Local Parenting Papers Becoming Hot Properties

By Giman, Wendy | Editor & Publisher, March 21, 1998 | Go to article overview

Local Parenting Papers Becoming Hot Properties


Giman, Wendy, Editor & Publisher


A concept that emerged from the kitchen table projects of mom & pop publisher is now sparking a national flurry of acquisitions, partnerships and launches

IN A MOVE that underscores the growing power and importance of the local"parenting" newspaper niche, United Advertising Publications (UAP) has bought three free parenting papers in Southern California.

UAP's acquisitions - LA Parent, Orange County Parenting and San Diego Parent--are among the most profitable parenting publications in the United States, according to trade association executives in the business. Combined circulation of the three tops 270,000. Though profit figures are unavailable for the nation's parenting papers, industry watchers said that in top markets revenues have increased 30%, in the last year.

Parenting papers typically are monthly and free, and printed on a variety of stocks. The report on all aspects of community affairs related to family. They keep time-strapped working parents informed about the details of things like local school lunch programs, after-school activities, puppet shows and children's pool hours. Mostly started as kitchen table projects by parents who wanted answers to their own questions about children, many have developed significant local circulations and equally significant stables of advertising clients.

UAP is the latest of a number of larger media firms--including several daily newspaper companies and the Walt Disney Co.--to delve into parenting publishing. During the last year, 11 parenting papers have been sold, mostly to established media companies, according to the Parenting Publications Association.

Best known for real estate, apartment and automotive rack-distributed publications, Britain-based UAP also owns Advanced Distributing Co., which provides third-party distribution services throughout the United States.

UAP said only that the purchase is "a result of our presence in Southern California." Richard Davey, vice president of marketing, refused to comment on whether the company intends to expand in the parenting market.

ATTRACTION CITED

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that a company with that magnitude in Southern California will not just stay there," said Kathy Mittler, executive director of the 145-member Parenting Publications of America, a trade association that [A Parent helped found. At PPA's conference last month, on hand from UAP were Davey, chairman and CEO Nigel Donaldson, and president and chief operating officer Jeff Baudo.

John Cribb, who represented the seller, Wingate Enterprises Inc., of LA Parent, Orange County Parenting and San Diego Parent, called United "a bright company looking at a developing niche. …

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