MEDIA: SHE - AN EXPERT'S VIEW. Rachel Gibbs-McNeil looks at how successful She's redesign will be at increasing its sales

At first glance the "new look" She magazine seems remarkably

familiar. Yes it's cleaner, with more sections, but the overall change

is in the editorial tone. Unquestionably it's a more "organised" read,

the magazine flows well and is less "bitty". Eve Cameron's style

(ex-Cosmopolitan, Health & Beauty and Zest) shines through. Editorial is

dedicated to health, beauty and inner-self. However, the investment in

paper and typeface goes unnoticed - feeling the paper quality with my

eyes closed, perhaps I felt a difference, but according to the new She,

mind over matter works wonders, so was I imagining it?



Certainly this cleaner look will initially halt She's circulation

decline (now at the lowest since 1986 and nearly 100,000 copies fewer

than its mid-90s peak). The above-the-line advertising support won't

hurt either.



However, the new editorial content could isolate the regular buyers and

the lack of celebrities is a little unnerving.



Clearly middle youth is more about "me" and less about what I am (wife,

mother, etc) and The National Magazine Company has changed the emphasis

to this. However, how much therapy do you want in a magazine?



What it has got right is writing more about the woman and less about the

mother. A new section entitled "family matters" provides the info

without the family being key to most articles. It is tucked away nicely,

reconfirming the need to be a woman first. The beauty and fashion

sections are now separate and have clearly had investment. Regular

features have been stripped back and the "me" focus is now throughout. A

few of the old regulars have disappeared (Kitty Churchill's short

stories and Dr Phil's medical revelation) to make way for a more

therapeutic, life-changing, pattern-breaking advice guide.



The biggest shift is the lack of celebrity mentions - even the big

celebrity interview was not flagged up on the front cover and was

entitled "how to fix your relationship".



Justine Southall, the group publisher, claimed the desire to get back to

"what is really important" has taken on a new life since 11

September.



OK, for a couple of days I decided there was more to life than fashion

and celebrities (ie firemen), but overall NatMags would be wrong to pull

away from the largest growing trend - celebrity focus. Women's magazines

all rely on the exclusive interview. Yes, people care about themselves,

but never underestimate a woman's desire to gossip.



She magazine is certainly different, but not enough to stand out in such

a highly competitive market.



Publisher: The National Magazine Company

Frequency: Monthly

Cover price: £2.60

Circulation: 182,790

Full-page ad rate: £10,565

Advertisers include: Mercedes, Clinique, Fiat, Seiko, Twinings, Orange,

Maybelline



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