Meet Utah's New Media - "Utah Mama" and "Today's Mama"

by Jeri Cartwright and Lisa Davis
UtahPulse.com  10/08/2009

Utah Mama & Today's Mama

Websites: www.UtahMama.com, www.todaysmama.com

Blog: www.utahmama.com/connect

Location: Salt Lake City, UT

Creators: Rachael Herrscher & Stephanie Peterson

Focus: Personal, professional, and parenting resources for women and mothers everywhere

Followers: 350,000 impressions per month to an influential demographic, moms

Making money: Yes

Allowing advertising: Yes

Employees: Yes

The post on the Utah Mama website made us LOL: "I dined with wild monkeys last night!" This from a struggling, yet humorous mom deployed on the front-lines of parenting.

Utah Mama is no one-person endeavor. There are seven paid employees: Three full-time and four part-time. It is supported by online advertisers and publishing revenue from 12 Mama's Handbooks. Rachael Herrscher, a co-founder of the site, doesn't publicize Utah Mama with traditional ads. Instead, she uses social networking tools to spread the word.

At the online site you'll find a free weekly newsletter with 7,000 Wasatch Front subscribers, submissions that include topics such as: How to deal with biting, throwing, screaming, and other frustrating toddler behavior (challenging, indeed). You'll also find coupons and back-to-school savings, a directory of local "Mom friendly" businesses, family friendly event listings, discussions about money, family food planning, a parenting handbook and a blog. On the blog, you can pick from a directory of Mom blogs around the world. Or you can watch the Utah Mama blog posts roll in. Prepare to be entertained:

"There is a cupcake shop opening in Layton, Utah. Helloooooo elastic waist pants."

A mom referring to young child: "I just fed her pureed squash, but not pureed to death and there was a lot of gagging. She will look funny drinking lunch in preschool."

"How do you ladies battle the mommy cliques?"

Utah Mama started when Rachael and a friend, Stephanie Peterson, were pushing strollers through a local shopping mall. Both wondered aloud why there wasn't a more central location for information and resources to help mothers. That's when Rachael Herrscher caught the entrepreneur bug. Her first venture was on paper, not online, with the Utah Mama Handbook. Later, Rachael developed Utah Mama online and created a national parent network called Today's Mama, which has 27 licensed locations across the country. Rachael's staff manages many of the markets from her Utah office location, with help from on-the-ground editors who live in each geographical Today's Mama community.

Questions we asked Rachael Herrscher:

What do you think of the term "Mommy Blog?" What advice would you give businesspeople about Mommy Blogs?

I don't necessarily love the term, but what else do you call Moms who blog? There are a lot of terms that don't sound great, like the other day when someone said "Cute, housewives who have a business!"

Business people are in a complicated boat when interacting with mommy blogs. They need to treat us with the respect and professionalism they would use with any business owner. "Mommy Bloggers" have a wide range of experience and skills. Some have little to no background at all, while others are very seasoned and savvy marketers with good business minds.

How are you applying Twitter and Facebook to Utah Mama and Today's Mama?

I use Twitter to connect with people, to promote content and contests and expand our network. We have a fan page on Facebook.

What are your thoughts about the traditional news media - TV news, newspapers?

Sadly, I do think they are in a lot of trouble. In my opinion they are still poised as organizations with a lot of opportunity. They have content, they have distribution, they have local partnerships and events. But they have a tough time innovating and seem to continue with the same old leadership they relied on when newspapers and broadcast media were king. They need technology and marketing innovators in their ranks, but I don't think those people are flocking to traditional media right now.

Do you consider yourself a new media outlet?

Yes. I do think we approach advertising in a different way. We are a targeted online community, which tends to be a more effective way to reach moms by region or moms in general.

Do people try to persuade you to write about them or their product or business, and do you pay attention to these requests?

Yes - and definitely. We can find genuine and effective opportunities to work with people and their products. We are, however, not a product review site. Send us an email if you have an idea that fits our target audience.

What advertisers seem to find the most success on Utah Mama?

It's pretty broad when you think about the kind of advertisers that want to reach moms. If the product or service is relevant to a mother, it is a good fit for our site.

Rachael Herrscher oversees Utah Mama's general business operations, new market development, partnerships, and marketing initiatives. She is a featured blogger on Entrepreneur.com, a contributor to StartupPrincess.com, and is a regular speaker at new media, women in business and mom conferences.

She was a finalist for the 2007 Stevie Awards "Best Young Entrepreneur" award, has a Bachelor's degree from the University of Utah and currently serves on the marketing board of Discovery Gateway.


Article originally appeared at UtahPulse.com.

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