Media Analysis: Gay mags open door to pink pound

Following last week's closure of the Pink Paper, for years the most recognisable political voice of Britain's gay community, Sarah Robertson investigates what makes it onto the pages of the gay print media.

The Pink Paper never made a profit in its 17 years and was supported latterly by its sister publication, the glam and glossy lifestyle monthly Boyz.

Publisher PP&B general manager David Brindle says that as HIV became less of a gay-only issue, pharmaceutical companies pulled valuable advertising from the magazine.

Other advertisers turned to the nationals, which have increased their gay-issues coverage in recent years.

The Pink Paper may have gone, but the rest of the gay media remain successful, and the sector is larger and more influential than many PROs give it credit, according to Paul Tanner, director at 90Ten Marketing and PR, which is dedicated to reaching gay and lesbian consumers.

Adapting market

The gay media include titles such as Gay Times, Attitude, reFresh, AXM, QX, Boyz, Bent, Gscene, Fyne Times and Gay Voice. Each has a distinctive format and unique agenda, says Tanner.

These publications look set to grab a share of the Pink Paper's news content, says Adrian Gillan, features editor of Bent and MD of PR agency Gillan Media: 'Bent will boost its news coverage from four or five pages to double that, and some of the rest of the market will also adapt.'

However, consumer agency HCP managing director Kirk Hoatson cautions that magazines that define themselves as gay have alienated some PROs: 'Brands such as Interflora, Virgin and Ford have a good relationship with the gay press, but most brands shy away from them. Attitude has achieved coffee-table status because it does not have the word "gay" in the title, so it does attract big brands.'

Tanner says targeting the gay press comes down to tailoring: 'Of course the gay press look for a homosexual angle. But while Gay Times is interested in political stories, Attitude will be attracted to stories about fashion.'

And if that fails, adds Tanner, the best way to the heart of the gay media is a good press party.

GAY TIMES

Publisher: Millivres Prowler Group

Circulation: 68,000 (own figures)

Contact: edit@gaytimes.co.uk

Editor: Vicky Powell

Who reads the Gay Times?

Predominantly gay men and some lesbians, aged 15 to 80 from all backgrounds.

They are politically aware and have money, with an interest in the arts, such as opera, ballet and musicals. Our readers are getting younger, partly because the age of consent dropped to 16 in 1999.

Can PROs get their clients into your magazine?

There is so much scope for PROs to get into the magazine, especially since we became more lifestyle oriented. We have a shopping section, had a successful property supplement earlier in the year and are planning a travel supplement.

Can PROs influence news?

We cover the serious issues and work a lot with public bodies such as the Home Office and the Gay Police Association. People make a lot more effort with us than they used to.

ATTITUDE

Publisher: Remnant Media

Circulation: 80,000 (own figures)

Contact: attitude@attitudemag.co.uk

Editor: Adam Mattera

How do you describe Attitude?

We are somewhere between The Face and the Gay Times because we have a news element, which is how we differentiate the mag.

Is there scope for PROs to target you?

PROs should know the product - in the past we have had them trying to plug women's lingerie. We have a long lead-time: at the moment we are working on the December edition. Our lifestyle section, featuring hotels, restaurants and gyms, is very PR-driven, as is the health section. Film and music PROs usually get it right.

What are the big issues for Attitude at the moment?

Homophobia in dancehall music, brought up again at the Mobo Awards. We also cover youth issues and coming out; it can be horrific if you are young and isolated. The nationals would have us believe that gay men are born 21 years old on a dance floor.

DIVA

Publisher: Millivres Prowler Group

Circulation: 35,000 (own figures)

Contact: edit@divamag.co.uk

Editor: Jane Czyzselska

Who reads Diva?

It is aimed at lesbians and bisexual readers.

What are the hot topics for the mag?

Civil partnerships and the visibility of lesbians generally. In the coverage of the Pink Paper's demise, there has been no mention of lesbians.

Do you work with PROs?

We get approached all the time and most of it is completely pointless.

What would you like to hear about from PROs?

Films with interesting female characters. Music and fashion are good bets, but absolutely nothing on home decor, especially not window-dressing.

We were sent something on Roman blinds recently, which is not good. A recent successful pitch was a sportswear brand called Footie Chick, aimed at female footballers. Travel PROs can be useful since we are always looking for gay-friendly hotels.

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