Media: Red takes leap into cyberspace

Translating a glossy women's monthly magazine into a decent website is not an easy task. Last week, Red magazine overhauled its online presence by launching Red Online, a website teeming with opportunities for PR professionals, which aims to provide practical help, news and promote greater interaction with readers.

This is the first time the magazine has put its luxury lifestyle content online, as it previously only had a holding page and the magazine's shop site Red Direct.

Lisa Helmanis, the former head of editorial at MyDeco, was recruited in September to head the site.

Helmanis says the site is different from rivals because it is producing separate and dedicated content using a new team of eight writers.

'The site is an extension of the brand. We are not just putting the magazine online, as 95 per cent of the content is made specifically for the site,' she says. 'We will carry the cover interview, cover images and put recipes online because we believe they are valuable for readers, but cannibalising the magazine is a mistake. We don't want loyal readers who buy the magazine to feel cheated if they come to the site and find all the same content is available for free.'

'Red Online is a gift for PROs,' says Green Row Communications' director Helen Trevorrow: 'There are so many opportunities, such as the food section or the gift list. It's a fully rounded whole media experience - it's much more contemporary and interactive.'

The biggest change for PROs is that writers will be able to react much quicker to news without the burden of lengthy feature deadlines.

As Helmanis says, news will feature in every section of the site including fashion, beauty, travel and interiors.

Lexis PR's consumer board director Vicki Jobling says: 'The site has lots of scope to be frequently updated, meaning there will be an appetite for relevant product news. With all content appearing in bite-sized chunks it is definitely user-friendly, but maybe offers less scope for PROs to negotiate more in-depth features.'

The site's focus is on the practical. It will attempt to act as a service for women by helping them with their to-do lists, such as featuring outfits to wear to the office Christmas party, or recipes on what to cook for dinner. 'We want to make women's lives easier by putting all the answers in the same place,' says Helmanis.

The site also has a strong commercial angle, allowing readers to click links and purchase items instantly, and is planning to run competitions.

Trevorrow says women trust the Red brand, so securing a recommendation for your client is valuable.

She says the magazine runs more in-depth features than other titles and adds: 'Red features inspirational women, so find out if your client has any females doing unusual jobs or has achieved something amazing that you could pitch in.'

QUICK FACTS

Circulation: 230,067 (Red magazine, Jan-June 2010. Source: ABC)

Unique web users: No figures yet available

Target audience: Professional women aged 25 to 45

Deadlines: A week in advance for news, but Red can be reactive for the right story

Contact: lisa.helmanis@hf-uk.com; 020 7150 7641

A MINUTE WITH ... Lisa Helmanis, editor, Red Online

- Describe your readership Red readers are aged from 25 to 45.

The average reader is 39 years old. We want to take Red's readership online but also convert non-Red readers. Hopefully, some of the younger people online will then read the magazine.

- What makes the site different from rivals?

We are not cannibalising the magazine. We are providing a different service, helping women with their real lives. We are not celebrity or gossip-driven. We also have a travel channel, where all the hotels that Red has reviewed and that fit in with our brand values can be booked.

- Why are you launching the site now?

It has always been an ambition to launch a site such as this, but the timing has been difficult because of the recession. Now things are changing economically. We are taking all the brand pillars - the beautiful visual qualities and the witty copy - and creating an online magazine.

- How and when should PROs get in touch?

Email or use the telephone - I still like the phone. We work a week ahead on news, but we can react fast if there is a big news story.

- Advice for PR professionals

The key is to think how something would work on Red. Being letter-bombed is not useful. We are interested in videos and good images.

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