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Taking Direct Approach to Special Interest : Advertising: Santa Ana-based Pink Pages is among burgeoning Yellow Pages directories that target specific groups.


SANTA ANA — Halfway through their ad sales campaign, the publishers of the Pink Pages business directory decided to forgo a profit on the first edition to print 50,000 more copies than they had planned.

They had two reasons. One was business: The more copies of the Pink Pages gay and lesbian business directory that circulate, the more likely that their advertisers' phones will ring.

The other reason was political.

"We want people to know who's supportive of the gay and lesbian community and who isn't," said Beth Singer, a Pink Pages co-owner.

Due out in mid-April, the Southern California Pink Pages is one of a growing number of special-interest Yellow Pages publications that serve both a political and business function. There are directories for senior citizens (the Silver Pages), for Jews, Christians, women, African-Americans, Farsi speakers and boat lovers.

The Greater Los Angeles Green Pages, which purport to help consumers make "environmentally conscious choices and live a greener lifestyle," is scheduled to go on sale at the Los Angeles Convention Center today to coincide with the Eco Expo.

The Yellow Pages Publishers Assn. in Troy, Mich., said the types of directories--both special interest and general--rose from 6,000 in 1991 to 6,400 last year. The trade group estimates that the amount spent on such advertising totaled $9.4 billion for 1992, up from $9.2 billion from the year before.

The special-interest pages tend to draw a community together, said Tricia Roth, vice president of operations for Direct Language in San Francisco. The company publishes annual directories in 14 languages for Bay Area customers.

Its Chinese directory, one of its first, was compiled in 1982 because the publisher wanted to reach a populous and relatively well-to-do market, Roth said. The directory, with circulation of 180,000, has evolved into a political organ, too: Inserted in each of the 1992 copies was a request form, in Chinese, for an absentee ballot to vote in the November elections.

Lately, Roth's directories have been attracting national advertisers such as AT&T and Bank of America, she said. "It's all predicated on marketing information. These are communities that have financial clout, and as a marketer, you can't ignore them."

Special-interest Yellow Pages differ from general directories in that they seek to include everyone in a specific community--to the point of giving ads away to those who can't afford them, several publishers say. In general, the ads are less expensive than those in mainstream Yellow Pages. For example, a bold-face, single-line listing in the Pink Pages will cost $45 a year. An ad of the same size in the Orange County edition of the Donnelley Directory would cost about $240.

The special-interest directories are sometimes distributed at community events, instead of door to door. For example, the Pink Pages and its Southern California competitor, the Community Yellow Pages, will both be given away at the annual gay pride festivals in Long Beach, Los Angeles and Orange County.

Advertisers can be especially fervent about the special-interest directories.

"People tend to support each other, to spend gay dollars in gay locations," said Will Tapia, owner of Long Beach's Birds of Paradise restaurant.

A Palm Springs cab driver, Bob Holland, said he has recommended the Pink Pages to a number of businesses there. "The gay community," he said, "has contributed a lot to the economy of Palm Springs."

The Pink Pages publishers work from a hole-in-the-wall office in Santa Ana. Two of them, Beth and Savannah Singer, who are domestic partners, also own the Finally a Gay Traffic School. The 4-year-old school offers courses in 15 locations in the greater Los Angeles area.

The idea for the Pink Pages, which was started last year with about $5,000, came from a desire to bring the whole Southern California community into one reference guide, said Lori A. Jones, another co-owner. Its competition, the Community Yellow Pages, has been in business for 13 years and publishes separate directories for Los Angeles, Long Beach/Orange County, and San Diego.

To differentiate itself from the Community Yellow Pages, the Pink Pages is also offering a coupon book and ad rates that are about 10% lower.

Caryn Goldberg, managing editor of the Hollywood-based Community Yellow Pages, said of the new competition: "I think there's room for both. . . . Their philosophy is opposite of ours. Certainly, Pacific Bell or Donnelley never thought of putting all of Southern California in one book."

Directory Assistance

Yellow pages, including specialty directories, are big business nationwide. Advertising revenue is up 62% since 1985 and up 224% since 1980. In billions of dollars:

1992: $9.4

Source: Yellow Pages Publishers Assn.; Researched by ANNE MICHAUD / Los Angeles Times

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