Kerry Crawford made a well-known living out of loving Memphis. Now Holly Whitfield, a new arrival at the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau and Crawford’s successor as the I Love Memphis blogger, plans to continue that professional evangelizing for the city as Crawford winds down her time with the tourism agency.
Even though she doesn’t take over until the end of the month for Crawford – who was hired as the CVB’s social media specialist in 2009 – Whitfield has started putting the word out. Fear not, promises the blogger from the same school of thought – call it Memphis Exceptionalism – as her predecessor.
Like Crawford, who helped build up the blog to the point of it eventually scoring some 100,000 average monthly page views and who became a fixture in the city’s civic and cultural circles, Whitfield promises to maintain and elevate the I Love Memphis brand in service of making Memphians proud to be such.
Don’t panic, she promised I Love Memphis readers in her first post after Crawford’s farewell note Sept. 4. The I Love Memphis blog, Whitfield wrote, isn’t going anywhere except full speed ahead.
“I want to keep doing readers’ favorite things – like ideas for fun stuff to do and food reviews, but I have lots of new ideas as well,” said Whitfield, who grew up in Hattiesburg, Miss., and who has been at the CVB for a little more than a week.
“It’s an honor to be able to continue and grow the work that Kerry has done with the blog. (And) the team members here seem to love what they do. They accomplish so many things mostly behind-the-scenes that help Memphis and our visitors, and I was looking to be a part of a team like that.”
She’s making her mark in the wake of Crawford, who surprised readers with a post that explained “it’s time for me to make room for other good things to happen” in her life and who’s leaving the CVB to pursue freelance digital content strategy, social media strategy, information architecture and user research.
“We built this crazy thing from scratch, together,” reads Crawford’s farewell. “You’re awesome, and I’m going to miss you a whole bunch.”
Whitfield studied writing and graphic design at the University of Memphis, and her career path since then has carried her past stints as a graphic designer, writer and editorial director for several local magazines. Whitfield calls herself first and foremost a writer, and subjects she has tackled have included weddings, health, music, sports and home design.
Among her plans for the I Love Memphis site is a refresh of the design and the addition of some graphics and maps.
“I’m very open to suggestions, because this is all for the readers,” she said.
Given 24 hours to herself, Whitfield’s Memphis-themed to-do list would include rounding up some friends and hitting the Wolf River to go canoeing in the morning, because it’s something she says she has wanted to do but never had time.
If the weather is agreeable, she’d pick up Chinese Sub Shop sandwiches for a picnic at Shelby Farms Park. Several hours would be spent browsing at the Booksellers at Laurelwood, then dinner at the Beauty Shop and then some revelry at Paula & Raiford’s Disco after a drink Downtown.
This is how she finishes the sentence that begins “I Love Memphis.”
Because, she goes on, “I grew up in a smaller city, so I’ll always be thankful for things like the diverse crowds that show up at Overton Park on a pretty day, the option to eat at independently owned restaurants, or the fact that all the neighborhoods and buildings don’t look the same here.”