Darcy Jacobs is the executive editor of Family Circle, which has been in print for more than 75 years. Jacobs' career started as a copy assistant at Health magazine, and after stints at publications such as Vogue, Seventeen, and Lifetime (which she helped launch), she joined Family Circle as articles editor in 2004. Promoted last September, Jacobs talked with PRWeek about her current responsibilities, trends of interest to the magazine, and why readers love slow cooking.
PRWeek: Family Circle editor-in-chief, Linda Fears, is a judge on the Food Network program Ultimate Recipe Showdown. Have you noticed an increased interest in food, in recipes, or more foodies out there?
Darcy Jacobs: There are definitely more foodies. We're 75 years old, and people have always come to us for great recipes and tips on learning to feed their families with quick and easy, healthy recipes. Even now more so, we're seeing a trend [of] home cooks. In some ways, there's something very elemental about feeding your family, about being able to… create a project from start to finish. People are aware of what they put into their bodies and eating healthier, and the best way to do that is to cook it yourself. People have more exposure nowadays to foods, too. We eat a whole range of food and that broadens people's interest in food itself. But also, right now with the economic climate, people are making some tough choices; people are realizing they can make really nice, healthy, less expensive meals from home.
PRWeek: The magazine covers women's and parenting issues. How have those issues and the magazine evolved in recent times?
Jacobs: We evolve with our readers and we evolve as life changes. People in general are much more in the know; they're exposed to much more information [than in the past]. But because of that, you need somebody who's going to wade through that information. Our readers come to us because we're an authority on topics and they trust us. We feel even more [of] a responsibility to [let them] know [what] is relevant. Our readers let us know what their concerns are and we try to address them. And in other ways, the magazine [has] evolved just in our layout. If you compare it to five years ago, it looks really different – fresher, cleaner, a lot more information without being busy. Even Web sites have informed how magazines approach topics.
PRWeek: What are some of the topics that you're following closely?
Jacobs: Our focus is tween and teen parenting. And obviously what's going on in the White House, we have a president who has two tweens, one of them will be entering [her teens] in the next four years. What's going on with tweens and teens is something that we focus on even more than in the past. It's a time when parents hit some challenges and they look to us to navigate those tricky times. People are spending more time at home. Entertainment - video games, renting movies, home entertainment – is something we're focusing on. [With] our food sections, as we talked [about] before, we're giving people more recipes and being very price-conscious. Home decorating on a budget is something we've always [done]. Whether it's de-cluttering or fast, easy ways to freshen up your house, that's another thing we're working on. For foods too, slow cooking, [is] a big trend. We now have a slow-cooker column [Slow Cooker Suppers] because people love the slow cooking. You can throw it in and 10 hours later, you come back and dinner is on the table.
PRWeek: What is the day-to-day of the Family Circle executive editor?
Jacobs: The beauty of my job is every single day is completely different. I'm always reading copy; we're working on about three issues at a time. I am going through [the editors'] ideas, sometimes top editing, overseeing [decks] and [headlines] and display copy, putting together plans for upcoming issues, running cover-line meetings, and I also look for my own stories. I used to be the articles editor, but now I'm looking for stories that are relevant and sending them on to the appropriate editor.
PRWeek: Are PR pros pitching you often?
Jacobs: We're definitely always being pitched by PR people. It depends on the needs of the different departments. Beauty, fashion, and food are getting pitched fewer story ideas, more products. For health, it's trends [and] reports and some products for the fitness area. For the articles department, it's the latest news, fewer product-oriented story ideas, [like] the video games and DVDs that are coming out, [and] the latest movie releases. For me, I handle books. I get books for review, so I'm constantly in touch with publicists from the publishing houses. We're always interested in “real women's stories,” women who are doing good whether it's on a grassroots, local level or a bigger effort that's reaching national. We're reading the newspapers, but we definitely look to publicists who are pitching people who they think might be interested. And we're also interested in travel. I'm still involved in travel, and that's another area where we're being pitched. Publicists are important. For us it's just [making sure] that they understand our demographics and our needs.
PRWeek: There was a graphic in The New York Times recently talking about the financial success of a number of different magazines. Family Circle is doing well. To what do you owe that success?
Jacobs: We have a really strong relationship with our readers, we know what matters to them, and I believe we deliver. We have an authority and trust and that's always been [the reason for] our longevity. We're going through uncertain times and people are going back to a trusted brand. Our message is, “Where family comes first,” and we uphold that message. We know what our readers are dealing with because a lot of us are moms, particularly moms with kids in the teens and tweens and we're realistic and relevant.
Name: Darcy Jacobs
Title: Executive editor
Outlet: Family Circle
Preferred contact method: (212) 499-1967
Web site: www.familycircle.com