If there’s one place a fashion brand wants to get featured, it’s Marie Claire, the largest fashion magazine in the UK with a total reach of over 2 million women, online and in print. So when Marie Claire UK Editor-in-Chief Trish Halpin starts to reveal how her journalists decide what goes in each edition, a lot of PR ears prick up.
At another of PR Newswire’s glamorous Meet the Media events, suitably located in the Victorian ballroom of central London’s 8 Northumberland Avenue, Trish Halpin and Marie Claire Publishing Director Justine Southall made a lot of people in fashion PR very excited, with a typically polished presentation and a few tips for grabbing their attention.
Marie Claire’s journalists receive thousands of beauty products a year, which may sound like a dream come true, but actually leaves them with a daily struggle to justify featuring an exciting new lipstick, say, while leaving an eyeliner in unheralded obscurity.
Trish Halpin believes it is up to PR companies to make a journalist’s life a lot easier – for the benefit of all parties – and she gave the audience her dos and don’ts that can make the difference between a new product making it into the magazine or making straight it in to the ‘deleted items’ folder.
So, how do you attract the attention of a busy Marie Claire journalist? Here is what Trish Halpin had to say:
• Learn Your titles
Make sure you know why you are pitching to a Marie Claire journalist and not someone from Elle or Glamour. To know that, you must understand how each title is different and what is unique about each brand. Familiarise yourself with each feature and pitch your product for specific pages of the magazine.
• Anticipate questions
Know your products inside out and try to predict what a journalist might ask you, because they are going to ask you a lot of questions. Don’t make them lose interest by not having the information they need.
• Think of fun ways to draw attention to your brand
The best example that got huge amounts of tweeting from the Marie Claire team was a plus sized lingerie brand that sent in a bag of breakfast baps along with some plus size bras that they wanted featured. The team just loved it and thought it was really funny that they all got a big breakfast bap. It was entertaining and they all tweeted about it. It brightened up their day and the lingerie went into the magazine.
• Include prices & telephone numbers
Please don’t make any more work for the journalist. You may think they will call you to ask for all the details they need, but not having them in the first place may turn them off the whole idea. Get them everything they need from the beginning.
• Exclusive content
It should go without saying that if Marie Claire is offered the chance to feature exclusive content such as case studies, expert insight, or a celebrity feature, they don’t expect to see it in another magazine in the same month. In the long run, one quality long term relationship is better than two that are short lived.
• Cold call or ask for features lists
You must make sure you know who is responsible for each section. Phoning up and saying “Can I speak to somebody who deals with homes?” is hopeless. You need the name of the person you want.
For example, if you have a tanning product, call up the beauty desk and say, “I see that you did a tanning story last June. Will you be doing one this June? What will the angle be?” Don’t just say, “Give me a list of what you’re doing”. It’s not going to happen. You need to do your research.
• Send too many emails
Don’t send too many emails, because journalists will just stop looking at them. “As soon as you see it come into your inbox you just press delete, because if you get something every single day, you just haven’t got the time to look at it. It’s better to target one or two really good specific emails at the right people from the beginning.”
• Send pictures as attachments
Don’t send pictures as attachments. Have them in the body of the text, again because the journalist is not going to spend the time downloading it. If they have to download an image, a journalist might not even read your email, but if they see something in the body of an email and think “that looks really nice”, then they will read it.
• Send redundant press kits
Marie Claire have got four people in the beauty department, but they don’t all need a press kit each. Redundant kits are a waste of your money and it wastes a lot of packaging. Again, target the right person.
• Underestimate the power of cake!
There is nothing that gets a magazine team more excited than being sent some cake. It’s a brilliant way into a magazine because journalists, like the rest of us, become very excitable when presented with free cake. They will take a photo of it, they will tweet it, they will boast about it, and they’ll remember it.
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Author Andrew Woodall is an operations manager for PR Newswire Europe, and is based in London.