Media: Cosmo still packs a PR punch

Women's magazines come and go, but Cosmopolitan has stood the test of time.

The global phenomenon that is Cosmo is still going strong despite facing recent tough times. These include the global recession and accusations from some parts of the media, including the Daily Mail, that it, along with other women's magazines, encourages low self-esteem and a negative body image in young women. But PROs agree Cosmo remains a top-tier target for clients.

Editor Louise Court claims the magazine stays true to the principles it upheld when it was launched in the UK in the early 1970s: 'The central ethos of Cosmo, to quote (former editor-in-chief of US Cosmopolitan) Helen Gurley Brown, is "live big, go for it and be the best you can be in all areas of your life". It aims to make the reader feel happy and confident about herself in every way.'

If some newspapers and commentators are to be believed, Cosmo and other women's magazines do exactly the opposite, with their propensity for featuring extremely slender models and celebrities. However, Court says: 'For Cosmopolitan, it is about empowering and encouraging women to love themselves and their bodies. We have run a whole campaign with interviews with plus-size model Crystal Renn and covering issues relating to body confidence.'

PR professionals note that Cosmo, while covering the women's mag staples of beauty, lifestyle, fashion, celebrity, sex and relationships, could offer more bang for your buck than some of its rivals.

'I think it has a wider variety and more content than any other women's magazine,' says Kim Bailey, account manager at Golley Slater. 'Glamour used to also have a lot of content but lately it seems to have stopped doing so many features.'

Despite this, Glamour still had the edge over Cosmo in the latest round of ABCs. But perhaps more tellingly, the rise in circulation for Glamour was just 1.2 per cent, whereas Cosmo recorded an increase of 4.4 per cent year-on-year.

'We love Glamour for clients, but we will always aim for Cosmopolitan as it is such a well-rounded magazine,' says Suzy Dee Holland, director of PR at London-based boutique agency Touch Media. 'For many of our clients it is the holy grail. The team is really friendly and always happy to speak to you and hear ideas.'

The respect for Cosmo is not surprising. Of all the magazines catering for the 20-something women's market - the average reader is in her late twenties - it has perhaps the greatest heritage, in the UK and worldwide.

'There is little doubt that 40 years ago Cosmopolitan revolutionised the representation of sex within women's magazines,' adds Helen Moore, MD of markettiers4dc editorial.

Not for nothing did Reese Witherspoon's character in the 2001 movie Legally Blonde refer to it as 'the bible'.


Circulation 470,735 (ABCs January-June 2009)


Launched in the UK 1972

Who was Helen Gurley Brown? Editor-in-chief of US Cosmopolitan for more than three decades. Widely credited with turning it into the world's bestselling women's magazine.


Features editor


- Who would make an ideal Cosmo cover girl?

Our readers love Cameron Diaz as she's successful and glamorous but also down-to-earth. We have also had Sarah Harding recently, who is strong, fun and not a man's woman. Dannii Minogue and Jennifer Aniston are also popular.

- Describe your relationship with PR professionals

We are a positive magazine and our content is upbeat so we have very good PR relationships. Like all editors, though, I find there are some PR professionals who really should read the magazine before they pitch to us.

- How should PROs pitch to the magazine?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Last week we had some people in from Walker's Crisps and they brought along a guy with just a packet of crisps covering his modesty. Obviously we can't have every PRO delivering a pitch with a semi-naked man but the occasional stunt is very entertaining. I recommend PROs get to know the people to whom they are pitching.

- How do you keep the balance right between showcasing aspirational and attainable products?

We listen to our readers. We do have readers who will want to buy designer clothes but we also cover high street fashion extensively.

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