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.

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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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Marni at H&M Sale – Sometimes They Come Back

Firstly, I would like to apologise and say that I know I’ve been terrible for not writing in an age, but I do have a couple of good excuses. Some of my absence can be put down to me being a little poorly. Nothing serious, not kicking the bucket just yet, only nagging little pains that stole all my time as I took partial residency in my doctor’s waiting room. The rest of my time has been absorbed by the editorial internship I’ve been doing at the great Kings Chelsea Magazine, which is launching in June. Yay!

Admittedly, I discovered that adjusting to a full-time shift job and a part-time internship is harder than anticipated, particularly when those two workplaces and my house are based respectively in the south, west and east of London, but it’s definitely worth it. This internship will go on until mid-August, so I am afraid that until then I’ll probably be a little out of sight. But bear with me and after that I shall be even better (or I’ll try, at least). I wish I were doing something a little more senior with my few years of experience as an editor, but sadly, fashion publishing regards itself as a different kettle of fish, and unless you have relevant fashion experience you need to start from the bottom again. So, full to my eyes with humble pie, I ping-pong across London for the best part of my days.

With that out of the way, in the UK, H&M have collected all the neglected leftover Marni stock from the back of their warehouses and placed it on sale. This reminded me how I actually did go on a mission on the line’s launch day and took pictures to write about the collection, but ended up doing nothing with them.

I remember getting to the flagship store on Regent Street at 9 am on the dot, its opening time, and asking what the queuing system was. It soon transpired that I was way too late for their manically organised schedule, and that all the wristbands (colour-coded depending on the time you were supposed to get in) had all already been given to people queuing outside since 7 am.

Anyone with an entry bracelet was placed in a group of a dozen people and had 15 minutes to enter, explore and ransack the designated Marni area, which was a cluttered, crowded, poky little affair of about 2 m2 with naturally very little room to roam around. A man with a headset microphone would aggressively shout “Ten minutes left!” “Five minutes left!” (why the shouting, crazyman Michael? You’re wearing a microphone). Two bouncers were at the edges of the cordoned-off area trying to keep us as far away as possible. Despite sounding like the opposite of offering customers what they want, this schizo approach seemed to work, and by 9:32 another batch of collars was called up as the previous bunch had sold out. For us, bracelet-less civilians, there was little to do but wait until 2 pm, when all the chosen ones had already munched their way through the collection like mice through Edam and we were left with the red wax.

As you can see from the picture, at 2:30 pm the queue outside the Oxford Street shop was still remarkable, despite the poor selection left by hurricane People. I managed to take a few pictures of the whole process but can tell you this is probably the last H&M designer collaboration I am planning to attend.

Sadly, the quality of the pictures is not up to scratch as I also forgot that picnik.com was going to be shut in April. Has anyone got another similar, free website to suggest, please?