MEDIA PROFILE: Country Home skips sleek to stay focused on 'the way we live'

Country Home is no longer concerned with ideals suggested by its name, and instead looks at modern family life. So when pitching, keep it simple and make sure it looks good.

Country Home is no longer concerned with ideals suggested by its name, and instead looks at modern family life. So when pitching, keep it simple and make sure it looks good.

Country Home has abandoned outdated notions of country living, and is now focused on a comfortable modern lifestyle. If your pitch is fresh, simple, and stylish, then it's exactly what Country Home is looking for. Since its inception in 1979, Country Home has evolved into a lifestyle magazine that encompasses all aspects of modern family life. While the magazine does not have a tag line, the editorial team does stand by the slogan, "The way we live today." With 70% of its readership between the ages 25 and 49, Country Home is constantly targeting younger, hipper readers interested in tasteful yet casual decorating styles. "We do have a certain aesthetic we're looking for in pitches," says style editor Jennifer Zimmerman. "Sleek and hard isn't appropriate for us. We like fresh and simple, not the darker, more edgy look that we're often being pitched." With a circulation of 1.2 million and a median household income of $53,000, Country Home is targeting people in the core of family life who are decorating homes and raising kids. The young, energetic editorial team is busy redesigning the aesthetic of the magazine into a more elegant, cleaner publication, with a focused selection of products for young homeowners with disposable incomes. "This way, when a product is featured, it will stand out more and receive more attention," says managing editor Greg Kayko. The two sections that are the most open to pitches are Seen and Noted and Weekends. The former focuses on exciting trends, faces, and products, and is the best section for pitches of timely people and things. Weekends is a good section to pitch places, projects, and stories. This section is also very open to ideas that can be kept as resources to freshen up future stories, and keep them on the forefront of style. Recent weekend projects included instructions on how to build your own gingerbread barn, cabin, or church, as well as ways to turn leftover fabric into fun family activities. Full story pitches are not very useful to Country Home, so PR people should focus more energy on pitching trendy household items, hot travel ideas, or stylish decorating tips. While being timely is always welcome, it's important to note that Country Home has a six-month lead time on stories. The June issue is already closed, and a pitch would have to be irresistible to make it into July or August, as those issues are already fully scheduled. "The main thing is knowing that we work so far in advance," says Zimmerman. "We often get events or products when it's too late for us to use them, and that is very disappointing. Four months is the most we'd be able to stretch." Country Home does have an editorial calendar that can be easily accessed by calling the magazine's toll-free number. Country Home is open to a wide range of pitches, whether they be from the local Target or the most obscure antique store. Pitches should either be directed to Jennifer Zimmerman, the style editor, or Meredith Ladik, the senior building/special projects editor. Regular mail is preferred, although e-mail pitches are also welcome. But what separates the generic pitch from the great pitch is pictures. Visuals are extremely important, as they hit home the point of the pitch immediately, and save the editors time and energy. "We love simple presentations without a lot of text," says Zimmerman. "Just give us visual and straight to the point. Catalogues are always good, but what is really daunting is a press release. Too many words get lost in a pile, and are very unappealing." Zimmerman cites Target as a successful PR pitcher, as the retailer usually sends nice, colorful presentations, and is always introducing new items that have not yet hit the market. Country Home is welcoming ideas for its new sections covering fashion, health, and beauty, all of which will debut in the fall. These sections are very open to PR pitches, and it's a good idea to get in there before the masses catch on. The magazine will also start featuring a celebrity style favorite each month. Kristin Davis from Sex and the City will appear in the June issue. While the magazine is open to a wide range of possibilities, it is essential to keep the Country Home mantra in mind when making a pitch. "Country Home has a DNA," says Kayko. "It's made up of anything personal, comfortable, accessible, authoritative, real, and inspirational. It's what we live by." ----- Contact list Country Home Address 716 Locust St. Des Moines, IA 50309 Tel/fax (515) 284-3000; 284-2552 Web www.countryhomemagazine.com E-mail First.Last@meredith.com Editor-in-chief Carol Sama Sheehan Creative director Mary Emmerling Managing editor Gregory Kayko Style editor Jennifer Kopf Zimmerman Associate editor Shaila Williams Senior articles editor Diana Dickinson

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