I know that I love black magazines and I don’t want them to die but quite frankly, black magazines like Ebony & Black Beauty + Hair are in serious trouble. The latter has its own set of troubles by using skin lightening adverts in the print magazine but that is for another day.
Here is what I think black magazines should be doing.
1) Go Mobile: I am really surprised that a magazine like Black Hair does not have a fully-functioning interactive website. Is this still acceptable for a print magazine that charges money to its readers not to have a website? In the case of Black Hair, I would say that they may need to consider going mobile instead, because not building a functioning website means they are too late in the game to try and upstage hot hair blogs.
Example: A mobile initiative that a magazine like Black Hair could do is instead of printing the latest hair styles just in the magazine, make it interactive and creative a mobile application for the iPhone. This application could send the mobile user one picture a day of a cute hairstyle they should consider doing. In turn, the user can send the picture to her friends in her phone book for a fee. This ensures that the magazine is staying current with the trends and being interactive.
2) Expansion into the Diaspora: Ebony needs to keep their brand afloat. One way of doing this is expanding into the African & Caribbean diaspora.
Example: Ebony could enlist the help of a Nigerian PR agency to make their move in the Nigerian media market. They could promote Ebony as an alternative for affluent Nigerians and perhaps even making a Nigerian edition of the magazine. This would therefore appeal to the country and her many members in her diaspora.
3) Personal Finance: Managing your own finances can be such hard work. Perhaps Ebony or Essence could create an interactive way of accessing personal finance for their younger generation that is not restricted to the confines of the printed word.
Example: Ebony or Essence could create a personal finance alert that could be used on a Kindle or Apple’s Tablet, which are new electronic readers. These could be downloaded each day. How these personal finance alerts could work is letting the readers know of the latest personal finance deals in a mobile format.
What do you think? What ideas do you have for struggling black magazines?
 – Full disclosure: I did a work placement at Black Hair magazine in 2007.