MEDIA: Heat is on for editor of top celebrity title

Recent headlines from Heat magazine's website include 'Who's been pissed on by their own dog?!', 'Who wants to see an accidental bum flash?!' and 'Cringe alert for Tara P-T!'

No-one, then, is going to ­accuse the celebrity weekly of being too highbrow. It is, however, a crucial outlet for entertainment PROs looking to reach the magazine's 500,000 loyal readers.
This month, long-time Heat staffer Julian Linley took over from recently departed editor Mark Frith. Linley has a tough task on his hands.

Not only has Heat's circulation dipped, but the title's ethics were called into question last year. Heat featured a sticker lampooning glamour girl Jordan's disabled son Harvey. The Press Complaints Commission got involved and the magazine apologised, but only after the distasteful jibe had made headlines nationally.

One PRO remembers an ­unpleasant experience with Heat. ‘When I was doing PR for Disability Now magazine, we had an exclusive with Heather Mills,' says Rob Dyson, now PR manager at a charity for disabled children.

‘Heat covered it on the website in a bit of a dodgy way, suggesting Heather had been in the media wilderness for yonks, and then she did a random interview with a disability magazine.'
Other PROs, however, have pitched rather niche clients to Heat with great success, thanks to some creative ­angles - and an open-minded team of young, enthusiastic journalists.

Red Signal PR has managed four separate pieces of coverage for Japanese accessories client Momiji. ‘Heat doesn't often place products, so we used the hook that Gwen Stefani and Kelly Osbourne are obsessed with Japanese collectables,' says account executive Fran Pearce.

Unsurprisingly, celebrity PROs have the easiest time of it, thanks to the many pages Heat devotes each week to photo spreads. Katie Phillips, the PR Office's lifestyle and entertainment division head, has secured reams of coverage for comedian clients Ricky Gervais, Alan Carr and Justin Lee Collins, often by convincing them to make fun of themselves in front of the camera.

Of course, the sorts of businesses that might have problems pitching to other more staid weeklies thank their lucky stars for Heat and its ­obsession with all things ­celebrity. ‘We often get ­approached by the magazine for plastic surgeon's quotes on secret celeb surgery or procedures gone wrong,' says Shami Thomas, PR manager for Transform Cosmetic Surgery.

‘It's great when we get sent awful photos that no-one has seen yet and are asked to comment on them. Heat always gives good name-checks and credits. It's a fabulous magazine to work with.'

A minute with... Julian Linley, editor, Heat
What can we expect from your editorship - any changes planned?
Heat will continue to be a magazine that sets the celebrity agenda - just this week our ‘Stars Without Make-up' shoot made the whole page three of the Daily Mirror, a page in the Daily Mail and a segment on GMTV. Expect a lot more of this.

My main ambition is to make as many people laugh as possible - that what's Heat's all about. But it's not just the magazine; we're a multi­platform brand - in print, online and on air.

Are you open to PR pitches?
Absolutely. We are always looking for news stories - it's the lifeblood of the brand. However, what's more important than ever is originality and exclusivity. Save it just for us and we'll give you a damned good show.

How is the content on different from that in the magazine?
The website is about breaking celebrity news - what's happening right now. The magazine offers a deeper experience: context, emotional detail and background on a story.

Frequency Weekly

Audience 533,034 (ABCs July to December 2007)

Deadline Press day is Tuesday

Editor Julian Linley
020 7859 9657

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