For years now, I’ve had preservation friends from social media; but, it was only about two years ago that I started to meet my “social media” friends in “real life”. I love making the world smaller and meeting friends who are doing inspiring work. Enter a new series to Preservation in Pink: Five Questions With. In this series, I’ll be talking with colleagues, social media friends, and others I admire to learn some tricks of the trade, hear their stories, and introduce you to more preservationists.
Third in the series is Emily Laborde Hines.
You probably know Emily from her beautiful blog, Em’s on the Road, which highlights her love of travel, travel advice, local breweries +restaurants, local stores, good shopping, preservation highlights and gorgeous photography. Everything Emily writes makes me want to travel (or at least have a good meal + local brew). Find Emily on Twitter & Instagram @emsontheroad.
Emily and I have been preservation social media friends for a while now, reading each other’s blogs and finally meeting in 2013 at the Preservation Conference in Indianapolis. Her career intrigues me as she’s trained in preservation and working in social media. Luckily, Emily was willing to share her experiences with Preservation in Pink readers.
1. You’re a preservationist with a career in social media. Tell me about that, please!
I am a historic preservationist by trade and a social media professional by happenstance. My family is in the restaurant business and when Facebook started pages I decided that was something our restaurants should do. While I was in graduate school for historic preservation at the University of Georgia I continued to do some freelance social media work for other businesses and non-profits. Right now I’m a communications manager for a craft brewery in Bloomington, Indiana but get my preservation fix volunteering with non-profits and traveling and sharing my adventures on my blog.
2. What inspires you?
Travel of course. Visiting new places helps you gain a broader understanding of the world and I find that exciting. I took a trip to Turkey as a Maymester class in grad school and it’s one of my favorite trips to date. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but the people were so kind, the food phenomenal, and exploring such an old city was truly incredible. I really enjoyed learning and experiencing their many traditions and weaving through streets that were hundreds of years old it was like walking through a history book.
So many people inspire me… Jane Jacobs will forever be my preservation hero from grad school. “Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old building.” – Jane Jacobs
I’m currently reading #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amorusa, founder and executive chairman of the huge online retailer Nasty Gal. It’s a primer of her life and how she went from having a popular ebay store to one of the becoming a millionaire CEO before age 30 for biggest online retailers in the world.
3. If someone asked you to explain the importance of preservation and social media, what would you say?
I think it’s the most powerful tool that preservationists and organizations should be using. To me, it’s the new way to gain grassroots support for projects and to inform and spread the word about the cause in general. A picture is worth a thousand words. For the return on investment, it is a no brainer for organizations to use this tool because it’s next to no cost. Using social media is also extremely valuable because it is the most trackable way to advertise. Radio announcements, flyers, magazine ads have estimated reach but with social media you can see how many people were reached with a post, how many interacted with a post, and how many clicks were made.
You can also find out a lot about your user demographic using social media insights which is really valuable for businesses and organizations to make sure future posts and ads are targeted correctly. In addition, the potential to reach people that don’t identify themselves as preservationists is extremely high. For example one of my favorite Instagram accounts is @oldhouselove which shares old house photos from all over the world some from the profile creators but the majority are crowdsourced from users using their hashtag #oldhouselove.
4. What are some of the best skills you’ve learned along the way?
Networking is the best skill I’ve learned along the way. I’m not the best at it but I have to say all of the jobs and opportunities I’ve gotten in recent years have come from relationships I’ve built with school colleagues, volunteering, social media, or conferences. I think it’s important to always keep learning. There is always more to learn about your discipline which is exciting.
Social media especially is always changing so it’s important to go with it. I was really resistant to snapchat earlier this year and my younger sister showed me how to do it earlier this year and now I’m hooked. It’s turned into a really fun tool for work as well, giving people a behind the scenes look at a business. Writing and editing is essential and I’m thankful both of my degrees had a writing focus because it doesn’t scare me to share my opinions as much as it might for someone else.
5. What is one thing you would advise all aspiring preservationists to learn?
Be flexible. I struggled with and still struggle with a lot of the hard fast rules of preservation. I understand that not everything can be saved or can be awarded tax credits but for a cause that often finds itself in the public hot seat, I think it’s important for preservation professionals to give a little here and there. The same is true when on the job hunt. You may not wind up landing your dream job right away and that’s ok – be flexible and open to different possibilities. Although I don’t work in preservation proper, I’m still a preservationist and try to be an active advocate through volunteering and my blog.
Thank you, Emily! Keep up the great work!