Media: Cut the fluff to sway Psychologies

Amid the glut of women's magazines declaring the latest fashion 'must-have', or screaming about celebrities and their sex lives, Psychologies is a breath of fresh air. The magazine's focus on the cerebral, through detailed features on emotional intelligence, serves a well-educated and upmarket readership.

Editor, Psychologies :Louise Chunn
Editor, Psychologies :Louise Chunn

But its market position as an 'intelligent read' also demands a specific PR approach.

Psychologies' core readers, women in their thirties and forties, are looking for intellectual stimulation. The magazine's recent reader research found that more than 78 per cent read the title for intellectual reward (this figure is only 19 per cent for other upmarket glossies). A more subtle approach and well-developed ideas are key. Fluffy press releases will not work.

Editor Louise Chunn backs this up. Two months into her new role, she is planning to revamp the magazine, as well as refine its proposition. 'The magazine is about the way women feel, not just the way they look. The most obvious difference is that we don't cover fashion. Our readers come to us for reliable, well-researched information that is about a more serious side of life,' she says.

The magazine includes a 'dossier' section focusing on one issue. The latest example explores women's feelings about ageing and advises them on how to accept the process. Contrast this with the focus on botox treatments in other titles, and Psychologies' different approach becomes clear.

This means overt product placement in the title's beauty section is unwelcome. 'We do give our readers all the facts about products and prices, but we keep it very separate from the more emotive side of the article. Product placement needs to be done carefully and in the right areas,' says Chunn.

Likewise, she says the travel section 'focuses less on big-spend bling palaces' and more on places to go for relaxation or an experience.

The title's healthy culture section presents a good opportunity for PROs. It lists upand-coming events such as art exhibitions or the latest plays and has a heavy focus on books and films. Arts and culture specialist Colman Getty has secured recent coverage, getting its book client Andrea Levy's The Long Song reviewed, its author Val McDermid to write a 'think tank' piece and getting client The School of Life quoted in longer pieces such as 'The Art of Conversation'.

Account director Hannah Blake says she will see whether any of the themes explored in her clients' books can be made into interesting feature topics for the magazine, such as a discussion about the mother-daughter relationship.

She adds: 'The magazine is for intelligent women who want something that's not fluffy. Too many consumer magazines focus on what lipstick to buy. It's not opposed to that, it wants to attract glamorous women, but it goes above that.'


A MINUTE WITH ... Louise Chunn, editor, Psychologies

- What are your plans for the title?

We need to settle into a good grown-up, elegant, sophisticated look. A wordy, intelligent magazine should look fantastic, especially with the onset of the internet. A magazine needs to offer information differently; it should be a visual pleasure.

- What type of celebrities do you want on your front cover?

Articulate ones with a story. We can allow more variety in the way they look. They can be different ages, but not too young. I'd say they need to be in their thirties or forties. I hope they haven't become so plastic looking that they've lost their individual looks.

- How does your website relate to the magazine?

Our magazine editorial team also runs the website. We've started to write daily features on what's happening in the world that day, or on a hot topic of conversation. That seems to be working well.

- What is the best way to contact your staff?

By emailing individual people. You can email, phone or feel free to send things in. Our deadlines are the same as other monthlies - get in touch at least three weeks before we go to press.


Circulation: 130,860 (ABCs July-Dec 2009)
Subscribers: 35,000
Website ( 30,000 unique users a month
ABC1 readers: 72 per cent
Publisher: Hachette Filipacchi
Average time spent reading: 88 minutes

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