Why Vogue magazine remains at the top of the pile

Few magazines can boast that they have been parodied in a Hollywood film (The Devil Wears Prada) or immortalised as the title of a classic Madonna track.

Vogue: June issue
Vogue: June issue

But Vogue is not just iconic, it is also consistently named as a must-read among PR professionals featured in PRWeek’s Power Book.

Vogue editor of 17 years Alexandra Shulman says she is confident her publication has what it takes to last in the current economic climate: ‘When people are uncertain they return to established names, but also to indulge in occasional escapist treats. That is where we come in – we are about fashion, style and contemporary culture. ‘Historically, Vogue has done well in difficult years – we have survived two world wars.’

Ethical consumer agency Excellart’s senior partner Jenny Liddle agrees: ‘In a recession, consumers fall back on trusted brands. Vogue mustn’t change. It is the fashion benchmark for stylish women. It offers women the ultimate dream.’

The title takes pride in its cult status. ‘Vogue is in a league of its own,’ says Shulman. ‘We work with the best people in the international industry, whether they are photographers, stylists, hair and make-up people or set designers. We always produce unique pieces and we have the power gained over a long history to lure the most interesting creatives.’

Vogue has been established in the US since 1892 and in the UK since 1916. Its scope extends beyond couture. Interviews with influential people, food and drink reviews and hotel and travel features appear alongside authoritative catwalk-features, beauty products and supermodel imagery.

Photo shoots from legendary photographers such as Annie Liebowitz and Mario Testino are a big hit with PR professionals.

Simon Warrington, marketing comms manager at Andaz Liverpool Street Hotel, which successfully pitched
its new restaurant, elaborates: ‘The shoots are amazing. Vogue really spends money on editorial. It is something you want to own and keep – it’s not chip paper.’

Agencies say pitching to Vogue comes down to knowing the right people. Kelly Luchford, founder of Luchford APM, says: ‘I feel strongly that you cannot pitch to Vogue. It is a PRO’s job to know what the magazine is interested in and the right editor to pitch to.’

She advises that getting to know the section editors and tailoring your approach is vital: ‘If I have a large feature idea or a client who deserves to be profiled, I personally sound out Fiona Golfar [editor-at-large] or Calgary Avansino [executive fashion editor]. Both have the editor’s ear and give valid feedback. I also consider Harriet Quick [fashion features director] to be instinctive, Sarah Harris [fashion features writer] as a delight to deal with and Emma Elwick [market editor] as the woman for upcoming trends.’

A perfect example of the kind of campaign that works for Vogue was Caviar House & Prunier’s YSL Love Caviar product. Witt Herring MD Lucie Herring points out that Vogue was an ideal vehicle for the story, given that the limited edition caviar tins featured intimate sketches by the late Yves Saint Laurent. Herring says: ‘Vogue is unrivalled. A lot try, but there is only room for one at the top – and that is Vogue.’

Advertising spend in the glossy title does not appear to be badly hit by the recession. Shulman says Vogue always aims to produce something unique: ‘We spend the money we have in producing these stories. We invest in the best production values possible to enable the fashion team to create exceptional images.’

The holy grail of the fashion world may appear a distant mirage to some, especially when magazines are curbing spending, but PR professionals are advised not to give up. MRA PR media director Mark Smith’s persistence paid off when his client’s skin exfoliation gel made it into the magazine in late 2008. ‘It took a while because Vogue is inundated with product samples,’ he explains, adding: ‘All my clients see it as the pinnacle of coverage.’

Circulation 220,386 (ABCs 1 July-31 December 2008)
Website vogue.co.uk
Unique users 1.2 million per month (Vogue figures)
Editorial staff 41
Contact info@vogue.com

 

A minute with... Alexandra Shulman, editor, Vogue

Who reads Vogue?
Anybody of any age who is interested in fashion, style and contemporary culture.

Who are your main competitors?
Vogue is in a league of its own. We have no direct competitors across the board. Occasionally we may be competing with a national newspaper or another monthly glossy, but we always produce something
that is unique.

Describe your relationship with PROs
We work a great deal with the PR industry. We like to be informed by PR professionals and to be helped to gain quick and efficient access to products we need. We also like to be able to trust the PR person and expect not to be given some drivel pitch.

Any advice for PROs?
Make an effort to know the individual editor of each department, while not trying to be best friends with everyone on the magazine. And don’t ever expect automatic coverage for your client.

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