With its showbiz focus and widely-held top- gay-title status, The Advocate is very picky about pitches. But it can't be everywhere, which offers PR pros a window, if the story is a good enough fit.
Unlike most other gay and lesbian publications, The Advocate didn't originate as a result of the infamous 1969 Stonewall incident. It actually reported on it.
Renowned as the national gay and lesbian news magazine of record since 1967, with a readership that is 99% homosexual, The Advocate is the key title for PR pros looking to place clients in front of this targeted audience.
But because of its reputation, unless you are representing a relatively big name, there are limited opportunities for placements. Richard Laermer, CEO of RLM PR and a former reporter for The Advocate, agrees, "This is surely the best of all the gay magazines, but it is very snobby when it comes to pitches."
Even before trying to determine whether or not your client is well-known enough to make it into the one gay publication that practically everyone knows, its editorial director Judy Wieder cautions that pitchers should make sure that what they have to say is newsworthy. If it isn't, you are better off trying the magazine's counterpart, Out, which is more focused on lifestyle topics. "It's like Time versus Vanity Fair, says Wieder. "If you have news for us, pitch it to The Advocate. But if you are trying to get a product placement, you're better off going with Out. Wieder cites Christmas as the only time of year that The Advocate considers featuring products.
The 100,000-plus-circulation title deals in large part with entertainment news, which is where the challenge lies for the everyday PR pro. Wieder says, "When Matt Damon played a gay character in The Talented Mr. Ripley, of course he was going to be on the cover. Same thing with Tom Hanks in Philadelphia. In order to have success with these movies, they have to get a groundswell going with people who are going to understand them most."
Few people appear in the magazine that most readers wouldn't have seen at least once before. For example, an issue from last month pictured Jodie Foster, Rupert Everett, Christina Ricci, and the two stars of an increasingly popular Mexican film Y Tu Mama Tambien, Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal on its front cover. The inside pages featured lesser-known figures like Kevyn Aucion, a make-up artist for many Hollywood stars who recently passed away; Rachel Roth, an actress from Fox sitcom Titus; and David Geffen, co-owner of DreamWorks. Even still, these are impressive figures that quickly fill pages of the coveted bi-monthly.
"The magazine deals in large part with movie and music stars, "Wieder points out. Still, The Advocate should not be deemed a completely hopeless pitch. "It is very difficult for us to be on top of every piece of news that's happening in the gay community, adds Wieder. "We are in one place (LA), so if people know about gay-related things going on in other parts of the country, we want to know about it. The second issue in June, for example, dedicated four pages to a New York dancing class called OUTDancing and its creator, Chris Bates - proof that a successful non-Hollywood pitch is possible.
It's also worth noting that, despite its news-based nature and fluctuating editorial calendar, The Advocate requires a one-month lead time on any feature stories.
Wieder also tips that The Advocate "counts on pitches for its My Perspective column, which reflects the writer's thoughts on a gay-related experience or issue. This is a good way for a publicist to get a less recognizable client's name (and picture, which always appears in the column) in this often hard-to-crack publication. My Perspective is assigned and edited by the magazine's editor, Bruce Steele.
Stephen Spurgeon, current VP for the Blaze Company and former communications director for GLAAD, has pitched The Advocate on more than one occasion, sometimes to be ignored, sometimes welcomed. He suggests that pitchers keep the mission of the magazine in mind when presenting ideas. "I would underscore that the name of the magazine is The Advocate. Ergo, there is an agenda at work - something to advocate. As with any specific-interest media, pitches that align more favorably with the philosophical orientation of the agenda fare better."
If and when you do manage to catch the interest of The Advocate staffers, it is important to do things their way. "People don't know how to write for our magazine, so we like to send out guidelines, warns Wieder. "Send us your idea, and we will tell you what we want to do with it."
Address: 6922 Hollywood Boulevard
Suite 1000, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Tel/Fax: (323) 871-1225/467-6805
Editorial director: Judy Wieder
Editor: Bruce Steele (edits My Perspective)
Senior editors: Jon Barrett (News) and Anne Stockwell (Arts and Entertainment).