PR Week

Local hooks key to parenting coverage
PR Week
December 4, 2006

America’s current baby boom isn’t just shining the spotlight on celebrity moms like Britney Spears and Angelina Jolie. The mom-obsessed culture is permeating every corner of the US, fueling a surge in regional and local parenting coverage.

“There seems to be new outlets every single week, and lots of them are online,” notes Gina Contursi, director of media for the PR/marketing firm Forty Weeks. “They definitely talk about local activities and feature events calendars, but they’re also very product-focused, especially sites like Daily Candy Kids or Urbanbaby.com.”

Even with these product stories, Helen Freedman, editor-in-chief for New York area magazines Big Apple Parent, Brooklyn Parent, Queens Parent, and Westchester Parent, says it still helps to have a local connection. “We often get pitches and have to go back to the PR person and ask if there is a New York angle,” she says. “Sometimes, it turns out the company founder is a New York City mom, but the PR person didn’t put that in.”

Those localized hooks work for advice stories, as well, adds Chelsea Kaplan, senior editor with TheFamilyGroove.com. The site combines national content with stories for cosmopolitan parents living outside New York, DC, and Boston. “Our target is parents of infants to age 5,” she says. “We often look to cite doctors or experts from the regions we target.”

Because regional parenting outlets are generally free and ad-supported, they tend to have smaller staffs, says Laura Tomasetti, managing partner of Boston-based 360 Public Relations. “The key is really knowing the freelancers because these [titles] end up using a lot of contributing editors,” she adds.

But Kari Boiler, North American marketing director for stroller company Bugaboo, says regional parenting outlets can be harder sells than one might think. When Bugaboo rolled out the campaign “Bugaboo Daytrips,” which offered exciting itineraries for parents and kids in major cities across the world, it only got a few hits in regional parenting magazines.

One big difference between regional and national parenting publications isn’t the content, but the timing of the stories. For example, summer camps is a June story for national magazines, focusing on what kids should pack to take with them. But with regional outlets, it’s in a February/March issue – when most camps have sign-ups.

Regional outlets also are very women-centric. “We try to include dad stuff as much as possible, and I love it when we can include a story about a dad or have a dad write a story,” says Freedman. “But when we do our surveys, it’s the moms who are reading it.”

PITCHING… Parenting issues

Regional parenting coverage tends to focus on activities, but you can still find ways to get clients’ products worked into those stories

Develop relationships with freelancers who specialize in parenting issues because they tend to pitch these magazines a lot

A lot of the growth in this category is occurring online, so develop a strategy for sites and for moms who have become high-profile local bloggers