This month, we’re featuring guest blogger Denise Harrison, founder and CEO of SuzyKnew.
In Junior High School, I used to write hot, steamy love stories and circulate them around my friends. The stories centered around one woman – actually a friend from school – who would fall in and out of love while having numerous wild adventures. They were titillating and a little racy for the late 1970’s. They were fairly popular as well. Friends and other students would impatiently wait for the next edition to come out and would constantly ask me when I would write another story.
Fast forward 30 years later after an MBA, time at a big pharmaceutical company and 12 years working in global sexual and reproductive health all over the world, I find myself writing stories about love and sex again. In the NGO world of HIV/AIDS, family planning and reproductive health, I am frustrated and concerned about how relatively little effect many programs have in light of how much money is being spent. Also, these programs tend to be very critical of and reluctant to use tried and true marketing approaches from the commercial world and are rarely managed by people with real world experience in selling sex and love. Their main customer is the donor – not the man or woman on the street with HIV/AIDS or who needs birth control. On the commercial side, my experience is that the sole pursuit of profit prevented many from truly connecting with their customer and providing needed education and information was secondary. All information and education had to eventually lead to a sale. And ultimately, success is only measured in dollars.
When I go on the internet I see this gap between the NGO and commercial world of women’s health mirrored on web sites. There are sites featured by women’s magazines on love, sex, and fashion and celebrity news. They occasionally provide educational articles but they can be random and detached from the rest of the magazine. Then there are the government and NGO sites where women’s health is very clinical and educational. These sites often read like scientific text books without thinking about whether the reader is staying engaged. Not very sexy. I asked myself why can’t the two live together? Why aren’t there sites that put the “sexy” into sexual and reproductive health education thereby merging the two worlds? Why couldn’t real facts from the best sources be presented in non-medical language alongside hot and passionate love scenes? Wouldn’t women all over the world benefit from such an approach?
In 2010 I launched SuzyKnew (www.suzyknew.com), a website dedicated to entertaining women while providing information on sexual and reproductive health with the goal of improving health outcomes and generating a profit. The site targets women in the US, UK, Nigeria, South Africa and the Philippines. I continue to build my audience and following and hope to attract niche advertisers and partners interested in working with me to improve women’s health.
Next blog – What Do the Recent Democratic Uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt Teach Us About Women Using the Web to Improve their Sexual Health? The Launching of SuzyKnew Part II
Denise L Harrison is the founder and CEO of SuzyKnew. She resides in Durham, NC with her cat King Alfred, and when she is not working on SuzyKnew she works on global reproductive health and HIV/AIDS issues.