Media Profile: Knowing what She wants - Alison Pylkkanen, editor, She

With a few honourable exceptions, the last batch of ABC figures showed a huge number of titles losing readers. In its market, She has proved curiously resilient with a nine per cent circulation hike. Curious, that is, because in January it faced the launch of its first real rival in Emap’s Red.

With a few honourable exceptions, the last batch of ABC figures

showed a huge number of titles losing readers. In its market, She has

proved curiously resilient with a nine per cent circulation hike.

Curious, that is, because in January it faced the launch of its first

real rival in Emap’s Red.



Both magazines target the thirty-something woman, although She’s editor

Alison Pylkkanen is keen to point out that this is now a ’life-stage’

rather than simply an age.



’It’s about moving on from being single and proud and into a more

confident, grown-up woman who has made her mistakes,’ she says. ’The She

reader is probably in a relationship and living in her own place rather

than flat sharing, but she’s not craving maturity. These days, a lot of

35-year-old women are 26 in their heads. Being 40 is completely

different for us than it was for our parents’ generation.’



When She decided to first focus on this age group in 1990, Pylkkanen

says that response from advertisers was muted, but that attitude has

changed.



’Advertisers now realise that this age group is very discerning and

pretty well off,’ she says. ’They talk about appealing to a younger

audience, while still keeping their core audience in the thirties, and

we have to warn them that our readers don’t have time for things that

don’t talk to them directly. They don’t want to read about a moisturiser

range that works on women from 20 to 60. They don’t have the time to

edit out the information that doesn’t apply to them.’



It’s this knowledge of the pressures on her readers that Pylkkanen

brought to bear on She’s recent revamp. Although she denies that it was

prompted by the launch of Red, the timing says otherwise. Red hit the

newsstands in January with a huge advertising campaign and the

redesigned She came out in February. Whatever the timing, the changes

are something she’s proud of.



’We’ve changed our logo and tweaked the design to make it cleaner,

simpler and more accessible,’ she explains. ’Readers tend to turn to

magazines as part of a busy schedule so they want to find things quickly

and easily. That doesn’t mean they don’t want the magazine to indulge

them, though.’



The fashion and beauty sections have been completely redesigned. The

lifestyle pages (home, food and travel) have been expanded, there are

more features and more men writing. ’When you are younger, magazines

seem to treat men as a problem,’ Pylkkanen says, ’our coverage of them

is more celebratory.’



She admits to being a magazine junkie, so when she’s not editing one

she’s reading one. ’I love entertaining as well,’ she says. ’After all,

home is the new religion. And I’m a new mother, which takes up a lot of

time. And I watch ER religiously, like just about every She reader.’



HIGHLIGHTS

1990

Assistant commissioning editor, Good Housekeeping

1991

Managing editor, Good Housekeeping

1991

Deputy editor, Good Housekeeping

1995

Editor, Good Housekeeping Wedding Magazine

1995

Editor, She



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