— Everyone needs a cheerleader, someone to stand in their corner and shine a spotlight on their best features.

For the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County, that person is Danica Bryant, who leads the team responsible for showing the area in its most positive light, particularly when a travel writer is assigned a story that brings them to Syracuse.

Last year, a different travel writer visited Syracuse nearly every month; sometimes, more often. And when hundreds or thousands of readers will form an opinion of Syracuse based on one person's experience, it's important to leave one amazing first impression.

That's a lot of pressure.

Behind-the-scenes cheerleader

"Our goal is to put heads in beds in Onondaga County," Bryant said of the Syracuse Convention and Visitors Bureau, funded solely through a room-occupancy tax built into hotel and motel room fees.

Bryant is the communications manager in the SCVB's marketing department, and while handling travel writers is just one of her many tasks, it's an important one.

When a travel writer chooses to focus on Syracuse for an assignment, it's up to Bryant and the SCVB to show them what we are all about.

That involves a lot of homework. When a writer reaches out to the SCVB for resources, Bryant first finds out exactly what the writer wants to focus on: outdoor adventure, farm to table foods, history... whatever.

Then Bryant creates an itinerary for the writer, detailing every aspect of their visit to Syracuse, including what they will do for their assignment, and what they'll do for fun.

In the summer, she helped Julie Zimmerman organize a horseback riding trip at Highland Falls for an adventure travel article, but since Zimmerman was interested in the local food scene, they hit the downtown eateries, too.

"It comes down to building a relationship with the writer," Bryant said.

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