OK! looks to Web partners to grow brand

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OK! magazine has partnered with online content company Buzz Media in an effort to grow its audience and extend brand recognition.

The weekly had a total average paid and verified circulation of 909,884 as of December 31, but reached only 195,000 unique site visitors in March, according to ComScore. In the same month, Buzz Media recorded 9 million unique visitors to its collection of celebrity-focused Web sites. Its 30 sites include the celebrity blogs of Britney Spears and Kim Kardashian and music site Stereogum.

“We're a British-based magazine, and the only one that Northern and Shell publishes in the US, so we really feel that having a strong Internet presence is an imperative part of the brand initiative and growth long-term,” said Lori Burgess, publisher of OK!

“There is extreme pressure that the OK! reader puts upon us to deliver celebrity news on a frequent and timely basis, so that's why the Internet needed to come into play and we just did not have the manpower and the bandwidth to develop a strong enough sub-brand within our company," Burgess said. "That's what led to us exploring different partnerships and alliances that would allow us to build a presence and do so in a very technologically advanced way.”

Through their partnership, the two media companies will sell combined ad packages, share news sources and stories, and heavily cross-promote editorial content and reader contests. The print magazine is expected to get some newsstand boosts from these promotions. Buzz Media also will help OK! revamp its site for a July debut, adding technology like videos, polls and new advertising features.

Buzz Media's technological capabilities, along with the backgrounds of its executives, made it a good fit for OK!, said Burgess. With Alan Citron, a founder of TMZ, working as a special advisor to Buzz Media, and MTV.com alum Doug Rohrer serving as chief revenue officer, Buzz has expertise in engaging OK!'s 18- to 34-year-old demographic. In return, OK! will help Buzz specifically connect to women in that age group.

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