Family life finds a home in all outlets

Whether it's excessive boasting about your kids, the impact of cheating on US schoolchildren, or the age-old challenge of juggling work and home responsibilities, the media can't seem to find enough family-life topics to write about these days.

Whether it's excessive boasting about your kids, the impact of cheating on US schoolchildren, or the age-old challenge of juggling work and home responsibilities, the media can't seem to find enough family-life topics to write about these days.

"Family and parenting advice has always been a staple at a lot of news outlets, but there seems to be more of a thirst for content by parents these days," says Stacey DeBroff, parenting author and CEO of MomCentral.com. "You are finding family articles crossing over from the lifestyle sections and into mainstream coverage at places like The New York Times and USA Today."

But DeBroff says the real surge in family-life coverage can be found online, as families look for information on specific issues, such as dealing with a child having regular nightmares. "Instead of buying four parenting books or magazines, they're just going to Google," she notes.

Much of family-life coverage still tends to be driven by advice, says Elisa Ast All, editor-in-chief of iParenting.com. However, she adds, more families are turning to traditional family reporters for the latest products and services.

"Our audience is actually very interested in reviews of products that we think are the best," she says.

In terms of advice for PR pros, All says she's always looking to connect with real-world families who can highlight new trends, though she adds not every story has to be kid-centric.

"We do try and address the interest of moms and dads with stories on traveling or cooking," she notes.

Barry Wanger of Boston-based Wanger Associates says the one thing that hasn't changed about family-life coverage is its focus on women. "When you talk about family media, most of it is aimed at mothers," he notes.

Wanger, whose clients include a chain of daycare centers and several colleges with prominent childhood education professors, says family-life editors like to interview experts, particularly academics and those with medical degrees.

DeBroff, who has served as a corporate spokeswoman for several family-themed campaigns, says many outlets are looking for content, even if it has a sponsor attached.

"I worked with Dixie, which was reintroducing their Riddle Cups, on a campaign centered on the importance of laughter to today's stressed families," she says. "Consumer brand teams need to ride family and parenting content because the mom market is so hot right now, and they tend to be such feel-good stories."

PITCHING... FAMILY LIFE

Family-life writers love to quote authors and academics with medical degrees, so have your experts lined up to support your client's product or pitch.

Parenting is now practically a competitive sport, and the media knows it, so you can get interest in family-themed stories from the media far beyond the lifestyle pages.

It's very competitive, but morning shows such as Good Morning America and Today are always on the lookout for family-themed segments, especially if it's somehow tied to breaking news.

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