Equal Entertainment acquires Pride Media, rebrands as Equal Pride – The Hollywood Reporter

Krenaria Media, the home of Magazine out, Advocate and Pride.com, has been acquired by Equal Entertainment and is being rebranded as Equal Pride.

The acquisition covers all existing assets, including its digital arms out AND Advocate, Out Traveler magazine AND Plus Magazine, and returns the nation’s largest LGBTQ-owned media, digital, television and entertainment company to majority LGBTQ+ ownership.

Mark Berryhill will serve as chief executive officer of Equal Pride, with Michael Kelley, chairman and president of global growth and development, reporting to Berryhill. Diane Anderson-Minshall, Pride Media’s first female CEO, will hold C-suite responsibilities as global chief development officer, with her work focused on editorial brands and international audience expansion. Joe Lovejoy is named chief financial officer, with Stuart Brockington up to executive VP sales and partnerships, effective immediately.

Kelley and Berryhill are life and business partners with a history in the media industry. Prior to Equal Entertainment, which specializes in daily television, celebrity docu-series and branded content production, Kelley came from PwC, where he led the entertainment innovation practice that built Hulu and, in the early days, AT&T’s advertising offerings . Berryhill served as Meredith’s VP news and marketing before becoming VP programming and creative.

The acquisition comes four years after Adam Levine, CEO of Los Angeles-based investment firm Orevea, bought Pride Media in 2017 through a management-backed buyout of Here Publishing. in 2018, Pride Media ushered in a new era that saw then-CEO Nathan Coyle hire Phillip Picardi – known for launching Conde Nast’s They – like out editor-in-chief and Zach Stafford, A strange loop co-producer, former Grindr CCO and editor-in-chief of the app’s digital magazine IN – as editor-in-chief of Advocate.

By December 2019, Coyle, Picardi and Stafford – who also made history as lawyer’the first black editor-in-chief—had resigned or was leaving, along with a series of layoffs and other executive departures, as subsequently reported by New York Times. This was preceded by 42 freelancers who published an open letter demanding that Pride Media compensate them for their work. (That same year, an across-the-board pay cut was instituted, and tensions over pay at the Pride Media offices reportedly resulted in work stoppages.)

Coyle issued a response promising payment while blaming the company’s complicated web of corporate ownership. At the same time, the company was facing public backlash over Levine’s political donations, with the equity firm’s CEO found to have donated to anti-LGBTQ Republican politicians after vowing to stop doing so, according to LGBTQ Nation.

Despite the magazine’s troubled recent history, Kelley and Berryhill see the acquisition of Pride Media as an important move to expand the brand, affirm current readers and bring in new audiences.

“We now have not only an amazing American story, but also LGBTQ stories and 55 years of media following the growth of equality from Stonewall to today. You can imagine the rich stories we have,” Kelley said THR. “We’re thrilled to be able to bring these leading voices for the LGBTQ+ community to our portfolio, and we can really begin to grow and focus them at perhaps the most important moment in our country’s history.”

Plans are to expand existing ventures, with continued commitment to print, returning the 55-year-old Lawyer brand “to its roots of news, politics and entertainment told through an egalitarian lens,” Kelley said. Meanwhile, out will have a lifestyle-oriented focus on both the gay male experience and a larger audience of women and people of color. Kelley said the first marketing campaigns for older brands are encouraging subscribers to donate issues read to local youth centers, LGBTQ centers, affirming churches and accepting schools.

As for Pride.com, which Kelley says is “probably the most valuable URL in all of LGBTQ media,” Equal Pride will take “a hard look,” conducting focus groups with the LGBTQ community and advertisers. to find out what they want. Early interest shows a focus on Pride festivals, Pride stories, new narratives, music festivals featuring queer artists and performers, and an NFT queer artist forum “so queer artists from everywhere can sell their work virtually as well as physically” .

Additionally, the company is looking to expand heavily into branded content with video and social. “We looked at how can we take a brand that maybe someone hasn’t heard of and introduce them? It’s very clear that at this time, we have a great way to do that through video and social — to take care of our consumers who have been with us and then introduce a whole new generation to queer media.”

Equal Pride is not currently looking to expand into original written content, according to Kelley. But he confirmed that beyond its expansion Pride today video shows beyond the current five-minute spectacle as the team grows, OTT content will be another way to deliver the company’s “progressive media voice” to its inclusive audience of women, people of color and LGBTQ+ viewers through trending pop culture , lifestyle and hard-hitting content with a news angle.

Pushing that work into international markets, “especially ones where LGBTQ rights are so oppressed and repressed,” Kelley said, is also on the table. The pair say the company, whose expansion plans aim to serve a wider range of LGBTQ+ audiences, already has advertisers lined up, with General Motors, Google Pixel, Gilead, Capital One, Disney/Hulu, TikTok, McDonald’s , Molson Coors, NBCU and J&J, among its 2022 client list.

On a larger staffing level, the plans are not to downsize, but to grow significantly with Kelley THR Equal Pride has already brought in a new chief marketing officer, a new head of video and a new editor. “We are keeping every single person. In fact, we have a request,” he said. “We need more strong journalists. We need more people to help us on the branding side of marketing. Moving on to video. We’re creating an entire newsroom and content studio for these brands.”

The Equal Pride chairman also noted that the company is looking to start an alumni association that will include employees who have worked with the brands since their inception. “We want to keep in touch with those people who shaped these brands, who shaped the stories because we are the most vulnerable in the workforce and it’s important for us to provide support even after they’ve left us and keep it alive that story. , keep your health alive.”

“It will take time. It will take discipline,” he added. “It’s all going to take a lot of thought, but we know we can do it.”

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