Q&A: 'O' magazine's creative director Adam Glassman

Adam Glassman, creative director for 'O,The Oprah Magazine,' speaks with Nicole Zerillo about how he chooses featured objects, the O mindset, and the best way PR professionals can develop a relationship with the magazine.

Adam Glassman, creative director for O,The Oprah Magazine, speaks with Nicole Zerillo about how he chooses featured products, the O mindset, and the best way PR professionals can develop a relationship with the magazine.

Glassman has oversight of all the products featured in the magazine's fashion, style, and home pages as well as visual concepts including the cover and “anything to do with Oprah, herself.” He joined Hearst's O in its first year. Prior to that Glassman's experience included time as a contributing editor at House & Garden, and a style director at Self Magazine.

PRWeek: How do you choose the objects you feature?

We're not trend driven, and I think this is very important for people to know. This is not a magazine that [says], ‘It's May, and this is new and what's out there…' We really only put things in that we vet for [our] reader.

I do believe tried and true classic things also belong in this magazine, like a great body cream that's been around for 20 years as well as a brand new sneaker that's hot on the market.

“The O List” is Oprah's personal pick of stuff, [those] things that she loves. And, many of the items come directly from Oprah, herself: the things out there that she buys for people as gifts, things [that come from] her closet that she likes, or things that people give her as gifts. Then, there are also many things that we collect along the way that Oprah sees, and she loves that way.

PRWeek: How involved is Oprah with the magazine?

She's very involved. She goes over every page and all the products in the magazine.

PRWeek: Have PR professionals assisted you in discovering new trends and products for the magazine?

Of course… I really value a PR person who has done their homework. They have to understand the mindset behind it. They should be really targeted, responsible, and relevant, in their pitches. [Also], they should know who to pitch things to. They need to study and read the masthead.

PRWeek: What is the lead time for pitches?

We work on a three to four month lead time. “The O List” is unique because many times I try to shoot a few months at a time, so it could be maybe a month or two more than [the usual lead time]... So, right now, we're doing the fall issues, then in the beginning of summer we start focusing on the holiday gift guide, which is a very large gift guide for us.

PRWeek: Has your vision changed over the years for what O magazine should look like and be?
We have a very clear cut vision of this magazine, who our reader is, and how we want to project things, which are always about the look of things that are lush, abundant, pretty, bold, [and] slightly in your face in a very welcoming way.

Just as human beings evolve and should evolve, so should a magazine so things don't feel stale.

PRWeek: How do you align this focus with what your readers' interests and needs are?

It's a very unique readership because we speak to three generations of women. That age span [and] where they are at various stages of their life, is wide. So, we have empty nesters and people who are just starting out or perhaps are still in college.

We have very realistic readers. So, bottom line, we are very realistic about the kinds of things we edit and put in the magazine. Is it useful? Does it solve a problem? Does it make [a reader] feel alive and pretty? Realistic also is about the price point.

PRWeek: Have you noticed a change in the way readers are looking to O for help with their purchasing decisions given the recession?
Everyone looks at O to really be editing for them… So we ourselves are always evaluating the intrinsic value of each item, whether it's a big or small item. [It] doesn't matter what the price is. Even, for example, our “Holiday Gift Guide” this past year, we did all gifts under $100 dollars, because we all felt it was very important to do that. [This year, we did] not even have very expensive [or] over the top gifts, [whereas] in the past we've had a page or two.

PRWeek: How much synergy is there between the products featured on Oprah.com and The Oprah Winfrey Show and in the magazine?

With the Web site, we are very synergetic. The month that the issue comes out, [we] also feature everything on the Web site [and have] Oprah.com exclusives. We're always sending our readers to the Web site to look for a few extra little items or sometimes I do behind-the-scenes looks on some of the photo shoots, [where we sometimes do video]. Then, we're also able to link them directly to the stores and the manufacturers.

I get a lot of things from the show, and the show sometimes gets things from us, [but] we have such a different cycle being a monthly [from] the show [which is] a daily. They can come up with an idea for a “Favorite Things” show today and have it on the air in two days.

PRWeek: Do products cross over from the magazine into “Oprah's Favorite Things” show?

There is no guarantee that they will cross over at all. “The Favorite Things” [show] is [a] very secretive, hush-hush process. That's the show…They're a totally separate entity and how they find their stuff is the same way that everyone finds their stuff.

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