Interview: Dawn Roode

Dawn Roode has been managing editor at Meredith Corp.'s Child magazine for almost three years.

Dawn Roode has been managing editor at Meredith Corp.'s Child magazine for almost three years.

Before that, she held the same post at Latina and Harper's Bazaar, and her experience includes full-time work at Vogue, Mobile Computing, and Folio. Roode rose through the ranks as a production director and eventually transitioned to the editorial side.

PRWeek: What is your daily schedule like?

Dawn Roode: Hectic! Because I deal with so many different departments, I get interrupted a lot and am constantly trying to assess what most immediately needs my attention. Sometimes it's figuring out how to cut costs on a photo shoot, other times it's helping editors manage priorities, or I could spend a whole day working with advertising on putting the issue together. It varies widely from day to day.

PRWeek: What's the best part of your job?

Roode: Believe it or not, I would say managing all that chaos is something I really enjoy.  It's a great challenge and keeps the adrenaline going. I also work with truly wonderful people.

PRWeek: What's the downside to your job?

Roode: Probably that there just aren't enough hours in the day to do everything I'd like to!

PRWeek: How competitive is the world of parenting titles?

Dawn Roode: It's gotten more so in the past year or so, with the launch of Cookie and Wondertime, and the Time Parenting Group sale, plus all the blogs that are out there. Child was the first parenting title that focused on both smarts and style and had a real lifestyle focus, and we continue to provide that distinction.

PRWeek: How has circulation grown or declined over the years?

Roode: Child's has remained fairly constant for a few years, actually.

PRWeek: Do you deal with a lot of PR people?

Roode: Because I don't specifically cover a beat or write here at Child, I tend to deal with PR people in a more peripheral way, referring them to other editors and such. But I deal most with them when there is not a clear person with whom to deal, especially if it's trying to cover a product or service in a new or creative way.

PRWeek: What is the demographic of your readership like?

Roode: Child readers are parents - mostly moms - who want the best for their kids in every aspect of life. They are stylish and well-educated and want to be informed of the latest news.

PRWeek: What is your opinion on parenting blogs?

Roode: I think the blogs that are out there are another place for parents to find one another and create a supportive community. The dad blogs, especially, seem to have opened up a new forum for communication among fathers, where they can vent or ask questions they might otherwise be embarrassed about. But this is clearly a burgeoning area. Child will be launching two new blogs on our site in the very near future.

PRWeek: What's been your experience with PR people?

Roode: Generally very positive. I am not a big fan of the PR person who follows up e-mails with constant phone calls, but I know where they're coming from. It's just that editors are busier than ever these days - multitasking, taking on new responsibilities beyond writing and editing - so sometimes it can be challenging to keep up the relationships.

PRWeek: With so many products and shows targeting moms, what kinds of strategies work for companies trying to engage them?

Roode: I think products with a clear history of safety and research appeal to moms because they want to be able to trust that their children are always taken care of the best way possible. Our readers love products that also deliver a high style quotient.

PRWeek: What kind of PR initiatives has Child implemented?

Roode: Child historically gets a lot of publicity. For the past few years, we have been the only magazine that has had a runway show under the tents at Bryant Park during Fashion Week. This year, Russell Simmons and his wife watched their children model in the show, as did rapper 50 Cent, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Hilary Duff were in attendance. 

We got plenty of press for our Book Awards, where our 2007 Lifetime Achievement winner this year was Julie Andrews. And we also have a signature event called "Children's Champions" annually, and in the past have honored the wonderful work of people including Joe Torre, Marlo Thomas, Linda Ellerbee, and Judy Blume. Jada Pinkett Smith and Jamie Lee Curtis, both celebs who authored children's books, have both appeared on Child covers, as well.

We also break a lot of news, so our editors appear on morning shows and other TV programming on behalf of those stories quite often.

Name: Dawn Roode

Title: Managing editor

Outlet: Child magazine

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