MEDIA: Gay.com targets women

Gay.com, the news and lifestyle website for the gay and lesbian community, is to revamp its content in a bid to attract female users.

Mark Watson, UK manager of the site's owner, PlanetOut Partners, said: 'We are looking at how we serve content, and one area we are particularly poor at is targeting the lesbian community. It is a common thing (in gay media) that a lot of content is male-oriented and we need to change that.'

Watson is also looking for a new editor. Keith McDonnell, who has filled the role for the last few months, is now in hospital, although Watson believes that former editor Jan Howells - who left the company in February - may return to the post. Gay.com is also recruiting freelance contributors to bolster content.

Watson said: 'Content is an organic thing, and I would like to see news and information beefed up a bit. Lesbians also want to use the internet and there are not that many good sources of lesbian content about, so we have a role to change the balance. Content models do work, particularly in news and information, and particularly in niche communities.'

The site recently launched a weekly HIV e-bulletin and an email newsletter, and is considering similar initiatives, Watson said. 'That's where we're taking gay.com. We can give users the latest information as it breaks.'

He said that the PR community should find the gay market an attractive proposition: 'Lesbian and gay news is quite specific and it is a very large, internet-savvy audience.'

In addition to news, Gay.com covers travel, health, entertainment and money issues. The UK launch was in September 2000 and it is now the biggest website providing news and services to the gay community, with around half a million unique users.

Gay media brands have suffered over the last couple of years, with titles such as Fluid and Fable folding. But this has not stopped publishers from attempting to tap its potential. Last year C&B Communications launched reFRESH in an attempt to enter the gay men's lifestyle market and PPB's Boyz was revamped.

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