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Wide Awake: Introducing…
Seems there’s an awful lot to talk about
By Marianne Aleardi

As I’m sure you can imagine, I’ve been asked many times if print is dead. It’s kind of funny, because often the person who is asking just finished telling me how much they love reading SJ Magazine.

About 5 years ago, we started noticing the shift in media consumption. Some national publications were switching to online-only, while others shut down entirely. All you had to do was look around to see that people, including myself, were looking at screens more. There was this buzz about the rise of digital, and the decline of print.

So we started analyzing what we do, not knowing what was to come but thinking we should be ready for anything – and everything. Our first move was to re-launch sjmagazine.net with original content. It didn’t make sense to post stories on our website that everyone had already read in the magazine. So we filled the website with quick articles like “8 jaw-dropping South Jersey scenic drives.”

We also hired a digital editor and kicked up our social media program. Find us at @JustSaySJ on Instagram and Facebook.

But then an advertiser said something that got us thinking. During a casual conversation, he mentioned that he didn’t consider us to be just a magazine. He thought for a minute and said, “You know, it’s like you’re the heart and soul of South Jersey.”

Wow.

I mean, wow.

That’s a really nice compliment, and a really nice thought. It inspired us. We loved that definition of who we were, so we put it on the cover. You’ll see it under our logo.

Then we started planning how to expand our mission to different formats. (Our mission is 1. Empower women. 2. Promote South Jersey. 3. Support non-profits.) We introduced our Women’s Empowerment Series, which has exceeded all our expectations with sold-out crowds and panelists that include N.J. First Lady Tammy Murphy. That was followed by our Women of Excellence Awards, Top Docs Night and Top Attorney Night. We’ve also done live interviews in front of sold-out crowds with U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Carli Lloyd and Eagles coach Doug Pederson.

We debuted a TV show on NJTV and WHYY, “This is South Jersey,” which was viewed by 600,000 households.

But here’s the thing. We haven’t replaced our print issue, we enhanced it. Each time we added an event, a digital component or a TV episode, we made everything cohesive, so one complimented the other. You can go to our Instagram page, watch a video on our website, attend an event and read a cover story in any print issue, and you will know who we are. You’ll clearly understand the good we’re trying to do.

In these past few years, we have created a brand that crosses many channels, but stays true to who we are in every one of those channels. Because of that, our print issue is doing as well as our digital platforms and they are doing as well as our events. That blueprint we created has allowed us to continue connecting with our readers during these difficult past few months. We hope as we came into your home each month, our heart and soul were a comfort to your family.

So here we go again.

This month, we are introducing a new podcast, “South Jersey Girls,” which will feature myself, Executive Editor Jayne Feld, Editorial Assistant Elyse Notarianni and Digital Editor (and my daughter) Klein Aleardi. Elyse and Klein are both in their 20s. Jayne and I…are not. So our conversations often cover 1 topic in 2 very different ways. We’ve talked about cooking (which I don’t do), live streaming (which I do, although I apparently don’t do it the way the 20-year-olds do) and dress codes (which you will be surprised to hear who is for them and who is against). This latest project continues our mission and continues broadening and strengthening the SJ Magazine brand across all its channels.

So while all kinds of things may be happening on the national stage when it comes to media, we are here in South Jersey continuing to do our work. We’re grateful to you for reading us and engaging with us. We hope now you’ll listen to us. Find us anywhere you get your podcasts.

October 2020
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