This week's feature will focus on TAPintoSouthPlainfield.net franchisee Darlene Cullen. Find out what she enjoys covering the most, why she decided to franchise with TAPinto.net and how a regional Vice President of a bank became one of the most successful TAPinto franchisees...
Q: When did you join TAPinto.net?
A: I joined TAPinto four years ago. At that time it was the 11th site in the TAPinto network. I was looking for an outlet to give back to the community in the form of news media. TAPinto was exactly the outlet I was looking for, a hyperlocal news site which published daily.
Q: What did you do before you franchised your South Plainfield site?
A: Prior to franchising TAPinto I was a regional vice president at a bank in charge of branches in three different counties, which required a lot of traveling. I started my career in banking over 30 years ago and advanced thru the ranks over the years. I am also a former councilwoman, and have always been very active in my community. My banking and business development experience has been invaluable in making TAPinto successful. TAPinto is in the news business. Without having a strong business foundation I think it would be difficult to run a successful site.
Q: Why did you want to franchise your own TAPinto? What makes TAPinto different or unique?
A: I franchised TAPinto because I thought it would be a great way to keep the residents of South Plainfield informed. The residents were relying on a weekly publication, which didn’t cover the daily sporting events and other daily events in town. By the time the weekly paper in town published their stories it was old news. In today’s environment there is little interest in old news. TAPinto is unique because it gives readers instant news centered around a community’s hometown.
Q: What do you enjoy covering the most in South Plainfield?
A: I personally enjoy covering human interest stories, or residents/groups that give back to the community. These are items that mean the most to the community, and cannot be found in a regional news outlet. For instance we often run news on a South Plainfield resident living in places like Vietnam or how a certain sports athlete is doing playing in college. These hometown interest stories have become a staple of TAPinto South Plainfield, and cannot be duplicated anywhere else.
Q: Is TAPinto full time for you or do you still work outside of the journalism world?
A: I retired from banking three years ago and work TAPinto fulltime and have never looked back. As I said, my vast experience in banking, business development and customer service was the right recipe when starting TAPinto. It is a fulltime job. Like everything in life, it is what you put into it. I am always looking at ways new ways to do things. The news never stops. It is like the tide. It never goes away. There are no off days. If you put in the effort you will be successful. If you give half an effort expect to get half the results.
Q: TAPinto allows businesses and users to post content on our sites, either for free or for a small fee. How do you think they can best utilize TAPintoSouthPlainfield.net? What sort of advantages do you have that other advertising platforms lack?
A: The biggest advantage is your hitting the market. TAPinto is saturated in the community. People that read the content, see the ad or read the press release are local. A billboard on route 287 is being read by people commuting from all over. I laugh when I see ads appearing in state/national news sites that may be viewed, but really have no value. What good is a banking ad when the closest branch is 100 miles away? That doesn’t happen with TAP. Your ad is seen by the people in your market. The market in TAP can be large. There are advertisers that are in 25 TAP towns. These are markets they service. So TAP has the ability to hit the target on both a large and small scale depending on the business and its needs.
Q: What are some of your business strengths? Your weaknesses?
A: TAPinto’s strengths are we dominate the market locally, but also have the ability to reach regionally. TAPinto is at local sporting events, council meetings and board of education meetings. The news is reported daily. Large regional competitors do not have the band-with to drill down and cover these items which matter most to the community. On the flipside our network of sites enable advertisers well beyond the boundaries of a single municipality.
Q: Describe the TAPinto culture as a franchisee
A: TAPinto has a great team spirit. Each owner’s success helps a neighbors’ success. The owner Michael Shapiro, is the most positively driven person I have ever met. His infectious energy and support is the driving force behind TAPinto. The sites all cover the news, but the emphasis is different based upon the differences in each community. For instance, what is of interest in South Plainfield is different then what is of interest or importance in say Westfield or New Brunswick. We are all on the same team, but the plays we run to be successful may be different depending on the areas of operation. You need to know your community, and that is what the TAP network knows best.
Q: What are your goals at TAPinto? Any future plans for TAPinto South Plainfield?
A: My goal is continuing to be the eyes and ears of my market, I want to help brand all the businesses in community no matter what their size, TAP has something for everyone.