CondeNast Folds Brides Local Magazines

Today, we’re very sad to report that publisher CondeNast decided to close down the Brides Local magazines, published in 16 different regions including Northern California. Unlike the national Brides magazine that features national brands, the local Brides editions provided resources and information for local brides and highlighted local wedding vendors.

Northern California BridesI have been working with the Brides Local editors for two years and am very saddened by this news. Some of the editors are staying at the property to run Some have already left, including my friend Amy Elliott who is now at Lucky.

What is the reason for closing? Well, it always comes down to profits, which CondeNast executives said have still not returned to prerecession levels of 2007, according to the WWD article on the changes:

“Chief executive officer Chuck Townsend and president Bob Sauerberg stressed the importance of beefing up revenue and widening profit margins, according to several people at the meeting. The two executives said the top priority for publishers and editors should be to return print magazines’ profit margins to prerecession, 2007 levels. Townsend emphasized that editors should be more experimental with their Web sites in order to increase revenue. Wired, Vanity Fair, Glamour and The New Yorker were credited with having decent profit margins for their Web sites.”

It’s interesting that Glamour was credited with having “decent profit margins” on their website. I do love Glamour Weddings, which churns out several great stories a day and honestly don’t know how their editors do it! I do find it interesting that they only have the wedding section online without any print products.

Given the proliferation of online wedding blogs, perhaps that is the future for bridal press? I certainly hope not – I just love leafing through those delicious bridal pages and so do many brides and wedding vendors.

Balenciaga and Spain a Fashion Inspiration

I just went to the fabulous Balenciaga and Spain exhibit at San Francisco’s de Young Museum and was blown away by the powerful work of Spanish haute couture master Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895-1972).

courtesy of New York Times, Andrew Fox

Balenciaga’s fashion sense was strongly influenced by Spanish art, dance and even religious traditions. But unlike many designers who hide their original influences behind layers of material, Balenciaga wasn’t afraid to take easily recognizable silhouettes like a monk’s pointed cape and transform it into a brown raincoat (see the last mannequin on the right) or take a nun’s robe and make it into a chic wedding dress (see center).

His other major influence were the traditional costumes of Spanish bullfighters, from which came many stylish hats, shirts and, a personal favorite of mine, a black cape with delicate pink pompoms.

Balenciaga’s other influences ranged from the lavish ornaments of the old Spanish royal court seen in paintings by Velasquez to the geometric shapes in the modern paintings of his friend Joan Miro.

Walking around the exhibit it really seemed like Balenciaga could take anything – from a monk’s simple robe to a fisherwoman’s tucked skirt – and transform it into true haute couture, while preserving the costume traditions of the Spanish people. No wonder he was referred to as “the master of us all” by Christian Dior.

The exhibit closes on July 4, so if you live in San Francisco and care about fashion, go N-O-W!


San Francisco Brides issue talks up local talent

I just received the Fall 2011 issue of San Francisco Brides magazine and the cover is simply to die for, featuring a powdery leafy crepe cake by Batter Bakery that may just make a girl forget about her groom, especially when shot by the famed wedding photographer Elizabeth Messina.

If you’re a loyal follower, you’ll notice the paper in the magazine feels and looks different than usual. Editor in chief Robin Wilkey told me, “The new stock is thicker with a bit more tooth. The goal is to make the colors pop and the book thicker.”

For me, the highlights of this issue include the local fashion shoot “Making Waves” shot in the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park and featuring wedding gowns by local designers Jinza Couture Bridal and the quickly rising star Amy Kuschel.

My one regret is that all the jewelry in the shoot is provided by advertisers, many of them national brands, instead of local designers. As a former full-time newspaper reporter, I understand that the money for magazines has to come from somewhere and that jewelers are often it, but I also think we in San Francisco have a reputation for local talent to uphold.

When I was talking to national jewelry editors at a trade show in Las Vegas last month, they said San Francisco is not exactly known for its jewelry designers. But I assure you, we have plenty of amazing local talent.

I have nothing against giants like Tiffany & Co, but just as brides are starting to embrace local gown designers, I think many of them would love to know more about their local jewelry artists.

But I digress…

One of the reasons I was very excited to finally see this issue was because of its real weddings. Not only are they a fun read, but this time the editors included an incredible real wedding photographed by Choco Studio.

But that will have to wait till my next post 🙂

Prepared for Royal Wedding?

  Ah, the world is abuzz about the next Royal Wedding. And while Prince William and Kate Middleton are enjoying their now public engagement, the magazine world is going nuts!

In the fast-paced world of internet news, editors better be prepared to run their stories as soon as major news breaks. But to get the readership, they better have a unique take on the event. For some smart editors that means preparing the story in advance – kind of like in the case of celebrities’ obituaries, which are often written years before the person actually dies (see Marilyn Johnson’s “The Dead Beat” book).

My favorite was Brides magazine, which was the best prepared with a great feature story with sketches of wedding dresses created by famous designers specifically for Kate to consider.

The other approach to covering a major news event of this caliber is doing a blog post with an unusual (did I say scandalist?) take.

Vanity Fair did a story on historical events briefer than Prince William and Kate’s engagement (I have to say although somewhat mean, it’s kind of funny)

Marie Claire ran a story asking whether Prince William and fiance Kate Middleton’s engagement will last. (This one is just plain mean and largely unnecessary).

I think the Royal Wedding – said to take place in spring or summer 2011 – and all its details from Princess Diana’s engagement ring to the wedding dress will give fodder to journalists for months.

I also bet it will have a major impact on wedding fashion.

Local business? You need local PR

If you have a local business, i.e. your customers can only use your product or service while living in the general vicinity, you should be concentrating on local PR.

Yes, an article in the New York Times or the UK Guardian will stroke your ego, but it will NOT necessarily bring you more direct business. We find that bigger, national press recognition works most effectively as a testimonial for your website, a framed picture on your office or storefront wall or even as a reprint for your marketing materials (been meaning to post examples of my favorite press pages so stay tuned!).

But if you’re looking for that phone to start ringing, get to know your local reporters!

When we first started working on PR for Sandbox Suites, we landed two huge stories within a span of 24 hours. The first story came out in San Francisco Chronicle – the Bay Area’s most well-read newspaper/local news site. The story talked about coworking as a new trend and mentioned Sandbox Suites along with a couple of other local spaces. The next day, New York Times ran a similar story – also with a focus on the coworking trend and also talking exclusively about San Francisco spaces.

Here is the reaction we received:

San Francisco Chronicle

  • – phone started ringing that same day
  • – huge boost in tours
  • – huge boost in web traffic
  • – when asked how people heard about us, people mentioned the Chron story up to 1.5 years after it came out

New York Times

  • – a few journalist friends saw the story and sent congratulations emails
  • – of course, the New York Times story looks great as a testimonial on Sandbox Suites website, press page and as a framed piece in their office.

So target the publications that your audience actually reads and don’t forget to show off those big-name press clips. 

Last issue of Modern Bride magazine

When Conde Nast announced last week that they’re shutting down Gourmet, Modern Bride and Elegant Bride, I panicked. The announcement said Modern Bride’s current issue was the last one. It was October and in Dec/Jan issue my jewelry client, Yael Designs, was supposed to have a ring featured.

I tried contacting the Modern Bride editor – her email returned and her phone line was turned off. So I went on Twitter and saw that someone said they just received the Dec/Jan issue. I couldn’t believe it. I ran to the stores only to find the October bride smirking at me from the newsstands.

But after several days of turmoil, the December issue finally (and quite mysteriously) appeared. And my client’s ring made it in! Ironically, the last issue still had a 10-month subcription card inside.