Profits in print

Regional magazine targets African Americans

A successful magazine launch is no small feat-about 400-500 magazines start each year, and three out of five fail, according to Folio magazine. Pat Means of Playa del Rey, California, had no publishing experience when she decided to enter the competitive field of magazine publishing. in 1993, she and partner, Karen Hixson, started with $1,000 of their own savings to launch the first issue of Turning Point, which covers news and topical issues. They cut costs by working from home and convincing writers, designers and photographers to take payment only if the publication made money. Once advertisers were sold on the magazine’s concept, Means persuaded them to pay for their ads in full and up front for the first year.

“Pat knows her work, her community and the magazine industry well,” says Celeste Alleyne Turner, community relations director for AT&T in Los Angeles, a six-year advertiser.

In 1996, Means was faced with a dilemma when her partner opted out of the business to start her own. “I had 13 days to buy my partner out or let the magazine fold,” recalls Means. Because the magazine was doing well in Los Angeles, she was able to expand the publication’s circulation to the entire state. In 1997, Means received a $40,000 loan from the Los Angeles-based Brotherhood Business Development and Capital Fund to purchase office equipment. She then increased her staff to eight. Today, the quarterly publication has a circulation of 50,000 and a readership of 150,000.

“After the civil unrest following the Rodney King verdict, I saw a need to present positive news and information that would enlighten, inform and empower the African American population,” says Means, now 48.

The magazine is distributed free through churches, social and professional organizations and retailers.

It also has a small number of subscriptions ($13.95 per year). Revenues for 1997 topped $400,000. Earnings for 1998 are expected to exceed $600,000 due in part to her co-sponsorship of the first California African-American Business Summit held in May in

San Francisco, and the launch of her second magazine, MoneySmart, an African American personal finance publication that is underwritten by Bank of America.

“I’ve been able to stay in business and prosper because many people believed in and supported me,” she says. “I also have a staff that’s more than willing to work as though this company was their own and clients who saw the vision before I became successful.”

Turning Point, 8055 W. Manchester St., Suite 205, Playa del Rey, CA 90293; 310-821-6910

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