Nextmedia takes Shape

Group editor Micaela George talks Shape’s new home at nextmedia

By Kruti Joshi

The new-look Shape Australia with new sections and a new publisher hit the stands on October 8. Formerly described as the women’s health and fitness title, it has added “lifestyle” to its description following its transition from Odysseus Publishing to nextmedia in August.

“We really wanted to take the magazine to the next level,” nextmedia group editor Micaela George told to Mediaweek.

“We thought just adding that lifestyle element would really bring it into the women’s category a lot more and have everything in one place. We wanted it to be the #1 resource for women who are passionate about health and fitness. With this extra content, [the readers] can get everything they want in one title.

“Our median age is 30 but really it can be for women from 20-90. We’ve got something in there that will really appeal to everybody and all levels of the fitness spectrum,” George pointed out when talking about the appeal of Shape Australia.

As a group editor at nextmedia, George oversees the publishing of other titles including Little Angels, Shopkins and Girl Power as well. While Shape editor Alison Turner focuses on ensuring the content is enthralling and digestible for the readers, George liaises between editorial and advertising.

“My role is more a managing role and dealing more closely with the advertising team and giving the direction to the mag,  whereas Alison does more of the physical editing. She does a lot of the interviews herself and attends industry events … I look after more the lifestyle stuff because that is my background.

“We have two different roles and come together and make it as one.”

George is heavily involved in the process that goes behind executing a cover.

The new home of the magazine intends to keep the look and feel of the title as  “Australian” as possible, which means it will not be sourcing many covers from its overseas counterparts, said George.

“We want to make sure Shape Australia has an Australian feel and that the readers can distinguish the difference between Shape in the US and other countries to the Australian one.

“We are very much appealing to our market in Australia by shooting our own covers and styling them very much in the interest of the Australian woman – the kind of style she is interested in – and having recognisable Australian faces.

“I am the main go-to person for our covers. We have discussions amongst the team, the editor, the art director, and obviously, [nextmedia CEO] David [Gardiner] and [commercial director] Bruce [Duncan], who are also very much involved looking into what is the best direction and who goes on the cover of our magazines. Then we all make a decision as to what we feel is the right fit and go ahead with it. But, generally I am the one driving our covers and the theme of an issue.”

The faces on the covers will help nextmedia bolster Shape’s digital assets including its shiny new Instagram account, which the title recently set up, George revealed.

“Our next cover is going to feature Base Body Babes who have more than half-a-million followers on Instagram. We are working very closely with them and they’re quite recognisable in the fitness industry in Australia.”

The Shape brand’s history dates back to 1981, when Weider Publications started it in the US. Today, the brand is still notable overseas with a US and a German edition. The publisher of Shape US, Meredith Corporation, works closely with its Australian counterpart.

“We deal with them very very closely in terms of content,” revealed George. “We select the best content from their wonderful experts over there so we can tap into [some] great resources from all over the world and pick up content that’s been written and published over there as well.

“We have a wealth of experts at our fingertips and Meredith is an absolute dream to deal with – they’ve been very supportive.”

Four full-time staffers, including George, work on the title, digital and social media. The bimonthly magazine is currently working on building up a database of local contributors, George said.

The title has forged good relationships with advertisers including Amazonia and Western Sydney Marathon.

“There are great opportunities for advertisers to be integrated into the publication and we want to work with brands that want to be integrated into our editorial strategy,” George said.

On how Shape Australia fits in with nextmedia’s portfolio, George said: “We already have titles like Inside Sports and Healthy Food Guide so Shape really does fit well. We were very excited to expand our women’s lifestyle portfolio and do it in a specialised niche way that next does better than anyone else.”

[blockquote style=”3″]Micaela George CV:
George began her career in print in 2003 at Dolly magazine. Since then she has edited titles including eBay Life magazine at Citrus Media and Little Angels at nextmedia[/blockquote]

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