Flipping the Page: A Look Through Magazine Public Relations

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Posted: November 19, 2014, 1:53 p.m.
by Amber Patterson.

It is not a secret that the press and the world of public relations collide on a regular basis. A relationship with the media, however, is a vital tool in public relations — it helps garner attention for clients and is a key pathway to communicate with their audiences. But what about the public relations for the media? They need representation, too.

This complex relationship has to be managed and fostered. A career in the magazine industry is not something public relations students often hear about; it usually gets lost in the agency versus in-house debate. Magazines offer significant entry-level positions, and work in the magazine industry helps to build relationships with editors and reporters that will become vital further down the line.

Jessica Kleiman is currently executive vice president, communications at SANDOW, publisher of luxury magazines such as Worth and NewBeauty, but she is also the former vice president of public relations for Hearst Magazines, one of the world’s largest magazine publishers, responsible for publications like Elle, Cosmopolitan and Country Living. Kleinman is also co-author of the book, Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work. Kleiman got her start in the magazine industry with a desire to work on the editorial side and then fell into the interesting world of magazine public relations.

“I had wanted to work on the editorial side and had actually started freelance writing for magazines in college after having done an editorial internship at a now-defunct teen magazine called YM, where I got my first byline,” Kleiman said. “After graduation, I couldn’t find a position on the edit side, so I combined my experience having interned in public relations with my interest in magazines and looked for a job in magazine publicity, which I found at a small agency called The Rosen Group, where I spent four years.”

 

Magazines and newspapers are more than the journalists who cover stories and the copy editors who put those stories in a nice package to be distributed on newsstands. They are businesses, and like most businesses, they need to be publicized and need access to key influencers. Because of these needs, a position for public relations is created. Magazines target specific, and it is up to the public relations team or person to connect the magazine with that target segment of consumers. This duty includes pitching new ideas to reporters and promoting the magazine’s editorial and business achievements, brand extensions, digital initiatives, partnerships and events. They even have to be on hand to deal with any crises that arise.

“Communications plays a critical role in our industry,” Nancy Valentino, senior vice president of communications and brand development for Time Inc., said. “We are responsible for promotion and positioning our brands in all media on all platforms.”

Valentino currently focuses on the News, Sports and Entertainment divisions at Time Inc., which speaks to the vast interests that are covered in magazine public relations.

“If you have a particular love for a subject (fashion, entertainment, sports, news, etc.), getting your foot in the door of a media company is an excellent entry,” Valentino said. “Specific to my industry, you get to be involved with ALL media, and it’s a great way to decide which path suits you.

Public relations practitioners work directly with executives, senior staff, editors and publishers on media opportunities. They serve as spokespeople for individual stories and for the corporation when necessary. Additionally they are liaisons with other public relations agencies and other vendors on contract. Lastly they engage in traditional public relations tactics such as press releases, statements, briefing material for the executives, pitch letters for media and other communications.

“Magazine PR is unique in that it’s pitching media to other media, which is a bit unusual if you think about it. But what’s exciting is that you have new content and ideas to pitch every time a new issue comes out (whether it’s weekly, monthly or quarterly),” Klieman said. “Depending on what kind of magazines you work with, there’s a variety of content and many different angles to pitch the media, so it’s never boring. You also have to think like an editor, since you’re representing them, so being able to write well is paramount in magazine pubic relations.”

So where do you get your start? Magazine public relations is a great career path for those who fell in love with journalistic qualities that public relations professionals must possess. It connects you with editors and reporters who can help you quickly build a media contact list and offers you a chance to get some of your work published. Getting started in the industry requires the same techniques of any other job. Kleiman notes how public relations hopefuls with dreams of working in the world of cover stories and photo spreads can reach that goal.

“Talk to as many people as you can who work in the business. Reach out on LinkedIn. Follow people on Twitter. Ask for informational interviews,” Kleiman said. “Not every person will say yes to meeting or chatting, but if you make it convenient for them and don’t take too much of their time, you will make some connections that may end up leading to a job later on.

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