What A Girl Wants…Is More Than Just A Magazine
- July 19th, 2007
- 1 Comments
Former Ypulse contributing editor Karell, who works for gURL, sent me copy of a letter she wrote to the folks at Mediabistro in response to a piece they ran about what girls want from teen magazines. The gist is that they want more than what these mags have to offer and they want it online. It was so good I thought I would share it. Read on:
This is in response to your article on What girls want from teen magazines. While I thought it was interesting, it seemed a little short sighted in its point of view. Essentially it dismisses the internet as a medium and as an integral part of a teenager’s life. In fact, a recent study by New Paradigm has declared that “77% of the world’s online 16-29 year olds would rather live without television than without the internet.”
Yes, “devotion to teen magazines has remained strong” but if teen magazines don’t evolve in their thinking of how to distribute their message (e.g. making their websites more than just mere portals for signing up subscriptions) and understanding who their teen readers are and what they really need, they will continue to be shut down or spiral into irrelevancy in their readers’ lives.
I think the real issue I’m trying to address here is not the war between print and online, it’s the fact that teen magazines don’t seem to think the two need to work together. In fact, they are leaping into brand extensions on TV and into mobile without focusing on what’s really important: the core magazine and its website.
The article should be re-titled to: What a Girl wants from her Magazine—a website—and a community of people she can relate to.
What especially irked me was the paragraph with the heading, “She wants a modern approach.” The writer goes on to say that a “a modern approach” is to “break up longer stories” by including a “cool illustration or something incorporating celebrities.” Famous people. That’s modern. What’s ironic is that it goes on to talk about how teen magazines are not dumbed down because editors feel free to use words like “quotidian” in their features. What that feels like is less, “You and I are talking on the same page,” and more, “I am talking down to you.”
The problem with that approach—as with many women’s magazines in general—is that it’s putting the Editors in a power position of know-all, see-all, be-all without much reflection on what the reader can bring to the table. Yes, teenagers are smart. And yes, they do know what quotidian means. Take that opportunity to tackle bigger issues. Use the “modern approach” to do interactive pieces on the website around a specific topic, especially hot topics, that teens can attach themselves to and become champions or experts on. That way, they will spend time interacting with your brand, visiting your site, and telling others about it. Because you’ve given them something to be passionate about and to really think about.
And last but not least in this little rant—an editor is quoted as saying “You can’t take the Internet into the bathtub with you”—let me just ask, when was the last time you took a bath? Teenagers do not have time for leisurely reading a magazine while they soak in bubbles and rose petals. They are too busy—applying for college, doing volunteer work to make themselves look like well-rounded individuals, after school sports practice or theatre club, hanging out with friends and checking in with them on Facebook.
Once teen magazines become part of that world, complementary to that world, they can stop worrying about being shut down and we won’t need articles about how magazines are still relevant to teenage girls’ lives.
In related teen mag news:
AdAge (reg. required) asks where have all the girls gone? And readers of Teen Vogue and former readers of YM (which Teen Vogue absorbed when YM folded) appear to be flaming each other online... (Women’s Wear Daily, reg. required)