The fuss over Posh and Becks’ wedding has proved to be a PR boon
for all those involved. It also proved a significant financial result
all round. The couple earned enough to put Brooklyn through Eton, should
they decide to put his name down, and OK! magazine reports a healthy
trade at the newsstands for the wedding special.
But what the public has not been privy to is the behind-the-scenes deal
which brought off the coup. OK! former editor Sharon Ring and Alan
Edwards from the Outside Organisation, which handles PR for the golden
couple, agreed the deal over a year ago. A combination of OK!’s cheque
book, populist agenda and Ring’s gift of the gab secured the
As it turned out, Sharon wasn’t at OK! to see the fruits of her
She left the magazine last summer to set up Emap’s new concept in travel
media - Escape Routes.
It is the latest stage in a career that saw her get the first front-page
splash on the News of the World when she convinced the aunt of
supermodel Jodie Kidd to spill the beans on her romp with Prince Andrew.
She also managed to persuade Ian Botham’s lover to reveal all about
snorting cocaine on the crease. Former boss Bernard Shrimster, the Mail
on Sunday’s first editor, calls her the ’great persuader’.
Escape Routes is, in one sense, a product of her persuasive skills. When
she left OK! last year, Emap was on the phone sharpish and asked her in
for a meeting. Once there, she moved the conversation on from whatever
it was Emap wanted from her and convinced the publisher that it should
launch her dream of a travel title.
’Escape Routes is the first multi-media launch,’ she says. ’It’s a
magazine, a web site and a direct booking phone service. I got the idea
from Good Housekeeping, which is one of the few mags to offer readers a
full service outside the pages of the mag itself through things like the
Good Housekeeping Institute.
’The title is aimed at people like me who are money-rich but
time-poor. People don’t just go on two holidays a year any more. They’ll
take six or eight weekends away and we will be including those sort of
breaks as well as the bigger holidays. And if you see something you like
in the magazine, you can give us a call and we will book it for you, or
you can use the web site to do the same thing.’
Launched in September, the magazine will see a second issue in January
and will then go monthly from April. Ring wants to include fashion,
health and beauty elements as well as travel advice and guides for
people hoping to use her one-stop-shop service. She describes Escape
Routes as the populist competitor to Conde Nast Traveller, much as OK!
is to Hello.
Lindsay Nicholson, editor-in-chief of Good Housekeeping, who worked with
Ring on the British Society of Magazine Editors committee in 1997, says
that such an attitude of effrontery is typical of Ring. ’Sharon takes
things on face-to-face, which is a rare talent. But she’s very grounded.
She knows the importance of a home life and friendship, which enables
her to be the consummate professional in the workplace.’
Features and showbiz writer, News of the World
Editor, OK! magazine
Launch editor, Escape Routes