An Evening with Marie Claire

Through my full time job at PR Newswire, last week I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a brilliant event, called Meet the Media, where Trish Halpin and Justine Southall – Ed-in-Chief and Publishing Director at Marie Claire, respectively – held a very interesting presentation.

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The venue was spectacular – we sat in the ballroom of the wondrous 8 Northumberland Avenue, a 17th-century building which made me feel like I’d stepped back in time and was supposed to be wearing big puffy sleeves and a tight corset.

Marie Claire 003

The presentation was shared between Trish and Justine, and they started off by giving a sense of who their reader is and an overview of the brand, consequently moving to suggestions for PR representatives on how and who to reach at Marie Claire.

Marie Claire, which celebrates its 25th birthday this year, reaches 2.2 million women every month through their 16 platforms, and most of these readers tend to be successful, well-educated, assertive career women who are often the chief income earners. This kind of reader crucially identifies with, and self-expresses through, their interest in fashion and beauty.

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Despite Marie Claire being such a huge brand, which includes a website, a mobile site, and Marie Claire Runway magazine and app just to name a few, their magazine is still at the core. And indeed, they are doing very well: out of the many stat sheets they showed us during their presentation, the one that captured my attention the most was their ABC performance for 2012 – the only one to outperform the market. I asked Trish why she thinks they are doing so well compared to all the other magazines and her answer was two-fold: partly, she answered, it was because they offer something unique: a combination of thought-provoking features and a huge volume of high-quality fashion and beauty content; but also, they felt that, for the asking price of £3.70, they needed to offer more, and last year decided to invest money despite the recession in order to make the book size bigger and improve the production.

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With 1.4 million unique users, their website is also very impressive. Which begs the question: do they see that one day their online predominance could supersede their printed one? Justine answered by stating that she thinks there will always be a place for beautiful glossy print material in a luxury context. She did note that, as I mentioned in this post I wrote in November 2011, most online shops now are printing magazines, but she thinks this may be because the role of printed material is now changing and it is really exciting to see how it will develop.

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Among Trish’s suggestions for PR agencies, the main ones were:

  • don’t cold call,
  • know what kind of product the magazine might go for, and
  • never underestimate the power of cake!

Think I’m on board with that one.

I loved how at Marie Claire they make a stand trying not to have many advertorials, as they are very keen to keep their brand integrity very clean. Trish also explained how they decide the themes issue by issue, around three months in advance, basing themselves firstly on the season and the various collections seen at fashion shows, and then moving from there.

I greatly enjoyed the whole event and even managed to have a little chit chat with Justine and Trish, it was a great thrill to be taught something new by such strong career women who have made it so successfully in the field I’d like to develop in.

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