MEDIA PROFILE: Honey earns respect from urban women and PR execsalike

As the economy continues to slump, niche magazines begin to show

their staying power. In particular, Honey is beginning to find its voice

in the relatively untapped minority market. James Chase reports.

Launched in March 1999 as a quarterly, Honey is making sweet progress in

the ethnic consumer market.

The fashion and entertainment magazine is aimed at well-educated,

stylish, in-the-know urban women aged 18-34. And while its core

readership is African-American, Honey is designed to have a broader,

multicultural appeal.

Vanguarde Media, which also owns Heart & Soul, bought Honey in early

2000, and upped its frequency to 10 issues a year. It now has more than

160,000 subscribers and a rate base of 250,000, which is projected to

top 350,000 next year.

Editor-in-chief Amy DuBois Barnett attributes this success to Honey's

"unique" position in what is still a relatively untapped market. "Urban

culture drives popular culture, and many companies are recognizing the

need to market toward a 'minority population,' especially in the current

economic climate," says Barnett. "But there are still very few places to

market to this demographic. Honey really has its ear to the ground."

Barnett joined Honey from Essence in the summer of 2000, and is largely

responsible for moving the title forward. In March of this year, she

fronted a redesign that saw a new logo and fresher look. "We wanted it

to better represent the perspective of young, urban women," she

explains. "It should be smart, fun, and beautiful. Readers should be

visually engaged and excited by provocative features."

Such excitement and provocation has been provided by recent cover

stories about Lisa "Left-Eye" Lopes dealing with demons, and Mary J.

Blige "getting down." Regular editorial sections include Fusion, a sort

of roundup of entertainment, Profile, the fashion section, and Surface,

which hosts beauty ideas and products. Much of the content is

intrinsically linked to music.

Not surprisingly, Honey gets "tons and tons" of pitches from PR people -

usually beauty ideas, products, and celebrity plugs. And Barnett's

attitude is encouraging: "I'm never maddened by it," she says, "just a

little overwhelmed sometimes." In fact, Barnett makes a point to look at

every pitch. "It helps us keep abreast of what's going on. We can't

possibly know everything."

Of course, there is a right and a wrong way to submit an idea. Barnett

suggests checking the masthead for the relevant section editor, before

sending a good, informative media kit and cover letter, along with a

product sample. It's a good idea to make a follow-up call a week or two

later, she adds.

Barnett is always appreciative of publicists who have taken time to read

through the magazine carefully and familiarize themselves with its


"We like well-informed, specific pitches," she says. "If someone can

make suggestions about where a story or product would fit best, then we

are more likely to take an idea on board."

Phone calls should be avoided, at least for the first contact, and PR

people should also bear in mind that content is planned three to four

months in advance. However, the editorial calendar is not set in stone,

so there is room for adaptation. For example, Barnett had interviewed

singer/actress/model Aaliyah for a future cover story. But after the

star was tragically killed in a plane crash, the piece was adapted into

a tribute to her life and work, and was brought forward to the current

November issue.

Despite the harsh economy, epitomized by the recent high-profile closure

of Mademoiselle, Honey certainly won't be shrinking. While Barnett says

there will be no major changes, she expects the magazine to get "fatter"

in the new year, as advertising gathers momentum. "We've only been

around for a couple of years, so we're doing really well."

And the hive that makes Honey is buzzing. "We have a blast," says queen

bee Barnett. "We literally laugh all day long. All the staff fit the

demographic of our core reader - we are the magazine." And, of course,

that means accepting more than a few of the invitations that come their

way. "If you're going to be a voice for young, urban women," adds

Barnett, "you have to know where they are going out, what they are

wearing - and, yes, what they are drinking."


Honey magazine

Address: 315 Park Avenue South, 11th floor, NY, NY 10010

Tel: (646) 654-4200

Fax: (646) 654-4220



Editor-In-chief: Amy DuBois Barnett

Executive editor: Angela Burt-Murray

Features editor: Denene Millner

Entertainment editor: Joyce E. Davis

Associate beauty editor: Mia Stokes

Fashion director: Michaela Angela Davis

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