VOL. 129 | NO. 161 | Tuesday, August 19, 2014
By Andy Meek
When she was first handed the reins of the I Love Memphis blog almost a year ago, Holly Whitfield said she planned to keep the blog’s brand intact and to keep reminding Memphians why the city is worth their affection.
Kerry Crawford, left, with Holly Whitfield, the current I Love Memphis blogger. Crawford started the successful blog about all things Memphis in 2009 before making way for Whitfield in 2013.
(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)
She also said at the time she hoped expand the blog’s reach by trying new things, venturing to different places and looking for opportunities to take detours somewhat off the beaten path. The result – the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau’s blog – is five years old as of this month, and Whitfield is even more committed to elevating the city’s image.
Her favorite aspects of the job include her ability to write every day about things she loves, meeting new people, having an engaged audience that interacts with the content and the ability to talk to people from all walks of life.
The numbers reflect the work required to pull that off. The blog has garnered more than 72,000 “likes” on Facebook and more than 18,000 followers on Twitter.
It’s profiled hundreds of Memphians, and it’s approaching its 3,000th blog post. It’s presented hundreds of places to visit and restaurants to eat at, and it also recently launched a podcast to extend the words on a screen into a new, more vibrant medium.
About those words on a screen – yes, that’s the nature of what a blog is, but Whitfield, a veteran of the Commercial Appeal, has long been interested in finding new ways to make the blog reflect more than that. It’s now, for example, even more image-heavy than it was way back in August 2009, with the blog also including its own Instagram account that Whitfield launched.
“I’ve definitely tried to do more guest posts and to add more interactive things into posts,” Whitfield said, looking back on both her one-year stint so far and on the blog’s fifth birthday.
Speaking of that birthday, she invited the public to a birthday bash for I Love Memphis on Aug. 17 at Wiseacre Brewing Co.
Benefiting the community-focused nature of the blog, guests were the focus and got lavished with goodies including free cake from Frost Bake Shop, a photo booth, live T-shirt printing from Five In One Social Club, and the first 50 people got a free pint on the I Love Memphis tab, among other things.
“We definitely have a broad audience,” Whitfield said. “It’s skewed toward people who want to be involved in the community. It’s for people who are interested in going out. I also tend to think when I’m writing – I think that I’m writing to my friends. I throw in my own personal thoughts, the things I might say to my friends. This is what time to get there. This is what you should wear.
“I also really want to give people a slice of life about living in Memphis now. And I’m not just going to say Elvis Week is happening, here’s what’s going on. It’ll be – here’s something you might not know.”
That said, Whitfield adds that she’s also trying to reach other groups, including non-Memphians and people who otherwise could use a reminder about positive aspects of the city. To those kinds of people, she’s quick with an answer that completes the title of her blog. She loves Memphis, in other words, for several reasons.
“There are these really passionate groups of people here doing really things, and you can get involved,” she said. “It’s the size and spirit of Memphis that helps it. Everything still has this kind of grassroots feel. You can get involved if you’re bringing something to the table.”