by Ambrose Clancy
Published: February 4, 2009
Sheer guts, sheer delusion or shrewdness?
While print publications watch ad revenues plummet in a death spiral, Nassau Parent, Suffolk Parent and Long Island Parent will blitz March and April with a total of more than 150,000 free copies.
At least one media expert thinks starting print publications these days is dangerous, if not doomed from the outset.
“From everything I see, I don’t think it’s the right time,” said Kevin Kamen, owner of The Kamen Group, a Baldwin print media appraiser, consultant and broker.
It’s not just Long Island. “It’s an epidemic across the country,” Kamen said.
He pointed to Suffolk Life, a free newspaper that seemed strong but went under last summer, as an example of advertisers abandoning print because of stretched budgets. Combine that with more and more readers getting information on line and the picture grows gloomier, Kamen said.
“The financial numbers I see on a daily basis appraising publications tells me starting a print publication is an extreme risk,” Kamen said.
But don’t tell that to David Miller, president of New York City-based Davler Media Group, which will publish 50,000 copies of both Nassau Parent and Suffolk Parent for their initial April runs. The magazines will be distributed free every month at over 1,000 Long Island locations. Miller said kicking off both publications cost in the neighborhood of “the low six figures.”
Going head-to-head with DMG to attract parents is Liza Burby, owner, publisher and editor of Long Island Parent, whose first run in March will be 55,000 copies given free at 1,300 locations. At the moment Long Island Parent will be a bi-monthly publication.
Burby declined to say what the launch will cost.
Both publishers might be on to something. Candace Corlett, president of consulting firm WSL Strategic Retail, said parents are cutting back dramatically when it comes to spending money on themselves but won’t deny their children, which means advertisers for children’s goods and services may be looking for places to display their wares.
WSL found that about 75 percent of adult consumers were slashing their budgets for fashion accessories, home décor, eating out and other activities. They were not, however, cutting back on toys and activities for their children.
Davler Media publishes six parenting magazines in the metropolitan area with a circulation of about 400,000. The two Island magazines will follow the same formula, Miller said. Tabloid sized, the magazines will be heavy on a calendar of activities for the month with 10-14 pages of listings along with features on health, education, nutrition, finance and other lifestyle subjects.
Marie Wolf, an editor of the now defunct “Wellness” magazine published by Newsday, will edit both magazines from a virtual office and rely heavily on freelancers. Material from the other Davler Media parenting magazines will help fill the pages of the Island brands. There will be separate sales staff in each of the new markets.
Although she will be taking content from the other parenting magazines in the chain, Wolf said the two magazines will reflect what’s happening on Long Island. “We’ll be looking for the local spin,” she said.
Wolf is confident the venture will succeed because of DMG’s track record in other markets and because parenting magazines have a special advantage over other publications
“The economy is awful but we have to keep moving forward with our obligations to our kids,” she said. “Advertisers need a voice to showcase what they’re offering.”
Burby also comes from a failed Newsday magazine, Newsday’s Long Island Parents and Children, which went under with other stand-alone Newsday publications in December.
Like Wolf, Burby is clear-eyed when it comes to the economic climate, and is equally confident in succeeding.
“It can’t get any worse,” she said. “And personally, if I don’t do it now I’ll always regret that I let my readers down.”
Burby said there was a core of loyal readers from the Newsday magazine who will follow her to Long Island Parent. The new publication is similar to its competition in that it will be heavily devoted to calendar listings and lifestyle features.
She can separate her magazine from Nassau Parent and Suffolk Parent because it is Long Island-based, Burby said.
“Our readers want articles directly written to them and about them,” she said. “Those guys in Manhattan, nice as they might be, know nothing about this market.”
Davler Media’s Miller disagrees, pointing out that there is a core of four Long Island advertising professionals and two Island-based professionals in editorial.
Nassau Parent and Suffolk Parent will have a Web presence at www.nymetroparent.com and Long Island Parent’s Web site will be found at www.liparentonline.com.