Media Soapbox: Working Mother: The Next Generation

There is nothing more heart-pounding than launching a new national magazine, except relaunching a magazine you love in a very difficult marketplace. I began my New York career 23 years ago launching Working Mother magazine, and came back last year after 12 years of running other publishing companies to relaunch Working Mother and begin a new phase of its life.

In this challenging time, when so many magazines have become casualties of the economic downturn, it is imperative that a publication speak with a clear voice to a distinct audience, creating a deep emotional connection with its readers.

True, it is a difficult advertising market, but there have been remarkable success stories nonetheless. Think of Lucky and Real Simple — thriving because they reach out to distinct audiences with clear voices. In looking at the current needs of working mothers, I saw a similar opportunity.

What made us wildly successful in 1979 was the energy, the needs, and the complex lifestyle of our target market: 16 million moms who were living a brand-new lifestyle. Propelled into the workforce with their college educations, they found jobs they did not want to give up when starting their families. They built their lifestyles on the two-career income, raising the level of affluence of the average family across the country.

Two decades plus later, there are 26 million working mothers. The two-income family is still king of the economic heap, and the jobs have turned into complex careers. The working mother has become as important to corporate America for her intellectual capital as she is for her amazing strength as a consumer.

The next generation of working mothers is ready to forge ahead in a new lifestyle that demands flexibility in the workplace, considers interesting professional work a requirement, and values the joyfulness of motherhood above all. They know, because many of them were the children of working mothers, the great skill required to make it work. They're looking for a relevant and resonant voice, one that speaks to them about the integration of family, career, and self. They need what our editor, Jill Kirschenbaum, calls The Smart Guide for a Whole Life.

And so we are getting ready to launch our next generation of Working Mother this August, just in time for that busy back-to-school/ back-to-work time crunch for working mothers. We plan to produce a new magazine that speaks with a clear voice to a very distinct audience; in that clarity, we believe we will find the emotional resonance our readers will savor. Just as in 1979, it is the energy, the needs, and the complex lifestyle of our readers that makes this such an interesting ride.

Carol Evans is CEO and president of Working Mother Media. She returned to the magazine last August in partnership with MCG Capital to acquire the assets of MacDonald Communications and Working Woman Network.

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