InStyle celebrity mag revels in its solid success

InStyle magazine is on top of its game and being taken very seriously as a credible source of positive Hollywood and celebrity news. Claire Atkinson reports.

InStyle magazine is on top of its game and being taken very seriously as a credible source of positive Hollywood and celebrity news. Claire Atkinson reports.

InStyle magazine is on top of its game and being taken very

seriously as a credible source of positive Hollywood and celebrity news.

Claire Atkinson reports.

Linking your product or project to a celebrity is a well-worn way of

getting into print, but if you’re pitching to InStyle, Time Inc.’s

celebrity-stuffed lifestyle magazine, you’d better be able to back up

your claims.

Senior editor Stephanie Tuck says that the magazine’s content is

rigorously fact-checked. ’We take these claims seriously. We need to

have them written on your company letterhead.’ Tuck has killed pieces

when PR pros could not substantiate their pitches in writing. However,

InStyle does not check with celebrities themselves that such PR claims

are accurate.

Then there’s the issue of backing out of the story. Tuck tells of how

one PR pro pitched a hotel where Cher had stayed, but then backtracked

when the management changed its mind about making it public. Tuck says

the lesson there is not to start down the road if you’re not prepared to

go the whole way. ’People have got into trouble with me when they’ve

told us things and had second thoughts,’ she adds.

Tuck, a freelance writer before joining InStyle, spent four years at

fashion title W. She says the InStyle staff members are very close


They’re planning an office brainstorming session in - where else? -

Antigua in May. Last year’s jet-set destination was Jamaica.

The staff deserves its perks. InStyle’s performance since its launch in

1994 can be summed up in two words: ’massive success.’ The rate base has

grown from 500,000 in June of 1994 to 1.3 million in January 2000.

And the tightly focused celebrity lifestyle package has forced other

women’s titles to up their star quota to compete.

But managing editor Martha Nelson, who joined from People, is quoted as

saying that rivals can’t hope to compete by using celebrity covers

alone. InStyle differs from other women’s magazines in the way it covers

the New York- and Los Angeles-centric celebrity scene.

InStyle is not about who’s dating whom. It’s all about lifestyles of the

rich and famous. However, you can be famous by association. The February

edition features the wife of actor Dylan McDermott, who hosted a

spiritual-girls-only party in her backyard. The edition also carried an

article on how celebrities keep their wardrobes tidy. Tuck insists there

are no deals done with publicists over content, but adds that if InStyle

is being invited to cover a celebrity wedding, the brides know the

magazine will be sending along a top-name photographer.

’They have built such an incredible track record that there isn’t much

education that needs to go on with the client,’ says Michael Nyman,

president of Hollywood PR shop Bragman Nyman Cafarelli, which organized

InStyle’s Golden Globe party last month. ’It is a win-win situation for

us, because the magazine is so seamless, it isn’t jumping between

editorial and advertising.’

Tuck explains that InStyle has a credibility factor that has kept the

title in Hollywood’s good graces. ’We are not interested in printing

rumors. We are not interested in tearing people down, and we don’t have

a gossip section. I’d say we are generally positive.’

InStyle has been ribbed mercilessly for such devotion and was once

dubbed an ’ass kisser’ by Spy magazine. The magazine is looking to make

celebrities lives more accessible. Rather than pushing stars’ latest

projects, getting onto its pages depends on providing information on

what they are doing outside their professional lives.

While InStyle is all about escapism, the opportunity to partake in the

fantasy is what makes it so appealing to readers. Indeed, the title is

an unabashed catalog of places and products, with stories accompanied by

toll-free numbers - a great incentive for PR pros to get mentions for

their clients.

This month’s cover story about indulgence features everything from how

to get courtside Knicks tickets (so you can cheer alongside Spike Lee)

to ordering macaroni and cheese at New York’s Canteen restaurant (as

eaten by Matt Dillon and Shannon Doherty).

The magazine’s bulging press kit is chock-full of facts about the

achievements of Time Inc.’s first fashion-and-beauty title. It contains

an unusual range of testimonials, not from advertisers, but from firms

whose products have been ’placed.’

The July 1998 ’Objects of Desire’ section pictured a pair of chairs

priced between dollars 650 and dollars 870, as did Elle Decor and House

& Garden. But Carol Banz, customer relations manager at Maine Cottage

Furniture, notes: ’InStyle readers are the ones who make the calls and

place the orders.’ Fashion firm Parallel, whose faux-pony pants were

featured in the fall 1999 issue, says it immediately sold out when the

magazine hit the newsstands.

InStyle’s demographics are surprising. Its audience is pretty affluent,

though only a third graduated college. Almost 24% of its 4.4 million

estimated readership earns over dollars 100,000, though the median

income is dollars 62,000. The average age of an InStyle reader is 32.

That figure puts the magazine in a bracket with Metropolitan Home and

Food & Wine.

Also in the company’s media kit is a detailed list of upcoming


April’s cover features Charlize Theron and an Oscar glamour section as

well as a cover story on how celebrities ’prep, primp and polish.’ May’s

edition features the year’s hottest wedding ceremonies and tips from

Hollywood’s event planners.

Meanwhile, Tuck is looking ahead to putting together a fitness issue in

June. The issue, which closes at the end of March, features diet,

exercise and beauty regimes alongside a summer fashion report. Celebrity

moms and their kids are featured in July while the August issue looks at

how to travel like a star.

Just as People spawned InStyle, so InStyle is looking to capitalize on

its own name with spin-off magazines. In the middle of last year the

title announced it would launch a series of single-topic special issues

to come out quarterly. The first, InStyle Weddings, went on sale January

10. InStyle Makeover, InStyle Entertaining and InStyle The Look are

scheduled to come out later this year.


InStyle Time Inc.

1271 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10020

Tel: (212) 522 4455

Fax: (212) 522 0867


Managing editor: Martha Nelson

Executive editors: Charla Lawhon, Jeannie Park

Senior editors: Tim Allis (homes), James Patrick Herman (parties),

Angela Matusik (’Scene and Heard’), Hilary Sterne (working moms,

weddings, fashion 101), Stephanie Tuck (music, travel, hot hotels)

West Coast editor: Mark Morrison

Senior editor, west coast: Robin Sayers

Special projects editors: Cynthia Parsons McDaniel, Krysia Plonka

Fashion features director: Hal Rubenstein

Fashion news director: Cynthia Weber Cleary

Market editors: Alice Kim, Toby Tucker

Beauty director: Kim-Van Dang

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