Media: Go to Zest for healthy coverage

As the great British summer gets under way, any PR executive targeting the media with products or services to help female consumers achieve that elusive bikini body will find a receptive, and affluent, audience.

Mandie Gower, editor of Zest magazine, says 81 per cent of the magazine's readers are in the ABC1 category, and describes her average reader as 'successful, intelligent and striving to be her best'.

For this month's issue, Gower took the decision to ask Elizabeth Hurley, possessor of the ultimate bikini body, to guest-edit Zest. On the face of it this is an unusual call, as the magazine is not known for celeb-heavy content. But Gower says Hurley personifies the spirit of the magazine: 'I knew our readers would jump at the chance to find out how she keeps it all balanced - mind, body and soul. She resonates so well with all our key pillars - health, nutrition, beauty, self - it made sense to invite her to guest edit, rather than running a single story.'

Hurley is a special case, as touting a celebrity is not the usual way into Zest. 'Our readers don't automatically go giddy about celebs and celeb gossip,' says Gower, who has been at the helm of Zest since 2008. Instead, PROs should understand the ethos of the magazine. 'We want to show women how to take the hassle out of healthy living, and inspire them through service-led features and beautiful imagery,' she explains.

Gordon Cherrington, project manager at Forster which has worked with Zest for client National Bike Week, advises supporting pitches with a 'top five list' and colourful photography: 'It's a good idea to have a couple of different angles ready just in case the first one is not quite right for them.' He also suggests remembering that the team plans ahead, so inform them well in advance of any upcoming event.

As a magazine that covers health, beauty, fitness and wellbeing, Zest fits into several newsstand categories - rivals include health and fitness-focused publications such as Women's Fitness, through to all-round glossies such as Glamour, Cosmopolitan and Red.

Gower says: 'We are more authoritative than lifestyle titles when it comes to workouts and eating plans,' and advises PROs to consider Zest as a first port of call for health, beauty and fitness stories: 'Often I think PROs assume our readers will magically know about the latest products, so focus their time on placing them in more mainstream magazines - but they'll only know about them through us. Talk to us in the first instance - there are so many more things we can do that other magazines perhaps cannot.'

Louise Lloyd, board director at Cirkle Communications, offers a key tip for PROs targeting the magazine with food clients: 'Know the calorie count of your product before you call - it is usually the first thing they will want to know.'

A MINUTE WITH ... MANDIE GOWER, EDITOR, ZEST

- Who reads Zest?

Smart, open-minded, motivated women who want to be fit, not fanatical, and see 'healthy' as being the modern way to live, not a niche hobby. They are very much a product of their time and many are looking for a more meaningful way to spend their time than shopping - maybe they're training for their first 5k run, taking up tennis lessons, or are increasingly concerned about what goes into the food we eat. Our average reader is 34 years old.

- Describe your editorial agenda

To show women how to take the hassle out of healthy living, and to give them access to expert information that would otherwise require monthly sessions with a nutritionist, personal trainer, beautician, GP and therapists.

- How do you try to stay ahead of the competition?

Through our breadth of topics - from active travel features to recipes and fashion. We offer a complete blueprint for leading a better life.

- What makes an ideal feature for Zest?

First and foremost, we are a service - providing readers with a solution, a shortcut or a carefully edited selection that will have a direct impact on their lives. But we also like a topical spin and some gloss. We are showing healthy living as a desirable lifestyle, after all.

QUICK FACTS

Circulation: 93,129 (Source: ABCs July-Dec 2009)

Average age of reader: 34

Celebrities: In its 15-year history, Zest has only featured a celebrity on the cover 'a handful of times'

Contact: zest.mail@natmags.co.uk.

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