Media Profile: A new perspective for women - Terry Tavner, editor, Woman’s Own

Terry Tavner is tough. She doesn’t look tough or sound tough. She looks warm and friendly and she makes you feel at home quickly. But she’s tough. Tough enough to walk out of IPC after seven years editing Chat in a row about the way the magazine was run and tough enough to walk back after the row was sorted out.

Terry Tavner is tough. She doesn’t look tough or sound tough. She

looks warm and friendly and she makes you feel at home quickly. But

she’s tough. Tough enough to walk out of IPC after seven years editing

Chat in a row about the way the magazine was run and tough enough to

walk back after the row was sorted out.



She needs to be tough now, because she is facing a difficult job.

According to the most recent ABC figures, sales for her new title,

Woman’s Own have slipped 8.3 per cent to 653,000. The magazine needs

some rescuing if it is to achieve her stated aim of returning to the

’glory days’ when circulation topped 800,000. It is something Tavner has

done before. When she arrived at Chat in 1989 the circulation was a

meagre 300,000. Tavner went in with guns blazing, persuaded IPC not to

ditch the title and oversaw a relaunch that pushed the figures to

500,000. That is why IPC handed her the weekly title Eva last year,

which she made into a bridging magazine between More!



and the weeklies, despite the fact that More! readers perceived the

weekly market as aimed at older women.



At Woman’s Own there is a similar change in perception to be engineered,

but she reaches for the well worn phrase ’evolution, not revolution’ in

describing it. ’People think Woman’s Own is all about soap operas,’ she

says, sitting in her new office which has the past eight issues pinned

to the wall. Sure enough, all of them have soap stars on the front

cover.



’I want that to change. We will still have soap stories of course, but

they won’t dominate the magazine. I would also like to broaden out the

soaps that we cover to include ER, Casualty and The Bill.’



But Tavner has even more ambitious plans for Woman’s Own. Tavner is the

Chat editor who ran an interview with Margaret Thatcher in 1989, took

readers to 10 Downing Street while John Major was Prime Minister, and

after Tony Blair won the election, arranged for six single mums to

interview him for three hours. This is the kind of thing she wants to

increase.



’I want Woman’s Own to represent the opinions of all women, because I

think every woman in the country will pick this magazine up at some

point in her life,’ she enthuses.



Jane Bruton, editor of homes and lifestyle title Living etc, started her

career on Chat under Tavner. She describes Tavner as ’an inspirational

editor’. ’She has this way of making everyone on the magazine, from the

editorial assistant upwards, feel that they have a really important role

to play. She just gets the best out of staff. That is a rare skill.’



When it comes to the PR industry, Tavner is pretty scathing. ’What

irritates me most is when PR people fail to understand the difference

between the weekly magazines,’ she seethes. ’You get people offering Eva

incontinence pants and so forth. It is not really the fault of the poor

20-somethings at the agencies. It is the responsibility of their bosses,

who should tell them the differences - if they understand it themselves.

And, with 7.5 million women reading IPC weekly magazines, they can’t

afford not to.’



HIGHLIGHTS

1987

Assistant editor, She

1989

Editor, Chat

1997

Editor, Eva

1998

Editor, Woman’s Own



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