Gorkana Insight & Analysis Team
At a recent Gorkana breakfast, Easy Living editor Deborah Joseph, executive fashion editor Francesca Zedda, beauty director Alice Du Parcq and Natasha McNamara, editor of easyliving.co.uk, revealed all about the new-look magazine and website and why they need PRs to help drive content.
Easy Living recently underwent its first major redesign in seven years and the new-look magazine was relaunched last month. The new edition features seven sections: Women, Myself, Fashion, Beauty, Health, Food, Homes & Travel.
The website has also been redesigned and the new site offers easy-to-use navigation, a grid-like layout and high-quality features.
Both the magazine and website are targeting a younger reader, with a median age of 38, and with fashion and beauty a key focus.
The Editor speaks
Deborah has been a journalist for about 17 years. She started at more magazine about 15 years ago. She has also worked at Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Life and Style at the Daily Mail, Wedding magazine and Brides, before starting at Easy Living last year.
When she started, the magazine hadn't been redesigned for seven years and the readership had aged with the magazine, and she decided that it needed a major refresh. Her aim was to bring the readership age back down to its mid-30s target.
She kept the magazine's seven sections as they represented the different areas of the busy woman's life, but she took the colour coding off each.
The Woman section is a news section, concentrating on women in the news. It mainly includes interviews, some of which can be quite controversial with this month's feature from UK politician Nadine Dorries talking about abortion. Exclusivity is always a must for interviews in this section.
Myself keeps with the tradition of Easy Living which has always included lots of self-help features such as a new book, an extract or a self help writer giving their opinions on women's lives.
The fashion section now has an extra 10 pages, increasing from one story per issue to three. There is also an extra eight pages on shopping. While Easy Living is a fashion magazine, Deborah wanted to make sure the content was as high quality as possible, catering to a younger audience than before the redesign.
The beauty section has always been a very important section for the magazine and Deborah wanted to take this forward, giving it a more glamorous feel. It includes stories about anything that might worry a reader as they reach their mid-30s including ageing, wrinkles, plastic surgery and cellulite.
The health section is very popular with readers and Deborah was keen to make this section newsy as well. The team is always looking for statistics and surveys from PRs for this section and will give a brand a namecheck in the copy if it fits - but there will always be a mention horizontally on the side of the page.
Food is one of the most important sections for the magazine. 11 pages are devoted to it and it includes recipes from food editor David Herbert.
Travel and tourism always provides a good opportunity for PRs to feed in with ideas around beautiful homes and travel destinations.
Deborah was keen to stress that the new-look was still a work in progress. She has just brought in a new art director from Red magazine so more changes will happen in the coming months with a more high-end feel.
Easy Living reader
The magazine is aimed at 30+ women, although women in their 40s, 50s and 60s still read it. All case studies and celebrities used are women aged 30+. Deborah likes to think that when the Glamour reader reaches their 30s, Easy Living is the obvious next step.
The reader is usually married with children, juggling a career with family life (70% of readers work).
On the whole, the response to the new look has been positive. Some of the older readers have been a bit wary of the changes, but the team is already getting letters saying they now think it's a great move. Sales have also increased.
Francesca has been at Easy Living since launch. She previously worked at Red working on shopping content as well as launching Red Direct.
The fashion section of the magazine has grown considerably with 30 to 40 pages each issue. The fashion team relies on PRs heavily to fill this space. They do their own research and always have a strong idea on what they want for certain pieces, but news and new products is what they look for from PRs.
There are now three main stories on fashion, high end fashion, mid market and the high street. Francesca likes all the stories to be shot to the highest standards, making high street look just as luxurious as high end. The team also has a new senior fashion editor, Sasha Barrie, and she has upped the fashion content's beautiful feel.
Francesca also works on the shopping pages, and always needs help from PRs to fill this section.
The fashion team never does general fashion call ins. They will have a plan for stories and make appointments for what they want. They prefer to work this way, picking out exactly what they want to shoot rather than having PRs send in mountains of things that they won't use, but Francesca does find look books helpful. There will be times when Francesca will put out a call in and attach specific pictures of what it is that she wants.
The team regularly holds press days, with Francesca recently attending 37 in one single day. She sees them as a great way to meet PRs and develop good relationships.
Alice started working in fashion when she was 15, working behind the scenes at various fashion shows. She first worked as a fashion assistant at Tatler before moving to Telegraph Magazine. She also worked at Glamour and Brides *where she first met Deborah. She has just joined *Easy Living.
There are two sections on the beauty pages and Alice works with a strong team that tries to get out to as many events as they can. Good relationships with PRs are essential for them.
Product samples are a must for the beauty team. Every product featured in the magazine is tested out by the team, so an image is not sufficient.
Natasha is also online editor of Glamour.com, as well as being executive editor for Easy Living online.
The new website was launched seven weeks ago. It used to have a blog feel about it before the relaunch, but now is a full website. As well as big brands, the website features lots of independent companies, especially on the Homes and Travel section.
The team wanted to reflect the magazine as much as possible and the site has a heightened emphasis on products and beautiful pictures, rather than long feature-type content.
The fashion section is very shopping-based and beauty is all about products. Recipes is the most popular part of the site, with all recipes created by food editor David Herbert.
Culture is for the "grown up Glamour girl", and travel reflects what the reader is now in a position to do with her time. Homes covers all interiors of the home and currently features more than 50 wallpapers. It also covers trends and tips for the reader.
The site is updated on a daily basis in the morning. The team will spend the afternoon checking emails and talking to PRs to bring in the content for the next day. Images for the Home, Shopping and Fashion section are always needed. Natasha said that if they didn't have PRs to send them in, they would all be out of jobs.
The online team also sits with the editorial team so anything that may miss the three-month lead time for the magazine can then be passed onto the online team.
The team has just finished the June issue and already has its features in for the July issue. Because Deborah is keen for the magazine to have a news feel about it, she will always accept content if it fits for the magazine, but as a rule the lead time is usually three months.
Alice pointed out that she always wants to hear about upcoming news. Even if a product doesn't physically exist yet, it's always better for a PR to get in contact and let them know it will be launching. They can make a note and work out where it will be able to go in advance.
Deborah also asked PRs to bear in mind the news section, Buzz. It's the last part of the magazine to go to print and images are not always needed. It covers everything from fashion and beauty to book launches and movie news.
Exclusivity is very important for this section. Press releases that have obviously been sent out to other magazines will not be welcome. The team has always worked well with PRs who come to them and say we have an exclusive angle on something.
Deborah is always happy to meet with PRs as long as the brands they represent are relevant to Easy Living. She cited an example of when the team from Halpern PR came in to meet the team which she found useful as they spent one hour discussing which sections they could help with.
Francesca likes putting a face to a name and finds meeting up with PRs a good way of keeping up to date, whether it be changes to the magazine's fashion team or changes at the agency.
Deborah finds it difficult to go to press events during the day. Evenings and lunch times are the most suitable times. Alice said that awkward locations are a major turn off when being invited to something. He advice is to hold something close to where the magazine houses are located. She also prefers morning events. Francesca likes PRs to come and see her, especially if the product is portable. She gets to stay in the office and the PR gets to see more of the team.
A lot of events the team will go to are sometimes more to do with the relationship they have with the PR. If someone calls up who they've worked with a long time and trust, asking them to attend an event, they are more likely to go.
The Easy Living celebrity
The Easy Living reader is not overly concerned with celebrities. The ones that the team will use need to be very well known and have an element of depth about them. They need to have a proper story to tell. They are much more interested in chefs and interior designers. They also do a Woman of the Month feature, with Madonna featured last month. Deborah said she won't use a celebrity again for this as the reader is far more interested in women in different fields.
The online team has started a feature section called the breakfast club, which features celebrities the reader will like. They recently did a piece on Rachel Khoo, an up-and-coming chef, as well as the Baker Brothers. They're also looking for people big in style. It's all about creative and rising stars.
Catching their attention
Deborah hates emails that begin with "Hi there" - she deletes them immediately. Francesca likes a press release with an image that won't send your inbox crazy, a short direct paragraph on what the brand is and what it does.
The team advise to send press releases that work to the magazine's lead times. Natasha says emails that say "I saw this and thought of Easy Living" will receive a better response.
Personalisation is very important when making contact. The team likes to think that when something is being pitched to them, they're the only ones getting the news (even if it's not true). Natasha and Alice like to be contacted by email and Francesca is fine with either an email or a phone call as long as she feels that the PR has at least read the magazine before pitching.
Deborah said that the features team tends to be ok with taking phone calls. They recently did an interview with Siobhan Benita, who is standing against Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone to become Mayor of London. It came about from a call a PR put in who had seen another interview the team had done with a female politician and was given as an exclusive. If it's relevant and well thought out, it will make the magazine.
The Olympics is on everyone's radar, but the team has yet to work out its content strategy. The online team may embrace the travel content side of the event. Deborah said she may take the how to get away from it angle, but nothing is set in stone as yet.
Because the new website is so new, Natasha has not yet worked out what its video strategy is however she's interested in hearing ideas.
Personal finance is something that the Easy Living reader is concerned about. Deborah did think about creating a personal finance page, but is not sure it would fit with the magazine. She has not totally ruled it out and has run case studies and features on the topic.
Before the magazine's relaunch, there was a lot of children's clothes content. Deborah stopped doing this when she took over as she felt the magazine was a way for women to escape the daily grind. Children's books are sometimes covered when women look back to what inspired them when they were growing up, or books they are reading for their children. There is also a lot more child friendly content on the website, with interior designs for children's rooms.
Deborah is keen for the magazine to take on some campaigning. She is looking to run some events and raise money for a variety of charities. Watch this space?