MEDIA PROFILE: Even Parents sometimes needs help finding new information

Parents magazine provides all the ins and outs of raising kids, but not every pitch on parenting will work. However, you can't go wrong if you have information Parents can't get on its own.

Parents magazine provides all the ins and outs of raising kids, but not every pitch on parenting will work. However, you can't go wrong if you have information Parents can't get on its own.

As the saying goes, a mother's work is never done. This is the driving force behind Parents, a magazine designed to provide advice for every aspect of a parent's life, from childcare and health issues to beauty, home decorating, and travel. Founded in 1926, the Gruner & Jahr publication has become a trusted source of information as well as a forum for voicing concerns and opinions about raising children. Combining history with broad coverage and an enormous audience (the magazine estimates its readership to be more than 14 million people), Parents is a worthy target for PR people looking to land their clients on its pages. Though Parents' readership is large, most readers fall into a very specific demographic. Ninety-five percent are women with an average age of 34, most having children who are six or under. About 60% are working mothers. As with any media relations effort, it's important to be familiar with Parents before pitching its editors. Deputy editor Linda Fears recommends reading at least two issues, and having a specific page or section in mind before contacting an editorial assistant to find out who edits the section. One of the differentiating factors of Parents is that it has its own beauty, food, and homestyle editors who all accept pitches from PR people. Keep in mind that the lead time for story ideas is about six months, and editors are currently planning the fall issues, which include the toy issue coming in November. However, Fears says that more recent or changing topics - such as the war in Iraq and how to tell children about it - are perfectly acceptable for the magazine's active website. She prefers that PR people contact Debra Immergut, its editor. In the April issue's 222 pages, no health or developmental topic is off-limits. Features include how-tos about potty training, feeding picky eaters, carrying children without causing back strain, and talking to kids about sex. Though the editorial team uses an advisory board of 33 members for issues regarding child health, the editors are always looking for health experts and new stories about parents who have had experiences with health issues. "One thing that we will absolutely not accept as a pitch for our health sections is a new study," says Fears. "We have the advisory board, and we read the paper, too. It's the stuff that we wouldn't get access to that's most interesting. We like hearing about health experts and stories from hospitals all over the country." While product reviews are sometimes the subject of a large feature (the April issue has a six-page guide of the best family cars), Fears says that they will never center a story on a specific product. "A section that we've been getting great pitches for is Show and Tell. It's 12 products that we feel parents shouldn't be living without," she says. April's Show and Tell, edited by Lauren Guerriero, features kids' rain gear, bath soaps, and an educational CD-ROM. Carrie Schuler and Melanie Wilcox of PAN Communications recently got a placement for a client of theirs in the homestyle section. "We sent a press kit with sponges and markers to emphasize our client's kid-friendly scrubbable paint," says Schuller, an associate. "Then Melanie and I followed up with an e-mail to pitch a bigger idea. Parents is not going to highlight one product, so we emphasized that it would be a great tool for decorating kids' rooms." Homestyle editor John Loeke didn't answer for a few weeks, but when he did, he asked for color samples and buckets of paint for the photo shoot. Though Parents editors like to receive strong health and product pitches, Fears emphasizes that the magazine has been trying to broaden its coverage of advocacy issues. The Power of Parents page highlights programs, causes, and nonprofits that benefit children. Maureen O'Connell, an account supervisor at Jacobs & Prosek PR, has been pitching Parents for about four years, but most recently got her client, nonprofit Keep America Beautiful, into this section. "Editors are very responsive if you're familiar with the kinds of stories they like," she says. Since almost all of Parents' editors are parents themselves, they know their readers well. But like most busy parents, they occasionally need a little help. "We try to do market research," says Fears, "but we rely on people to bring us great information." ----- Contact list Parents Address 375 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10017-5514 Tel (212) 499-2000 Website E-mail Deputy editor Linda Fears Homestyle editor John Loeke Beauty editor Robin Immerman Food editor Jackie Plant Web editor Debra Immergut

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