Want to know a PR insider’s thoughts on the industry’s big questions? We hear you. Our Ask the Experts series poses big questions we know you’re dying to ask to some of the media industry’s top experts.
Today, we’re talking with Andrea Lavinthal, Style and Beauty Director for PEOPLE magazine and PEOPLE.com. After beginning her career in Cosmopolitan’s beauty department in 2001, Andrea then served as Content Editor for Cosmo Radio on Sirius XM, where she co-hosted a weekly show covering beauty, fashion, and lifestyle. She also launched daily blog “Sexy Beauty Secrets” on the magazine’s website before moving on to Us Weekly where she was the style and beauty director for the magazine’s website, followed by her current position. She has co-authored three books, including The Hookup Handbook: A Single Girl’s Guide to Living It Up, Friend or Frenemy? A Guide to the Friends You Need and the Ones You Don’t, and Your So-Called Life: A Guide to Boys, Body Issues, and Other Big-Girl Issues You Thought You Would Have Figured Out by Now.
Q: As someone who works at a weekly publication with a quick news cycle, what is the best way to introduce you to new product launches or fashion collections?
A: The best way to pitch me is email. Always. I’m rarely at my desk to take calls and the voicemail indicator has been flashing since I started here three years ago, which should tell you how often I check it. The most effective emails are short and not only tell me why this new kale-infused moisturizer/ gluten-free nail polish /T-shirt line handmade by puppies is so amazing, but also why it’s so amazing for PEOPLE. Even if I think the product is truly innovative, if it’s not a good fit for my audience, there’s not a whole lot that I can do with it.
Obviously, it helps if I have an existing relationship with a publicist, since I’ll always respond to someone that I know and trust to send me relevant pitches. If we don’t know each other well, that’s fine too, but it might take me a day or two longer to get back to you since I get a crazy amount of emails and try to prioritize by level of urgency. And speaking of urgency, there’s no need to send an email as high priority unless this is the world’s most incredible exclusive and you need an answer within the next hour.
That brings me to exclusives: the PEOPLE definition of exclusive is that we are the only outlet to have this information. By only outlet I mean short lead print, digital and broadcast. Long lead is usually okay, assuming we’re on stands or can post the item first. Otherwise, it’s not an exclusive. We’ve been burned several times with “exclusives” that turned out to be our site getting one behind-the-scenes photo and another site getting a very similar one. Two exclusives mean no exclusives.