Working Vacations

June 28, 2010

Playing in Peoria

From Justine Harris '11, Public Relations major

"There's nothing to do in Peoria" was my personal mantra the first two years I attended Bradley. Any familiarity with social life was cultivated either in my dorm room or on the quad. But hailing from Bloomington-Normal, I had been to Peoria a few times before. I did know a few basic things. I knew Peoria was home to the Peoria Chiefs baseball team, that a riverfront existed and that there was a huge rivalry between ISU and Bradley. I could also pinpoint the exact location of a particularly excellent Qdoba in East Peoria. Remarkable stuff, I know.

What I didn't know is that years later, I would develop an appreciation for the creativity that thrives in this city. I would come to find that there are a ton of great opportunities around here. You just have to keep your eyes open.

I've been the Communications Intern at the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau since August of 2009. The PACVB is divided into Communications, Convention Sales, Sports and Tourism, but everyone ultimately works together to market the Peoria area as a great place for groups to visit or hold conventions.

My job primarily deals with media relations. I write news releases and media alerts about area events to send to local news media. Once in a while, I also send releases to national publications and news sources. Additionally, I help develop press packets for big events, including IHSA March Madness and National Travel and Tourism Week.

I record radio public service announcements about Peoria area events at Townsquare Media, home to stations like 95.5 GLO and 105.7 the X. Recording radio spots for the PACVB actually opened the door for another job opportunity-an internship this summer with Townsquare Media as a promotions intern. It's been fun balancing my internships and getting some valuable experience with Peoria media.

A great part about my internship at the PACVB is personal interaction with some of the people who visit Peoria. One event I was involved with was the World Sport Stacking National Championships, a nationwide cup stacking tournament the PACVB brought to the Peoria Civic Center. At the time, I was writing a news story about the competition and was able to interview one of the stackers while I was there. Andy, a 9-year-old autistic boy, was a part of the "Special Stackers" division of the competition. He was so sweet and loved talking about cup stacking. Andy told me how excited he was to drive with his family to Peoria and compete against the other stackers. It was rewarding to see how much this city affected him. He was so happy to be here, even if it was just for one day in a small meeting room at the Civic Center.

Every day I come into work at the PACVB, I learn something new about Peoria and the surrounding area. I recently got to experience firsthand the opening of the Old Quarters, Peoria's newest nightly entertainment district on the Riverfront. Through the PACVB, I learned about some beautiful wineries in the area and now enjoy going to them with my friends. I've also learned that you can find live music somewhere in this city almost any night of the week. Any way you look at it, there is really a culture in Peoria that can be enjoyed by any age group, and that is something I'm going to remember about this internship for the rest of my life.