Stephanie Azzarone is founder and president of Child’s Play Communications, the first agency to specialize exclusively in connecting companies with the influential mom market.
Stephanie is the recipient of the Bulldog Reporter 2010 Social Media Innovator of the Year Gold Award as well as the Silver Anvil, the most prestigious award in the public relations business. She is a highly sought after speaker and has delivered presentations on marketing to moms at major conferences across the nation, including BlogHer, Kid Power, SheCon, PR University, Digital Kids Conference, the IIR Youth Marketing Mega Event, BlogHer Business, PlayCon, Marketing To Moms and Marketing to Digital Moms.
Child’s Play Communications is the leading agency specializing exclusively in public relations, social media and word of mouth communications for products and services targeted to moms. With more than 20 years of expertise in this market, Child’s Play offers exciting services to help clients reach moms effectively, through traditional media, online and – increasingly – in person.
MO: What inspired you to create an agency that focuses on products and services targeted to moms?
Stephanie: I was assistant director of marketing communications at one of the world’s largest public relations agencies when I became pregnant for the first time. As a mom-to-be, I found myself reading everything I could get my hands on about how to be a good parent and what I needed to buy for my child. In the process, I realized that there were no public relations agencies focusing on the mom market. And so, Child’s Play was born.
MO: What kind of different approaches do you use to reach mothers and how can they differ from other demographics?
Stephanie: Of course, moms spend time with many of the same media as the rest of the world, so we work hard to create visibility for our clients in media such as the Today show and USA Today. We have also developed strong long-term relationships with parenting media, both national and local, which we work with on a regular basis. Beyond traditional public relations, however, we reach moms in other, highly targeted ways. We’ve been very active in social media for about the past eight years, so we connect companies with moms through blogger outreach programs such as our proprietary Team Mom review network as well as through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest management programs. Moms love to relate to each other and to brands “live and in person,” and we help them do it in a fun way through our Child’s Play Party! brand immersion events. We sample to new moms through our Insider Mom Network. And we connect with them personally, one-on-one, through the many mom blogger conferences we attend. Basically, we reach moms wherever they are and whatever they are doing.
MO: How has your agency and the market evolved since first launching over 20 years ago?
Stephanie: There have been so many changes! Chief among them has been the advent of social media and moms’ passion for those communications channels. Because we followed moms into social media early on, we quickly developed social media skills and were able to offer companies a unique combination of the exclusive focus on moms as well as extensive and award-winning social media services. That has really made a difference in the degree to which we’ve been able to support brands.
MO: What are some trends in your industry that you’re excited about? Are there any trends that you think that our readers should be paying attention to or taking advantage of?
Stephanie: After years of trying to persuade companies of the value of social media for reaching the mom audience, we are seeing a lot more companies embracing it in creative ways. We recently hosted a Pinterest contest for one of our clients, GUND, and the response to it was eye-opening. These more niche outlets – and new ones pop up seemingly every day — are creating new opportunities for us and the brands we work with.
MO: You’ve launched numerous services that support and highlight the importance of mom bloggers. What influenced your decision to focus on the blogging world and offer extra dimensions of support and recognition for their contributions?
Stephanie: We create offerings based on what interests moms and impacts their purchasing decisions–and our research showed that moms were turning to blogs in big numbers. Harnessing the power of the mom blogger is just one of the services we offer to our clients, who range from baby products to major toy brands to education, entertainment and technology companies.
MO: Can you talk a little about your upcoming plans to expand your award-winning outreach to a whole new demographic?
Stephanie: Child’s Play has been working with moms for more than 20 years — an entire generation. Those moms have now “grown up” and their children are off to school. Yet, because of our experiences and relationships, we still know how to reach them. We’ll soon be announcing a division that reaches women of all ages and at all stages, not just moms.