This month we’re celebrating the four year anniversary of The Coastal Insider. In recognition of that, we caught up with co-owner and president, Jim Parker, who reflects on what it’s been like to be at the helm of our business since day one, the power of connection in living a fulfilling life, and the importance of staying true to your values and being in the flow when building a business.
Jim: I’ve lived here since I was 18 years old and I’ve seen this area evolve over the years. As it grew, I saw there was a missing a link, and felt that we could all benefit from greater unity between the business community and everyone at large. A lot of our population along the Grand Strand relocates from other states, particularly the North, and having a publication that informs them about all parts of our community adds something positive to their life and ours as well. For them, it acts as a warm welcome while adding utility. For us, who have lived here longer or our entire lives, it extends our circle wider, and reminds us of the incredible people who are here and have so much to contribute.
If I had to define what this paper is— I’d say it’s a true community publication that is a message board for all of the neighborhoods along the Grand Strand. We’ve put great attention, care, and thoughtfulness into every section of our paper. The neighborhood sections are an important component of what we offer our readers: they gel the paper together and work harmoniously with, as well as expand upon, our mission of connecting our unique communities.
We designed the paper to be a resource publication that’s further enhanced with features like first-hand accounts of World War II veterans who live in our area; and entertaining anecdotes like Charlie’s Corner.
All of the information that we compile and include every month, from restaurant specials and happy hours, to tide charts, recipes, farmers markets, festivals and events specific to each neighborhood— is relevant throughout the month. It isn’t information that’s hidden, but you’d be hard pressed to find it all in one place and packaged in such an inviting and accessible way.
We take information from many sources and bring it together in a center-line process, to be a guide that can inform and serve everyone. We’ve also been thrilled to talk about the history of this area. When you understand the roots of a place, it automatically fosters a greater sense of connection.
We’ve had a good response to our publication from people over the past four years. Ronnie Gasque was our very first advertiser, way back in 2016. And he’s still with us today. He saw our vision and what we had to offer the community from the start, and wanted to be a part of what we were creating. Most of our advertisers sign up for long term contracts and stay because of who we are and what we value.
One part of our secret recipe to success is the personal nature of the stories we tell about the businesses in our community, as well as the teams that are a part of those businesses. We’ve heard over and over, that when we put their story in print— who they are, how they came to be in Myrtle Beach, and what they have to offer— that it’s had a strong, positive impact on their business.
When you can get your message out to 100,000 people at one time— that’s going to make an impact. The business begins to be recognized more by the community because people remember the story, and then their ad is recognized from month to month. This is why businesses ask us to represent them— we’re more than an ad, we offer a platform to tell their story.
A business is usually something that people dream about and have passion for before it comes to fruition. The articles give businesses an opportunity to expose that dream and how they actualized it. And our professional writer, through the steps she takes in compiling the articles, helps to capture and illustrate that. The photographs that accompany each business article further enhance that illustration, and complete the telling of that story.
We really care about the success of our clients; and try to help them put their best foot forward as a result. Our design team carefully packages our content to preserve the individual feel of each business, while creating a whole product that is relatable, accessible, and friendly. We bring a real community-type feel to our publication not only in the finished product, but throughout the entire process.
A person who purchases an ad from us will first meet Latoya, then Melissa, then Rachel, and then Megan. The thing that we’re most proud of, is that all of our departments bring forth a caring personality. Often when people embark on an advertising campaign, it can have a negative feel to it. But we put a little bit more love into the process than people are used to.
With the prevalence of Covid-19 in the past two months, the way we do business has shifted, but our values are still the same as they were four years ago. It’s the relationships we build, through human connections, that matter. No matter how big we get, or how many anniversaries we celebrate, those values will remain. I find my life and the lives of those around me to be richest and most rewarding when relationships are kept at the forefront of my priorities.
We’re so grateful to be able to serve this community. Unity is part of the word community— and being unified in intention and values makes a difference in the effectiveness of your reach.
When Covid-19 first began to make news headlines, everyone was in a bit of a fog— unsure of what just happened. But then I just realized, that the day is just a different kind of day. You’re not able to get out like you did in the past, but you’re exercising more, spending more time with family. You’re still living life. And it affords you the opportunity to look at things from a different perspective.
It’s like getting off the hamster wheel for a second, and brining your attention to what truly matters in life, helping you to rethink your day. I think it’s good when you have to reset. If you told someone they had to do this, it would feel scary. But when you have to do it, you just do it.
As a lifelong business owner, I’ve learned that all businesses will go through changes, and you can’t think too much about what you just lost because it all evens out in the end. If you have to reset, then you reset. And then you realize, things don’t always have to be the way you thought they had to be. Keep your values and mission alive, and follow that.
One thing we’ve gained from Covid-19 is the opportunity to look at our publication from a different perspective. We’re now exploring the world of digital marketing. We’ve had a digital model for years, and now that we have more time on our hands, we can be more focussed on expanding and promoting that in addition to a print publication.
The interrruption to our normal routines has afforded us the opportunity to learn about digital distribution through a tablet or a laptop. The shift has challenged us to bring that forward and re-strategize so people can also access our content on a digital platform.
When you deal with a crisis like a global virus, I think you start to value community more. You realize the things that you took for granted, and begin to place a higher premium on what still is available. It causes you to rethink your day— to get healthier, read a new book— read The Coastal Insider. And now that businesses are reopening again, we can move forward with a fresh perspective of gratitude.
The Coastal Insider and Real Living — Home Realty Group, 1232-B, Farrow Pkwy, Myrtle Beach, SC 29577. (843) 232-0000. www.thecoastalinsider.com; Facebook @ Coastal Insider; Instagram @ CoastalInsider.