Monday, August 31, 2009

ABC Excitement

posted by Mary Gerlach, associate editor

The Baby & Kids editors attending the ABC Kids Expo answer. What are you most excited about during the ABC Kids Expo? (Associate Editor Stephanie Hunsberger will be busy running and organizing a 5K for The Lexi Kazian Foundation). Tell us what you’re looking forward to in the comments, too.

I'm looking forward to meeting with first-time exhibitors at this year's ABC Kids Expo. A new exhibitor's excitement is truly palpable and contagious to all attendees! I find that fresh-faced companies take the utmost pride in displaying their products; they are eager to show everything they have to offer, and they often inspire other exhibitors to reignite their passion for the industry.

I've always enjoyed attending new shows for the first time. I'm looking forward to seeing all the creative designs and innovative products being introduced in the baby and kids field. I think it's interesting that more and more companies are looking toward fashion trends and incorporating them into their lines.

I’m most excited about producing the Official ABC Show Dailies. We’ve put so much hard work into these Dailies, and I can’t wait to see the words on the printed page! Plus, Barb, Ashley and I are all magazine writers used to long deadlines and time to plan. I think it’ll be fun to produce a daily publication and try something new.

Friday, August 21, 2009

How To Submit For the Official ABC Show Dailies

by Mary Gerlach, associate editor

If you’ve read our newsletter (sign up here if you don’t get it) then you know that Baby & Kids magazine is producing the Official ABC Show Dailies. This show really is the crème de la crème of children’s shows, so we’re excited and honored to take on this challenge.

Last week, the hard work of writing the articles kicked into high gear and I started getting calls from PR people inquiring about how to get in. I thought I’d take this opportunity to address how to submit for editorial consideration in the Official ABC Show Dailies. If you’re not going to the show, no worries; these tips can apply when you’re pitching any journalist, and I put some general PR tips at the bottom of the post, too.

For the ABC Show Dailies:
We’re writing a lot of the content before we get to the show, so contact me soon if you want to be included.
  • Have high-resolution images (300 dpi) and product information available to e-mail when you call or send your pitch e-mail to me at mgerlach(at) We can’t run computer renderings. We need images of the final product.
  • Got an event in your booth? Planning a special promotion? Let us know! We aren’t just covering product launches. Noteworthy speakers and events are newsworthy.
  • Be proactive about making appointments and sending images. You’ll never bug me if you send me a press release and high res images without me having to ask!
  • On that note, don’t be upset if you aren’t covered. This doesn’t mean you won’t be included in another publication later. I met Beth from Fireside Comforts at the May Spring Conference and it was five months before I included the company in an article.
  • Booth location, images, contact person and company details are helpful to have on hand.
  • Don’t be surprised if we just drop by your booth. Sometimes you find yourself with 20 extra minutes in the middle of the day, and this is often the best time to say hi to someone you never made an appointment with.

Here are some general PR tips you might find handy all year round.
  • Follow-up. Editors are busy, and sometimes we need reminders.
  • When you’re e-mailing back and forth every five minutes, it’s time to pick up the phone.
  • Know the company’s real news. Everyone gives their products to celebrities or wins an award, so don’t make that your pitch. Real news is an event, hiring or promotion related to retail sales, new product and line. Also, use the word innovative sparingly. Editors see everything in an industry and won’t have to be told if something truly is innovative.
  • Know the magazine, what it covers and its audience. I am always disappointed when I hear about something I want to cover, but find out the company sells through its Web site only because I only cover companies with wholesale programs.
  • Don’t argue with the editors. If he or she says your product is not a good fit for the magazine or article, the editor will know best because he or she is the one actually writing the article. If you are absolutely convinced the editor is wrong about this you may have done a poor job explaining the product.
  • Don’t use guilt as part of your pitch. I can speak for the editors here when I say we’d love to include everyone, but that’s not possible.
  • Don’t get offended if a tactic you’ve used shows up on this list, or you think I’m wrong. Editors. Magazines. PR pros. We’re all different.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Keeping It In The Neighborhood

by Barbara Wujcik, editorial coordinator

When I stopped in a neighborhood gift shop recently, I found a perfect gift for my brother — a Chicago White Sox-themed deck of playing cards. The woman at the counter asked if I wanted it gift wrapped. At first I said no, but she suggested it could be wrapped in team colors and pulled out some black wrapping paper. With a white ribbon this small, fun gift took on some extra charm.

That’s the kind of thing that neighborhood gift shops do best. They provide that extra service and a personal touch, and that’s why people come back to them. There is also a toy shop in the same area where a salesperson will walk around with you and point out things that are good for the kids of a certain age. The place has many repeat customers.

These shops feel more like visiting your neighbors than shopping. Think about it. People tend to buy from people they like and are comfortable with. They want them to succeed and continue. It’s all about making connections with your neighborhood.

I’ve read news stories recently about “frugal fatigue.” People are getting tired of watching every dime. I’m not saying that customers are going to run out and start spending madly, but I think someone might treat themselves to some earrings, a new bag, personal care products or a small home decor piece. And as one company rep told me “gift occasions — birthdays, births, weddings — continue no matter what." Your shop can be the place they come to for those gifts.

Get to know your neighbors. Take a look at who’s walking down your street. See a lot of young families? Might be time to put in more kid’s items; plan store hours so moms can come in after they drop their kids off at school. Think about sponsoring a youth sport team. Carry merchandise that reflects professional and collegiate teams in your area. And, of course, be sure to thank customers for shopping locally.

Participate in sidewalk sales, pet parades, charitable activities — show people you’re a good neighbor. Hold occasional open houses to thank people for their patronage and hold sales around neighborhood festivals. The more you connect with the community, the more people will want to come in just to see what’s new. It will, after all, be like dropping in on a neighbor.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cross-Market Buying: Editor's Picks

posted by Mary Gerlach, associate editor

Last month, my fellow Baby & Kids editors and I attended the Chicago Market gift show. As I mentioned earlier, it’s important for juvenile retailers to attend gift shows in order to discover products they otherwise would not have seen. Wendy Carver of Yikes Twins told me that during the last Atlanta show she has better response in her new location in a gift building than she had within the juvenile apparel floor. Likewise, Trisha Schultz, marketing director for the Chicago Market, related to me that juvenile vendors are seeking out gift shows to introduce themselves and their products to an entirely new market.

Below, the Baby & Kids team shares its children’s finds and out-of-market surprises. First up, Associate Editor Ashley Trent:

MyPerennial’s line of children’s clothing and accessories, such as these darling headbands, features interchangeable snap-on felt pieces in various shapes and colors. Owner Jen Hopwood, a former elementary school teacher, sketches all her designs by hand. She also makes fun felt products for moms, including brooches, bags, hats and scarves.

The bright, modern packaging of Better Life’s line of cleaning supplies caught my eye right away. These all-purpose cleaners — developed by a chemist and an eco-friendly maven, both of whom fathers — are ideal for busy parents. The company even has a no-hassle nursery cleaner called 2am Miracle that deodorizes and cleans any surface that has seen a nasty mess.

Mary Gerlach’s finds:

The one-of-a-kind swatches from Angelina Studio reeled me in, but I absolutely loved this charming pink cupcake painting. Angelina displayed it in a vertical arrangement with three other coordinating canvases. I love the bright colors and the brushstrokes. Great for a child’s room, kitchen, breakfast nook or any cheery spot in the house.

Minga Fair Trade Imports brings an impressive assortment of products for most markets to the United States while fulfilling its mission improve local economies with nations of the southern hemisphere and create fair trade relationships with retailers. There’s a lot to take in at the company’s booth, but my favorite items were the knitted pocket sweaters for fall. Minga carries several fall/winter sweaters for both boys and girls.

Barbara Wucjik’s finds:

My find of the show was Squeak Me Shoes. I think the shoes, which have the squeaker in each heel, are inspired because the noise lets you know approximately where the child is, short of putting a bell on him or her. It probably also lets you know if there's too much quiet. The shoes come in lots of cute styles and great colors for both boys and girls. And they have recently introduced a group of licensed collegiate shoes for the youngest fans.

Stephanie Hunsberger's finds:
My magazine experience has mainly been in the gourmet industry so far, and when there is industry cross-over, I can't help but get a little excited.

When I was at the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago this past spring, I noticed that a lot of companies were introducing products related to kids in the kitchen. It seemed that spending time with your kids in the kitchen was the newest budget-friendly way to bond with your children. This sentiment was carried through at the Living & Giving show at the Merchandise Mart, where
I spotted the newest tot-size chef hats and aprons from Mariasch Studios (represented by the Haefling Group). The hats and aprons are 100-percent cotton and can be customized with images and phrases, such as "Mommy's little helper."

For a more colorful approach, Manual Woodworkers & Weavers offers both trendy retro half-aprons for children and whimsical designs with phrases such as "Chef In Training" and "Queen of the Kitchen in Training."

Other non-kitchen related items that stood out to me were from Ozark Mountain Kids. The chairs and footstools from Ozark Mountain Kids are plush and overstuffed, covered with a soft chenille, and perfect for curling up in with a favorite picture book or in front of that movie you can't stop watching (mine was Wizard of Oz). I know they're not new items, but they certainly made me want to be 5 years old again!