Erin Street

Meet the Press: Erin Street of Southern Living

As senior editor of travel and integrated content at Southern Living magazine, Erin Shaw Street seems to have a dream job. After all she does get to visit places like New Orleans and the Florida Keys and call it work.

“It is a dream job,” Street says, “but it’s a lot of hard work.”

At Southern Living’s offices in Birmingham, Ala., Street manages all of the magazine’s regional travel content. Southern Living covers 17 states and six different regions, producing targeted content for each one. Street’s job includes managing freelance writers and staff editors, managing the Daily South (the magazine’s daily blog), and working on strategic initiatives across print and digital.

“I’m always working on multiple issues — editing copy, planning visuals, and figuring out the puzzle pieces of telling the stories of a large region,” Street says.

And, of course, as travel editor Street’s job obviously requires a lot of traveling.

“It’s important that I’m traveling the region to keep up to date on what’s happening,” Street says. 

“Part of my travel is reporting and the remainder of my travel is for speaking on behalf of the brand.”

You’re probably tired just reading about all the work Street does.

“People tend to only see the fun side, but there are a lot of sacrifices and long hours,” Street says. “This is a rapidly changing, competitive industry. Still, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

News Woman

Street began her career as a newspaper reporter working in Birmingham, Ala., and Sarasota Fla.
Her years in the newspaper business taught her the fundamentals of reporting, writing, and working under pressure, Street says.

In 2001, she moved back to Birmingham from Florida and took a job at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, where she managed their quarterly magazine. She spent seven years there, eventually serving as the Director of Community Affairs, and thought she would continue in the non-profit sector. But when an opportunity became available at Southern Living in 2008 she seized it, first working for the Health & Beauty section, before it was discontinued, and then moving to the Travel department.

“As I learned to become a magazine editor, I also saw the need to learn digital skills, so I taught myself.” Street says.

And those digital skills came in handy when she helped the magazine launch its blog, the Daily South, last year.

“We launched the site nearly a year ago because we needed a portal for original, up-to-the minute content that reflects all areas of our brand: food, homes, garden and travel,” Street says. “Our editors are the foremost authorities in these areas, so the Daily South gives them a place to connect with readers 365 days a year. Also, as a brand we recognize the importance of being in the digital and mobile space. The Daily South is part of a larger effort to reach our readers any time, any where.”

The Daily South is just one example of ways Southern Living is striving to remain relevant.  They recently launched Southern Living Hotel Collection, a carefully chosen selection of four- and five-star resorts, hotels and inns, vetted by the Southern Living brand and offering the best in Southern travel and hospitality.

Loyalty and Longevity

Street believes Southern Living continues to survive tumultuous times in the magazine industry in part because of loyal readers.

“Everywhere we travel we hear, ‘My mother loves the magazine, and saves them all.’ This means the world to us,” Street says. “Our leadership has been strategic in continuing to provide loyal readers what they’ve always come to this brand for — service that reflects our pride of place as Southerners. We’ve also reached out to the next generation of readers, creating content that reflects their lifestyle.”

Summing up the Southern Living strategy, Street says, “We have to do things in bold, new ways, while staying true to our foundations.”

The Editor of the Future

For women hoping to develop a career freelancing for magazines, Street says it’s important to cultivate relationships with editors.

“This means taking the time to understand what kind of stories the magazine is looking for,” Street says. “Most of the pitches I receive are from writers who haven’t read the magazine and become familiar with our new formats. So when I get a carefully customized pitch, tailored to our format, it gets my attention.”

Street says it’s also important to consider the visual aspects of stories as well.

For those hoping to land a staff position at a magazine Street says “becoming a 360 editor is vital.”
Street recently attended an intensive magazine publishing course at Yale University where she and others in attendance spent much time talking about the editor of the future.

“She is someone with the ability to curate for a brand in print and online,” Street says. “Digital skills are a must now.”

For both aspiring freelancers and aspiring editors, Street offers this advice:

“To be successful in this industry you must know your reader, your subjects, have a voice, be able to handle a large volume of work, and be able to adapt to change. How we do things today will not be the same in six months or a year. Many people have struggled with the pace of change in this industry, but if you can adapt there’s still opportunity. Finally, the fundamentals — being able to tell a good story, staying on top of trends, and having an impeccable work ethic — never change.”

You can meet Erin Street and and other editors of Birmingham-based publications at the See Jane Write Meet the Press Media Mixer presented by Hamer Law Group. This is an invitation-only event. Invitations will be extended to See Jane Write members and sponsors. Click here for more information on joining See Jane Write. If you’re interested in being a See Jane Write sponsor email

Originally published at See Jane Write Magazine.

Meet See Jane Tweet Speaker Erin Shaw Street

Erin Shaw Street is actually the reason See Jane Tweet ever came about. At See Jane Write’s inaugural event Street started chatting with a few of the ladies at the dinner about the many advantages of Twitter. Minds blown, they were eager to know more. Pretty soon they were all asking for a Twitter 101. Well, ladies, ask and you shall receive. 

Street, with the help of Kristen Record Heptinstall, will be leading Thursday’s See Jane Tweet seminar. (If you haven’t signed up, it’s not too late. Just email me at Street is Associate Editor at Southern Living Magazine and board member of the Alabama Social Media Association (ALsocme). Read on to learn more about Street and why she’s crazy about Twitter. 

Tell us more about your duties as associate editor at Southern Living?
I work primarily with the Health & Beauty section, and am responsible for managing stories from start to finish. That includes pitching, story development, and managing the whole package — from writing the story to working with Art and Photo to deliver strong visuals. My focus is health and wellness, and I love telling stories about the way modern Southern women find balance in their lives. I’m also the liaison between our editorial and digital groups, working to develop our brand across platforms. 

Why and how are social media tools such as Twitter important to your job?
I am able to instantly connect with readers, which gives us an amazing opportunity for engagement and two-way communication.  I use Twitter to find story ideas, gauge reader interest in topics, and explore the South — all from my desk or iPhone. And, since my job involves a lot of travel, I use Twitter (and other tools) to find out what’s happening when I am visiting a city. Wherever I am, if I have a question about the best restaurant or gym to check out, I find an answer on Twitter. It’s where I find “The Next Big Thing.”  

Tell us more about your role as a board member with the Alabama Social Media Association (ALsocme) and how you got involved with this group?
I was approached by the founding members, and enthusiastic about getting involved. I am the Outreach Chair, which means that I work to create partnerships between ALsocme and community organizations. Our goal is to make social media accessible to everyone in our community, demystifying the notion that you need to be a tech wizard to use these tools. So, it’s important that we have partners across our community to help us broaden our reach. We are proud to have more than 15 partners so far, including the City of Birmingham, Alabama Association of Nonprofits, and many professional organizations.  

How did you get interested in social media?
Social media isn’t so different than what I’ve done my whole career; it’s just another way of connecting with people, telling stories, and building community. It’s all about relationships. Good writers are engaged with life, and social media is just another space to explore and learn. Also, on a personal note, it has helped me connect with so many people I would have never met otherwise. It’s not just about talking about what we had for lunch (though we do that!). In particular, I’ve met so many people who care deeply about Birmingham, and we rally via social media, which leads to meaningful, real-life connections.

Tell us a few of the important things about social media tools that you believe many writers don’t realize or don’t understand.
The biggest thing is that social media is accessible, and can open many doors. It does take a little effort to learn some of the tools, but there are so many people eager to help. Plus, social media isn’t just Twitter – it’s Facebook, YouTube, photo sharing tools like Instagram, and many others. Each tool serves a different purpose, but they are all about the same thing: telling stories.  So I encourage writers to stretch themselves and learn about the new way of storytelling and gathering. There’s inspiration and creation in these spaces. What could be better?