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Meet the Press: Beauty Editors Speak Out

By: Leslie Benson
Posted: October 7, 2008, from the October 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

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“What is the service to the reader?” Goins wants to know. “When developing content, we search for useful information to help our reader make smart choices that fit into her lifestyle. We want her to understand why we’re recommending a product and what it’s really doing for her.”

For Goins, this means having brands first present her with solid scientific research. “Expert interviews and first-hand testing also play an important role in determining what we’ll cover,” she continues. “And vagueness is the worst sin in beauty PR. The best pitches include detail, after a quick, easy-to-digest summary of what’s being pitched. What’s new, innovative and noteworthy about a product? When is it being launched? How does it fit into the existing line, and have there been any independent studies to confirm the claims?”

Chu also believes ready-to-photograph, testable products are helpful for a beauty editor, as are easily digestible press releases noting a product’s name, price, availability and key functions. “I don’t need an elaborate brand romance; I never read that stuff and don’t know editors who do,” Chu says. “E-mail releases are okay if I know the sender; otherwise, they can get lost in the fray. Persistent follow-up calls are ineffective. I prefer mailings or desk-side meetings, whenever possible.”

Nygaard concurs. “I don’t enjoy launches that require you to leave your office mid-day to hike across town for a one-hour presentation on a fragrance,” she says. “It feels like a waste of my time, and it can really dissect a busy day.” Appreciating desk-side appointments, Nygaard also says original content perseveres over regurgitated material. “We don’t just recycle a press release,” she says. “Our readers would never stand for it.”

More’s Johnson—another beauty editor who conducts desk-side appointments with cosmetic brands’ public relations teams, R&D professionals and other beauty experts—says her editorial information stems from several sources. In addition to daily interviews, she attends product launch events, industry workshops and seminars; she reads press news in print and online; she conducts online reader surveys; she goes undercover in stores to speak with beauty sales teams and observe shoppers; and she gathers reader feedback and suggestions via e-mail. “As beauty director, it’s really all about developing and maintaining strong relationships with PR teams on an ongoing basis—keeping the communication going, even when there is no new product news,” Johnson says. “Those e-mails and phone calls are as essential as vitamins and sunscreen.”