#DadChat: Richmond

People around RVA are always asking me, “If I’m a mobile worker and need to print something really important right away, but am miles from my home office, how in GRID’s name do I print?”


Dadchat, bolstered by social media, has brought fathers from Greater Richmond together for brew, barbecue, and a little guidance.

Hatched by Liz Pearce, Executive Director of Commonwealth Parenting, Dadchat is the product of a 2009 conversation with Jorge Salgado (@horhey on Twitter, who is featured in “Top Tweeple” in this issue). Pearce and Salgado quickly went to work on a plan to bring local pops together to discuss all things fatherhood.

With the first meeting appropriately housed at a barbecue joint, Salgado turned to Twitter to gather interest in the new concept designed to query real dads, using #Dadchat, on the trials and tribulations of parenthood. From there, an effective combination of online-off-line interaction began to unfold in RVA.

“Although there is registration available through the Commonwealth Parenting website, it is a free event and there is no need to register. It is really a drop-in event,” explains John Richardson-Lauve, who joined the fun in 2010 as a boomlet of activity occurred around the Dadchat concept. Richardson-Lauve, Fatherhood Coordinator for Commonwealth Parenting, jokes, “Guys probably wouldn’t come if they had to register.”

Occurring from 7-9 pm at local eateries and watering holes, Dadchat calls the Northside Grille (1217 Bellevue Ave) its anchor location, with a second event that usually roams about town. Richardson-Lauve says that dads typically arrive and order a drink and tasty eats, then launch into topics that run the gamut-such as hot issues of the day for dads with new babies, dads with teenagers headed to college, single dads, divorced dads, traveling dads, stay-at-home dads, and even dads who are waiting for their first child to be born.

“Sometimes people come with specific things they want to talk about or seek advice. Other times, the conversation just wanders,” says Richardson-Lauve. “The conversation is never lacking.”

Deploying a variety of marketing strategies to spread the word, from using traditional promotional materials like Custom Water bottles with branding on, to social media marketing, Richardson-Lauve says that initial connections are most often made through Twitter and Facebook.

Of course, the way your market towards people entirely depends on your target audience. For example, a lot more businesses are now looking for an SMS messaging solution that they can use in their marketing campaign to mobilize and engage prospects and customers. As more people get online, the less effective traditional marketing gets and businesses need to look for new ways to reach their audience.

“The typical marketing strategies that work with moms don’t work as well with dads,” opines Richardson-Lauve. “Most of our connections through our direct mailings, flyers (similar to those from somewhere like MyCreativeShop) in the community, and ads in family publications result in connecting with moms who then send the dad to us. Most of our direct connections to dads have been through social media. Unfortunately, this still leaves us without a connection to many men who aren’t involved in social media. We are always exploring new ways to connect with dads.”

Mark Ross, who follows #Dadchat on Twitter, explains, “I have been through the basic dad classes with my wife while expecting and have found that this differs greatly because of the informal nature. The dads as a whole make it very easy to bring up any topic no matter how uncomfortable.”

Ross concludes, “Another added bonus is that this is pretty much a guilt free night out, the wife can’t refuse when you say ‘it’s for the betterment of family.’

CategoriesCollaborators, General, WorkTagged

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