MEDIA - Good Housekeeping: not just the mag for your mom - Classic GH has entrenched itself with women aged 30 to 55. But as Claire Atkinson finds out, the magazine is undergoing a facelift

Clean, spacious offices are just what you’d expect at the 114-year-old Good Housekeeping: the orderly desks and lemon walls make the place seem too neat to be a magazine. At the same time, the title your mother may have read is trying hard to shed its ’earnest’ image. Jennifer Aniston was a surprising choice for the cover girl on a recent edition.

Clean, spacious offices are just what you’d expect at the 114-year-old Good Housekeeping: the orderly desks and lemon walls make the place seem too neat to be a magazine. At the same time, the title your mother may have read is trying hard to shed its ’earnest’ image. Jennifer Aniston was a surprising choice for the cover girl on a recent edition.

Clean, spacious offices are just what you’d expect at the

114-year-old Good Housekeeping: the orderly desks and lemon walls make

the place seem too neat to be a magazine. At the same time, the title

your mother may have read is trying hard to shed its ’earnest’ image.

Jennifer Aniston was a surprising choice for the cover girl on a recent

edition.



But as Good Housekeeping reaches out to the younger reader it suffers

from the same problem many women approaching middle age have: how to

retain grace and wisdom while keeping a young attitude.



In June, the title’s crusading editor, Ellen Levine, appointed executive

editor Susan Bolotin to act as a sounding board for her ideas and to

spearhead the changes. Bolotin is masterminding a soft redesign with the

help of a new art director. There will be a more news-driven

front-of-the-book section. Currently the title opens with a series of

profiles featuring personal-triumph stories.



Bolotin, whose previous titles include Life, Vogue, Self and The New

York Times, is focusing on ways to catch the eye of the reader as she

flips her way through magazines on store racks. ’The more entry points

there are in one page - whether that’s artwork, text, a pull-out quote

or a box - the more it will make the reader stop,’ she says.



And though consumer affairs and cooking will always be the mainstay, GH

could branch out to topics like the Internet. ’We are about to freshen

it up, to look at the headlines and say, ’Why don’t we sell this story

more?’ ’ says Bolotin. The results won’t be evident until the

summer.



Right now, the average Good Housekeeping subscriber is between ages 30

and 55, though newsstand buyers are younger, between 25 and 40. The

magazine is in fact growing its circulation as other women’s titles

fight to keep readers. Circulation for the first six months of this year

was over 4.6 million - up from 4.5 million last year - while readership

is estimated at 24 million.



Bolotin describes the typical Good Housekeeping reader as a woman who’s

’not earnest but interested in the serious stuff.’



Some might feel the title’s etiquette column is a little old-world, with

advice about when to write thank-you notes or what to say to your kids

about sleeping arrangements when they bring their partners home. However

Gemma Puglisi, a media VP at Edelman, feels the magazine adequately

crosses the generational divide: ’It has tried to evolve and involve

women of all ages. My nieces still pick it up and look at the profiles

and consumer news.’ Puglisi also says the variety in the magazine

enables her to pitch an array of clients.



Celebrities are one way of attracting a younger reader (as InStyle well

knows). Bolotin expects there will be something of a backlash against

the trend - yet at the same time she admits that the two biggest-selling

issues this year featured Aniston and Katie Couric.



’We are open to much younger covers,’ Bolotin says. ’But we are not

interested in so-and-so with their new movie out. We want to find a way

to get close to that person. We are not celebrity-driven.’ Readers would

be hard-pressed to find a single celebrity in the December issue.



Good Housekeeping will carry ads only from companies whose claims it can

substantiate. Products are given rigorous tests in a huge futuristic

laboratory, the Good Housekeeping Institute, located a floor above the

magazine; the test results are published and featured on Dateline

NBC.



Despite the attempts to reach out to younger readers, it is clear where

Madison Avenue positions the title. The book is full of ads oriented to

older people - such as a menopause pill, Viagra and heartburn

remedies.



Even in the December issue there are few luxury goods or fashion

advertisers in what is a holiday edition.



From a PR standpoint, the magazine rejects products that it feels are

out of the readers’ budget, but many pros seek the esteem of a Good

Housekeeping seal of approval. The seal is awarded only to advertisers

and only after their products have been tested. Maureen Lippe, founder

of beauty PR agency Lippe Taylor, says a positive review in Good

Housekeeping has a tremendous effect on sales.



As with most monthlies, the staff writes about Christmas at the end of

summer and brainstorm about Valentine’s Day at Thanksgiving.

Consequently they need pitches early. The March issue, which has just

gone to press, will focus on emotional health, while April will carry a

finance feature.



Bolotin claims the May edition will be all about ’hip’ housekeeping, if

there is such a thing.



Bolotin’s advice on what not to pitch: ’Nothing on guns or tobacco’ -

the magazine dropped tobacco advertising years before government health

warnings.





CONTACT LIST



Good Housekeeping



Hearst Magazines



959 Eighth Avenue



New York, NY 10019



Tel: (212) 649 2200



Fax: (212) 265 3307



E-mail: tellgh@hearst.com



Web: goodhousekeeping.com



Editor in Chief: Ellen Levine



Executive editor: Susan Bolotin



Senior deputy editor (personal finance): Evelyn Renold



Senior editor (relationships, marriage, human interest, nutrition and

diet): Nancy Bilyeau



Editor at large (family matters, children, travel): Toni Hope



Fashion and beauty director: Dayna Spitz Special projects director

(Internet, e-commerce, new businesses): Richard Eisenberg



Articles editor (consumer news, social issues, politics, Institute

matters): Lisa Benenson



Beauty editor (beauty and fitness): Melissa Foss



The Better Way editor: Kirstin Godsey



Books editor: Phyllis Levy



Entertainment editor (celebrities, entertainment news): Kate Coyne



Features editor (features, profiles): Kathy Powers



Fiction editor: Lee Quarfort



Food director: Susan Westmoreland



Health editor (health, medicine, psychology): Susan Roy



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