Raising Arizona Kids was recognized for “general excellence” in print and digital media and excellence in overall writing and feature layout during the national Parenting Media Association’s Design & Editorial Awards ceremony held Friday, Feb. 29 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The awards ceremony is a highlight of the professional organization’s three-day annual conference.
The magazine received highest honors, a Gold Award, for overall writing, with Silver Awards for general excellence, website general excellence and feature layout.
General Excellence awards, the most coveted among publishers, were based on the judges’ reviews of three full consecutive issues from 2019. (RAK submitted September, October and November 2019 issues.) Other overall General Excellence winners were Nashville Parent, Little Rock Family, SW Florida Parent & Child, Baltimore’s Child, New York Family, Colorado Parent, Metro Parent and Dallas Child.
PMA received 566 entries for magazines issues and digital products. Professor Reuben Stern of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism oversaw the judging, with submissions entered by categories determined by the publication’s circulation base. RAK, with a circulation of 30,000, submitted in the middle-size category, among publications with circulation bases ranging from 25,000 to 49,999.
In the category of Overall Writing (also evaluated by three consecutive issues) the judges offered these comments about RAK: “This publication has an easy, comfortable writing style that reflects good, compelling material, always the basis of excellence in writing. There is a mastery of pace, precision in word choice and a reliance on original thinking here. In sum, the quality of writing in this magazine is exceptional.”
The Silver Award for Feature Layout was awarded to an April 2019 four-page spread about designing rooms for kids. About “A+ Kids Design” (pages 14-17 in RAK’s April issue), the judges said, “Examples of various interiors are the heart of the story and are well-showcased in this photo-driven layout. Design elements help direct the reader’s eye and complement the images without distracting from them.”
RAK’s website “is robust and smartly organized for easy navigation,” the judges wrote. “Photos are used well and make for a visually appealing experience that also feels inviting. The site does a nice job covering the whole state while also tackling some less standard topics such as lack of feminine hygiene products in schools.”
And in comments about overall general excellence, judges wrote: “The writing is simply outstanding, and consistently so. It’s clear this publication values storytelling, for example a highly compelling read about two sons with spina bifida. There are strong beginnings and endings throughout. The books are well organized and logical.”
“We were blown away to receive so many prestigious awards from 2019 — our first year as a member organization with PMA,” said Karen Barr, RAK’s founder and publisher. “It came right as we were publishing our March 30th anniversary issue, so the timing of this recognition couldn’t have been more affirming or welcome.
“I wasn’t able to attend the PMA conference this year but I sent my associate publisher, Lisa Morrell, in my place. I was watching the presentations on live streaming, but it kept cutting out. I glanced at my phone and saw a text message she sent: ‘Stunned. Amazing! We just won the Gold Award for overall writing!’ Anyone who knows me knows how much I value quality writing. So for us to get this award — as a team, not as any particular individual — was truly meaningful.”
As the evening went on, more text messages flew back and forth. “I only submitted seven entries, so I would have been elated to see my team win just that first (gold) award,” Barr said. “Then Lisa texted to say our Art Director, Michelle-Renee Adams, had won a silver for feature layout. Then I got an ‘Are you sitting down?!’ text, and she told me about the other two.
“When I realized we’d won two other biggies — silvers for general excellence, no less! — I was stunned. I have tremendous respect for all of my colleagues at PMA and have benefitted greatly from their generous guidance and wise counsel. To have my publication standing up with the best of their best is humbling, gratifying and overwhelming,” Barr said.