by Joe Siegel
Readers of Options, Rhode Island’s veteran monthly LGBT publication, were given a huge surprise when the June issue arrived in their mailboxes.
In a unique move, the issue also doubled as the official 2014 Pridefest Guide. Printed on a heavier than normal paper stock, all of Options’ usual features were included as well as a schedule of Pridefest entertainers, a parade map and greetings from LGBT political leaders.
“The collaboration was the idea of Kurt Bagley, the president of RI Pride,” explained Options publisher Kyle McKendall. “I met with Kurt in the winter to talk about ways that our organizations could partner on the 2014 Pride Guide. Serving as the official guide to RI Pride’s 2014 PrideFest and Illuminated Night Parade made so much sense.”
“[Former RI Pride President] Rodney Davis had spearheaded Pride Guide production for many years,” said Jennifer Stevens, Options’ editor as well as the office manager for RI Pride. “When he stepped back, Kurt had the idea to collaborate with Options. Pride has always been a key contributor to Options, especially for the June issue, so it wasn’t a huge leap.”
The collaboration has been hugely beneficial for Options, according to McKendall.
“Options Magazine nearly tripled our print run, more than doubled the size of the publication, saw improvements in print and paper quality, and an increased circulation,” McKendall said. “Options [had] the strongest presence it has ever had at PrideFest and [was also] distributed at the Boston Pride parade.”
McKendall said that although the costs associated with the production of the June/Pride Guide issue were higher, “the substantial increase in advertising revenue for this issue offset these higher costs. This offset allows for a profitable issue, even with the increase in costs.”
Stevens said Options’ deadlines corresponded with Pride’s needs and as a result, RI Pride was able to release the Pride Guide earlier than in recent years.
“It also freed up time for Pride volunteers to prepare for the festival,” Stevens noted. “The Options crew has been coming out in force to Pride events and the collaboration is bringing new energy toward establishing the LGBT Community Center. The long-range vision is to share space and resources.”
McKendall also feels the long-term impact on Options will be positive as a result of the partnership with RI Pride.
“We saw our highest invoiced issue of Options ever and were able to establish relationships with new advertisers,” McKendall said. “This partnership has given RI Pride a respected and reputable platform to deliver their information on, and has given Options a boost in readership and circulation.”
The feedback from readers has also been favorable, according to Stevens, “The improved paper quality, compelling cover art and engaging editorial content has reengaged our subscribers and attracted new readers to pick up copies and share with friends.”
“Our June 2014 issue of Options is the best issue we’ve put out in a very long time,” McKendall added. “Aesthetically, editorially, financially, it’s been a fantastic partnership. As our readers and community evolve, we must continue to adapt.”
Stevens said another collaboration between Options and Pride is possible. “While an official decision by any board of directors has not been made, I’d like to say that a partnership on the 2015 Pride Guide is very likely,” Stevens said. “Both organizations have benefited from this partnership already, and it will continue to prove rewarding as we build upon this first year.”
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