Gorkana Insight & Analysis Team
Gorkana catches up with Hello! editors Ruth Sullivan and Rosie Nixon on how the magazine's new ABC positioning has been received by PRs, the focus on digital and 25th birthday plans...
Firstly tell us a bit about your roles and your background.
We have been joint Editors of HELLO! for the past two years, sharing the role and specialising in different areas (Ruth in the production and execution of the magazine, Rosie in procuring the features.)
Ruth: I joined Hello! as a sub in 1995 and progressed through the ranks to be made editor, steering the magazine through testing times in an increasingly competitive market.
Rosie: I've always had a passion for glossy magazines and have held senior positions at titles including Red, Glamour and Grazia. I joined HELLO! in 2008 as assistant editor and now relish the role of a hands-on editor with a love of all things celebrity, royal and fashion-related.
We are both especially focused right now on equipping HELLO! for an exciting digital future.
Hello!* has long been associated with celebrity content but you recently announced you were repositioning as a lifestyle magazine – what's the thinking behind that?
When HELLO! launched nearly 25 years ago in the UK, we were the founders of the celebrity magazine market. Since then we have grown into a very successful international brand and, historically, have always been an aspirational and glamorous mix of celebrity and royal news, plus genuine photo-shoots featuring the elegant homes, weddings and families of famous personalities, balanced with content of interest to our female audience, such as fashion, beauty and cookery.
We have noted for some years that the 'celebrity' magazine sector has moved in a new direction around us, focusing on celebrity gossip, and so we have made a commercial decision to move HELLO! from the 'Celebrity' to 'Women's Fashion and Lifestyle' sector in the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) so we are in more fitting company for our long-held editorial principles.
It is important to stress that this move is purely a commercial concern and does not in any way indicate a change of editorial direction at HELLO! We will continue to deliver the aspirational mix of features our readers expect, and love, from HELLO!
How have readers and advertisers reacted to the repositioning?
There's been a very positive response. The advertisers and PRs have greeted it as a sensible move as the positioning now suits the magazine more aptly and we sit alongside glossy titles with a similar cover price and high production values. As we mentioned above, the editorial mix of the magazine hasn’t changed so there has been no reaction from readers.
Tell us a bit about the typical Hello! reader.
We are very fortunate to have readers that span in age from 18-80 and there is something in the magazine for all of them. Our core readership is 30-to-40-year-old metropolitan women who juggle their careers with a busy family life and have cash to spend.
Give us an overview of the regular features in the magazine.
Alongside many regular feature slots in the magazine, we are particularly excited about two new regular features. We have new 'Inside Entertainment' pages which include exclusive interviews and photos with stars from the worlds of TV, music, film and theatre. Our new 'To Do List' page features reviews of the latest exhibitions and film, music, theatre and book releases. It sits in the Lifestyle section which recently had a design overhaul and has regular features such as 'get the look' of your favourite stars, as well as all the latest must-have fashion and beauty buys.
Another regular feature to look out for is the 'Half Hour' interview at the back of the magazine which is always an exclusive chat with a household name. Of course we regularly feature the spectacular homes of the rich and famous and are always keen to hear from PRs about opportunities for family shoots and weddings.
What's the best way for a PR to pitch an idea?
Over email or on the phone to one of our features or news team. We want ideas to be relevant to the magazine, exciting yet realistic and, most importantly, newsworthy.
Images are obviously very important for the magazine. Do you accept them from PRs or is everything shot in-house?
We are very much open to running great PR images, especially when they are exclusive to us. We regularly feature exclusive photo-led news pieces in our 'Inside Story' section. The Lifestyle section comprises PR pictures, exclusive campaign images and our own aspirational fashion and beauty stills. HELLO! is all about stunning photography, we strive to fill our pages with the best quality, eye-catching images. Wherever there is a good photo opportunity, we want to be there!
How distinct is helloonline.com from the magazine?
At the moment the two have individual teams but we are currently working on bringing them closer together.
How much new content is updated on the website each day?
The website team works around the clock to constantly add and update the content so that we keep it up-to-date with breaking news, showbiz and royal stories plus lifestyle features.
How important are videos on the site - would you accept video content from PRs?
Yes we definitely accept videos from PRs. Our video content ranges from the first look at new campaigns and trailers for upcoming films, to exclusive footage backstage at glamorous events and chatting with the stars on the red carpet. We are also thrilled that our recently launched iPad edition (now available on the Apple newsstand) contains exclusive videos from behind-the-scenes on HELLO! photoshoots. This week we have a video showing all the action and romance at the wedding of 'miracle' footballer Fabrice Muamba.
You've got more than 46,000 followers on Twitter. How important is social media to building the brand?
Social media is becoming imperative to the brand. It's a great way to engage with our readers, we love to hear what they think about the magazine and what they are interested in reading about so we can evolve the title. It's also a handy way to tell everyone what's in the mag every week, to instantly break news stories, and to converse with celebs!
And finally, next year marks 25 years since Hello! launched in the UK – any big plans you can tell us about?
Yes, we will be celebrating our 25th birthday on 20 May 2013 with a special edition and plenty more exciting plans currently under wraps. Watch this space!