The recent decision by Hachette Filipacchi to cease printing ELLEgirl and shift to an online-only format triggered speculation that teen girl outlets may be the next media category to undergo a huge shakeout.
But ELLEgirl's move notwithstanding, Susan Schulz, editor-in-chief of CosmoGIRL!, argues that teen girl media, especially magazines, are as robust as they've ever been. "These magazines are almost like a rite of passage for girls where they feel they're at an age now where there's something out there for them," she says. "That means there's an emotional connection that's stronger than almost any other magazine category."
Nikki Walker, director at Pierce Mattie Public Relations, adds that it's also a category where you can have better success pitching the lower rungs of the editorial masthead. "We pitch assistant and associate beauty editors rather than the beauty editor," she says. "Not only are they more responsive, but they're also the ones writing a lot of the stories."
Most teen girl outlets focus on a tried-and-true mix of fashion, beauty, relationship advice, and, in many cases, a healthy dose of pictures of young male celebrities. But Schulz points out that CosmoGIRL! also devotes space to new technology, as well, adding, "We know a lot of these girls are texting each other and looking to use the latest gadgets for social connections."
"It can be hard to wrap your head around the fact that teen girls are light years ahead of us in so many aspects of their lives," adds Molly MacDermot, editor-in-chief of M magazine, one of three teen girl-centric magazines from Bauer Publishing. "They are blogging, they are shopping online, they have MySpace accounts, and they are playing video games."
This tech savviness not only explains ELLEgirl's move, but also seems to make reaching this demographic a bit easier. "You can now pitch ellegirl.com or cosmogirl.com if you can't get it into the print publications," says Lauren Swartz, senior account supervisor at M. Booth & Associates, adding that these online outlets look to PR agencies for product giveaways that drive traffic.
On the broadcast front, such shows as MTV's My Super Sweet 16 get most of the attention, but tend to be more product-placement driven. Walker advises to focus on morning shows instead, adding, "Our clients find regional shows like Good Day New York really move products since many moms and teen daughters tend to watch them together."
PITCHING... TEEN GIRL OUTLETS
Teen girl outlets have a strong celebrity component. "Teen girls are highly sensitive about the 'cool' factor, and if a celeb can show how much she likes the product, then you're good to go," says MacDermot
Don't just pitch single products for review; package a client's products into longer trend pieces, such as "Great Looks for Summer"
Target not just individual magazines, but specific sections. Schulz says, "I'm a lot more responsive to pitches that note, 'This would be perfect for your She's So CosmoGIRL page'"