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Lisa Skriloff enjoys it all: writing, editing, publishing, public relations, advertising, marketing, even going to dozens of conferences each year.

Lisa Skriloff, editor-publisher of Multicultural Marketing News, says she was introduced to the multicultural way of life early on: following her father's international assignments, she attended kindergarten in Germany and the first grade in London, and then as a student in California, "I realized how living in one culture and being from another gave me a unique perspective."

She continued her multicultural education attending the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, majoring in elementary education and Spanish. After several years as a bilingual elementary school teacher, Lisa followed her urge to explore the international scene.

Moves to Madrid

She moved to Madrid, where she worked for an English-language city magazine. There she first saw--and liked seeing-- her words in print. But aside from her baptism into journalism, she also took on the role of advertising director, responsible for both ads and advertorial sections of the newspaper.

It was those skills learned in Madrid that she has used to find publishing success in the U.S.

In 1982 she began working for New York-based Caballero Spanish media, where she was founding editor of Hispanic Age. Working in advertising she got her first experience with newsletters. As writer, editor and advertorial director, she developed the controlled-circulation Hispanic Age for sponsors and clients.

She followed that with stints at The New York Times in advertising, marketing, circulation, promotion, and special advertorial sections. She said the Times produces about 100 of those sections a year.

Starts her own company

"But I was interested in multicultural marketing," she told NL/NL in a telephone interview. "And I wanted to start my own advertising, marketing and sales company."

Thus was born Multicultural Marketing Resources Inc. "When I started my company, clients were interested in public relations, too, so I started offering full-scale PR services.

"I specialized in representing multicultural newsmakers to the mainstream press," she said, defining those newsmakers as either minorities prominent in their particular fields or experts in multicultural marketing itself.

She also found the media sought her out for minority and multicultural contacts.

And that formula has been behind the success of her 1996-founded Multicultural Marketing News. Taglined "Media Contacts & Reliable Sources for Reporters... Business Resources for Executives," the newsletter serves the same purpose as her company by providing a forum for minorities to reach the mainstream press and for reporters and corporate executives to locate multicultural experts.

Semi-controlled circulation

The four-page newsletter is distributed free to 2500 reporters by mail six times a year, but that doesn't mean the newsletter doesn't generate revenues of its own. Up to 1,000 marketing executives pay $125/year to subscribe, and minority firms pay to have their products and services highlighted in the newsletter. Full contact information is given for each company profiled--usually about a dozen each issue.

Astonishing way to build a mailing list

Asked which lists she rented to develop her base of 2500 reporters, Skriloff answered, "Oh, I've never rented a mailing list. I built my own, one name at a time.

"I joined practically every journalism association in the country--Society of Professional Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, National Association of Black Journalists, National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, Asian American Journalists Association, Native American Journalists Association. You name it and I'm a member," she said.

"And I go to every national conference they have and regularly attend their monthly New York chapter meetings.

"Through the past seven years, I've met most of the people on my list of 2500--either met them or talked with them on the phone or know exactly what their beat is.

"I'm also an avid reader. I read all the time--the trades, the magazines, local newspapers when I'm traveling," she said. "For example, last week while I was in Phoenix, I saw a by-line in the paper of a reporter whose beat was 'immigration and minority affairs.' I added him to my mailing list.

"The news peg right now is Census 2000," she continued. "So I scout out every journalist reporting on the Census. My list, of course, is an ongoing process."

Skriloff said she built her list of marketing executives the same way, by joining associations and attending conferences.


Speaking of conferences, she also cuts deals with organizations to have them distribute Multicultural Marketing News at their conferences and sign them up for bulk six-month subscriptions. That bonus distribution appeals to the marketing companies buying space in her newsletter.

"We also are more actively involved in two or three conferences a month, where we cosponsor and I attend and actively participate," she said.

The Source Book

Not one to miss an opportunity, in 1998 the multi-talented Lisa Skriloff launched The Source Book of Multicultural Experts, a desktop reference guide consisting of contacts and profiles of companies that have been featured in the newsletter, plus new listings. It's distributed to 10,000 journalists and sold to a wide variety of about 750 to 1,000 persons interested in locating multicultural experts.

In addition to the expected buyers of the $59.95 Source Book--corporate marketing executives and PR agencies looking to partner with minority firms--Skriloff says buyers are starting to include human resources staff looking for diversity consultants and recruitment agencies seeking minorities.

Of course, those listed in the Source Book pay to be there--$100 for a basic listing, $750 for a listing plus a 100-word profile and logo, display ads ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 for a full page, and section sponsorships for $3,500.

The 2000-2001 edition of the Source Book had nine full sponsors and listings of nearly 150 companies, many of them full profiles. You do the math. Whatever Lisa touches seems to turn to money. She's a multicultural money machine.

Library and Resource Center

I eventually asked Skriloff the inevitable question, "And how about your web site?"

She seemingly ignored my question and began talking about her latest project, the Multicultural Marketing Resources Library and Knowledge Center.

"An office next to mine became vacant, so I leased it and established the library. It's not a virtual library but an actual room full of books and articles and studies and reference works, and ethnic videos, even a conference table."

She said one of her first clients to call upon the library was a bank that ordered a report on diversity, a sort of Best Practices of Multicultural Initiatives.

"For $300 a year," she said, "interested companies receive the newsletter, the Source Book, and a print-out--like a grid--of the library's holdings. They can find the documents themselves online or have us provide a synopsis."

"Which brings us to the web site. Although we have one now consisting mainly of archived newsletters, we are relaunching an expanded version soon to include the library and additional information."

I asked her in conclusion if she was having fun. "I enjoy the industry very much," Lisa replied.

"I like having my own business. I like to write but (being a Gemini) I have a short attention span, so I always have something else to do"--marketing, helping with a PR campaign, going to conferences, dealing with advertisers, overseeing her staff of three, and editing the newsletter.
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Author:Swift, Paul
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Jun 30, 2001
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