authenticity has touched or reshaped your work because it’s being driven by consumer demand. (To delve deeper, check out communications agency Cohn & Wolfe’s recent study examining the relationships between consumers and authentic brands.)

I think one of the most significant markets where authenticity counts is the food industry. Studies show that more consumers care about where and how their foods are grown and made, whether they are organic, pasture-raised, cage-free, and local. (Click here for a recent Forbes’ article detailing 2017 food trends, with “Sustainability” as #5.)

So, being a foodie myself, and spending a good deal of time writing about food, I want to shine a spotlight on a friend who is doing an amazing job creating fun, authentic food tours and experiences. I first met Lori while covering a foodie magazine assignment, Beech Springs Farm’s Farm-to-Table Dinner Series, where she is one of the organizers. (Click here for the delicious backstory!)

Lori Korczyk created Savor Gettysburg Food Tours, and last summer successfully launched a new offshoot tour, the Gettysburg Farmers’ Market Tour & Cooking Class. I tagged along with a fellow foodie friend, and we had a blast. Try this for authentic:

  • The tour began directly at the Gettysburg Farmers’ Market on Lincoln Square, led by Lori and Chef Jeremy Schaffner
  • All of the tour participants–8 women who were fellow foodies–were lovely to meet
  • We met real farmers, honey producers, cheese makers, etc directly at their stands, and they chatted about their unique products
  • We all contributed ideas and let the “produce/products of the day” dictate a working menu and recipes (click here for a video clip)
  • Heading back to the professional kitchen at the Adams County Arts Council, we unpacked all of our “finds” and Chef Jeremy put us each to work: washing, slicing, peparing ingredients
  • Chef Jeremy led numerous instructional talks, showing us how to prepare key ingredients, how to tie a pork tenderloin, how to prepare a tartine (click for video clips)
  • The day culminated in an absolutely delicious summer meal–prepared by us, directed by Chef Jeremy, with produce/products we had selected directly from farmers/producers that morning…
  • Lori enhanced our meal with local wines and ciders, and lots of fun conversation flowed between our new foodie friends

Enjoy a visual tour, below; click on any photo to arrow through a slideshow. Visual storyteling is, after all, proof of an authentic experience!


Savor Gettysburg is launching a new authentic tour for 2017: The Field-to-Fork Agritourism Experience. The original “Savor Gettysburg” tours kick off the 2017 season this weekend (April 1), and the Farmers’ Market/Cooking Class tours begin in June.


Carlisle: All-American Spirit and History

Colonial-style China, featured at 1794 The Whiskey Rebellion, Carlisle

Colonial-style China, featured at 1794 The Whiskey Rebellion, Carlisle

By Karen Hendricks

As we celebrate Presidents Day, here’s a piece of Pennsylvania-themed presidential trivia:

Only one president has ever acted as commander-in-chief of troops in the field. Which president? What was the situation?

Answer: President George Washington acted as commander-in-chief of troops while staying in Carlisle, Pennsylvania for a week in 1794 when he organized federal suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania. That’s because Carlisle was Washington’s choice for the location of our first arsenal and school for the U.S. Army.

These fascinating facts relate to two stories I recently covered for two regional magazines. Both stories are based in Carlisle, a quaint, charming historical town that also features a fun, hip vibe.  In 2015, Carlisle was named one of America’s Top 100 Best Small Towns in 2015 by Livability.com (Carlisle came in at #16).

feb-2017-susquehanna-style-coverAll-American Spirit: Carlisle’s 1794 The Whiskey Rebellion, published in the February 2017 issue of Susquehanna Style, is a restaurant review for popular downtown spot, 1794 The Whiskey Rebellion. It’s all very straightforward and comfortable: a simple and traditional American menu, blended with whiskey and history. Click here to read more!

Also location in Carlisle, the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center (USAHEC) is considered the nation’s leading cover-jan-feb-2017-celebrate-gettysburgorganization dedicated to educating and preserving the legacy of Americans who have served their country as U.S. army soldiers.

The range, depth, and breadth of USAHEC is staggering: a 54-acre site housing 16 million military items (and growing), including what’s considered the world’s largest collection of Civil War photographs with a grand total of 1.7 million military photographs. USAHEC not only includes an indoor museum component, but also outdoor exhibits, and an extensive library, archives, and artifacts collection—all free and open to the public. “It’s one of the treasures of our region,” says Aaron Jumper, communications coordinator of the Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau.

Read more: U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center: Telling the U.S. Army’s Story, One Soldier at a Time, published in the Jan/Feb issue of Celebrate Gettysburg magazine.

And enjoy a collection of behind-the-scene photos taken during my research and interviews for both stories! (Click on any photo to arrow through the collection.)

Related Links:

1794 The Whiskey Rebellion

U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center

Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau

Show Your LinkedIn Photo a Little Love


By Karen Hendricks

Branding has become personal. According to a recent article in Forbes, “The term branding has long been relegated to companies, but today almost every individual has a personal brand… a digital footprint in the sands of time and space, crowd sourced by friends, colleagues, and bosses.”

Perhaps the most important personal branding takes place on LinkedIn, social media for professionals, with our profile pictures playing a starring role.

linkedin_logo_initialsLet’s face the facts, pun intended, and review 10 simple guidelines to be sure your LinkedIn image is picture-perfect:

  • Use an image that depicts you looking into the camera as directly as possible. Think about how you would approach a potential contact or employer in person—you would establish eye contact, look at them directly, and smile.
  • The correct image size is a  minimum of 200×200 pixels. Don’t upload an image that is smaller. You can upload a larger image size (500×500 pixels, for example), as long as it’s square in dimensions.
  • Use a professionally-taken image if possible. LinkedIn is social media’s professional marketplace. Your image could form a first impression by a potential employer, and it’s the image your colleagues and network will associate with you.
  • If you don’t have a professionally portrait, then ensure your photo has a clean, plain background.
  • Don’t lurk in the shadows of LinkedIn by leaving the standard gray shadowy image in place of your real photo.
  • The photo should be a headshot; not a full body shot.
  • Wear a complimentary color but avoid busy patterns. Dress to impress!
  • Use a current image; nothing more than five years old at most.
  • Don’t use a logo or graphic design for your personal account; that would be appropriate on your company page however.
  • Smile! Your photo should be warm, genuine, and professionally pleasant.

Perusing LinkedIn, here are a number of faux pas I recently spotted in profile pictures (try not to LOL):

  • Sunglasses.
  • A pair of sneakers. Yes, you read that correctly. Simply a pair of sneakers as a profile picture. I don’t believe he/she was a professional athlete either.
  • Lots of gray “blank” LinkedIn photos. How will people recognize you?
  • A child’s hand caught in a woman’s hair. Whoops, it must have been a family photo, with the child cropped out. Ouch.
  • A smiling couple. Who is the contact—the man or the woman?
  • A man photographed with his dog. (He wasn’t a K9 officer or veterinarian!)
  • A man posing with his motorcycle.
  • Photos obviously taken during a summer vacation. Is this an image you want to project to your professional contacts?

Now for a few samples of outstanding images I gathered, with permission, from a few of my contacts on LinkedIn:

Jen and Joseph, below, both stand out against plain backgrounds, with pops of color in their professional attire, and friendly smiles. Perfect!





Meantime, Geoffrey and Trish, below, successfully incorporate a dash of professional personality into their profile pictures. Geoffrey, an artist, is photographed with one of his works behind him. Trish, a marketing strategist whose company name includes the word “Strategic,” strikes a thoughtful, reflective pose and evokes the feeling that she is indeed strategizing. Great personal branding!





What does your “personal branding” and profile photo say about you? Show yourself some “LinkedIn love” and update your photo to reflect your professional personality!


LinkedIn Help: Profile Picture


Why do people choose the media as a profession?

A look at current American culture, the relationship between the media, the public, and ‘master manipulators’ in our new administration

By Karen Hendricks


So, why do people choose the media as a profession?

It’s a passion for writing and communicating, a love of words whether written or spoken, the thrill of discovering a great story, a sense of honor while being entrusted to tell those stories, shining a light on injustices or wrongs, a way to connect people with vital or interesting information, providing a platform for voices that might otherwise go unheard, and much more. A lot of us are “word nerds.” Simply put, we have the gift of communicating. Explaining, assessing situations, hearing both sides (or more) of a story, and presenting the facts as we’ve gathered them to inform the public; along with quotes/soundbites of those involved to add detail, emotion, and credibility.

For the vast majority of us, it’s certainly not for the money.

And it’s certainly not to be bashed by the American public; ridiculed or threatened by government officials. Yes, we the media should be held to high standards, but not viciously attacked.

Thankfully the U.S. Constitution guarantees us, the American public, the right to free speech as well as the right to a free press (media).

According to the National Constitution Center’s website, the First Amendment “guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition.  It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individual’s religious practices.  It guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely.  It also guarantees the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government.”

Here is the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The press (media) functions as a “fourth estate,” in addition to the three branches of government with checks and balances, by monitoring and holding government accountable in order to inform the American people. The media’s role is to ask the tough questions, be persistent, curious, skeptical, with access to public officials. It’s an integral part of our democracy.

The dangerous aspect of “the media” today, is that we are seeing so-called media outlets on the far right and far left sides of the political spectrum not adhereing to sound journalistic principles. And there is an element of the population that’s buying their brand of “news.”

Over the past week, there have been numerous troubling news stories focused on strained relations between the new administration and the media: numerous false statements made by President Trump and/or his staff to the press, gag orders issued to several government agencies (EPA, NPS, Ag), and perhaps the most chilling story—chief White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon’s statements labeling the media as “the opposition party.”

How does the First Amendment support the media as part of our democracy?

According to Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute:

“Several Court holdings do firmly point to the conclusion that the press clause does not confer on the press the power to compel government to furnish information or to give the press access to information that the public generally does not have.34 Nor in many respects is the press entitled to treatment different in kind than the treatment any other member of the public may be subjected to.35 “Generally applicable laws do not offend the First Amendment simply because their enforcement against the press has incidental effects.”36 Yet, it does seem clear that to some extent the press, because of the role it plays in keeping the public informed and in the dissemination of news and information, is entitled to particular if not special deference that others are not similarly entitled to, that its role constitutionally entitles it to governmental “sensitivity,” to use Justice Stewart’s word.37 What difference such[p.1028]a recognized “sensitivity” might make in deciding cases is difficult to say.”

There have been three landmark Supreme Court cases that have upheld the media’s right to disseminate information including The New York Times v. United States in 1971 which allowed the publication of the Pentagon Papers.

Our President would have us believe that the term “main stream media” (which some far-right websites refer to as MSM) is derogatory. Many credible news sources cite the President making this reference when he is actually trying to discredit their reports, is upset with their coverage, and/or is threatening them.

When he says he’s “declaring war on the media,” what kind of power does he really have? According to an article in Newsweek, the Constitution and Supreme Court rulings will ensure the media’s role continues in our democracy. However, with a vacancy and two elderly members on the Supreme Court, some experts are worried. According to the article:

“What now is frightening—for a free press and other freedoms we hold dear—is that the president is positioned to create a court that can interpret the Constitution in ways that undermine our liberty—even those that we thought to be inviolable,” writes Hatcher. (Andrea Hatcher, associate professor and chair of the department of politics at the University of the South)

How did we get to this point?

The media: Yes, there are issues with the media, its coverage, its bias in some cases. Many journalist friends have expressed opinions on social media over the past few days with which I agree: that media organizations need to get “back to basics” by enforcing the hallmarks of good journalism–researching, writing, presenting all sides of an issue, striving to be non-biased, and fact-checking. There are other issues such as corporate ownership. Interesting sidenote: During the election process, a study by NPR actually found that the media was more than favorable to Trump, actually biased TOWARDS him (all sources, including this one, cited below).

The public: It is shocking how many Americans, as “consumers” of news, do not know the difference between non-news sources (whether you classify them as fake news, opinion-based blogs, or otherwise) and legitimate news sources containing all the hallmarks of good journalism. I hate to call people uneducated. But I think we truly need to educate American consumers as to their choices in consuming news just as we educate them on their choices at the grocery store. If you only consume junk food, guess what happens to you physically? Similarly, if you are feeding your brain only with junk news… you are not mentally grounded in reality. Some Americans seem conditioned to only seek out “fake news” which is often “opinion reporting” with which they agree, further perpetuating rumors, half-truths, and lies.

The government: During the campaign, there were warning signs that media relations with a Trump presidency would be difficult. Trump often taunted the media during his campaign rallies, inciting crowds to jeer at reporters. He labeled various outlets of the “mainstream media” as “fake news,” further straining relations and further confusing the public, while inciting his loyal supporters against the media. Just this morning, Nicole Wallace of NBC News summed up the new administration’s first week in office as “chaos rules at the White House.’ During the week, there were numerous skirmishes between the administration and the press. For example, when David Muir of ABC News pressed the President on why he is fixated on inauguration crowd size, the President attacked him personally:

“No, I think you’re demeaning by talking the way you’re talking. I think you’re demeaning. And that’s why I think a lot of people turned on you and turned on a lot of other people. And that’s why you have a 17 percent approval rating, which is pretty bad.” Muir, unflappable, continued pressing other topics as the interview continued.

During the week, his administration, specifically chief White House strategist Stephen Bannon formerly of Breitbart News, further eroded the public’s perception and confidence in the media. To quote the New York Times:

Mr. Bannon is one of the strongest forces in an administration with competing power centers. A savvy manipulator of the press, and a proud provocateur, he was among the few advisers in Mr. Trump’s circle who were said to have urged Sean Spicer, the new press secretary, to give a confrontational, emotional statement to a shocked West Wing briefing room on Saturday, when the White House disputed news reports about the size of the inauguration crowd.

This evolved, after a report in the New York Times:

“President Trump used his first full day in office on Saturday to unleash a remarkably bitter attack on the news media, falsely accusing journalists of both inventing a rift between him and intelligence agencies and deliberately understating the size of his inauguration crowd.”

Going back to a New York Times report in November, a chronicle of Bannon’s statements includes:

“‘Let the grassroots turn on the hate because that’s the ONLY thing that will make them do their duty,’ he wrote about Republican leaders in a 2014 email exchange with a Breitbart News editor. ”

Aside: Isn’t it ironic that the very law that guarantees us a free press also allows far-right and far-left “fake news” websites to also function, spreading rumor and hate, and undermining true media outlets?

Do we want our nation to be based upon a culture of hate, distrust, and threats to free speech?

Where do we go from here?

It’s up to each one of us to be on guard and watchful—watchful of the media, so that we not only make good sound choices when it comes to our news consumption but holding the media accountable if we read/hear something that doesn’t represent sound journalistic principles; watchful of the government ensuring they are providing clear communications to the American people and the press as protected under the First Amendment; and watchful of each other, taking leadership roles in listening, talking, and trying to understand (I did not say accept—but understand) others’ points of view in an attempt to heal our nation.

According to an article by Poynter Institute quoting New York Times columnist Frank Rich, “American culture will continue to be exploited by master manipulators from either political party ‘if Americans don’t start to take it back.’”




Trump’s First Week: ‘Chaos Rules at this White House,’ Says One Analyst, NBC News, Jan 27, 2017

Trump Strategist Stephen Bannon Says Media Should ‘Keep its Mouth Shut,’ New York Times, Jan. 26, 2017

With False Claims, Trump Attacks Media on Turnout and Intelligence Rift, New York Times, Jan. 21, 2017

Kellyanne Conway: WH Spokesman Gave ‘Alternative Facts’ on Inauguration Crowd, NBC News, Jan. 22, 2017

Transcript: ABC News Anchor David Muir Interviews President Trump, ABC News, Jan. 25, 2017

Donald Trump’s Threat to Press Freedom: Why it Matters, Newsweek, Nov. 12, 2016

Stephen Bannon and Breitbart News, in their Words, New York Times, Nov. 14, 2016

National Park Service Regrets Harsh Retweets about Trump, USA Today, Jan. 21, 2017

President Trump Institutes Media Blackout at EPA, Boston Globe (Associated Press), Jan. 24, 2016

Cornell University Law School, Legal Information Institute

The Constitution Center, Clauses of the First Amendment

15 Tips for a Saner News Experience, Poynter Institute

Don’t Let Trump Get Away with ‘Alternative Facts,’ Columbia Journalism Review, opinion, Jan. 23, 2017

Fake News is Not the Real Media Threat We’re Facing: What the Conservative Media Machine Does is Much More Dangerous, The Nation, Dec. 22, 2016

How Lying Affects Your Brain, Shape Magazine

NPR and the Word ‘Liar’: Intent is Key, NPR, Jan. 25, 2017

Fake or Real? How to Self-Check the News and Get the Facts, NPR, Dec. 5, 2016

Fight Fake News: Know Who is Reputable, image.

Study: Election Coverage Skewed by “Journalistic Bias,” NPR, July 12, 2016