MEDIA PROFILE: Unflashy focus on everyday women helps Family Circle shine

While the majority of women's magazines cater to stars and sizzle, PR pros seeking to reach the everyday woman will discover Family Circle - and its 23 million readers - a must-pitch target.

While the majority of women's magazines cater to stars and sizzle, PR pros seeking to reach the everyday woman will discover Family Circle - and its 23 million readers - a must-pitch target.

In the fashionable and fickle women's magazine world, Family Circle is the sensible older sister. The website boasts that the magazine offers smart solutions to everyday challenges in a voice that encourages success for women. Emphasizing extraordinary women, family values, health issues, home decorating, parenting and good recipes, the magazine prides itself on a wholesome, intelligent approach to family life. With a circulation base of 5 million and readership of 23 million (many of its readers come from the supermarket checkout line), Family Circle sells more copies than any other women's magazine. According to deputy editor Nancy Clark, the magazine tries to appeal to every woman, but when she describes a typical reader, she says that the staff writes for "a woman in her early 40s who has children at home and is responsible for aging parents." Though its features are not PR-driven, Family Circle's service pieces, which comprise the bulk of the pages, are very pitchable, if the product fits. "Barbara Winkler, our executive editor, depends on press releases and PR pitches to know what's new and exciting," she says. But what's new and exciting to Family Circle's readers is not necessarily what is new and exciting in pop culture. Clark points out that even though computers are seen more prevalently in homes, Family Circle readers are not interested in technology and gadgets. Key targets for PR pros are FC Good Food, edited by Peggy Katalinich; Beauty and Fashion, edited by Linda Moran Evans; and Health and Nutrition, edited by Jean Maguire. The September 17 issue features health tips for women with asthma, decorating secrets from the Discovery Channel's Christopher Lowell, a fall fashion spread, and test-kitchen recipes. PR pros are also a driving force for the title's book excerpts, which are included with features. Other sections do not rely on PR pitches as heavily, but are still open to suggestion. "The Good Life is a section with splurges and interesting things," says Clark. "It's like a potpourri." Edited by Jonna Gallo, this month's section features the comeback of convection ovens, how to give yourself a fabulous foot scrub, and how to make a perfect martini. Another section called Circle This highlights good causes, events, and vacation spots. Edited by Margaret Jaworski, this month's section features anecdotes about a dog with cancer, a mountain-biking grandma, and a secluded Hawaiian island. The Women Who Make a Difference section shows the magazine's emphasis on extraordinary women and their dramatic true-life stories, but it's not completely dependent on pitches. "Sometimes, a woman who has made a difference will have PR representation," Clark says. "Every once in a while we do a celebrity there, but that's the only way a celebrity will be in Family Circle. We never do celebrities on the cover." Haasan Morse, a PR pro at Sarah Hall Productions whose clients include model Emme and Pilates expert Brooke Siler, says that his pitches were successful not because of celebrity, but because of quality. "They're covering [Emme] because she speaks to their audience. What they're interested in is knowing that she's an expert." Almost 20 years ago, Family Circle published 17 times a year to spread out ad content and fit more magazines on shelves, but now only puts out 15 issues, one every three-and-a-half weeks. PR pros looking to pitch their clients should be aware of the enormous five-month lead time. "We're just working on the 2003 editorial calendar now. We're just closing the Thanksgiving issue, but we're actually zipped up and planned through January," Clark says. "What's annoying is to get a PR pitch from someone who hasn't read the magazine," Clark says. "I have been getting a lot of calls from people who want to be in the holiday gift guide. We don't have a holiday gift guide. Our gifts are almost always crafts or things to make." The editors' hands-on approach to gift giving also applies to product placement in the magazine. "They'll come up and look at the product in the showroom," Morse said. Clark stresses that it's important to follow up. "I would like a very brief phone call outlining the pitch and follow up by e-mail or regular mail," she says. "Or send things in the mail and follow up by phone." Morse agrees. "The editors at Family Circle are very helpful with feedback. If a pitch isn't successful, I want to know why, and they will almost always tell me what makes a good fit." ------------ Contact list Family Circle Address 375 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Phone (212) 499-2000 E-mail first initial.last Web Deputy editor Nancy Clark Executive editor Peggy Katalinich Fashion/beauty director Linda Moran Evans Health/nutrition director Jean Maguire Senior editor Kathyrne Sagan Circle This Margaret Jaworski

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