October 07, 2010
/ by Anna Marevska
After a decade in none other than New York magazine, Aja Mangum finds herself in a different media landscape – and not for the reasons most people might assume. The young editor recently joined the staff of the online publication DailyCandy, and she’s adamant about the motive behind her move.
“Coming to the DailyCandy had nothing to do with the shift of media presence [from print to online],” Mangum chimed. “My shift here is because my old boss – Janet Ozzard – in New York is now the editor in chief here, and not because I think magazines are going to die. [Ozzard] is incredibly smart, talented, funny, fair, nurturing. I knew she was going to do something wonderful at DailyCandy and I wanted to be part of the change. It’s exciting.”
Mangum was named market editor for the online publication in September, and after less than a month on the job feels like she is still getting used to the online world.
“Obviously it’s an adjustment for me,” she said. “The terminology is different; everything is e-mail, website only. My first week everything sounded like Chinese and now slowly things are starting to sound like Spanglish.”
Patience has been her savior, she said, and even though there is still technical learning ahead, her responsibilities at DailyCandy are very similar to her role at New York magazine as the beauty and market editor.
She explained, “I am doing pretty much the same thing I did at New York, where I had handled the Best Bets page and all the gift guides. Here, I will do the same – big, weekly product roundups. My favorite project at New York was the holiday gift guide just because it was a tremendous amount of product. The fact that I can do that here on a weekly basis is really fun for me.”
Back in 2000, big product roundups were not on top of her wish list. Magnum had just graduated from Providence College with a degree in sociology and women’s studies, and she wanted to delve into women’s issues. She decided to apply for an internship at New York magazine.
“A month into my internship the fashion editor at the time hired me as her assistant,” she said. “My first job with her was the holiday gift guide and everything just snowballed from there. And it was very hard for me at the time, because I was such a hardcore feminist. I thought I was selling out. But then I thought to myself, ‘Go with it! You are young; you can save the world another time, when you are 40.’”
Today, eight years shy of 40, Mangum is still saving women even if it’s one beauty product at a time. She is completely smitten with the fashion and beauty industry and has big plans for DailyCandy. She is looking to make the website a place where she gets an “Ohmygod, I must have that!” reaction from the visitors.
“I definitely want the site to be a destination where people can find stuff,” she said. “That will be my long term goal. My short term goal is pretty much the same, but I want all of this to happen right now. “
She is thrilled to gratify a women-only audience, she said.
“When you cater to women and do so many stories on a weekly basis, you are involved with so many products. You have the opportunity to hit so many different types – like the person who is really interested in fashion, or the person who is really interested in design, some just care about beauty. It is great to have the opportunity to hit women with a variety of interests, and they are all interests that I have as well.”
Mangum’s title is market editor, and she accepts pitching on beauty, fashion, home and lifestyle.
“Everything is involved in my new position,” she said. “As far as how I want to be pitched – a press release with pictures is totally fine but I prefer snail mail, only because your inbox gets overwhelmed. So I definitely prefer things sent to me by mail, so that way I can take it out, file it, etc. “
Please keep in mind that she does not like to receive products blindly and prefers to receive photos of the products first.
“I look at everything,” she explained. “And if something makes me warm and fuzzy and it happens to coincide with whatever I am working on at the moment, I will follow up. If you don’t hear anything from me, then it’s probably not going to work. So don’t call me back. I don’t like the stalking.”
Mangum also advises PR professionals to keep their pitches simple.
She explained, “I think sometimes PR people spend too much time on the pitch. The product really kind of speaks for itself and they make it more complicated than it needs to be. Use the following – this is what I have, this is why I think it’s cool, this is where you can get it. Don’t tell me who else likes it. I don’t care if Vogue editors like it. PR people should weed out of the pitches what other editors like, or what celebrities like. We really don’t care about that stuff. “
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