Have you ever wonder how Tidelines got started? It seemed to be one of those things that suddenly appeared to Seabrookers and once you subscribed to it, you wondered how you ever got along without the timely information that comes on our devices every day.
The February 2014 SIPOA annual meeting was the official unveiling of Tidelines, but the genesis of the idea began several years before during the Sense of Place (SOP) project that was sponsored by the Seabrook Island Property Owners Association in October 2012. Dennis Pescitelli was a member of the committee that managed the project, and he remembers thinking that there had to be a timely way to report information about the consulting team activities so that everyone on the island could find out what was happening in real time.
Dennis and SIPOA Communications Coordinator, Shawna Jarrett, set up a blog with WordPress, and several property owners volunteered to participate as “bloggers.” (The word “blog” is a contraction of the two words “web” and “log”.) They monitored meetings of the SOP consulting team in real time and posted updates online. The effort was successful.
After the project concluded, Dennis and Sense of Place committee chair, Warren Kimball, agreed that this was a good communication tool that should not be allowed to die. They envisioned it being used in a much broader way for the entire Seabrook Island community. Dennis and Warren recruited a group of like-minded volunteers to discuss the concept. The early volunteers – Barbara Burgess, Lynn Crane, Judy Gimson, Veronica L’Allier, Sally Schenk (Kimball) and Bill Thomas – helped organize the launch and publicize this new addition to Seabrook Island communications. Shawna Jarrett provided vital technical support, developing a template and training the team in using the blogging software. They soon realized that it was important that others in the community send information to the blog so that everything happening on the island and nearby could be presented to the reader.
The blog was named “Tidelines” and then began the work of generating content and building readership. This was a challenge as many Seabrookers were not familiar with blogs and how one might be useful to them. The Tidelines team began an intensive marketing effort with Barbara Burgess taking the lead in helping other organizations discover the value in submitting content. Current events could be posted and the groups could use this as a platform to get their information out to the islanders and other subscribers. The team understood that it would take some time for Tidelines to grow and readership to increase. The team always believed that their efforts complemented the Seabrooker newspaper, which devoted much of its space to in-depth articles and photos about island happenings. Tidelines, on the other hand, would focus on the immediate posting of time-sensitive information.
Tidelines really came into its own during Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. After setting up in their evacuation locales, a core team of editors used special team communications software to stay in continuous touch with each other, monitoring communications from the Town and SIPOA and other public safety and weather sources. The team had at least one editor working practically around the clock. Within minutes of the information becoming available, it was posted. These storm events led to large surges in readership.
Recently, Tidelines also opened a Twitter feed. The team uses Twitter to post information on road closings and severe traffic congestion as it becomes aware of these situations. Although this information is also posted on the Tidelines blog, some followers find getting these special notifications via Twitter to be more convenient and timely.
It is hard to imagine not getting our daily fix of local news via Tidelines. After all, since its start, Tidelines has published 3,576 articles.
Today, 1602 people follow Tidelines through subscription feeds (immediate, daily, or weekly), either through the blog itself or via its Facebook page, and 505 people follow Tidelines’ Twitter feed. In addition to serving our Seabrook Island readership, Tidelines has regular readers on Kiawah and Kiawah River Estates.
Shown in the photo are some of the current editors and writers for Tidelines.
-Sue Holloman, Tidelines Staff Writer