HIGHLANDS, NJ Volunteers create promotional campaign with aggressive social media marketing and new television program to position the Jersey bayshore as great play to live, work and play. New Jersey Bayshore residents claim to be living in “undiscovered territory” but those views may be changing as quickly as the tide rushing into the Raritan Bay if one community volunteer succeeds in fulfilling his dream.
Once considered a significant vacation destination, most people living in this region have put the blame for diminishing tourism directly on the Garden State Parkway’s deliberate bypass of the region. And those who do enter the region are usually just passing through on their way to Sandy Hook.
Prior to Hurricane Sandy wreaking havoc throughout the coastal areas of New Jersey, local efforts were being made to revitalize the Jersey Bayshore, but that all screeched to a halt when the “super storm” devastated many of the towns along the waterfront.
The Jersey Bayshore comprises some 15 towns and villages bordered on three sides by water – Atlantic Ocean, Raritan and Sandy Hook Bays, as well as the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers. More than 35 miles of ocean, bay and river beaches also surround the area.
According to one resident, John Schneider of Highlands, the Jersey Bayshore has everything needed to provide tourists from surrounding areas with vacation opportunities. And he’s taking that message directly to residents and the public.
“We have everything,” Schneider explained, “from an incredible variety of scenery to a rich visible history to more recreational activities than I can name.”
Schneider, a teacher, video documentarian, retired AT&T marketing executive and life-long community volunteer, has made promoting the Jersey Bayshore his career and at no cost to anyone. And he says his efforts are starting to wake up the towns and the people who live in the area.
“Originally, I only wanted to show my friends throughout the country the beauty of the area,” he remembered, “but little did I realize how much the local residents didn’t know about their own town or the towns surr0unding them,” he said. “That’s when I realized the importance of promoting the Jersey Bayshore as a great place to work, live and play.”
Almost immediately, Schneider developed an aggressive grassroots campaign to promote the area. As a retired marketing executive with AT&T, Schneider used every tactic available including websites, a variety of social media, an internet radio show and a weekly public access program called “Jersey Bayshore Country.”
He also joined many of the chambers of commerce in the area and began contacting local mayors to join him in the effort. Today, he believes the idea is gaining not only speed but traction as well.
Schneider, a fifth-generation resident of Highlands, NJ, says his passion keeps him energized and community support keeps him motivated. “It’s hard work but when you love the area as much as I do,” he explained, “the toil turns to joy every time someone appreciates the effort.”
And they do seem to appreciate the effort, according to hundreds of comments Schneider receives daily from among the thousands of people in local Facebook groups he has created.
More than 250,000 people in a year have viewed his videos about the Jersey Bayshore and hundreds of community volunteers are climbing on the bandwagon to offer assistance.
“Everyone has been so supportive,” he said, “and they’re offering me a variety of free services during the campaign, such as photography, art design, writing, data management – virtually offering everything it takes for an effective promotional campaign.
The most visible part of the campaign is a new weekly public access television program --- Jersey Bayshore Country – which recently premiered on Comcast in Union, Monmouth and Ocean Counties, as well as Toms River. All 26 episodes of Jersey Bayshore Country may be viewed at http://www.JerseyBayshore.com for those who don't subscribe or who live outside the viewing area.
The 30-minute weekly program features everything the Jersey Bayshore has to offer for vacationers: swimming, fishing, boating, waterfront dining, incredible views, visible history, cycling, exploring and the people who live in the area.
The program's camera style, folksy narration and humor create an interesting and sometimes unexpected view of the world, according to one reviewer.
“Schneider’s passion and enthusiasm for the NJ Bayshore area is quite infectious,” said Robert Derham, resident of Leonard, NJ. “His videos open your eyes and make you realize the wonderful things that are available in your own backyard.”
“Jersey Bayshore Country beautifully captures the unique character of an area in New Jersey I have called home my whole life," said Senator Joseph M. Kyrillos Jr. of New Jersey’s 13th Legislative District.
“What a unique and marvelous place we live in," said Allan Dean, Publisher of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. "I am reminded of that more and more after watching a few episodes of the show.”
“Viewers in the Jersey Bayshore will rediscover places and perhaps see these gems in a new light,” Dean continued. “A day on the water with a clam digger, a visit to historic Sandy Hook and Hartshorne Woods, a stroll through Atlantic Highlands and sunrise-to-sunset scenes along the waterfront make this visually appealing series of videos a must see."
Comcast cable subscribers can view the program on Comcast Channel 97 on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:00pm in Ocean County and at 9:30pm in Monmouth County.
The program can also be viewed in Union County (Channel 96) at 9:30pm on Wednesdays; and in Toms River (Channel 19) at 9:00pm on Tuesdays and at 8:30pm on Wednesdays.