March 15, 2012
/ by Kevin Miller
When your mother told you that you should eat your breakfast before you went to school as a kid you probably thought she was just trying to force-feed you early-morning mom-style lectures or pawn off leftover eggs and cereal. Over the years, however, more research has shown that a nutritious and healthy breakfast provides benefits beyond just a satisfied stomach.
Almost half a century ago, Weight Watchers magazine planted its roots and the concept of eating a healthy breakfast to start the day was a staple of society. It still holds true today, as the magazine celebrates its 49th year, but now the concept is supported less by general opinion and more by hard facts and scientific research. For senior editor Amy Gorin—who joined the magazine in February—the concept of nutritious meals and healthy eating goes far beyond just the first meal of the day.
With a background at publications such as Prevention, American Baby, Parents and Health magazines, Gorin’s knowledge in the world of health information proves rich and plentiful. Her move to Weight Watchers shows that her tenure as a resident authority in diet and nutrition research continues to shine. She is currently working toward her registered dietician credentials at New York University as well as a Master’s of Science in Clinical Nutrition.
“Every class I take opens me up to new information and gives me a greater understanding of the field of nutrition,” she said. “Several years ago when I made the decision to go back to pursue the degree, at the forefront of my thinking was that there are all of these new studies and constantly new research coming out and some of it’s pretty scientific, and education helps me to better understand the research. I think that’s a great benefit of the school program; being able to understand the scientific [aspects] better.”
Expanding her knowledge in the field of nutrition has proven useful in her transition from Health magazine. Gorin points out that the general coverage of nutrition at Health magazine has now narrowed down to more specific coverage of the topic as an applied science with her new role.
“There’s a bigger realization now that the nutritional components of what you eat affect how you feel [and] how you perform both physically and mentally throughout the day. I think there’s a bigger focus on getting nutrients from your food. I think that people are focusing more on a balanced diet and getting fruits and vegetables in your day,” she explained.
As much as Gorin realizes the cliché of reminding readers to eat their fruits and vegetables every day, it is a truism that is recognized by hard empirical fact. Weight Watchers highlights this in its point system that members of the program subscribe to—certain fruits and vegetables gain no points in the system and help users add extra volume and maximize their value for each day. This helps readers implement the system on a regular and ongoing basis, rather than as a quick-fix to weight-loss.
“With Weight Watchers, our readers are looking for advice that’s easily actionable but at the same time they’re not looking for a short term solution to weight loss, they want a plan that’s going to help them keep the weight off for life. I think all of the content has to be realistic for the long-run.”
Gorin is able to get in touch on a personal level with the readers to share thoughts, stories, ideas and tips on a continuous basis through the magazine’s blog, which is something she never had the opportunity to incorporate into her past positions.
“We have some readers who are very active in the blog. I posted something last week about how I made a blueberry bread and I spruced up the nutrition and lowered the calorie count, and then some readers commented on what they were thinking about healthy baking—it was just a nice back-and-forth conversation,” she said.
Staying in touch with the readership helps Gorin get a better sense of what the audience is looking for. She says that the magazine aims to give the readers what they want for the long term, and an understanding of them on a personal level helps to work toward that goal.
“Every year we do an annual re-design at the beginning of the year and we’re always thinking of what we’re going to be doing with the content and what our readers want, that’s always at the forefront of our mind—we’re thinking of new columns, new ideas, new stories.”
With the 50th anniversary of the magazine coming up next year, Gorin sees an opportunity to show how far the publication has come. From appealing to younger audiences—with spokespersons such as Jennifer Hudson and Charles Barkley—to columns on what to order in local restaurants, Weight Watchers has made great strides toward helping its community lose weight and stay fit with a healthy (and scientific) approach.
Gorin sees limitless opportunity with her new position, and with the education she is continuing to build.
“Every day new studies come out and they build upon each other, and we end up with this great body of research on specific areas of nutrition,” Gorin said. “I don’t know that we would focus on that type of nutrition 50 years ago. There is more of an awareness of that today.”
Gorin strongly advises publicists to research the publication before pitching.
“Having done the research [is important],” she said. “If you’re pitching something, make sure we didn’t just run an article on that topic and knowing exactly what we would cover in the magazine.”
She added, “As far as the actual process of pitching, e-mail is best; they’re easy to file away. I keep everything on file in my computer so if something is not really applicable to something we’re running today, I might file it away and know that it’s there and then three months later find it and contact the publicist.”
Avoid following up too quickly, she advises. “Honestly, if I’m interested in something I will get back to the publicist.”
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