In 1994, Ellen Percival and her business partner, Sherry Kerr, spotted a hole in the market, the perfect place for a publication to provide information relevant to young families and connect them with Calgary businesses and service providers. So, they created and launched Calgary’s Child magazine.
Nearly a quarter century later, Percival, the magazine’s publisher and editor-in-chief, recalls the enthusiasm that greeted the new publication.
Positive feedback came right away. From civic leaders like the mayor and chief of police, thousands of readers quickly learned to trust Calgary’s Child as a valuable source of information and eagerly awaited each edition.
The first issue was literally a family affair, with Kerr and Percival distributing 10,000 copies themselves with their young children in tow.
“We quickly learned that we couldn’t do everything ourselves,” says Percival. This would be the first of many lessons. “Our kids were less than amused. However, the loading crew at North Hill News was very amused. We celebrated with ice cream after.”
Photo by Mark Mennie
Fast forward to July 22, 2019 and Calgary’s Child will be celebrating 25 years. Ice cream, anyone?
Although Calgary’s Child began by “going straight to the experts”, it now contracts 200 journalists from all over North America and employs nine staff members. The years have seen many other changes and challenges, including the death of Percival’s friend and business partner, Sherry Kerr, in 2005.
Like all media brands, Calgary’s Child has also had to adapt to changes in the media landscape. Percival says that as the magazine evolved, the team recognized the importance of embracing new channels. Adding an advanced digital version brought thousands more readers without losing print readers. A Calgary’s Child Facebook group provided another way of connecting and providing information to families, as did segments on local television and radio stations.
Another key to sustained success has been Percival’s dedication to ensuring the channels work not just for readers, but for advertisers too.
The ability of Calgary’s Child to reliably serve as a cost-effective platform for advertisers has helped many local businesses thrive, with a recent survey showing 92 per cent of readers use services of the advertisers. The magazine also acknowledges businesses that offer great service or products through its Parent’s Choice Awards, where 150,000 readers can vote for their favourites in various categories.
Calgary’s Child continues to meet the demand for reliable information, and help families, service providers and businesses to connect. The team has kept on top of trends – more stay-at-home dads means inclusive terms like “parent” rather than “mom” – social media, ups and down in the economy and the needs of all families, including those with special needs.
“We try to bring as balanced an editorial (perspective) as we can; we try to give all the information we can find so that (readers) can make decisions based on what’s best for (their) family.”
Ultimately Percival says that knowing her audience, having a vision and staying true to the brand has helped drive success.
As for the magazine’s journey over the last 24 years: “It certainly turned into what we hoped it would be,” says Percival. “I never could have predicted the fun.”
Interview conducted and spotlight written by Janaia Hutzal.