Wenner PR team captures attention for Us' comeback

NEW YORK: Editor Bonnie Fuller is on a winning streak, and Us Weekly's PR pack wants everyone to know about it.

NEW YORK: Editor Bonnie Fuller is on a winning streak, and Us Weekly's PR pack wants everyone to know about it.

Using a formula of celebrity adoration that often borders on parody, Fuller has made long-struggling Us a newsstand hit.

The Wall Street Journal has called Us "the magazine of the moment," while the New York Post recently wrote that Us has managed "one of the most astounding comebacks in recent magazine history." Us was also mentioned in two recent Saturday Night Live skits.

The Us PR team is quick to take credit for the buzz. "This is not self-perpetuated. It's incredibly strategic," said Stuart Zakim, chief of corporate communications for Wenner Media, the publisher of Us. "We have an editor who has reinvigorated the magazine, and we are making the most of the opportunities."

Since Fuller took the helm this spring, Us has gone from a second-tier monthly to a weekly, with a circulation near 1 million.

Us is now often mentioned on Access Hollywood and Extra, and claims a regular segment on Good Morning America.

"I think we're at the point where the media that covers this category views us as an expert on things like celebrity fashion and dating," said Zakim.

Several outlets have reported on a budding Us-People rivalry. Us denies that it's propagating this David-versus-Goliath story, but it hardly seems to mind it.

"We never want to be the ones making that comparison," said Zakim. "But if people perceive it that way, then that's great."

Journalists who cover the magazine industry say that Us benefits from the comparison.

"There's no question it's a smart spin to portray it that way," said Daily News media writer Paul Colford. "I haven't bought into the idea that they're a threat to People, although some have."

"It's been interesting to watch their efforts," said Diane Jones, associate director of public affairs at People, a Time Inc. title. "But at Time Inc., success is measured at the newsstand, and reflected in the bottom line."

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