How one woman built a precious community! Carolyn Morgan applauds the pioneering efforts of Foluke Akinlose of PRECIOUS Online.
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. PRECIOUS joins the shortlist for the 2012 Media Pioneer Awards, recognising innovation in specialist media.
PRECIOUS Online 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.
Events and awards bring the community together
PRECIOUS runs a series of paid-for networking events for its audience, with topics from entrepreneurship, to working in publishing or fashion and beauty.
In 2007, with sponsorship from Pearson plc, Foluke launched the PRECIOUS awards, celebrating the achievements of women of colour as entrepreneurs and leaders 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 Women’s 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, 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 services 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.
The Media Pioneer Awards recognise innovation and entrepreneurial achievement in specialist consumer and B2B markets. Winners are announced at the Specialist Media Show on 24 May 2012. We’re delighted to welcome Audience Media as sponsor for the 2012 Media Pioneer Awards. Audience Media provide a publishing solution with a single CMS to publish to web, print and tablet plus subscription management.