July 23, 2009
/ by Sarah.Hetland
When it comes to beauty and fashion, image is everything, even for those writing about it. For Erica Metzger, that means going beyond the words and creating something visually beautiful to bring the story together.
With her new role as beauty director for Ladies’ Home Journal, Metzger is breaking out of the editorial box and delving into another aspect of the magazine-making business. This means honing in on the aesthetic side of the story.
“Before I was really focused on the editorial content [only],” she explained. “Now the focus is also producing the visuals of the section. So that’s the new challenge, being really involved with the art department to produce the shoots, to pick the models, to come up with the concepts.”
Metzger is also taking on a more representative role than her previous senior beauty editor position entailed. She is making television news and talk show appearances to shape the media image of the magazine as well.
“It’s definitely more of a leadership role, just being out there more and being able to really shape the beauty coverage of the magazine is just so exciting, it’s a real privilege,” she said.
Such an opportunity is what Metzger loves most about her new role, but admits it is difficult balancing television appearances and keeping up with magazine responsibilities.
“It’s been a learning process and [I’ve] slowly taken on more responsibilities in each position, she explained. “It definitely kind of evolved naturally for me.”
Metzger had an early interest in the beauty industry, taking a particular liking to makeup and bonding with her mother over it. While attending Rutgers University her path into journalism came naturally, though not immediately, and an internship with W Magazine solidified her direction into beauty coverage. It became a perfect pairing since she always had an interest in art, a background in illustration and love of creative writing.
Metzger has been with the magazine for five years and is also excited to bring more of a presence to the magazine’s Web site.
“We’re all twittering on a regular basis, getting a lot of people following us, and we have a Facebook page where we post online reviews,” she explained. “So we’re a lot more involved online which I think is really important.”
She has also appeared on ABC News Now and hopes to make more appearances on the Web since they are gaining audiences each day and can reach a whole different demographic. Now more than ever, she said, it’s important to reach across all platforms.
Overall Metzger just wants to remain competitive and relevant in the industry, and that means innovation and expanding beyond the standard hair, skin and makeup topics.
“For me that’s coming up with fresh, new story ideas,” she said. “What makes them new is coming up with a [different] spin to kind of grab the reader’s attention.”
She wants to break out of the box and find a human interest aspect because she knows that for their readers, “life isn’t all about beauty,” and she likes that balance.
Metzger prefers that most pitching is done through e-mail and warns against those who don’t do their homework.
“I think sometimes I really don’t get pitches that make sense for my section,” she said. “So those kind of mass pitches that go out I’m a lot less likely to read, I might glance at them quickly and delete, [they’re] kind of a waste of time and clutter the inbox.”
She said a customized pitch is an instant eye-catcher for her.
“If it’s addressed to you specifically, you are a lot more likely to spend a minute reading it,” she explained.
Another way to grab her attention is to package pitches uniquely.
“When somebody packages their pitch kind of like a way you might see an article, I think those are the most clever kind of pitches, “she said. “I definitely save and keep those in a folder for inspiration and will go back to and contact them.”
Metzger wants to receive any kind of breaking news in the industry, new innovations and new studies. She especially likes it when they include a person or an expert who can comment on that new study.
She is more likely to respond to information about new hair stylists and makeup artists who aren’t affiliated with a brand. It’s best to avoid categories within the skincare lines or a similar niche because that area is already cluttered for them.
“You’d have to make that pitch really work and let me know why my reader would be interested in it beyond just telling me it’s out there, because there is so much competition,” she said.
Other subjects to avoid are information about luxurious spa locations, or very obscure cosmetic lines and plastic surgery trends because they don’t typically cover these types of stories.
She also stresses that building a relationship with the editor and getting to know the section they cover is important, especially when dealing with cold calls.
Though Metzger doesn’t mind the phone calls, she advises, “If you are going to call an editor just make that phone call worth it. You can tell if somebody’s just reading a press release off to you, those are just waste of time calls.”
The final tip she notes is to avoid the massive attachments when sending pitches. They eat up a lot of space in their inboxes and are hard to save for long periods of time. Therefore, unless the image is vital to the concept of what you are trying to pitch, it’s best to avoid them.
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