For many years Ebony magazine has been a staple for African-Americans but even with sustained print success, the publication is not exempt from continuous media changes and the push for online presence. In order to remain relevant and keep up with new media demands, the magazine’s digital team plans to launch a revitalized digital platform.
Jamilah Lemieux joined Ebony.com in October as a digital content editor to help launch a revived website in the New Year. She is in charge of website content, primarily for the Love and Sex, and the News and Views sections. In addition, she works on the health and wellness vertical, as well as music and food content.
“I am responsible for populating Ebony.com with quality material that reflects the integrity of our brand,” she said. “I am lucky to have the guidance of the brilliant Kierna Mayo,editorial director, and a great collaborative relationship with Geneva Thomas, who is my fellow digital content editor.”
Lemieux’s prior experience has been working with younger publications, primarily on a freelance basis. She also developed The Beautiful Struggler blog – which she still pens – and gained useful experience that helped her land the job she’s been looking for..
“Having developed The Beautiful Struggler on my own and serving as a one-woman-team for so many years helped me to hone a greater understanding of what people are looking for when it comes to op-ed writing and the importance of having an interesting, evolving and relatable voice.”
With that understanding comes the challenge of making Ebony.com more enticing to the newer generation of Ebony readership. She is up for the challenge.
“There are many younger readers who may think that Ebony is an iconic brand, but aren’t necessarily looking to us to be a significant player online,” she said. “[But] I believe that when they see the new site they’ll be shocked to see that this isn’t their grandmother’s Ebony. We just have to get them to the door.”
Social media will also be an essential focus of the digital team in hopes to enhance the online presence. She sees all social media platforms as useful; however, she is admittedly partial to Twitter because it forces users to be concise and thoughtful.
“You can be the best writer in the world, but that doesn’t mean that you can craft a 140-character tweet that will resonate with thousands of people.”
She added, “Media coverage is far more ‘in the moment’ than ever before, which is a gift and a curse. While we have access to breaking, potentially life-saving news much faster, we also have serious room for inaccurate reporting and misinformation.”
Despite these risks, the Internet is essential to the life of any brand and Lemieux is excited to transform Ebony.com. New additions to the site include a “comprehensive beauty and style section and significant food and wine coverage,” she noted.
“The site will be far more consistent with the sort of content found in Ebony magazine. …There isn’t another African-American site like this. People should feel like something’s missing from their day if they haven’t been on Ebony.com.”
Lemieux strongly advises PR professionals to be familiar with Ebony, Ebony.com and their audience before sending pitches.
“Being relevant should be a no-brainer,” she said.
If story submissions are not directly related to black culture, they should be universal topics. In addition, grammar and mechanics weigh heavily for Lemieux. “If you’ve misspelled words or my name in your email, I don’t quite feel confident about you.”
Lemieux prefers to be contacted by email. “I absolutely take pitches for both stories and products. Email is preferred by far!” She also dislikes it when publicists or writers call without having any prior relationship with her. “We’re all digital nowadays. Get on the computer and just shoot me a message!”
Lemieux can be found on Twitter at @jamilahlemieux.