Elina Furman – Blogger, Family Style
By Sarah Hetland
Elina Furman knows the struggles, joys and challenges of her mommy audience. As a new blogger for Family Style, a newly launched blog hosted by the urban parenting site Babble, she’s embracing the chance to reach out to that audience further.
“I love Babble. I think the audience is that high-brow, a little urban, sarcastic kind of parent audience that wants information but wants it delivered in a really fun, kind of pithy tone,” she said.
Family Style delivers that with style and personality from experienced writers. The presentation is equally important, with an emphasis on cleanliness, Furman explained. Both the blog and Babble appeal to the stylish mom and find innovative products to make a mom’s life easier.
“I love that every day we can provide a small snapshot into the real lives of moms…the boredom, the anxiety and the feeling that we as moms are always getting it wrong,” Furman said. “The tongue-and-cheek tone coupled with a new solution to a motherhood woe with a stylish element is what we strive for.”
Furman said Babble attracts parents who want information delivered in a unique way, with a different take on an old problem or from a mom’s point of view. The site is known for its “controversial, sometimes in- your-face, just really open - almost like a brazen parenting type of attitude,” Furman explained.
She added, “[We’re] going to share and talk about topics that are maybe more taboo, but [we’re] going to do it in a really fun, clever and entertaining way at the same time.”
As the founder of the daily newsletter and website for moms Mamaista, Furman is very in tune with her mommy audience and credits online connectivity for that relationship.
“With new media, I love the immediacy of it. I can put something up the next day and measure the results through comments and through traffic. It feeds all this demographic info constantly into my head so I really begin to understand who these [readers] are and what they want and don’t want,” she explained.
When originally recruited to join Family Style, she was excited to be part of a new project that paired nicely with her other work.
“I just thought it was exactly in line with our audience at Mamaista and it would be a great opportunity to cross promote our site but also create original content for them,” she said.
Furman is also the author of 20 books about dating, relationships, travel, parenting and style, and as an expert in her field has several TV talk show appearances under her belt. She has also been quoted in several notable magazines and newspapers offering tips and advice.
“[I enjoy] just extrapolating from my personal life and using that experience to help others who are adjusting to whatever phase they are going into,” she said.
Furman got her journalism start online and helped found sites such as Womansday.com, Seventeen.com and ELLEgirl.com and has made contributions to Glo.com. She was drawn to online media from the beginning but always loved print as well.
“I went the opposite way, I went from Web to print,” she said.
And on the way she freelanced for Pregnancy Magazine and Westchester Family Magazine, and has also served as the editor in chief of Jamrock Magazine and managing editor of M.A.R. Magazine.
“I love to be cross-media, I love the Web. I love books and print. I really see them as very interconnected,” she said. “If you’re building a brand today I don’t think you can just say I’m going to do this one thing, I mean you could, but I think to reach your audience you have to reach them everywhere these days.”
She cites her strong belief in crossing platforms as a key to her success.
“I think that anyone who is in new media right now understands that you can’t work in isolation, that part of your success depends on creating very strong partnerships with other content sites within your market,” she said. “It’s that exchanging of information and linking to each other.”
Furman covers the style and gear beat for Family Style.
“I love anything, if it’s a new stroller, if it’s a new gizmo as long as it serves some vital problem and solves that for moms. So anything that’s really unique from a tech standpoint, innovative or design-oriented I just love,” she said.
She emphasized that even though they aren’t working on any strict timeline, it’s important to keep in mind current events, what’s going on in pop culture and news of the day when pitching ideas.
“We try to cover very topical, current products,” she said. “We also look for things that are very innovative, design focused but also very practical…something moms can use every day.”
She continued, “Also having some kind of new brand extension, what’s the new product, what are you introducing? Always pitch with that in mind, there has to be some new component to whatever you’re offering.”
Furman said to be aware of how most editorial schedules work involving holidays and seasonal items. They’re always looking for items like this, but try to pitch them at appropriate times. She said they also like to receive information on small artisans, crafters and other unique finds.
“We love vintage stores that have a really strong inventory,” she said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be a mass produced product, just something that really catches our eye or we feel that moms would respond to out of a design sensibility.”
Another important aspect of the pitch is making sure to state appropriate sourcing for products.
“We’re not going to put something up if we don’t know [about] the materials; if they are safe for children and have gone through the rigorous testing,” she said.
She added that pitches which mention a give-away as some sort of enticement won’t work with her. Just keep it focused on the pitch and if she’s interested she’ll use it.
Furman prefers to receive pitching via e-mail and would like to avoid phone calls. “Basically, just give us the time to go through it and if we’re interested we’ll follow up right away or [shortly after],” she said.