Industry Profile: Park City Mountain Resort Marketing & Communications Manager Meisha Lawson
10 Aug, 2010
Job Title: Marketing and Communications Manager
Employer: Park City Mountain Resort
Years on snow: My first experience on snow was in Aspen, Colorado when I was 4, BUT I grew up in Mississippi. Needless to say that first snow experience was an isolated incident! My true ”snow career” begin in 2002, so eight years.
Days on snow: Total? I haven’t counted. Last season I came in right about 60, which isn’t as high as I’d like, but sometimes work gets in the way.
Currently Riding: GNU B-Pro BTX – Thanks Barrett
Currently I am: Sitting in a hotel room in NYC
Shay: Tell us a little bit about yourself
Meisha: I am a Southerner by birth but a mountain girl at heart. My family is from Georgia, but I grew up in Mississippi. I was a cheerleader and a sorority girl before moving to Colorado eight years ago! I love my life, snowboarding, mountain biking, my dog Stella, my job and MOUNTAINS. I also love to travel to third world countries and sometimes I hippy out a little at Phish and other jam band shows.
Shay: How has snowboarding changed your life?
Meisha: I don’t know who or where I’d be without snowboarding. Snowboarding has opened my eyes to a way of life, it’s not just a hobby but a defining personality characteristic. Through snowboarding, I have met some of my best friends, filled countless days with laughs and pow turns and became much more interested in weather than I ever thought I would be.
Shay: How did you get your start in the industry, who or what opened up more opportunities for you?
Meisha: After graduating from college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do? My knowledge of the snow industry was extremely limited, seriously non-existent. My family had been on vacation in Crested Butte my senior year of college, and I thought working for a resort might be cool (for a year or two). I decided to look into resort jobs and somehow was offered a marketing job at Arapahoe Basin in Colorado. I had never heard of A-Basin and had never been to Summit County. Leigh Heirholzer, the marketing director at A-Basin, told me that she wasn’t going to hire me because she didn’t want to have to hire someone else after I decided it wasn’t for me. Apparently, I was pretty convicing and she believed me that I was the right person for the job. Fortunately it worked out!
Shay: How has your previous education or work experience helped you in your current job?
Meisha: My previous work experience is exclusively mountain resort related, so it’s pretty relevant to my current job. My first job at A-Basin was a crash course in the snow industry. After working at the Basin for 3 years I went to work at Vail Mountain, which I like to consider grad school for resort marketing. Our VP of Marketing used to give us these ”lectures” on marketing during our staff meetings. It was hilarious, he would show us powerpoint presentations and we would take notes. Fortunately, there were no exams! My current job I’m able to use the knowledge I gained from both A-Basin and Vail Mountain and put it into action at Park City Mountain Resort. I think that having experiences from the largest resort in North America and a smaller, local resort have been extremely helpful in my career.
Shay: Tell us about your role at Park City Resort and a description of the work you do?
Meisha: I oversee the events, sponsorships, marketing and communication initiatives at Park City Mountain Resort. Basically that means to I manage relationships with different event producers, Resort sponsors and journalists interested in the Resort. The marketing department at PCMR is pretty small, so we all work really closely together and everything that needs to be done. Marketing is changing so quickly, that current strategies and tactics quickly become outdated. We spend a lot of time understanding what the marketing landscape looks like and where it is going so we can utilize the best techniques to engage with our guest.
Shay: What’s an average day like at work for you?
Meisha: I haven’t figured out what an average day is! Every day is different, which is one of the main reasons I love my job. A typical day could include catching up on e-mails and preparing my mental checklist of what needs to get done that day, testing the product (especially on pow days), meeting with event producers and sponsors, having lunch with a visiting journalist, writing and distributing press releases, answering random phone calls and then finishing up by catching up on e-mails and once again reviewing that mental checklist! There are probably a few more meetings in there, but I won’t bore you with the details.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working in the industry?
Meisha: It’s funny, everyone always glamorizes events and you constantly have people who want to be a part of the planning and coordination process. The planning of events isn’t that amazing (that’s an insider secret), but my most memorable experiences from working in the industry would have to be from the events I’ve managed. From starting the first park events at A-Basin, to overseeing the Honda Session and Vail Snow Daze to the World Superpipe Championships, the Intelligent Design and the naming of the 2010 US Snowboarding Olympic team at PCMR, industry events are like no other.
Shay: What do you think are the biggest challenges that the snowboard industry faces and what changes would you like to see for the future?
Meisha: Wow, this is a pretty tough question. The snow industry faces some major challenges with the aging baby boomer population (people are exiting the sport faster than they enter), the current growth rate, and the barriers to entry to skiing and snowboarding are extremely high. I’d like to see resorts, hard and soft goods manufacturers and athletes work together to come up with a solution for growth. Snowboarding is an aspirational sport and a way of life. It’s often compared with addictions. if we aren’t getting people to try our sport (drug) then it isn’t going to grow.
Shay: Education vs Experience…which do you think is more important?
Meisha: I think that education is important, but more to learn about who you are as a person. I often think about college and what I learned there that I apply to my daily working life and to be honest the lessons from school are pretty limited. School taught me how to manage people and to meet expectations, which I think is very important in any industry. Experience and networking is the best way to learn the way to get things done in this industry. Mistakes will happen, but hopefully you learn from them and don’t stress out about them too much.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to work in the industry?
Meisha: Follow your dreams, but don’t get lost in your interpretations of those dreams. Take chances, build relationships and get to know people. I haven’t worked in any other industry, but in the snow industry bro deals rule, so get out there and get some bros! Don’t be afraid to try something that you’re not sure about. You’ll learn something and have experiences that you will never forget. It’s not all fun and games. You’ll put in long hours, probably give up your social life for six months of the year, but at the end of the day (every day) you will smile and remind yourself that you have someone’s (most likely your own) dream job and you probably got paid to shred that day too.
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