Journalist Q&A: Ann Shoket, Seventeen

Seventeen editor-in-chief Ann Shoket talks to Bernadette Casey about keeping up with today's teens and the need for a holistic approach to maintain the brand's relevance

Name: Ann Shoket
Title: Editor-in-chief
Outlet: Seventeen
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Seventeen editor-in-chief Ann Shoket talks to Bernadette Casey about keeping up with today's teens and the need for a holistic approach to maintain the brand's relevance

Most adults struggle to understand teens' likes and dislikes. How do you do it with millions?

Girls send us all their thoughts all the time. We get thousands of e-mails, Facebook posts, and Twitter posts. We know what they like and don't like on our YouTube channel. Wherever our girls are, we are there, too.

They are constantly giving us feedback about what they like and don't like about what we're doing, but we also ask them about their world - their stresses, concerns, obsessions, and what they love. And we read every letter voraciously. Every editor reads reader mail every day. It's part of their job.

Keeping up with millions of teens is not as brutal as you would think. Once you are in the zone of paying attention to what's in and what's out, you get into the flow of their lives.

Clearly social media plays a key role in that.

Social media is crucial to it. We have 100,000-plus followers on Twitter and more than half a million followers on Facebook. Our website is a massive presence with its own built-in social network where girls connect with other girls giving and getting advice. All of that feeds back to the magazine.

We just did a huge partnership with Facebook about how it has changed girls' love lives. We're doing a big Twitter pro- motion this month in conjunction with our Body Peace effort. We're asking girls to tweet what they love about their bodies.

It is also important that those social media elements have an editorial purpose and that we are using those tools to further the editorial initiatives of the Seventeen brand.

The social networks are really woven deeply into the fabric of Seventeen's life. Every page of has social tools - you can like it or you can upload it to Facebook. We drive girls specifically from the magazine to Facebook to friend the brand. We don't silo anything. It is a deeply integrated experience. All our platforms are very co-dependent on each other.

Seventeen's December/January issue was the first available on iPad. How will that technology fit into the future?

IPad launched on the Zinio platform in the Zinio store. We are dipping our toe in the water and just getting the feedback now. The February edition will be in the Zinio store soon.

Everyone is rushing to understand what is happening on the iPad and figure out how their brand can be displayed. It's important to get some smart learning from putting issues out on the iPad. There is very little learning out there now.

In the bigger picture, it's important we are creating content the Seventeen girl loves and that we are using each platform to its best ad-vantage and customizing the experience throughout.

What is the most well-read area in print?

Our girls are obsessed with fashion and beauty, but one of the most interesting surprises for me is that they have become equally as obsessed with health and fitness - and those are the strongest drivers in the world of Seventeen.

What is most important is for us to present a balanced view of health, fitness, and body image. We have a tremendous campaign, the Seventeen Body Peace Project, which has been a four-year-long commitment to help girls make peace with their bodies.

In the November issue, we announced a celebrity Body Peace panel with Serena Williams, supermodel Coco Rocha, Glee's Amber Riley, Whitney Port [former star of The Hills], and Katherine Schwarzenegger. All of these women have committed to working with Seventeen for a year, giving girls advice online and in the magazine about how to have a positive body image. We are deeply committed to this.

Our fitness page also gives girls access to celebrity trainers. Those are important exclusive parts of the magazine.

What will be a major focus for you in the coming months for the Seventeen brand?

My biggest push is to see the brand in a holistic way, for us to be as strong as we can on all platforms and as deeply dialed into our girls' lives as possible.

We have the hottest celebs on our covers, the most engagement with our readers on the website, and we're connected socially. We relaunched our website in the middle of last year. It was really a push for it to be a social experience.

What has changed about the Seventeen girl?

Seventeen readers are incredibly curious about how they will make their mark on the world. We've seen a huge swing toward social activism. Girls want to change the world around them and have a real impact on the things they care about.

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