02 Sep 2010

DURHAM PARENT.COM: Officially NOT your source for Parenting???

Behind the scenes 1 Comment

Durham Parent's self styled “Where Parents Connect” poorly defines its reader base right in the masthead of the newspaper. Publications like Durham Parent aren’t the best source for advice on raising children, health, education, or anything else for that matter. It begins with you! They need to capture stories and pique our interest and inspire our imagination – rather than ad revenue.

If you’re a parent and you live in Durham Region it’s about finding the right resources. Well the tools are changing; technology, user experience, portability and content that keeps subscriber’s subscribing. Durham Parent from cover to cover is filled with permissive narrative of self identity and has become quite an albatross in our community.

What does that mean? In the last four years Durham Parent has become a veritable sounding board of the editors inabilities. Her lack-luster attempt at creating an authoritative publication on everything the ‘editor’ needs to know.

Now in it’s thirteenth year Durham Parent is still missing relative content and heart. Why does Durham Parent have an audience? What is Durham Parents strongest asset; Content creation? Distribution? Brand energy (to get people into stores)? Or it’s sales efforts?

"I focus on what's really important in life. Quality rather than appearance…ethics rather than rules…integrity rather than domination…knowledge rather than achievement…serenity rather than acquisitions." – Dr. Wayne Dyer

I get asked all the time, why do I write about traditional media so much? Let’s just say I feel really confident that what I’ve learned is very valuable to some.

My time spent with your Durham Region media company gave me great insight. I often use their publishing model and practices as a lesson of what NOT to do! “If the BIG media company can’t get it right, hell what do you have to fear” – I often say when telling a ‘solopreneur’ to publish themselves.

So before I hear from the opposition let me explain why I have chosen Durham Parent as my latest blog post. On August 17, 2010 I emailed a former colleague and mentioned that I would be focusing on Durham Parent as my next topic. A little heads up so to speak.

I picked Durham Parent primarily because out of all the other publications it is the most viable and needs the most help if it wants to survive. I don’t want to be the negative voice of reason. But as someone who follows most of the local ‘rags’ I am astonished that this particular publication out of all the Dynamic Publishing products it consistently sells and brings in a much needed (although squandered) revenue stream.

Durham Parents sister publications; East of the City, Durham Business Times, Durham Trade and Commerce, CIRCA are among some of the worst managed, worst written (relevant content) and worst received publications in Durham Region.

I will be taking a look at some of Durham Parent’s most recent advancements made to their dot com site, social media campaign, its voice in the community and its current distribution model.

When you make a choice, you change the future. – Deepak Chopra

Durham Parent’s web 1.5 efforts and new social media marketing (SMM) campaign looks as though someone finally lit a fire under the editors ass. Coincidence? Maybe. So why are publishers their own worst enemy? They think like marketers not as publishers.

DP Dot Com

Many companies like Dynamic Publishing go after inexpensive “custom newspaper” CMS solutions only to find after implementing and a lot of headaches, it still doesn’t do what they want or need. These solutions may use proprietary database structures in order to create an up-selling opportunity when the newspaper contacts them for support. Such as their www.durhamparent.com site, but their biggest blunder is trying to bring value to the online advertiser.

After nearly two months of beta and RC stages, Vivvo 4.5 is now officially released. It is available for purchase and download, including the new theme (shown below).


Facebook: LIKE it or NOT

I could write an entire blog on social media but, I’ll leave that to the experts. In Durham Parents case Facebook like it or not focuses on community building and sharing information with friends and contacts. Their newly created (August 2010) Durham Parent LIKE/FAN page is in its infancy. With a meager following just in the double digits, we will have to see if the editors’ exploits can actually create some sort of Return On Investment (ROI).

Editorial authenticity: Why we as a society eat it up

What is the transcendent purpose or motive behind Durham Parent? Profit or Purpose? The truest ultimatum game motivated by self interest. Durham Parent is marketed to the sojourners depicting social preferences, doodads and thingamobobbers. But does the existence of Durham Parent in the world (Durham Region) change others when the consumer’s of news have changed their definition of what constitutes news and who can be considered a "news pro"?

A colleague commented in a recent conversation “Well it's been a while. So things may have changed (Durham Parent). But I found the editorial to be a bit schmaltzy. I would have liked to see some harder hitting parenting issues and a more contemporary look. That's just me. If something doesn't catch my eye I don't normally take much more time with it.

Through entertainment, humor, reflection and connection as Garth Riley stated in one of his video segments. What draws you in as a reader, wether it be a column or a blog post. The Topic? The author? Or the insight?

“The roots of empathy come from the knowledge and strengths in humanity. Empathy of
caring has two perspectives; taking and the other is emotion. Shared emotion is in one role model; Altruism, Empathic actions.” – ***

Like consumer products these publications are welcome in your home. Do you subscribe to Durham Parent like the latest dieting craze? Well if you don’t you’re in good company. Long gone are the days of decisive parenting. Now it seems modern books and publications like Durham Parent offer parents no more security.

Sustainable change

Well it doesn’t have to take an environmentalist to tell you the impact publishing has on our community. But thats not the direction I am taking with Durham Parents haphazard distribution model. Every month 50,000 printed copies are bundle dropped or inserted into your local newspaper. Regional Durham Parent wastefully attempts to connect with it’s targeted audience.

My two cents…

Step one: Drop the printed circulation to 25,000 newspapers, fine tune it’s circulation and redirect the money saved by reinvesting it into the web site. Pay freelance/editorial writers more (and on time), support community bloggers (social journalist) and create an online HUB for everything ‘Parenting’ and then market the shit out of it.

Step two: Down the road drop the printed circulation to 12,500 newspapers, pinpoint the circulation to high traffic areas and fire the editor (is she really the Brand Ambassador you want). Hire a virtual assistant and have 10 key contributing editors (for a percentage of the editor’s salary) in place, support community blogger’s by corporately sponsoring their posts and pump even more $$ into online development. Mine the ‘nuggets’ from the online content and reprint it in the newspaper product and then of course, market the shit out of it.

Step three: Get rid of the newspaper altogether – introduce a semi-annual print supplement. Once you have built it, they will come. Try introducing pay walls and have enough traffic to warrant National Advertisers and then keep marketing the shit out of it.

In the end you’ll have saved a few trees, reduced your carbon footprint, drastically reduced costs, published content in real time and have created an online dynasty. All built by a few exceptional sales reps and content providers.

Durham Parent Gone Wild: Choices, Motives and Irresponsibilities

There’s no mystery to solve! The fraud of Durham Parent is not in it’s efforts, or it’s editorial line-up but in the editor herself, but I digress.

But come on… Thought leader? Solidarity through compassion? Agent of change? Or just an ordinary soccer mom? Her Durham Parent is more like parental guilt and absolutism. The most thoughtless, and pettiest of all cultural engagements.

Journeys Inside the mind of a soccer mom (click to view)
Published July/2010 Durham Parent
(Posted then removed then activated again on Sept 8/2010 on Durham Parent web site)

  • “My daughter, however is a different story. Here are some nuggets from the last week to prove that I am in trouble as she gets older:
  • I walked into the the bathroom to find her (the editor’s 6 yr old daughter) singing: “The party don’t start ‘til I walk in.”… See you later iTunes. (Kesha)
  • As we walked into the movie theatre she remarked to her friend: “We look sexy.” The parents behind me had a good laugh… …Too much Lady Gaga
  •  And the piece de resistance? “Mommy, can you get my fairy wings I wanna dance to Miley Cyrus’s I Can’t Be Tamed and Katy Perry’s California Gurls… Goodbye YouTube.
  • Six going on 14…” – written by the Editor of Durham Parent

May I suggest some parental guidance over what your children view online? Call me crazy.

I know, I know, the only dispute is how the hell to fix it? Like any consumer product most haven’t been tested so hasn’t the irreverent content, head scratching opinions and its impact on the community. Polling all Durham Parent Reader's.

Modern parenting is based on relationships, resources, communication and education. Believe people when they tell you who they are and what they stand for. So why is Durham Parent coming from the wrong side of the tracks on issues and apparently a little crazy at times?

Hmm… Ask the editor.

In my opinion Durham Parent has a hard time keeping content fresh after the freshness seal has been broken. At least baby’s can scream and throw up, we just have to read with awe.

Here are a list of some authentic blogs you might find entertaining and educational:


What do you think about the these types of publications? Any comments? Please add your voice in the box below.

One Response to “DURHAM PARENT.COM: Officially NOT your source for Parenting???”

  1. beatill says:

    You are who your friends are … you are what you eat … your are what you watch and listen to … … … if we are going to be forced to view these (talented???) pop stars … i’m going back to Pippi Longstocking … !!!

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