Whew! We made it through 2020, and here we are at the beginning of 2021. A new year, a new sense of optimism and opportunity, and a new direction. 2020 had many challenges, but it also presented opportunities for those that were ready. We acquired (3) new LGBTQ+ media assets (Echo Magazine, Phoenix) (Out & About Magazine, Nashville), (CAMP Magazine, Kansas City), and launched (OUTvoices, Chicago). We developed and launched two new industry associations, The Aequalitas Content Creators Association and the Gay Travel Business Network, and we are far from being done.
We currently have three LGBTQ+ media properties in the acquisition pipeline for 2021, and there are more in various stages of negotiation and are on track to launch the first-ever 24/7 LGBTQ+ internet-based Talk Radio Station aptly named OUTvoices Radio in March. We will also be rolling out our OUTvoices TV YouTube Channel in May featuring original content such as the Gaycation Travel Show w/Ravi Roth and the Gay Gourmet cooking show with chefs Art Smith and Joe Morales, and much more.
2021 will also see BIG changes coming to all of our individual brands. As we continue to unify our voices and our media assets, one of the biggest changes will be the name changes. Beginning on May 1, Echo Magazine will become (OUTvoices Phoenix), Out & About Nashville will become (OUTvoices Nashville), and CAMP Magazine will become (OUTvoices Kansas City).
Our strategy has been and is a simple one. To create a network of local LGBTQ+ media that maintains a relationship with the communities they serve as we increase our national OUTvoice. Each local media and members of OUTvoices will add their voice to our growing national OUTvoices network. OUTvoices “bureaus” will be able to share content with each other allowing access to a much larger audience. A new OUTvoices.us website (Going live May 1st) will reflect an LGBTQ+ website that offers content from the whole spectrum of our community, not just from the gay male perspective. The .us extension for the website makes a bold and clear statement that OUTvoices is about US, ALL of US.
New initiatives on the OUTvoices Network will include content that speaks to our Transgender, Lesbian, and Queer audiences and much more.
As we continue our policy of supporting LGBTQ+ media we will offer ALL LGBTQ+ websites that are part of the OUTvoices Network access to OUTvoices Radio and all of the programming contained therein for 24/7 LGBTQ+ talk radio, and they will also be able to broadcast all of our original OUTvoices video content on their digital platforms, all at no cost.
“A rising tide lifts all boats.” As small to medium sized websites continue to be overlooked by major brands and agencies, we are creating a FREE network where others can join with us to change an industry squeak to a roar. We can add all of our small reaches and audiences to a single point, OUTvoices.us to get a piece of the digital advertising pie. Whereas, many blue-chip advertisers would not normally consider advertising on our individual websites, they will not be able to ignore the combined audience and voice of our membership.
While others may beat the drum of impending doom and gloom for LGBTQ+ media, I see opportunities to unify and become stronger, to evolve and grow, to reinvent ourselves and become indispensable.
I see the opportunity to not only survive, but thrive in an evolving media landscape.
It may be true that parts of our media like print are struggling, but I don’t believe it’s on its death bed, not by a long shot. The market it is telling us what it wants and needs, and we need to listen and pay attention. Print publishing is here to stay, period, but it’s relationship to advertisers is changing.
Whereas print used to be the lead entrée for advertisers and digital offerings were the “added value” that is now changed. Digital content has become the lead platform for many advertisers and print has become the “added value”.
Aequalitas Media recognizes this and we have led the way in the transition from print to digital in 2020 and will continue to do so in the future. 2021 will still have its challenges, but it will also have an abundance of opportunity. These latest changes reflect our dedication and commitment to the survivability of legacy and non-legacy publications and will continue to preach the importance of a vibrant, healthy and locally focused LGBTQ+ media.
Change can be scary, I know, but change can also be reinvigorating and exciting. The name of the publication may change but our history will not, our relationship to our audience will not and our dedication and commitment to journalistic excellence will not.
I am looking ahead to a brighter future as we focus forward and continue to re-invent ourselves to better reflect the needs and wants of our evolving sophisticated audience.
I hope you will stay with us and share the journey toward an exciting future as we continue to transition into a unified, stronger new brand, OUTvoices.