Angela Tuell 0:05
Welcome to Media in Minutes. This is your host Angela Tuell. This podcast features in-depth interviews with those reports on the world around us. They share everything from their favorite stories to what happened behind the lens and give us a glimpse into their world. From our studio here at Communications Redefined, this is Media in Minutes. Today we are talking with Anne Roderique-Jones and is the head of content for Shermans Travel media and has been working with the company for nearly a decade. Her writing has appeared in print and online versions of Conde Nast Traveler, Vogue, Travel + Leisure, AFAR, Shape, Town and Country, Southern Living, Artful Living, Men's Health and The Knot among many others. She is also the writer and host of the podcast, The Springfield Three, A Small Town Disappearance. Welcome, Anne. Thank you for joining us today.
Anne Roderique-Jones 1:00
Thank you so much for having me.
Angela Tuell 1:02
I'm really excited to talk with you. You know, during your career, you have interviewed celebrities, sports stars, and written features on everyone from mean moms to feminist football fans you say. You've sweated it out with a shaman in Mexico and swim with the sharks in Hawaii. What are some of your most memorable experiences?
Anne Roderique-Jones 1:23
Well, I would say you mentioned that swimming with sharks, I was able to swim with sharks in Hawaii on Oahu's North Coast with Ocean Ramsey. She's this marine biologist and is really an advocate for shark conservation. And it was such a cool dive because rather than like the sharks in those scary cages, which seemed just terrifying, we were able to do this free dive and really get you know, up close with the sharks that it was such a weirdly calming experience. I think there were a little over 40 sandbar and galapagos sharks and it was just a - it was incredible. So I would say that's one of them. Another one was, whenever I was visiting this island of Island of Saba, I was doing an article for Vogue. And it's a small Caribbean island that a lot of people don't know about. And I didn't know a lot about but when I arrived, you know, there aren't any chain hotels, cruise ships aren't allowed to dock there. It's just it almost feels a little bit frozen in time. And so lovely and authentic. And I was staying at this hotel owned by a lovely couple. And I was like, Okay, well, you know, how do I get around or I take a taxi and they're like, what, just walk out to the street and stick your thumb up and someone will pick you up. And I was like, Okay, so that's what I did the entire time I was there. It was crazy. Like, there'd be like a granny picking me up on our way to like a family barbecue or someone dropping me off on the way to the store. And then we pick up someone else's cousin. And it was just it was amazing to have an experience like that. You know, while you're traveling, it's really what, to me what traveling is all about.
Angela Tuell 3:03
Yeah. So can you walk us through your career briefly and how you ended up at Shermans?
Anne Roderique-Jones 3:09
Sure. So I started out at The Knot magazine, where I worked for five years on both print and online. I then move to a site called You Beauty that was the science behind beauty site that was owned by Dr. Oz. And I was there for a while and I then started to go freelance. And so I freelanced for a bunch of different publications, you know, from Vogue to Art Digest, to Travel + Leisure. And during that time, I also freelance for Shermans Travel. And so when the position opened as the head of the Head of Content, I had a great relationship with the former head of content, who referred me to the role. It was supposed to be this like, six month deal, and it's been over two years because it's just been such a great experience to work with that team.
Angela Tuell 3:55
Oh, that's wonderful. And as the head of content for them, what does that role entail?
Anne Roderique-Jones 4:01
Well, it entails you know, working constantly with freelance writers, you know, writers on the team, and then publicists, of course. I'm in charge of all content that's written and published on the site. So everything from editorial content, like slideshows, or long form travel articles, to branded content to social media to email copy.
Angela Tuell 4:23
Okay, okay. For those who are not super familiar, or very familiar with Shermans how would you describe it in its audience?
Anne Roderique-Jones 4:32
the Sherman's travel audience, we consider them smart travelers that are open to adventure. They're experienced frequent travelers and they're educated and they're eager to explore. So they come to us and they're looking for the best places to travel as well as inspiration for the future. 88% of our readers are in luxury travel buyers. 56% of our readers have a salary over 75k. About half of them have graduate and postgraduate degrees. So for us, our travelers are really looking for smart luxury, which means that they're getting these incredible unique experiences. And they may be, you know, paying a little bit less, or they may be, you know, getting something unique in the way of a room, or, you know, whether it's a chef's dinner, or just something that makes it a little bit unique and interesting, it doesn't mean that you have to have these private jets, but it could be being a member of a club that has private jets. So really looking for a smart experience that has a luxury bend.
Angela Tuell 5:41
Okay, so as PR professionals, what is the best way to share the travel deals with you and others there and what helps get them noticed?
Anne Roderique-Jones 5:50
Sure. So I think just being familiar with the site, so that could mean, you know, looking on there and seeing that we have this section called Smart Stays. And what that is, is, you know, their luxury hotels, we do these reviews of the hotel. So maybe you have a hotel that just had a refresh, or maybe you have a brand new hotel that is a new client, you know, maybe putting something in the subject line that says, you know, Smart Stay pitch, and then why it would be good for that particular franchise. You know, we have a smart luxury section on the site, we have crews on the site, but I would just say finding a place where it could be a fit, and sending me an email that correlates to that is such a great way to be able to be featured or to just probably be in the back of our minds.
Angela Tuell 6:39
Okay, is all of the content editorial, or is there a paid as well?
Anne Roderique-Jones 6:45
Yeah, so we do branded content on the side as well. And we typically, you know, depending on who it is, whether it's a cruise, we have a cruise expert that takes care of all of our cruise content who's been cruising for decades. You know, we have luxury travel writers on tap, we have hotel experts, or we can have, you know, a roster of freelancers that live in particular places. If it's a visit Florida, then we certainly have a roster of Florida writers to write that content. So yeah, we we do branded content as well on the site.
Angela Tuell 7:13
Okay, do you have any pet peeves when it comes to PR professionals or pitching you?
Anne Roderique-Jones 7:18
I would say, I don't have a ton of pet peeves because I love working with PR professionals. But if I did have one pet peeve, it would just be like, when I get a quick one liner that says what are you working on? And I think that's, it's really hard, because it's so broad, and I'm always working on different things. And I just don't have a lot of time to reply back with every single thing I'm working on. So I would say that that is probably my only pet peeve.
Angela Tuell 7:45
Okay. And now that you're a full time with Shermans, are you able to fit in much freelancing?
Anne Roderique-Jones 7:52
No, not really. A lot of my time goes to, you know, is dedicated to Shermans Travel. But occasionally I'll do a hotel review for Travel + Leisure or write for a quarterly Luxury Magazine called Artful Living and that's a print magazine. So that's really all that I have time for. And if I do that, it's like, you know, usual spend my weekend try to write a story or something. But those are the two that I've kind of still have a relationship with.
Angela Tuell 8:20
Okay, how do you tend to find your stories?
Anne Roderique-Jones 8:23
Um, I would say for the most part, it's travels that I've already done. And so, you know, taking an adventure and say Saba, and pitching a story or writing a story for Shermans Travel about it, or I did this really amazing trip to Alaska and got to do all of these really crazy adventures that you normally wouldn't find it a hotel. So it makes for a unique perspective. So I would say just, you know, past adventures that I've had, allow me to be able to come back and write content. I also love to interview people. So I think that if I can find someone who's really interesting and have the chance to interview them, it's, you know, for me a really good opportunity to build a story around that.
Angela Tuell 9:07
Do you get to travel very often with Shermans?
Anne Roderique-Jones 9:10
Yes, I travel quite a bit. We are remote right now. So and I think we'll probably remain remote like most places, so it allows me to be able to do my job and kind of work from anywhere, which is fantastic, because we want to be well traveled on the site we want to be looked at as experts. And so yeah, I do I travel quite a bit. As much as I you know, as much as I can or time allows for sure.
Angela Tuell 9:34
Yeah. How big is the team internally.
Anne Roderique-Jones 9:37
So we have a team of about 15 right now. And we're growing at the moment. We had a new employee start at the beginning of this week, and one the week before that we brought on a new salesperson. So our team is definitely as travel picks up is starting to grow, which is fantastic.
Angela Tuell 9:53
So how did travel coverage continue during COVID with Shermans?
Anne Roderique-Jones 9:58
Yeah, that's a great question. I started about a month before the pandemic. And then that happened. And we completely had to change the way we wrote about travel. Obviously, people aren't just setting off to the Caribbean anymore. They're not buying travel packages. Basically, it came to a halt. So what we did was a lot of road trip stories, road trips, anything nature driven became super popular, because people eventually didn't want to get out of their house, they just wanted to do it safely. We started writing some newsy pieces, which is something we hadn't done in the past. So we covered you know, what was happening in the world of travel, we would have to, you know, consult the CDC, we focused our editorial content, and a lot of that was inspiration too. So, you know, writing these stories, or creating slideshows about travel that you might want to do in the future, which really paid off for us, because now that people are traveling again, instead of waiting until they're, you know, 80 to take these bucket list trips, you're doing them now. So, it you know, we didn't weren't able to see the future. But it turns out that all of that content that we had written in a way, you know, that was really geared towards inspiration is something that people are actually looking to do a lot sooner than later.
Angela Tuell 11:15
Yeah. So because of that, now you're growing.
Anne Roderique-Jones 11:18
Exactly. Yeah. So we're growing, which is really I think anyone in the travel industry, you know, and you everyone from, you know, publicists to writers to marketing is so happy to see that people are able to travel again.
Angela Tuell 11:31
Yes. Isn't it fantastic,
Anne Roderique-Jones 11:34
It's so great.
Angela Tuell 11:36
What is some of your upcoming travels?
Anne Roderique-Jones 11:39
So my husband and I are going to, we just rented the small Airbnb in Italy for the month of July, and we're going to go there, I'm going to work while I'm there. So, you know, my hours will be a little bit strange. But you know, that's kind of one of those post pandemic things. That's not something we normally would have done. My husband is a nurse anesthetist, so he worked in the COVID units at Mount Sinai. And I think it was kind of this, like, you know, life is short, let's do the things that we've been wanting to do and stop putting them off. And so that's going to be our next trip. And it was kind of a result of everything that had happened during the pandemic.
Angela Tuell 12:17
Yeah, I think a lot of us are finding that. And I think the whole, you know, worries of recession and that sort of thing, are just not even worried at the moment for a lot of people that they just need to get out there and do these travels they wanted to do for so long.
Anne Roderique-Jones 12:31
Exactly. It's amazing to see like the hoops that people are willing to jump through to do these trips that they weren't able to do during that time.
Angela Tuell 12:38
Yeah, yeah. What is one thing that we'd be surprised to learn about you?
Anne Roderique-Jones 12:43
I would say maybe that I grew up in the Ozarks. I've been in police for so long, I went to college in San Francisco and lived in New York in New Orleans. And but I'm really from this kind of weird, mysterious area that no one knew where it was until that show came into the show. Right? Yeah. Which is great. It's actually now I can like, people can you know, when someone asks you where you're from, it's like, when I told 'em before, no one knew what it was. So it's nice to know, I grew up, you know, my dad lived on the lake there and I grew up I had a pet pig, maybe that's something someone would be surprised to know.
Angela Tuell 13:19
I was gonna say everyone asked me if it was like the show, but now you're probably describing it like it's like the show.
Anne Roderique-Jones 13:25
You know, I would say that that though, definitely. Has a lot of similarities to where I grew up. I mean, there was, you know, obviously, some things are much more dramatic. But you know, there are some things that kind of ring true that you see growing up in an area like that.
Angela Tuell 13:42
Yeah. That is really interesting. So you went from there to San Francisco for college?
Anne Roderique-Jones 13:48
Yep. And then back to Missouri for just a bit. Then my husband and I moved to New York in 2007. And as of 2015, we've started splitting our time between New York and New Orleans.
Angela Tuell 14:03
Okay, we were talking about right before right before the podcast that you're in New York so you may hear some background there. And surprisingly, still in the city, so that's great.
Anne Roderique-Jones 14:13
Yes, yes, it's definitely it's a loud place to be but it's, you know, it was so quiet for so long that it's almost kind of welcoming to hear the noises of people down below.
Angela Tuell 14:23
Yes. Do you feel like it's still slower than it was before COVID?
Anne Roderique-Jones 14:29
I don't think so. I was on a walk last night the sidewalks were just packed with people and that could be because it's summertime and everyone wants to get out. But um, yeah, I think it you know, it feels bustling for sure. You definitely see tourists on the subways now. And you know out and about for sure. Yeah. Yeah, it's good to see that.
Angela Tuell 14:51
Before we go. We must talk about your true crime podcast, The Springfield Three. Congratulations, by the way, on 1 million downloads. That's fantastic. How did the podcast come about?
Anne Roderique-Jones 15:03
Um, well, it came about because it was a crime that happened in my hometown in the Ozarks. And it involved three women that just disappeared. And it's kind of remains this mystery in the Ozarks to this day. And I was thinking about it one day while I was training for a marathon because I was listening to all this true crime just to have the time. And I thought about this, I'm just like, you know, this could actually be a really cool True Crime podcast, I had no idea, like how to make a podcast, or I didn't know anything about writing a podcast, but I just thought that it would make a good one. And I did some research and there wasn't a lot on it. And so I reached out to this amazing podcast company, Edit Audio, who ended up wanting to produce it. And so we went into a partnership together. I don't really know what we were expecting, just to tell an interesting story. And, you know, really try not to sensationalize a true crime. And I think, you know, I think it turned out really well, we weren't expecting the success that it's had. But I was able to spend a lot of time writing it, because again, of the pandemic, I didn't have a life. So I just, like, you know, I had all these weekends free and my evenings free. So I was able to kind of do that in my off hours where I wasn't traveling, or wasn't going out to dinner, or anything fun. So, right. I thought why not do that. And it ended up. It worked out really well.
Angela Tuell 16:32
I think that's when a lot of us started podcasts. And then we had always kind of thought about doing it and had do it. But we had a little bit extra time. So -
Anne Roderique-Jones 16:38
Yeah. Is that when you started yours?
Angela Tuell 16:40
It is it is yes, I had wanted to do it. Oh, my goodness, for probably eight years. I mean, right after podcasts had started. But before they were really popular, but just could not fit it in. And you know, as a PR professional, you talk with journalists daily. And in doing them, I thought, we should really record these and share them with other PR professionals and listeners and readers and all of that I finally got a chance to do it. So...
Anne Roderique-Jones 17:05
That's great. I think that, you know, it's such an important part of our job is working together.
Angela Tuell 17:12
Yeah. And you mentioned PR professionals, you know, what is what is the best way for us to work together?
Anne Roderique-Jones 17:17
I don't know if this is popular opinion. But I really liked to have phone calls. And now even better have a zoom with publicists, because it allows me to put a face with a name. And I think you probably know, like, just getting to know someone to know their voice know what they look like, it really helps when you're getting, you know, 1000 pitches every day. So, to me, it's just about having that personal relationship with the publicist because then they're gonna know like, oh, you know, Annie can use the story on you know, this hotel, or whatever, I know, she might pitch this to, you know, a certain publication. And to me, that's just the best way to have a relationship with a PR professional, because it's personal. And then you know, of course, like, lunch and coffee are always great at it's hard to have time and make time for that. But if I can do that, I certainly love to be able to meet someone in person.
Angela Tuell 18:09
That's great to know that you're open to that, too, you know, we're talking with some journalists that even if they're in the city, or you know, going that way to take clients that they're like, I still it has to be really special to meet in person. I'm not not quite there yet, you know, to go out of my of my house often. So that's good that you don't feel that same way.
Anne Roderique-Jones 18:28
No, I love meeting with people. I think for me, it's just about, you know, especially in New York, it's like the amount of like time. So if someone is willing to like, come a little bit closer to me, so that I can, you know, not spend an hour on the subway that always makes it really convenient. There's a coffee shop near my apartment, that is like the best spot for meeting. There are always tables. And yeah, I love meeting publicists. And again, I'm like, I'm happy to travel or do whatever, like I love a walking meeting. I've done those in Central Park a lot, which is really lovely, because you're like exercising, and also, you know, getting work done at the same rate. So I'm always willing to do that as well.
Angela Tuell 19:08
It's great. And going back to your podcasts quickly, how many episodes are there?
Anne Roderique-Jones 19:12
So we started out with eight episodes. And then we ended up you know, a lot of information came in during the eight and that was just going to be our one and done. But we ended up getting some new information about the case and having people that otherwise weren't interested in being interviewed or working with media kind of came out and wanted to tell their story. So we did three bonus episodes. And I think we'll be working on a season two at some point.
Angela Tuell 19:36
So cool. We can't wait to watch for it. How do listeners connect with you online?
Anne Roderique-Jones 19:42
So I have a website. I'm AnneRoderiqueJones.com And there's a option to email me email is always a great way to get in touch. I'm probably on Instagram more than any other social platform and that's AnnieMarie_. My Twitter handle is the same as Instagram. You know, like DMS are totally fine. And emails so...
Angela Tuell 20:05
Great. Well, thank you. We look forward to working with you in the future.
Anne Roderique-Jones 20:09
Angela Tuell 20:12
That's all for this episode of Media in Minutes, a podcast by Communications Redefined. Please take a moment to rate, review and subscribe to our show. We'd love to hear what you think. You can find more at CommunicationsRedefined.com/podcast. I'm your host, Angela Tuell. Talk to you next time.
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