Saturday, October 25, 2014

Herald welcomes former reporter, hometown business professional

By CLINTON DICK, Herald Staff Writer | 6/18/2014

She’s happy to be back. Jodie Garcia, 31, Eudora, returned to The Ottawa Herald June 2 as a customer service and reader engagement specialist after working as a bilingual assistant in case management for a law firm in Lawrence since 2009. She previously worked for The Herald as a staff reporter from May 2005 to May 2009 covering entertainment and education, she said.

“I did pretty much everything over the course of those four years,” Garcia said. “I covered city meetings, the cops and courts, and even took photos.”

She’s happy to be back. Jodie Garcia, 31, Eudora, returned to The Ottawa Herald June 2 as a customer service and reader engagement specialist after working as a bilingual assistant in case management for a law firm in Lawrence since 2009. She previously worked for The Herald as a staff reporter from May 2005 to May 2009 covering entertainment and education, she said.

“I did pretty much everything over the course of those four years,” Garcia said. “I covered city meetings, the cops and courts, and even took photos.”

The Phillipsburg native now aids The Herald’s front office with classified and legal publications as well as social media, and serves as a back up for the news department with photos, obituaries and other projects when needed. Garcia also assists Jeanny Sharp, Herald publisher, with special projects, including coordinating aspects of Ottawa’s 150th birthday initiative, Sharp said.

“It is fabulous to have Jodie back after a five-year hiatus,” Sharp said. “She did a great job as a reporter, and now it is great to have her in a reader engagement role, working jointly with the newsroom and advertising. She is incredibly smart and, with her experience at a law firm for the past five years, she has tremendous business skills.”

Garcia graduated in 2005 with a bachelor of arts in journalism and Spanish from the University of Kansas. She interned for one summer at The Herald while still in college and was hired upon graduation as a full-time reporter, she said.

The former journalist said being back in a familiar environment is both exciting and a new learning experience.

“It was kind of like coming home in a way,” Garcia said. “Some of the people are here that were here before, some of the people are new. I think just being familiar with the ins and outs of a reporter back then helps me understand that perspective now, even though I’m in the front office doing other things. Also, contrasting, there is a lot that I had no concept of as a reporter and that I am learning about now, which is exciting and interesting.”

Mallory Hull

Garcia is not the only new face at The Herald. Mallory Hull joined the team May 12 as a media consultant and now is working with several clients in the community.

“I call on all of my different clients,” Hull said. “Here recently, I’ve been calling to introduce myself and let them know I will be taking over on their accounts. Some of my clients here in town are going to be the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce, Franklin County Development Council, a lot of the restaurants. I help them come up with ads to run in the paper.”

Hull, the daughter of Paul and Debbie Geist, Ottawa, also works with clients interested in online advertising.

“I can talk to them abut online ads as well,” Hull said. “We do website development. There are a lot of pieces to The Herald that I know I didn’t realize they did before I started working here, so I am trying to get more of the online and digital aspect out to the customers more than anything.”

The Ottawa native gained sales training from her previous work as a store manager at T-Mobile, 1602 S. Main St., Ottawa. She hopes to use that training to be active with organizations and businesses in the community, she said.

“I had a lot of sales training at my previous job,” Hull said. “With that, I also helped train my employees. I’m excited about working with places like the Chamber and the Franklin County Development Council because I was born and raised here and I care about what happens in the community and the growth with it.

“I’m looking forward to learning and growing. I’ve always been interested in newspaper, how it works and the history of it all and I think it is important that I help keep that history going.”

One of Hull’s first projects at The Herald is working in conjunction with the Franklin County Convention and Visitors Bureau on a map of Ottawa that features new restaurants and attractions, Sharp said.

“We are thrilled to have Mallory and her background in technology as a manager of a local retailer, specifically in mobile phones and new technology,” Sharp said. “We think she brings a lot of insight and intelligence to us. She is a hometown girl and is very well respected. She has exhibited great enthusiasm and energy already.”

Hull attended Kansas State University before going into cosmetology school. She lives in Ottawa with her husband, Eric, and their two children — Haydon, 6, and Hadleigh, 2.

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