The first issue of Newark Bound, with a cover story on basketball legend and big Newark fan Shaquille O'Neal, is now being distributed to hotels, businesses, airports and other venues with the goal of bringing tourists into New Jersey's largest city and encouraging those who live and work there to explore its attractions.
Publisher Victor Nichols said the response so far has been good. He dropped off some copies at United Airlines, and "they called 72 hours later and said 'These things are moving incredibly well, could you send up more?' " he said. "There is a hole in the marketplace that is actually bigger than we anticipated. People, organizations, airports, hotels and corporations are looking for a publication that talks about Newark and the surrounding region."
Published twice a year and distributed free, Newark Bound is a joint venture of DMC Publishing LLC, an affiliate of the Florham Park marketing firm Diversity Marketing and Communications, and the Ironbound Business Improvement District. In terms of advertising revenue, "we are on target," Nichols said, but did not specify.
The cover story looks at O'Neal's plan to build a residential complex near the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and the magazine showcases entertainment venues like the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the Prudential Center, cultural attractions like the Newark Museum, and the Portuguese and Spanish restaurants in the Ironbound.
Nichols said the initial concept was to court tourists and people living outside the city. "But Newark Bound is also a great resource for people in the city. There are people who live in Newark and people who work in the high-rises in the city who have never bothered to explore the city. They did not really have a publication that tells them the things they could be doing in Newark."
Over at NJPAC, Donna Walker-Kuhne, vice president of marketing and communications, said it's exciting "to have a lifestyle and tourism magazine about Newark that can bring a spotlight to the cultural landscape."
NJPAC does its share of tourist outreach, she said. "We have increased our efforts and are advertising in a number of tour and travel publications, distributing our flyers in tourist attractions and working with tour/travel agencies."
Seth A. Grossman, executive director of the Ironbound Business Improvement District, said the magazine makes the case that "Newark is a tourist destination, it is a happening place, and you need to know about it." That's important with the Super Bowl descending on MetLife Stadium, in East Rutherford, in less than a year; "we are going into one of the biggest media events the region has ever seen, and Newark is now poised to market itself to that media," he said.
A second issue is planned for August and a third in January, ahead of the Super Bowl, Nichols said.
Newark attorney Donald Karp said a tourism magazine for Newark is a good idea, since "I bring people here from out of town, and it's not hard for me to spend four or five hours just showing them around. … People don't understand that Newark has so much to offer."
Al Koeppe, chief executive of the Newark Alliance, said he liked the first issue, but would like to see "more of the voices of the Newark community: the residents, the business community, the students — to see Newark through their eyes."
"People who are in the city every day, I'm not sure they know where the good restaurants are and what is going on on the weekends," Koeppe said.
The city, however, continues to deal with its perception as a haven for crime. But that's a problem for any city, said Michael Davidson, executive director of the Greater Newark Convention and Visitors Bureau: "What we need to do is invite people to see things in Newark, and provide them with a safe experience when they are here."
"We need to really turn up the volume on Newark," he added. The visitors bureau has "put together an aggressive sales team, and we are selling Newark to meeting planners and tour operators."