The needler in the haystack.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Welcome Plainfield's newest media resource, and editor Jenn Popper


Jenn Popper, TAPinto Plainfield's editor,
hiking in Peru last summer.



Plainfield readers of my CLIPS blog (see here) may have noticed in recent weeks that a number of local news items were from a website called TAPinto Plainfield. Begun by New Providence residents Mike and Lauryn Shapiro in 2008, the venture now covers more than 75 towns in New Jersey and New York, and now including Plainfield.

Recently, Plainfield resident and Netherwood Neighbors activist Jennifer Popper (known to everyone as Jenn) took over as editor for the Plainfield site.

I thought that Plainfield Today readers would like to know more about this new community media resource and asked Jenn if she would take part in an email interview, to which she generously agreed.


Here is the exchange --


Plainfield Today: Tell us a little bit about TAPinto and its family of websites.


Jennifer Popper: TAPinto is a network of locally-owned and operated online newspaper franchises.  TAPinto is award-winning for journalistic integrity, news credibility and community spirit, and accredited by the New Jersey Press Association.

Its mission is to provide readers with objective, accurate and original local news content that best reflects the character and interests of residents of each town in a timely and consistent manner.


The Tapinto Plainfield site itself is a bit unique.  It is locally owned and operated by the Plainfield YMCA, with any profits benefiting its YMCA programs.

PT: And tell us a little bit about your background.


Popper: My husband and I moved to Plainfield in 2002 into the Netherwood Heights area.  From the beginning, we had both immersed ourselves in the community, and I ended up joining the Netherwood Neighbors board, working my way up to President.  While it’s been a few years since I was on the board, I still contribute my time as the Communications Director for the group, updating the website (www.netherwoodheights.com), managing its social media pages, and disseminating information via the email newsletter.


My work with Netherwood Neighbors has allowed me to meet many Plainfield folks across the city.  Often, people just send you information because they know you can help get the word out, for instance, for their town garage sale, the latest symphony performance, or an election forum.
Career-wise, I have spent my time working at a variety of magazines in advertising.  I’m the one who analyzes demographic profiles and product consumption patterns vs. competitive magazines for the sales team.


PT: What intrigued you about taking on being the Plainfield site's editor?


Popper: To be honest, I thought of it as an extension of the work I already do with Netherwood Neighbors.  The difference, of course, is that as an NHN volunteer, I don’t have to be as timely when there is a flyer about an upcoming event that needs to be uploaded.


TAPinto requires much more involvement.  As I continue to immerse myself, I look forward to meeting more Plainfield residents and engaging with our community leaders.  I live here in Plainfield; I want to share our town’s news far and wide.  It was a bit of a rocky start with TAPinto for me with a personal tragedy over the summer, but I’m really trying to ramp up the coverage of all things Plainfield as we move into the holiday season and then 2017.


Plainfield has such a large and diverse community, as you know.  And the development that is going on all over town means there are more great things to come.  The number of stories that one can do on Plainfield and its residents is endless.


PT: Do you have a background in writing or reporting?


Popper: Not formally, no.  I’ve spent my career working for magazines like Ladies’ Home Journal, Golf Digest, Redbook, Rolling Stone, and TV Guide Magazine, but on the advertising side of the business, not editorial.  I detoured from that career path back in late 2006, when my husband, Michael, and I bought a Pilates and yoga studio in Warren, NJ.  I made it my goal to be able to handle all of the advertising I had to do to sell class packages, and to create all of the marketing materials to support those selling efforts.  I taught myself how to edit the website, too, and was excited each time I learned a new trick in HTML.  Nerdy, I know, but true.


But as the economy turned, we faced challenges like so many other small businesses, and in June of 2011, we closed.  From there, I went back to what I knew, advertising research at TV Guide Magazine.


PT: What sorts of stories do the site's readers find interesting?


Popper: So far I have found that police and fire stories do well; residents want to know that their town is safe.  Additionally, we’ve seen some good traffic when there are stories with pictures of children involved in school activities.  What parent doesn’t want to share a story in which his/her child is featured, right?


PT: Can people send you story suggestions or press releases for their organization?


Popper: Absolutely, we encourage that!  We are already receiving multiple stories to publish from the Plainfield schools and the library. 
Readers can also post events, classifieds, garage sales and real estate listings on their own.  The posts would then be approved by us, though. 
I can be reached at jpopper@tapinto.net or 908-917-9348 for those with stories to share.


PT: How is advertising on the site handled?


Popper: There are a number of advertising opportunities that are available, from banner ads and site sponsorship packages, social media promotion, premium event listings, and business and real estate listings.
Advertising can be targeted just to the Plainfield area, or it can be packaged to reach neighboring towns as well for additional exposure.


Carolyn Wellington is handling the advertising on the Plainfield TAPinto site.  She can be reached by emailing cwellington@tapinto.net.


PT: What is your vision for the site a year from now?


Popper: I’d like to see Plainfield’s TAPinto site be a must-buy for advertisers.  As a hyper-local site, you want advertising to reach those persons who are your most likely customer.  We often hear these days of larger media outlets that are consolidating to only reach a broader target audience.   
And of course I’d like to see growth in site traffic, growth in social media engagement, and a more robust email subscriber list.  TAPinto Plainfield, (along with Plainfield Today, of course), should be one of the first sites residents visit each morning, and one of the first emails they read.  I want them to WANT to read TAPinto Plainfield because the content is about them, their neighbors, and about community leaders making decisions that affect where these residents live.

I hope Plainfield Today readers will join me in wishing Jenn all the best in this new venture. You can follow TAPinto Plainfield here.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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