Journalist Q&A: Robbie Myers, editor-in-chief, Elle

Elle editor-in-chief Robbie Myers has worked for such consumer titles as Rolling Stone and Seventeen. She talks to Alexandra Bruell about the significance of branding at Elle and its new ventures in the digital space.

Name: Robbie Myers
Title: Editor-in-chief; VP, brand content
Outlet: Elle
Contact: ekaplan@hfmus.com
Website: elle.com

Elle editor-in-chief Robbie Myers has worked for such consumer titles as Rolling Stone and Seventeen. She talks to Alexandra Bruell about the significance of branding at Elle and its new ventures in the digital space

Brand content is in your title. What does it mean for your responsibilities outside of traditional editorial leadership?

RM: Editorial is present in most, if not all of the branding. For example, we have editors and marketing people on television shows. Erin Kaplan is on MTV's The City; she's director of publicity here. Joe Zee is also on the show; he's our creative director.

We have editors who are clearly dedicated to print and those clearly dedicated to Web, and we're actually trying to meld those together. Whoever is producing content must think about how it will be expressed in digital mediums, what's the iPad part, what's the print part, and so on.

What new things are you doing in the digital space to reach your readers?

RM: There's been a big push in beauty on Elle.com. The online audience has a great appetite for beauty and the users consume it in a very particular way. We have a section where users can upload their own beauty how-to videos.

Another element that's a big part of the identity of Elle is accessories. When we brought the magazine here 25 years ago, it came with that French idea that accessories are the way you can express your personal style. We're creating a separate accessories channel on Elle.com.

When will that launch?

RM: It's in the making right now, and then we're relaunching the blogs to become a news destination. My editorial director Keith Pollock is running all these things.

How are these high-profile reality TV efforts related to your goals for the overall Elle brand and positioning?

RM: It's not just reality TV. We've been on scripted television. We've developed a nice relationship with morning shows, providing editorial content.

There's a much larger media presence, which, of course, is important for branding. It says who we are, what our point of view is, where we stand on everything from fashion to politics, beauty, health, and sexuality, all of which we cover. We are a core fashion title, but we cover a lot of different things. I like to think we cover them well.

Elle seems to have done well over the past couple of years, especially considering the downturn. Have these branding efforts contributed?

RM: Without a doubt. Project Runway was, in the fashion industry, unique, and our relationship with it changed the landscape of various magazines' relationships with television. We were able to reach out to a whole new audience.

Particularly with The City, in terms of our reach and our MRI [Mediamark Research & Intelligence] research, we had a 35% increase in our 18-24 audience. If you're a scientist, you couldn't prove cause and effect, but that's The City's key demographic. The other thing is our audience recently went from 5.2 million to 6.1 million, an 18% increase, the largest of any fashion title.

What industry trends are impacting your coverage?

RM: A sobriety came along with the economy over the past two years, but now I see a return to luxury. Our pages are starting to reflect that, but it's luxury as it relates to quality and investment.

Do you think Elle needs to feature affordable items, as opposed to something trendy and less affordable?

RM: That idea has always been a part of Elle's DNA. Our view on fashion is personal style. Personal style is about mixing. We show things at all price points because we like them and we cover all ends of the market.

What are you planning for the future? Will you continue with the branding and reality TV?

RM: Yes. We have a new chief brand officer starting in a month. She's going to have a lot of ideas. We're going to have a new leader and figure out what comes next together.

Please describe your interaction with PR pros.

RM: The ones we work with and have built relationships with over a long time are incredibly valuable, particularly in the core areas we cover - fashion and beauty. It's best, if we don't know each other, to try to develop a relationship with someone who covers your particular market.

Generally, I have only respect and gratitude for the PR pros we work with. However, if you don't know me, I'm probably not the best place to start.

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