Why Red magazine is winning the race for readers

What magazine does the 20- to 40-something female reader pick up when she tires of seemingly endless sex, celebrity and diet stories?

Lifestyle: Red's fashion spread
Lifestyle: Red's fashion spread

According to ABC figures, she picks up Red. The Hachette Filipacci title saw its circulation rise to more than 225,000 at the end of 2008 – a record level.

PR professionals, many of whom subscribe to Red themselves, say the magazine is successful because it treats its rea­ders like intelligent women.

‘It is the only magazine that does not treat me like a celebrity-hungry, weight-obsessed, man-addicted 30-something,’ says Pam Sharpless, director of USP Content. ‘I love the success stories of women starting their own businesses when they have families. It is very inspirational.’

June issueIntelligent female readers

The average Red reader, acc­ording to editor Sam Baker, is ‘educated, around 50 per cent have children, most have a car­eer and those who do not have chosen to stay at home with their children’. The average age is mid-thirties, although readership ranges from mid- twenties to upwards of 40.

Red is for women who have grown out of Glamour and Cosmopolitan but are never going to be old enough for Good Housekeeping,’ says Baker.

Readers vary from those who  buy fashion and gossip titles such as Vogue and Grazia, to those who buy The Sunday Times. This means content needs to be relevant to both groups. Talent is welcome, but pitches cannot be overly celebrity-saturated.

Celebrities have to be 'women's women'

Red does feature celebrities, but they have to be ‘women’s women’. ‘We have an interview with BBC Radio 1 DJ Jo Whiley coming up, and Birmingham City MD Karren Brady,’ says Baker.

Other ‘Red women’ inc­lude Yasmin Le Bon, who Baker says has proved overwhel­mingly popular, Nigella Lawson and Kate Winslet: ‘Readers would rat­her read about inspirational British women.’

As well as talent Red has the usual PR openings of fashion, beauty, lifestyle and family.

Abigail Harrison, MD of PR agency thebluedoor, keeps in contact with the magazine’s food editor Deborah Robertson: ‘She is honest in her product feedback and very supportive of smaller products.’

The key to working with Red, according to Mothership PR director Jules Somerset Webb, is to know the readers and know your subject. ‘If you get it right, the journalists at Red will work very hard for you,’ she says.

Mothership rec­ently pitched a feature on a client who is a personal trainer and professional athlete. ‘They loved the angle and for this particular client Red was spot on,’ she says.

But she warns against going in under-prepared, as the editorial team know their readers inside out and will want all relevant information. ‘Even the photographers know what they want and know Red as well as the journalists.’

Circulation 225, 380 (ABCs, 1 July-31 December 2008)
Frequency Monthly

General editorial enquiries
Lisa Harvey 020 7150 7641


A minute with... Sam Baker, editor, Red

Sam Baker, editor, RedWhy is Red holding up well during the recession?
Red is a little luxury. It is the kind of magazine you curl up on the sofa with. We are becoming a favourite purchase now people are not buying four or five magazines a month.

What is your policy on using skinny models?
We work with older models and models that reflect the reader. There is nothing worse than a 32-year-old opening a magazine and seeing all of the clothes on a 16-year-old beanpole. Models look better in clothes than the rest of us, that is a fact of life, but if the model is 29 and has had a child our readers can relate to her better.

Describe your relationship with PROs
On the whole most PROs are pretty good at their jobs. I will occasionally hear my features director giving someone short shrift. We cannot trot out another ‘Ten things women need to know about love’.

Any PR pet peeves?
I cannot bear it when people ask for our features list for the next three months.

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