Saturday, June 09, 2007

Skirt! ... From a woman's view

"It's not really a shorter skirt, I just have longer legs..."
Anna Kournikova (Russian Professional Tennis Player and Model, b.1981)

Skirt! ... From a woman's view

Leanne Kleinmann
Magazine will target issues with feminine perspective via humor, insight
By Jane Roberts,1426,MCA_440_5570339,00.html
People in fact may be reading less, but niche publishers know there's a terrific market out there for targeted audiences.
To capitalize on one of the boldest and most lucrative, Scripps Howard Publishing Inc. this fall will begin publishing Skirt!, an upscale free monthly magazine geared to educated and empowered women here.

Leanne Kleinmann, who writes the iDivamemphis column for The Commercial Appeal, has been named executive editor.
"Skirt! is the closest thing I've seen in print to the tone of iDivamemphis -- conversational, sophisticated, edgy, provocative, never boring or predictable," she said.

Kleinmann will continue to write iDiva.

While Skirt! will be printed by The Commercial Appeal, it will be its own company with a separate sales and design staff.

Skirt! was founded in 1994 in Charleston, S.C., as a newsletter "highlighting women's issues, but in a fun way," said publisher and founder Nikki Hardin.

Men do appear in Skirt! but the prerequisite is they must be wearing a skirt, Kleinmann said.

Expect a Memphis man -- exceedingly comfortable in his own skin -- profiled in each edition, complete with hairy, muscular legs.

"I've already got a list of potential men for that feature," Kleinmann said.

If the idea is that women got into men's magazines like Forbes by looking like men, Skirt! takes another approach, saying more that irreverence is to be relished.

Today, the 100-plus page publication -- half national content and half local content -- has a circulation of 350,000 in eight markets, including Atlanta, Jacksonville, Fla., Augusta, Ga., and Knoxville, where Scripps Howard bought licensing rights this spring.

By the end of the year, circulation is expected to be 1 million as markets open in Houston, Tampa, Fla., Winston-Salem, N.C., and Norfolk, Va., said Jim Currow, executive vice president of Morris Communications, which owns Skirt! and publishes 27 daily newspapers.

Besides features on how women can make a collective difference with their buying power and votes, Skirt! features ways to get involved -- from relationships to community involvement -- plus a heads-up on things going on around town.

"Memphis is ready for a publication like this; there's a void in that market," said Joe Pepe, publisher of The Commercial Appeal, which is owned by E. W. Scripps Co. "It'll be well-read and a great place for businesses that want to target women."

The magazine will be available in boutiques and salons around the destination shopping areas that draw from across the metro area.

The women's market is a rich trove for publishers. Of the 200 new magazines announced in the last quarter by Magazine Publishers of America, nearly a third are in the women's realm of style, lifestyles and fashion with titles like Executive Woman, the Forbes publication targeting the upscale life of a career woman; Kena, the lifestyle magazine for Hispanic women; and of course, self-explanatory titles like Hybrid Mom and Muslim Girl Magazine.

"The hip-Mom niche has a different approach than Redbook," said Seija Goldstein, regional media consultant in New York.

"I do not see the women's market dominating the new list of new publications, but what you do see is that the speciality niches are getting sliced and diced more finely. That certainly is true in the women's field."

Newspapers, struggling in an electronic age, are trying new products to expand their market share, said Samir Husni, head of the journalism department at University of Mississippi and a Skirt! consultant.

"Skirt! is more like a franchise. ... It's a marvelous model, and we're going to see more and more of it," he said.

The first edition will be out in September.

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