What is the Parenting Media Association?
Parenting Media Association (PMA) was established in March 1988 as Parenting Publications of America (PPA), a national trade association of regional parenting publications that reach across America, from Boston to Seattle and from Minneapolis to Miami, and around the globe to Australia. Some of our publications are tabloid newspapers, others are magazines, with 4-color, glossy, covers. Typically our publications come out monthly. All of the publications have marketing/editorial calendars which are available upon request - contact information is available for each publication on this site.
Since the first regional parenting publications appeared on the scene more than 20 years ago, readers have grown to depend on our newspapers and magazines. Each of our publications provide a unique resource for parents, educators, professionals, and child care providers, by supplying information on what to do and where to go with children in their own town, school district and neighborhood.
Regular features include a monthly calendar of events for children and their parents, practical advice for parents, information about outings, and reviews of current plays, movies, books and local restaurants. Feature articles discuss a range of important issues affecting families, from prenatal care to teenage parties.
History of PMA (formerly PPA)
Birth of an Industry
It was 1978. Chrysler announced the hiring of Lee Iacocca. The first minivan was nothing but a twinkle in the eye of a station-wagon mother. Home prices were rising steadily, and in some states, rapidly. More mothers of school-age children were beginning to head back to work.
Ann Bergman lived in Seattle, Washington. She wanted to start a business. The mother of a 10-year-old stepdaughter and a 1-year-old, she was part of a typical '80s family -- a blended family. Bergman describes herself as one of the first baby boomers, and she sensed the boomers' need for new parenting information presented in a new way. This generation of parents, unlike previous generations, could no longer rely on the extended family as a primary source of parenting information. They approached parenting as if it were a profession. Typical families of the '80s took a long, hard look at division of labor in the home. Parents had a fresh perspective on fatherhood. And many families became two-income households. In April of 1979, Bergman published her first issue of a regional parenting publication, Seattle's Child. She began the wave of regional parenting publications, a wave that would sweep across America providing a new generation of parents with finger-on-the-pulse, parenting information.
In 1980, with no knowledge of Bergman's work, Dixie Jordan of Berkeley, California, also the mother of a baby, read an article about a regional parenting publication serving the state capitol, Sacramento. Jordan knew right away that this was the business idea she'd been looking for. She had firsthand knowledge of what parents needed; after her child's birth, she had quickly discovered the parenting-information gap. She published the first issue of Parent's Press, in Berkeley, in June 1980.
Meanwhile in Los Angeles, an English major named Jack Bierman was now completing journalism school. Bierman was impressed with the high caliber of students who were graduating with him. He saw the opportunity to harness the energy and talent of these young professionals. he intended to launch a publishing business. Bierman had several ideas but the one that struck a cord with everyone he spoke to was the idea of a regional, free controlled circulation, parenting newsmagazine. An avid admirer of the existing children's magazine, Cricket, Bierman chose a name he felt similarly captured the emotion of childhood. The first issue of Pony Ride was printed in October 1980. Bierman remembers, "The first ad guy I hired told me to get rid of the name!" It took him a few months to let go, but eventually he changed the name to L.A. Parent. At the time Bierman had no children. But the idea of collecting local resources for parents and printing them in a monthly paper became a self-fulfulling prophecy. As the parents in Los Angeles soaked up the information he provided, Bierman began to understand the intensity of parenthood, '80s-style. Parents' response to the paper communicated their profound understanding of the responsibility they felt toward their "job of parenting." L.A. Parent became an extension of that responsibility. Bierman thrived on the positive response. He added editors and more staff and formed a board of advisors. Over time, Jack along with his brother Carey, held the largest, family-owned regional parenting business in America with publications that reached almost 500,000 readers in Southern California.
All over the United States, the seedlings of what was to become Parenting Publications of America (PPA) kept sprouting. In the early '80s, several California publishers met annually, beginning a group they called California Dreamin'. From this headstrong group of entrepreneurs, a national forerunner to PPA was established. Then finally, in March 1988, with 27 founding members, Parenting Publications of America was formed.
In January of 1990, the first Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism Awards were presented to PPA members. While the basic editorial content still provided useful resources and discussed trends in parenting, such as new-style dads and stay-at-home moms vs. "working" mothers, gone were the days of bland, kitchen-table, editorial. PPA member publications took the challenge and were soon running features with headlines, such as "Caught in the Cross Fire," a story about inner-city street violence and kids; "Gay and Lesbian Parenting in the '90s; and "When Love is Not Enough," the story of a teen AIDS victim as told by his father.
Meanwhile, in the world of publishing, niche marketing gained tremendous popularity. Free controlled publications gained respectability. And regional parenting publications were right there in the midde of it all--perfectly placed for growth, now that "family" was a "viable market." As recession took hold of the country, regional parenting businesses continued to flourish.
In a June 1992 Folio article, Richard Cohen, director of investment banking at the New York based Furman Selz, was asked which publishing properties looked good to buyers. Cohen said simply, "definable niches do better." Niche publications promise targeted, loyal readers.
The next chapter in the PPA industry was starting. Chicago Parent, Grand Rapids Parent, Columbus Parent, Minnesota Parent, Carolina Parent, South Florida Parenting and Kids Toronto all changed ownership. And the new ownership came in the form of the established publishers of business journals, city magazines, weeklies and even daily papers, a trend that has continued through today. Publishers of the dailies, especially, saw the writing on the wall as they consistently struggled to be all things to all people. The targeted, niche publications had loyal readers, an appealing commodity to the dailies.
In 2011 PPA changed its name to Parenting Media Association (PMA) to better reflect the shift from print dominance to a multimedia-focus, as well as to recognize that membership extends beyond the United States.
Today, the PMA member publications represent a monthly circulation nearing 5 million and a readership, based on an independent 1998 study, of close to 11.5 million. That number is growing daily. Parenting continues to be a powerful and productive niche for publishers delivering targeted ads and editorial.
And for parents, regional parent papers..."have become the network. They sponsor events, they go on line...They provide a community base. I think this will continue to grow," stated Anne Russell, editor of Folio.