Interview: Amy O'Connor, Health.com

Amy O'Connor has 20 years of experience editing health magazines.

Name: Amy O'Connor
Title: Editor-in-chief

Outlet: Health.com

Preferred e-mail address: amy_oconnor@health.com

Outlet: www.health.com

AMY O'CONNOR has 20 years of experience editing health magazines. She joined Time Inc. in 2007 and helped to launch Health.com, the sister Web site of Health magazine, in May 2008. Nearly 50% of Health.com, which includes information about disease and conditions, is original content.

PRWeek: What is the magazine's demographic? And, is the online demographic any different?


Amy O'Connor:
The average age is about 30 to 50 but the median age is about 40. It's almost all women. The online demographics are a little bit older, closer to 50. Women are more likely to search online for condition-related information, even if it's for men. If you have a man in your life and you want him to read about prostate cancer, you're going to go online and give it to him. He's less likely to go online. Over 70% of our users come from search engines, from Google or Yahoo, so we don't always know who they are.

 

PRWeek: Can you talk about how Health.com is covering what sounds like health issues for both men and women, as opposed to other women's magazines and Web sites?


O'Connor:
We're about 40% diseases and conditions like breast cancer, diabetes, mental illness, bipolar disorder, and 60% lifestyle like healthy recipes, fitness, stress reduction, and natural medicine, as well. We also cover news-related health issues, so breaking news is very important.

PRWeek: Can you give me a recent example of a story idea or pitch from a PR professional that was useful for you and the Web site?


O'Connor:
Pitching an expert is a good way to get placement on-site. If we're doing a story on breast cancer… and there's an expert that's being promoted by a PR person, as long as they have good credentials, it gives me a lot of confidence if they're coming from a PR person. [Then] they've got some media training and they're at least comfortable talking to the media, so we're going to get a good interview with them.

Also, [we're interested in] people who have unusual disorders or who have diseases that are interesting or charismatic. For instance, we did a story about a young man who was really very funny who has bipolar disorder, but he was pitched by a drug company that is for people with mood disorders. We didn't mention the drug company. We just did a story on him.

 

PRWeek: When it comes to health stories on the Web site, what trends are you seeing, in terms of what your readers want to read about?


O'Connor:
Our readers are always interested in weight loss. Everybody knows about the obesity epidemic and wanting to get skinny. But, also, obesity and being overweight have the so-called co-morbidity.

We find that our users come in to read about diabetes, but they stay because we have lots of information about healthy recipes and fitness. People are definitely searching for healthcare reform information, and we tend to leave that to the news organizations and news sites, like Time.com. But we're definitely thinking about how to cover it in a more personal health way that's unique.

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