Interview: Claudia Kawczynska

A former adviser with San Francisco economic consultancy Dornbusch & Co. and Berkeley Waterfront Commissioner, Claudia Kawczynska and her husband Cameron Woo launched The Bark in 1997 as an off-leash dog recreation advocacy newsletter.

A former adviser with San Francisco economic consultancy Dornbusch & Co. and Berkeley Waterfront Commissioner, Claudia Kawczynska and her husband Cameron Woo launched The Bark in 1997 as an off-leash dog recreation advocacy newsletter.

Now a bimonthly glossy with nearly 70,000 subscribers, the magazine - complemented by an online forum, Bark Unleashed - covers all aspects of contemporary canine culture or, as she describes it, "the dogdom of it all."

PRWeek: What makes The Bark different from other dog-centric publications?

Claudia Kawczynska: Our niche is the more cultural, literate people who really care more about reading about the relationships we have with our dogs, not just currently, but historically. In the next issue, we have a piece on the greening of homes, the kind of article you would read in Dwell.

PRWeek: So your coverage actually goes beyond dogs, in a way.

Kawczynska: From the beginning, I thought it was very important to partner with non-dog people, to show that not only were we a group of people who had the best interests of our animals at heart, but also the best interests of our community at large.

PRWeek: What are some challenges you face as editor-in-chief?

Kawczynska: I'm very proud of what we've been able to do with the magazine editorially and art-wise, [but] there are things I would like to improve on. One would be investigative reporting... we will be doing more of that in the future.

I [also] want to spend a lot more time on enhancing our online presence, provide more of a community base for people to discuss the important issues of the day. And maybe to meet other people, too - less as a social-networking platform per se, but actually sharing expertise, information, direct experiences. That's something I look forward to doing in 2007.

PRWeek: Describe your ideal PR encounter.

Kawczynska: What for me makes a good PR encounter is PR people who believe in their clients. When they're promoting something they feel strongly about, it shines, it comes through.

In the PR business, it's important to get a dialogue going. And in order to get a dialogue, you need to personalize it, you need to convince someone like me that it's heartfelt. If the PR person takes any time whatsoever to know who The Bark is, make it personalized, that does wonders.

PRWeek: What are you looking for in terms of PR for The Bark in the coming months?

Kawczynska: We've been lucky that the media write about us, but we need better placement. I'm hoping that because we turn 10 next year, that's a door-opener PR-wise. I'd love to talk about dog culture. Recently - in the past two, three years - the fashion industry has found dogs.

Name: Claudia Kawczynska

Outlet: The Bark magazine

Title: Editor-in-chief

Preferred contact method: claudia@thebark.com

Web site: www.thebark.com

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