Interview with Jo Elvin, Editor of Glamour Magazine. Part One.

So, it’s the twelfth of December- and we have a little something that special for you. For today’s post, we have an interview with Jo Elvin (part one, as the answers are so in depth)

Hello Jo, thank you for agreeing to this interview .

 +Whilst growing up, did you ever know that you wanted to be a journalist?

Yes, I knew from about the age of 14. I loved magazines and I was obsessed with British magazines. I also did really well in English and creative writing at school, so it seemed to make sense to me from an early age.

+As the editor of Glamour, you came to the UK to launch it in 2001. To you, do English magazines differ from Australian magazines?

I came to the UK in 1992 and worked on three magazines (including launching the teenage title, Sugar) before I launched Glamour in 2001. I think there are actually a lot of similarities between British and Australian magazines. Key is the sense of humor, I think Australians and Brits both enjoy wry, slightly cynical humor.

Was it hard, making the jump from there to here?

It had its challenges. But they were mainly things like learning how to make a very small wage stretch for a whole month in London (thanks Benjys). In terms of the magazines, it was just learning a whole new frame of references for culture, expressions etc But that doesn’t take long.

+As the oldest of four siblings, did you ever feel any pressure to become really successful?

I never felt any undue pressure. But my parents were extremely encouraging of all us to just go for whatever career we wanted. I always put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed but it didn’t have anything to do with being the oldest of four kids.

+How do feel Glamour has changed since day one?

It’s evolved to meet the different demands of its audience. So that means, naturally, we are a print title but also an ipad title, a phone title, a website and with any social network presence you can think of. The core spirit and content of the magazine hasn’t altered that drastically, which I’m really proud of. I take it as a sign that we launched a really great magazine. The first issue still stands up really well in my eyes, which is rare. As the world has changed, we have evolved to reflect more breadth in our content, and address more serious concerns of our readers than we perhaps did in that first year.  That’s the biggest difference but I still see us as primarily a magazine you read when you want to be entertained.

+For us, can you describe your job on a day to day basis?

It varies. There’s a fixed monthly calendar of things that need doing, so this week is press week so it’s a very desk-bound week, reading, reading, reading, devising the cover from image to words and design. But then the day can involve meeting contributors and key contacts, generating ideas with the team, approving rails of clothes and layouts. Some of the day is usually devoted to working on big, future projects. Then there’s the unexpected things like, yesterday I was on a judging panel for most of the day for the Dulux Let’s Colour Awards. I represent the magazine at lots of things like the British Fashion Awards which were on Monday night. Then this afternoon I’m doing some stuff with Radio 4 to talk about Glamour. It really is all sorts!

+Do you have any specific advice about writing a good cover-letter and building contacts in the industry?

Proof read it several times. I’m quite unforgiving of covering letters that contain spelling mistakes, or god forbid ones accidentally addressed to another editor or another magazine.  Demonstrate in a paragraph what it is you like about the title/company you’re applying to work for – I like to spot someone who has clearly really understood Glamour’s place in the market and what it is we try to do.

+ On any day, what essentials can we find in your bag, that helps the production of Glamour?

The essentials of producing Glamour are the living, breathing humans who make our wonderful team. Besides them, I need my phone and paracetamol.

+Is the running of Glamour easy to fit round family life?

‘Easy’ is not the word I’d use. But you do have to be very organised.

+How did you start out becoming the editor you are today?

I interned at a teenage magazine in Sydney for about six months before they offered me a full time job.

+Features at Glamour often meet great acclaim, as part of the UK’S number one magazine. How are they put together?

That’s very kind of you! It’s a team effort, led by our brilliant features director, Claire Matthiae.  It’s all about ideas, which we get from all sorts of places. It might be an idea sparked by a story in a newspaper, something a freelancer has brought to us. More often than not, people bring ideas to the table as a result of something that came up while chatting to their friends at the pub. Then it’s a case of  our experience kicking in and working out, as a team, the best way to present and sell the feature in a Glamour way, that we think will be appealing to our readers.

+Do interns play an important role in Glamour?

Yes. We pay our interns – I know not everywhere does but we do – because we expect them to work hard and be as committed to the magazine as the rest of us. It’s a fantastic place to learn about all aspects of magazine, tablet and website production.

+How did working as a publicist for Neighbours benefit your career?

It helped me to realise how much I loved being a journalist!

+For freelance journalists to contribute to Glamour, can you give them any advice specifically?

Read at least six months’ worth of issues before pitching anything. Often I get ideas pitched that we have actually done recently. It will also help you to get a feel for what sorts of ideas will interest our editors. Be concise in what you’re pitching. Give me a headline, and sum the article up succinctly in two or three sentences. If you can’t do that, you haven’t yet found the heart of the idea. It needs to be able to be sold/understood quickly, otherwise readers lose interest.

+Is there any “glamour” in the running of Glamour?

Er, not a lot! We have a great deal of fun, but we work in a messy office and we spend most of the time at our desks reading and writing. We do have fun, particularly with things like the Glamour Women of the Year Awards where we all get incredibly dressed up and have a fun night with a lot of celebrities. But even that is months of hard and decidedly unglamorous work!

+What is the hardest lesson you have learnt as an editor?

That you can’t be friends with everyone you work with. You can get along really well and have a great working relationship, but when you’re the boss, inevitably you’re the one who has to deliver bad news, make tough and unpopular decisions. So you have to accept that people will have a bitch and moan about you and they probably won’t invite you to the pub because that’s where they want to do it!

Tune in again soon to see part two!

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