For its 100th issue, women’s magazine Stylist wanted to try something completely different.
In a risky move that eventually paid off, the magazine put out a call to its readers to supply the content. What followed was an issue which got to grips with exactly what the readers wanted in a way quite unlike anything which had done before.
Lisa Smosarski, Stylist’s editor-in-chief, told delegates at yesterday’s PPA conference: “Through this process, we got to know [the readers] better than we could have in any other way. We were absolutely delighted with the product in the end.”
Handing editorial decisions over to the readers was a daunting prospect, but one which inevitably paid off for the women’s magazine. Equally daunting was handing over the reins to celebrity chef Nigella Lawson for an edition which took eight months to put together, a time-scale almost unheard of in the world of publishing, Smosarski said.
“We hadn’t expected that she’d spend eight months working on this issue – at times we thought we’d absolutely lost the plot. But spending time means you get something that bit more special,” she said. The issue was a commercial success and the caramel-covered Nigella on the cover made national news.
Just as the 100th issue changed Stylist’s dynamic with their readers, the Nigella issue changed their dynamic with celebrities. Smosarski said: “We learnt that there would be a few projects throughout our year that we should spent that much time on.”
Branding themselves “Britain’s thinking women’s weekly”, Smorsarski explained how Stylist’s risk-taking will take them to the next level in the coming year. She said: “We’re pretty confident this is going to be our most important year yet.”