MEDIA ANALYSIS: Getting creative with teens online

A new digital teen girl magazine has gone online in a market in which teenagers are increasingly turning to the web for entertainment and lifestyle information. Kate Magee asks how best to target the teen sites.

NatMags’ latest foray into the teen market is a weekly digital magazine linked to the CosmoGirl! brand.

With more teenagers going online to get entertainment, celebrity gossip and style tips – and the teen lifestyle press taking a resulting hit in the latest ABC figures published in February – digital media is becoming an increasingly important medium with which to reach teenage consumers.

Against this backdrop, the recently launched digital venture, called Jellyfish, will compete with the websites of teen girl ­titles such as Sugar and Bliss.

Jellyfish is one of three strands of CosmoGirl! – sitting between the print title and the website Jellyfish concentrates specifically on entertainment.

For PROs, the development of websites linked to print magazines as well as digital-only magazines such as Jellyfish offers a variety of creative opportunities to target teenage girls.

Websites are different
The editors of such sites stress that websites are different from print titles and need to be tar­geted accordingly.

‘Although we have the same brand values, we are a separate entity from the magazine’, says Anna Wakeford editor of

‘We link into the magazine’s features. For example, if there was a feature about friendships in the magazine, we may put a “BlissWorld” box at the bottom directing readers to the website, where we may have a section about celebrity friendships. But we don’t copy any editorial.’

Websites are clearly more visual, faster moving, thus more topical, and encourage greater user-interactivity than their print versions.

And PROs should not assume that the sites have an unlimited amount of space. So how should PROs tailor their pitches for the web?

Celia Duncan, editor of says: ‘We try to bring our readers the best of the web every week. We want to know about virtual performances, the availability of early downloads and amazing games or ­virals.’ Duncan also urges high-street fashion PROs to contact websites when products are available to buy online.

She says she welcomes approaches from PROs with promotional offers and discounts but stresses that opportunities to supply copy are minimal.

Wakeford agrees. ‘PR people provide us with too much copy and this ­really doesn’t work online,’ she says. ‘If users have to click down the page to continue reading, they often won’t bother. Make it short and think instead about the visual elements websites ­offer.’

The shorter attention span of the ­average consumer might reduce oppor­tunities for copy but PROs are advised instead to think about the additional assets that websites provide – such as video clips, audio content, games, images and interactive polls.

Wakeford adds: ‘Offering a Q&A with a celebrity is not really that useful. Far better for us is a face-to -face interview that we can put on the site.’

This interactivity is something that really sets the sites apart from print. They have online polls, post celebrity videos and there are style pages where you can dress mannequins in different products.

Emma Hoddinott, editor of, says: ‘We really put the emphasis on the user, letting them be famous and having their own personal page within the site.

‘We are not just restricted to copy. We can be far more creative with audio and visual interaction and react to more topical news and events.’

A recent example of such creati­vity was the Teenage Cancer Trust facilitating backstage footage of Russell Brand at the Albert Hall gig for Jellyfish. The content is exclusive to the site and carries a link to donate to the Trust at the bottom of the footage. Six PR also promoted Wrigley’s chewing gum online, where they produced a formula for ‘the perfect snog’. They used a spokesperson in a mock-up of a TV studio and streamed a live web chat over 17 sites, gaining a large amount of coverage.

PROs also need to be wary of sites’ deadlines. Excepting Jellyfish, which is a weekly, the sites are updated daily and are keen to put interesting stories up immediately. But they all plan themes and features between two to four weeks in advance. Jellyfish needs any fashion and beauty contact by the previous Friday and the deadline for news is the end of the day on Monday.

Getting the tone right
The editors also emphasise the importance of really engaging with the target audience and the websites themselves to ensure a relevant, well-pitched idea.

‘Companies often take a clunky approach to teenagers and get the wrong tone, be it patronising or just embarrassing,’ says Six PR associate director Lucy Freeborn. ‘The same level of insight and thinking is required here as in any campaign. Teenagers have a different way of communicating.’

Like their paper counterparts, the teen sites also require competition prizes and review copies. Matthew Bagwell, editor of, says: ‘If we are going to review music then we need copies and if we are going to review films we need screening invites.’

He argues that his users are also socially aware and says that the site will use material surrounding health issues, for example. As Freeborn says: ‘PR companies are not just limited to competitions. There is definitely scope for other interaction such as campaigns. Teenagers are far more issues-aware than people give them credit for.’

Editor Matthew Bagwell E
T 020 7553 3360
Best to contact via email
Editor Emma Hoddinott E
Deputy editor Alex Zagalsky
T 020 7150 7087
Best to contact via email
Editor Anna Wakeford E
T 01892 546 099
Best to contact via email
Editor Celia Duncan E
T 0203 004 4055
Best to contact via email

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