Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Celebrating a saucy new downtown and targeting the tattoo crowd: why niche publications work
I've written extensively about the very serious challenges facing the mass media, and by that I mean newspapers, local and network TV, radio and magazines. All face the same demons: a fragmenting media market that shrinks market share and this absolutely dismal economy and advertising slump. But one area of real hope and growth is in the niche publications that target highly focused groups with well defined interests. Find 1,000 people with a common love of Portuguese water dogs and you have the makings of a business model. Interests and behavior bind folks together, whereas the mass media tries to have something for everyone, and often ends up doing none of it very well. Readers like it because the content speaks directly to them, to their lifestyle, to their interests. Advertisers like it because it allows them to speak directly to a specific audience that lines up nicely with their products.
One of the more successful niche publications is BakersfieldLife, a glossy city magazine owned by The Californian. It's focused on a more upscale Bakersfield and on people who are involved and are active and care about the community. The typical reader is a college graduate, earns $75,000 a year or more and is involved in the community. It is upbeat, affirmational and - without apology - focuses on what is good about our community. This is a monthly publication that is only available with a home subscription of the newspaper and arrives on your driveway the last Saturday of the month, which means this weekend. I was thrilled to see the July cover story is on Don Martin, the owner of the popular Metro Galleries downtown (see previous post here) and one of the key figures in the revival of the arts downtown. Local freelance writer Lisa Kimble wrote the piece and did a splendid job telling Don's story, which has him job hopping until he found his passion in opening an art gallery. By the way, Don and Olivia Garcia, the mag's publisher, will be on KGFM 101.5 chatting with radio personality Rachel Legan this Friday around 7:45 a.m. or so. If you haven't been by Metro Galleries on 19th Street, stop by for a special treat.
Another successful niche publication is Bakotopia magazine, another Californian product that targets a younger, more hipper crowd. These are the downtown bar denizens who might sport multiple piercings, a tattoo or three and share a common love of music. All music, all the time. Matt Munoz, a member of the popular band Mento Buru, is the energetic editor of this bimonthly mag and he instills it with wit, style and substance. It can be a tad racy and over the top at times, but that's the audience. This is not your father's Oldsmobile. Oh, and did I mention good art? Feast your eyes on the Bakotopia cover story and inside shot above, the work of Holly Carlyle. Great stuff. Bakotopia is free and can be found at multiple coffee shops, bars and restaurants in the downtown area.