MEDIA: First, the Oprah Show. Now O, The Oprah Magazine. Oprah Winfrey seems to get her name in her own magazine often enough. Claire Atkinson explores the possibilities that you might get your clients’ names in there, too

O, The Oprah Magazine is the latest in a new crop of women’s titles espousing the less-is-more credo. But unless you’re a close personal friend of the talk show host turned editor, it’s not going to be the easiest pitch of your life.

O, The Oprah Magazine is the latest in a new crop of women’s titles espousing the less-is-more credo. But unless you’re a close personal friend of the talk show host turned editor, it’s not going to be the easiest pitch of your life.

O, The Oprah Magazine is the latest in a new crop of women’s titles

espousing the less-is-more credo. But unless you’re a close personal

friend of the talk show host turned editor, it’s not going to be the

easiest pitch of your life.



For public relations pros used to mammoth pickup from the rest of the

women’s-interest category, this ’personal growth’ magazine, given its

narrow focus, will be a serious initiative test.



O is a joint venture between Hearst Magazines and Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo

Entertainment Group and follows hot on the heels of Time Inc.’s newest

lifestyle launch, Real Simple. But while Real Simple addresses the

mundane with features on better banking and quicker laundry, O offers

readers an escape via articles on pursuing your dreams and organizing a

girls’ weekend.



Winfrey has said she wants to get away from the star-laden magazine

trend, although the pulling power of celebrities is not lost on this

virgin editorial director. Featured in the premiere issue are Tina

Turner, Jewel and Bill Cosby’s wife, Camille. Readers will also find

everything from Oprah’s influential book preferences to her own product

picks (Fendi sunglasses, Ralph Lauren mules) featured in The O List.





Oprah, Oprah, Oprah



Tim Jones, media writer for The Chicago Tribune, says he counted Oprah’s

picture 16 times in the first issue, compared with only two pictures of

Martha in the May issue of Martha Stewart Living. Jones thinks O is a

groundbreaking title but adds: ’It is rare to see something quite so

egocentric. When JFK Jr. launched George, it was clearly linked to his

personality, but we didn’t see him so much in the magazine.’



For anyone who hasn’t yet seen the title, Oprah graces the cover (photo

by Patrick Demarchelier), interviews Camille Cosby and offers her

favorite quotations on a pull-out-and-keep page. Even her paid help gets

to write columns. Oprah’s chef, Art Smith, cooks up a potato salad while

her personal trainer, Bob Greene, offers advice on how to start getting

fit. Oprah also gives her tips for a relaxing Sunday and writes both the

opening and inside back pages. Had enough Oprah, yet? It is likely her

editors have.



O is managed in true feminist style by a triumvirate. In addition to

editorial director Oprah Winfrey, there is editor-in-chief Ellen Kunes,

previously with Cosmopolitan, and editor-at-large Gayle King, who’s the

voice of Oprah when she’s not around.



Despite reports of disagreements about various editorial issues - Oprah

ordered a re-shoot because she didn’t like colored candles - the

magazine benefits from a strong voice. The title mixes the ’you can,

too’ ethos of new economy bibles like Fast Company, the ’triumph over

adversity’-type stories of Reader’s Digest and homemaking spreads that

wouldn’t look out of place in a Martha Stewart mag. It may not be such a

coincidence that Hearst hired Susan Magrino to help launch O, because

Magrino also represents Martha Stewart.



At least one New York PR pro likes it. ’I find it so directional and

new,’ says ex-Vogue writer Maureen Lippe, who co-founded New York

fashion and beauty PR agency, Lippe Taylor. ’I am so overloaded on

celebrity and superficiality. This is a whole new sensibility.’



That new sensibility, however, is less about product pushing and more

about getting in touch with the inner you. Will that pose problems for

PR executives? Lippe says the advantage is that when you do get picked

up, the impact is all the greater. She says O is a good showcase for her

clients because the pages are not jam packed with material. ’Things will

really stand out,’ she adds. Lippe has already spoken to beauty director

Christine Fellingham, who joins from Glamour. ’My impression is they are

looking for meaningful products that are aspirational but not

ridiculous,’ Lippe says.



One way into the magazine is to pitch The Oprah Winfrey Show. Former

model turned furnishings designer Tracy Porter appeared on the TV show

and was then contacted by magazine editors to be featured in the Dream

Big section. Porter’s office had sent unsolicited press kits to the TV

show producers. Publicist Catherine Sewall says the piece has helped

raise the number of hits on the firm’s Web site, though she was unable

to give figures.





Infiltrating O



Oprah.com is a good place to turn if you are looking to suggest ideas

for either the TV show or the magazine. The site has an area that allows

users to e-mail suggestions for other regular features. ’Nice Work If

You Can Get It’ is a recurring piece about women with unusual or

exciting jobs - this month’s story is about a woman who tries on shoes

for a living.



Another section, Use Your Life, is about people who’ve found happiness

through helping others.



The magazine, which launched with a million copies on April 19, has

attracted a broad range of advertisers, from Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

to Maybelline to Microsoft. Publisher Alyce Alston told CNN’s Bizz Buzz

that the title had signed up dollars 20 million in business before the

prototype was even launched, but denied that it would be profitable from

issue one.



At the moment, Oprah fanatics will have to make do with an issue every

two months, though O goes monthly in September. Magazine watchers will

be looking to future editions before jumping to any conclusions -

remembering that Tina Brown’s Talk attracted a lot of buzz before

fading.



The Chicago Tribune’s Jones wonders whether Oprah’s imprint will be

quite so obvious in future editions, given her heavy workload at the TV

studio in Chicago.



Somehow, we think it will be.





CONTACT LIST



O, The Oprah Magazine



1700 Broadway 38th floor



New York, NY 10019



Tel: (212) 903 5187



Fax: (212) 977 1947



Web: www.oprah.com



Founder and editorial director: Oprah Winfrey



Editor-in-chief: Ellen Kunes



Editor-at-large: Gayle King



Senior features editor: Michelle Burford



News editor: Betty Cortina



Features editor: Mamie Healey



Fashion director: Lisa Elwell



Contributing bookings editor: Michelle Schrobilgen



Contributing markets editors: Eve Feuer, Shari Slifer



Beauty director: Christine Fellingham.



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