SPECIALIST MEDIA SHOW
How one woman built a precious community
Ten years ago Foluke Akinlose, a journalist at ITN Online, started in her spare time an online magazine, PRECIOUS, for working women of colour, covering the workplace, entrepreneurship and lifestyle for intelligent women in their 30s.
Today this website reaches 80,000 users a month, with 10,000 receiving a monthly email newsletter, plus growing communities on Twitter and Facebook. It features a wide range of columnists and profiles inspiring business women of colour, as well as fashion, beauty and lifestyle content.
The website generates lively online debates, as do the Facebook page and twitter, plus a network on Ning. Online advertisers include fashion, tech, beauty products.
PRECIOUS is the latest addition to the 2012 Media Pioneers shortlist.
Events and awards bring the community together
PRECIOUS runs a series of paid networking events for its audience, with topics from entrepreneurship, to working in publishing or fashion & beauty. These are promoted on the website and are all paid for.
In 2007, with sponsorship from Pearson plc, Foluke launched the PRECIOUS awards, celebrating the achievements of women of colour as entrepreneurs and leadership within the workplace. By 2011 the event had grown to an audience of 200, sponsored by Shell and BHive, with keynote speaker India Gary-Martin, MD Technology and Operations at JP Morgan and President of the City Womens Network. Chuka Umunna MP turned up to collect The PRECIOUS Man of the Year Award.
The awards drew accolades from David Cameron and Nick Clegg. Foluke follows the stories of her past prize winners as they develop their businesses and careers.
Plans for brand extensions
Content from the website has been repackaged as paid for books, such as the PRECIOUS book on inspirational quotes from 50 entrepreneurial women of colour.
PRECIOUS has also launched a new project, PRECIOUS Girls (see picture above), to encourage girls and young women to become entrepreneurial, running events in schools and asking the PRECIOUS network to mentor budding young entrepreneurs.
Foluke has plenty of plans to develop the PRECIOUS brand, splitting the website into business content and lifestyle content. She wants to run more events for her community, such as a conference on social media for entrepreneurs, and expand beyond her London base to run events in other major UK cities. 10% of her web visitors are from the US and she'd love to launch the Precious Awards there. Other plans include making the enewsletter weekly, publishing more books, and creating a paid business network for working women with dedicated events and even bespoke online content. And finally, she would love to launch a quarterly Precious magazine.
Foluke modestly didn't tell me when we met that she received an MBE in the 2010 New Year's honours list for service to the creative industries, and in 2011 she was listed on One World Action's list of 100 unseen, powerful women who change the world. What is impressive is how much she has achieved with only a part-time freelance team of contributors.
PRECIOUS is a powerful example of how an online magazine can galvanise a specialist community and drive a series of events and publications.
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Audience Media will offer winners of the Media Pioneers Awards a free project build for one of their brands, which will include the design and build of the CMS, new website, native HTML5 iPad app and a free 3 months trial.
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