December 22, 2011 / by Jenny Wittman

As winter settles over most of the county, it’s nice to focus on a city that is warm and lively in December. Miami is the epitome of summer fun, and with its new Miami edition, Refinery29 has created a localized space for residents who live for fashion, shopping, lifestyle and culture.

Adding to current editions in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., Miami was chosen next from a short list of new markets to explore.

“Miami is a city that’s always intrigued us, and we felt now was the right time to introduce the city to our unique voice and perspective,” said Refinery29 editor in chief, Christene Barberich. “We wanted to provide a new lens through which to see the city emerging as a real multidimensional style, arts and design destination.”

Native Miamian, Nikki Novo, joined the site this month as the Miami editor. She comes from DailyCandy where she served in the same position since August 2010.

“Miami is my hometown, so I get excited about anyone or anything that inspires our residents to be great. A little idealist? Sure, but Miami has so much to offer right now, so I feel really lucky to be in a position where I can introduce our evolving culture to the masses,” Novo said.

To describe Miami’s fashion sense in a few words, Novo said it would be “Colorful. Fearless. Worldly.”

“It’s the mix of cultures that makes our fashion so unique. Everyone brings their home style here and then we steal inspiration from each other,” Novo explained. “We also have some great boutique owners who come from places like Italy, Colombia and Argentina who bring pieces from their homelands, so we’re exposed to things that a lot of other cities don’t have at their disposal.”

One of the things that makes Refinery29 unique to other localized fashion sites is the brand’s voice. “It’s authentic and authoritative, but also really friendly and fun,” Barberich said. “It appeals to hardcore fashion enthusiasts as well as readers that are new to the personal style scene.”

Barberich has been editor of Refinery29 since its launch in 2004, and she wants to continue on with the same tone while expanding toward a larger community and providing additional resources such as commerce and curated style and beauty content into the mix.

“We wanted to create a truly dynamic online world in which to discover, cultivate and be inspired by personal style. That’s still our M.O.,” she said.

With the new edition, the website is tapping into an audience that deserves attention. “In my opinion, Miami has been lacking a sophisticated and astute online publication that truly understands the diversity and the interests of our community,” Novo added. “Now that Refinery29 is here, I truly feel we can fill that gap and really create something special that the community can be proud of.”

The edition has at least five local stories a day on the site and features local designers, trendsetters and visionaries by showcasing their products, homes, fashion sense and overall style.

“We’re also featuring the best spots in Miami to be entertained. And that can be anything from a new restaurant or lounge to a great performance art show,” Novo said.

But Miami isn’t the last stop on Refinery29’s list of cities to explore. Barberich said to expect three new markets to launch in 2012. Also, the site’s content will expand in the New Year. “We’re continuing to expand in many of the categories that – in addition to fashion, trends and shopping – have become Refinery29 signatures, such as beauty and DIY, to name a few,” Barberich explained.

“We’re really thrilled with how much Refinery29 has evolved in 2011, but for next year, we’re focusing mainly on broadening our commerce offerings for readers and growing our community,” Barberich said. “That, along with maintaining quality control as we scale, is key. At the end of the day, if readers feel inspired by content, engaged with community and fulfilled with shopping, we’re headed in the right direction.”

Making the Pitch

Barberich believes the most important things about sending press materials are that pitches fit in with the tone of the publication and that they’re being addressed to the appropriate editors. “The days of blanket emails and anonymous pitch letters are over. Time is precious so you need to be as succinct and personal as you possibly can be in order to get my attention or that of our editors,” she said.

Also, Barberich finds it crucial to build a relationship with editors, and she is turned off by press people that make no effort to introduce themselves properly or pretend to know her when they don’t. “Successful PR is all about building relationships, knowing the site and audience you’re pitching to, and having the patience to ensure the right editor is getting the information they need in order to act on it,” she explained.

For the Miami edition, Novo suggests sending unique items that have a strong Miami tie. “I’m looking for local talent creating or doing things that are different than what has been seen before,” she said. “And anything that is in the categories of fashion, shopping, dining, arts, entertainment, home and lifestyle.”

Novo would prefer email as a means to reach her and the Miami edition. “I personally don’t like phone calls. If I’m not answering an email, it’s because it doesn’t work for me. Believe it or not, I read every single email I receive,” she said. She prefers to have images sent in emails as long as they are not in high resolution.

“Also, I would appreciate it if publicists would read what I write. There’s nothing more insulting than a pitch that has nothing to do with what I cover. I believe in quality pitches over the quantity of pitches,” Novo said.

Lastly, Novo wishes to not receive any press materials via her personal Facebook page. “It happens all the time! I’m more likely to answer if you send me an email,” she said.

Contact Information

Refinery29 Miami Edition

Christene Barberich, editor in chief
Nikki Novo, Miami editor

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About Jenny Wittman

Jenny Wittman is senior editor and features writer for Cision Blog and oversees the daily media updates on the site. She is also senior media researcher at Cision and joined the company in March 2008. She likes being outdoors, going to concerts, traveling and exploring art galleries. She adores all animals and has a fascination for the cosmos. Find her on Twitter @jennywittman.