Industry Profile: Park City Communications Stephanie Nitsch
27 Jun, 2008
Industry Profile: Park City Chamber Communications Coordinator Stephanie Nitsch
Shay: Tell us a little bit about yourself
Steph: I went to college in Seattle, and the winters are really grey and shitty there. My sophomore year, I decided to move to Park City and became a liftie during the winter quarter. I came back to Seattle for spring quarter and missed the liftie life, so I did it again the following winter. Between seasons, I worked at a snowboard shop called Marley’s (RIP) back in Seattle. At one point, I asked my boss, who was also involved with Signal Snowboards, to help me find an internship and burn a few credits for school. Next thing I know, I’m putting up sheetrock at an unpaid internship and helping to build the new Signal HQ. It’s been a ride ever since.
Shay: What is your job title?
Steph: Communications Coordinator for Park City Chamber/Bureau.
Shay: Did your parents question your job choice?
Steph: Oh yeah, my parents have questioned a lot of my job choices. In the end though, I know that this is the industry I live and breathe, and I don’t need to justify my decisions. I know that I’m doing what makes me happy.
Shay: What was your first set up?
Steph: Some Morrow board from ’96 and a pair of Airwalks. It was a sick deck!
Shay: What is your current set up?
Steph: Signal Hammer 151 (so fun!), 32 Vela’s and Forum Purple People Eaters (who knows what they’re called, but they look like they could eat your feet off!)
Shay: What was your first job?
Steph: UPS Store.
Shay: What’s a great day of snowboarding to you?
Steph: Pow, pow, pow. Wake up to the sound of avy control and throw back some coffee and a cliff bar. Choke on some pow turns before meeting up with the crew, nosh on another cliff bar for lunch on the lift, and spend all day hunting down more pow with the friends.
Shay: Who are your influences?
Steph: My environment is a major influence – people, places and my hobbies all contribute a piece here and there.
Shay: How long have you been snowboarding?
Steph: I tried snowboarding for the first time in 96, but I didn’t learn how to link my turns together until 02. It was a big learning curve.
Shay: How many days do you get to ride a year?
Shay: What is your role at Park City Chamber/Bureau in Media Relations?
Steph: To know what’s happening in Park City during the winter and summer – everything from the ski resorts to new restaurant openings to the towns history, and share this information with journalists. I do a lot of press trip hosting, we’ll bring out media folks from all over the country and give them a hands on experience in Park City.
Shay: Do you get to meet celebs in your job?
Steph: I meet more people with celeb status when I’m not working. I saw Pamela Anderson and Kevin Bacon snowboarding during Sundance one year. I also saw Scotty Arnold in the grocery store the other day. And I rode the gondola with JP Walker this season. Oh, my. How Dreamy!
Shay: Do you get to attend cool events in Park City?
Steph: Some of the best snowboard and ski competitions roll through Park City, and I’m fortunate to experience them. World Superpipe Champs was nuts. Seeing Shaun White as a Hollywood icon was a total trip! I mean, the crowd was treating him like Britney Spears surrounded by paparazzi.
Shay: Is marketing for a resort town a hard job?
Steph: Actually, not at all. People are always excited to go on vacation, and those happy travelers are our demographic. Plus, ski towns have this unique culture that practically markets itself. There are a lot of different marketing angles to work with too, so that keeps things saucy.
Shay: Prior to Park City Chamber, what other jobs have you had?
Steph: I got my foot in with an ad agency in Park City, also in public relations, and before that I was working with Signal Snowboards.
Shay: What’s your average day like at work?
Steph: Each season is so different. Right now, we’re getting ready for our summer season and I’m doing a lot of prep work from my office. Lately it’s been: roll in at 8am, check my email/voicemail, play a quick game of Spider Solitaire, get an update from our PR agency, dial up a conference call, arrange itineraries for upcoming press trips, take clients or members to lunch, catch up on emails, buy plane tickets for upcoming press trips, pitch summer story ideas to journalists, a few more games of Spider Solitaire, more emails, and then the rest of the day is just a blur.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working at Park City Chamber?
Steph: I’m not a huge park rat, but I like sliding box. This past spring, every time I played hookie during work and hung out in the park, I would fall on my nose. No joke. Every time. I had so many bloody noses this spring and would come back to work and put an ice pack on my face, trying to make the swelling less noticeable.
Shay: Do you feel connected to the ski and snowboard industry from your job?
Steph: Oh, for sure. This job is really what you make of it but snow is really my passion so that’s where most of my attention is focused. I love meeting new people, and in this state, a lot of people have a connection to the snow industry, which keeps me tied in, too.
Shay: How is working for Park City Chamber (any cool work events, work environment, job perks)?
Steph: It’s kind of funny. You’d think in a ski town, my co-workers would be really outdoorsy and into the mountains. But surprisingly, some of them hate winter and have never skied. It’s an interesting dynamic for sure. I’m the youngest one in the office, and I’m pretty sure I’m stereotyped as a punk snowboarder who comes to work with hangovers on weekdays. It’s not too far off though.
Shay: What experience did you have or attributes before getting the job?
Steph: I had PR experience before this job, but a big factor in getting this job was my people skills and my stokage level. People sometimes say I get too excited over certain things, but I call it passion. And according to my annual review this morning, passion is a good thing to have.
Shay: What’s the best perk you’ve gotten from your job
Steph: Free season passes to the hills around Park City, ‘product testing’ days, and dinners that I’d never be able to afford on my own.
Shay: Any disadvantages of your job?
Steph: Not having a legit 6″ rule during powder days. Some days it’s hard to play hookie.
Shay: Since you started working in the snowboard industry, what’s been the biggest change?
Steph: From a travel/tourism standpoint, the elitist attitudes have been the biggest shocker. Snowboarding has always been more expensive than say, basketball, but the whole snow industry has become a fashionista, ‘luxe lifestyle.’ It’s sad to see your average ski bum being driven out of town by second-home owners, fur shops and five-star restaurants. But on the flip side, it’s really enabled out industry to grow and offer a lot more awesome job opportunities.
Shay: What’s the busiest time of year for you?
Steph: Winter, for sure! Normal week hours don’t exist from December through April and 60 hour work weeks or no weekends off is typical. I’ll sometimes put in 14 hour days, but a lot of that is going out to dinners, taking people skiing or driving people around town.
Shay: Education vs Experience…which do you think is more important?
Steph: There’s always exceptions to everything, but more often than not…it’s hard to have one without the other. In communications or media relations, college degrees are expected. But it doesn’t mean you’re a shoe-in if you have the diploma. Experience stands out on a resume, too. It really comes down to the whole package.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to get into media relations?
Steph: Networking is such a cliche thing to say, but it’s so true! Especially in media relations. In any job, your success can depend a lot on who you know, but in media relations, it is about who you know. Just get out there and do the things you enjoy: go to art shows, movie premiers, skate parks, bars, whatever…just put yourself in a position where you’ll meet people. And take the initiative to say hi to people you don’t know. Communication skills are key to this field.
Shay: Final thoughts?
Steph: This beer sure does taste good…