PR Lessons From Teen Vogue

Jan 20, 2017 Natasha Fee

Last month, Teen Vogue editor Lauren Duca made waves on Twitter and in mainstream media with her op-ed entitled, Donald Trump is Gaslighting America. The frenzy around this article stemmed mostly from the fact that one of the most poignant pieces of political coverage this election cycle came from a magazine targeted at teen girls.

But while the rest of the world was looking elsewhere, Teen Vogue’s editorial team has been filling its pages with a wide variety of content. A quick visit to the site shows articles ranging from Trump’s pick for US Ambassador to the UN, to indie beauty products. Both topics that could easily spark the interest of young women.

So, what can PR pros and marketers learn from this?

Be creative + open-minded when finding your audience. When thinking about the audience you’re looking to reach, think big. It should come as no surprise to hear that young women are interested in reading about their President elect; Cosmopolitan has a well-known senior political writer on staff, and Marie Claire frequently covers political issues.

Publications are moving away from the outdated “women’s news” and “world news” approach, which is exciting for readers, journalists and PRs alike. As pubs work to engage their readers (and therefore advertisers) in new ways, they’re looking to broaden their coverage and think about topics in new ways. For PRs this means we can widen our nets, pitch a wider range of topics and reach new audiences that may have been inaccessible before.

Be bold in your storytelling. From a PR perspective, Lauren Duca’s piece was a huge success. She took a strong stance on a timely issue and generated a massive amount of buzz. Her story drew think-pieces in top-tier publications from The New York Times to The Atlantic. Not to mention the social media engagement it saw. For PRs and marketers, the lesson is clear-- being bold is the best way to raise your voice above the fray, especially in a crowded market.

Brace yourself for backlash. People were buzzing about Teen Vogue, but not all of the reception was positive. Lauren Duca faced extensive backlash after her article was published, which she outlined in a follow up piece entitled, To Trolls, With Love. The lessons for PR pros here can be applied to thought leadership campaigns. Establishing a strong thought leadership platform is crucial in any PR campaign, but taking a bold stance can sometimes lead to negative pushback. For PRs, this means anticipating what that backlash might be, and preparing a well-crafted, thoughtful response for any trolls your campaign encounters.

It says a lot that one month later we’re still talking about this op-ed. So, thank you to Lauren for the valuable PR lessons and kudos to Teen Vogue! We’re looking forward to reading more bold stories from Teen Vogue in the year ahead.

Topics: News, Journalism, PR
Natasha Fee

Natasha is an account executive at InkHouse, where she is focused on driving media relations and content creation for her clients. Her PR background is in the B2B and B2C technology space, servicing accounts ranging from publicly traded enterprises to innovative startups. Natasha received her B.A. in English and History from the University of Vermont in 2014.

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