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May 09, 2008

PR Interview: How to Pitch to Ladies’ Home Journal

SUMMARY: Is your target audience working women with children? Age 30 and over? Married? With some college education? Then Ladies’ Home Journal is a publication you should be pitching to. Here are 5 dos and 3 don’ts to reach its 4.2 million subscribers.
Contact Information
Mego Lien
Editorial Assistant, Health section
Ladies’ Home Journal
375 Lexington Ave.
New York, NY 10017

Lien joined LHJ in 2007. Before that, she worked at Health Magazine. She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and education from Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, PA.

Paid circulation for LHJ is about 4.2 million. Their readership is mostly women age 30 and over. The median age is 53.5. Most are married, working mothers with household incomes of $60,000 or more and owners of homes valued at $200,000 or more. Most graduated from college.

Editorial Coverage
Editor in Chief Diane Salvatore says the magazine is for “the modern American family woman” and “an advocate to improve public health, as well as being a champion for women’s dynamic role in society.”

LHJ’s editorial content is split into seven sections: Your Self, Your Style (beauty and fashion), Your Family, Your Home, Your World, Your Health and Your Food. LHJ devotes more space to health than its competitors -- about 8 to 10 pages, Lien says. The beauty and style section is about 14 pages. The family section runs about 20 pages.

How to Pitch: 5 Dos
Do you have a beauty product you would like to feature to more than 4 million women? Maybe your client discovered a new medical procedure or product to help women with osteoporosis? You should pitch them to LHJ. Here are some tips on getting your pitch to the right person.

-> Tip #1. Find the right editor/editorial assistant

There is one editorial assistant per two editors … and they are the gatekeepers to the whole magazine, at least for any kind of press release or pitch sent via snail mail or fax.

“The assistants usually review the releases to determine if there’s something of interest, then will get back to the publicist,” Lien says. But that doesn’t mean every press release gets a response. “We get hundreds per day, so it’s not possible.”

Email is the preferred method for sending press releases or story pitches. If you are unsure of whom to send it to, it’s best to send an email to the editor or director of the section you wish to pitch to. Note: there is no central email address to send press releases.

In the May 2008 LHJ, the editors and directors are:
Health Director: Julia Kagan
Entertainment Director: Susan Pocharski
Fashion Director: Carla Engler
Beauty Director: Patricia Reynoso
Food and Entertaining Editor: Tara Bench
Home Editor: Kieran DiTullio
Editorial assistants: Abigail Cuffey, Lisa Gerry and Mego Lien

-> Tip #2. Editorial works four months ahead

This means that the story lineup for September is being decided now (in April), so if you’re pitching something of a seasonal nature that should be taken into account. Also, editorial does not publish an editorial calendar, so there’s no real way to find out what topics or themes they are working on.

Those topics and themes “change so often, it’s really not worth it for publicists to ask what we’re working on, better to just pitch us and, if it’s something that works for us, we do try our best to see everything and get back to people.”

-> Tip #3. Realize that few press releases turn into stories

Out of hundreds of PR emails the health section received in the past eight months, fewer than 10 turned into stories, Lien says.

-> Tip #4. There are no set rules for what will turn into a story

This really depends on the section, Lien says. For the health section, pitches that make the cut are generally based on a recent study that comes from a reliable source or that give some kind of new information on health that’s relevant to the readers.

To avoid making the editors consider the information to be biased, “it’s important for [a pitch] to be not based on a business, not influenced by a pharmaceutical company,” she says. LHJ checks the effectiveness of products and accuracy of studies by talking with independent experts and doctors.

Additionally, the health section does not feature nearly as many products as the beauty and fashion section do; therefore, those might be wasted pitches unless they really appeal to what the editors think might be of interest to readers.

The section has only featured one health-related product from a press pitch in the past year, Lien says. And that was a patch that contained the same ingredients that are found in aspirin. “It’s something we thought was new and would be useful to our readers, for those who don’t want to take the aspirin orally.”

-> Tip #5. Do your research before reaching out

Look at the masthead and read a few past issues before contacting one of the editors, Lien says. Make sure you know the name of the person you need to speak with before calling. “It’s really a waste of everybody’s time when [someone calls] and they don’t know certain editors’ names or who is actually on staff.”

What Not to Do: 3 Don’ts
You want your message to be heard. That’s true for most people when they reach out to different publications. But, there are always a few things you should *not* to do when pitching. For LHJ, they are:

-> Tip #1. Do not follow-up too quickly or frequently

Fast and frequent follow-up is probably the biggest pet peeve of the editors and editorial assistants. “It’s very annoying getting an email and then getting a phone call from the same publicist about 2o minutes later asking if we received the email,” Lien says. “There’s no way we’d be able to look at it in that amount of time.”

Constant follow-up is also unnecessary, she says, because the editors will contact you if it’s something of interest.

-> Tip #2. Limit phone calls

Editors are busy people and are often working on something that requires their full attention; therefore, it’s much better to reach them through email because it allows them to absorb your message in their own time. If you do call, try to be brief and to-the-point.

-> Tip #3. Don’t contact the byline

Like most national lifestyle magazines contributors, the writers for LHJ aren’t necessarily in-house. In fact, most are freelancers who could live anywhere. So, if you call the magazine hoping to speak to a writer, nine times out of 10 you’ll probably end up on hold or being bounced around, to the annoyance of the people who work at the magazine.

Remember: the editors are the ones who assign the stories; they are the best people to pitch. It’s very unlikely that you’re going to get freelancers’ contact information from the magazine.

Where to meet Lien and Other Editors
It’s not uncommon for people to ask for meetings with the editors and editorial assistants but don’t hold your breath -- Lien hasn’t witnessed many such meetings.

The health section staff is most likely to attend events organized by nonprofits, such as the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society, or media briefings where new health-related information is being presented. So, if you want to bump into them, those are the events to attend … in New York City, of course.

Useful links related to this article

Ladies’ Home Journal:

See Also:

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