Ashley Oerman – Assistant Editor, Parents.com
It comes as no surprise to anyone that parenting is a daunting experience. One look at the sheer number of resources available to expecting, new and not-so-new parents makes it clear that advice and reassurance are in high demand.
Parents magazine and its companion website Parents.com are among the most visible and trusted sources in this ongoing search. As the new assistant Web editor since May Ashley Oerman explained, “It’s kind of the go-to for people who are going through that stage of their lives, becoming parents. It’s a really scary thing, and I think the brand itself does a great job of making parenting less scary and kind of being that friend in their mailbox once a month to give them good advice and good tips in a tone that is familiar with them.”
Unsurprisingly, one of Oerman’s priorities in her new position is maintaining this supportive voice and making sure it extends to Parents.com’s other content, including newsletters and social media. Going forward, she expects to expand the website’s pregnancy and baby content, as well as utilizing SEO to make articles search-friendly.
Oerman comes to Parents.com from the XO Group, where she was the driving force behind their now-defunct beauty, fashion and lifestyle site, The Blush, and also contributed to The Nest. “It’s exciting because it’s more editing responsibilities than I had at my previous job,” she said.
And the change in coverage doesn’t faze her. “No matter what subject you’re covering, if you have the writing, editing and content management skills, they transfer.”
Her interest in journalism started early, after a teacher assigned her the “newspaper reporter” position at a career day in fifth grade and she saw her byline all over the “newspaper” at the end of the day. “It just kind of continued. I always loved magazines, and I just kind of knew that writing was something I was good at.”
Her career path eventually led her to an internship at Cosmopolitan, an experience that clearly had a formative effect on Oerman, who cited the editors there as “amazingly helpful.” In particular, she spoke of Casey Gueren (who was an editorial assistant at Cosmopolitan at the time and is now the associate online editor for Women’s Health) as “a sounding board when I needed advice.” From there, she added, “I kind of just fell into digital. It wasn’t my goal. It was my first job and I ended up really loving it. I love the fast pace of it.”
While much of her experience is in the digital area, Oerman doesn’t draw a firm line between traditional and new media, choosing instead to focus on how they complement each other. She sees the magazine’s website as a helpful supplement and compares the “evergreen” content of the print edition to the flexible nature of the Internet.
“When you have the website – which covers the ongoing news or the breaking news – and you put the magazine’s tone on it, you’re going to get audience’s attention in different ways,” she explained.
Likewise, she feels that her previous experience with print media will be helpful in her interactions with Parents’ print edition, “whether it’s incorporating that content onto the Web or coming up with story ideas.”
Oerman also finds social media, especially Twitter, to be a helpful tool in gathering breaking news. She scans government Twitters for information about recent recalls and studies. However, she urged caution in fact-checking. “It’s a good way to gather breaking news and information, but you have to be careful when you’re putting it out with your brand’s name on it.”
Ultimately, Oerman takes an optimistic view of the future of media. “I don’t know if the dust is ever going to settle on digital versus print, but if it does, I think that the brands that people have come to love like Parents, like Cosmo and all of those names – I think they’re going to just be helped by the Web part of it.”
Oerman prefers to be pitched via email.
She is especially interested in studies about parenting and news of product recalls. She occasionally covers “new toys that are educational or unique in some way.” She is also in charge of the website’s Parenting channel, which includes information on such topics as divorce, family dynamics and adoption.
While Oerman doesn’t note any specific pet peeves, she advised PR professionals to be upfront. “No gimmicks. Just tell me straight out what you’re promoting and why it relates to me.”
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