After a stint as an assistant editor at now-defunct Gear magazine, Lieberman joined Alloy as an associate editor.
She currently serves as managing editor of Alloy.com, Alloy Media & Marketing's website, which boasts 1 million unique users. She's also freelanced for Heeb, Time Out NY, and Blackbook. Lieberman spoke to PRWeek about navigating the blurred line between content and marketing and what to pitch Alloy.
PRWeek: What is the editorial philosophy at Alloy?
Sara Lieberman: Alloy is a marketing & media company. As much as the department in which I work is the editorial and content department, everything the site stands for is marketing to teens. We try to get in touch with the reader and give them what they want, but doing it in a selling sort of way. It's not always content for content sake. Our job is to make it look that way. Often times, we get a lot of pitches that can't fit in because we have to watch our P's and Q's with marketing and advertising conflicting in editorial.
PRWeek: So the line between advertising and editorial is more tenuous than in, say, The New Yorker?
Lieberman: I think so. The line between advertising and editorial seems to blur on most websites anyway because you're clicking through pop-ups and ads. Alloy, specifically, is a media marketing company, not a website for a magazine, like teenvogue.com or ellegirl.com. So those get content and copy from the magazines. For us, it's all online. As such, it's about what we're trying to give our reader.
PRWeek: Is there concern about making sure readers know which is which?
Lieberman: It's hard. Since I'm the editorial manager, I want to make sure we're giving them content and that they know we aren't just here to throw some skin cream on them that the advertisers [supply]. We want to give them options.
At the same time, if we have some advertiser who wants to integrate some editorial, we try to make it so it's not that obvious. At least it will fit in. Most of the time it will work. For example, a lot of the movie studios advertise with us, and a lot of the time those film are ones that our demographic will watch. Those are easy to integrate. We did an interview of Lindsay Lohan for Mean Girls, when Paramount bought ad units with us. Stuff like that is easy. Other times our job here is to make sure it doesn't seem like such a stretch.
PRWeek: Besides the actor/actress Q&As, what other promotion do you do?
Lieberman: We're in the midst of a redesign in 2005. We're going to start focusing on the real girl - the Alloy user - and segue away from the celebrities. We want to get into the user-generated stuff, like secret of the day and joke of the day. Our main concern is allowing users to go online and talk back and forth.
We do a lot of style and beauty content. There are times where I'll get pitched fashion pieces, but again, we are also a merchandising company. We'll very rarely feature a clothing designer that isn't featured in our shop. A beauty pitch is probably the one thing we do rely on. With that, we look for cheap [products] because these girls are young. We look for fun, girly products.
Name: Sara Lieberman
Title: Managing editor
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