Why it's all about Eve for Nic McCarthy

New Eve editor Nic McCarthy should know a thing or two about overhauling a magazine. The Haymarket title is the fourth she’s edited and in-between times she’s worked as a new product developer at what was then still Emap. So changing formats and fonts and injecting fresh ideas into a title should be a walk in the park for her.

‘I’ve looked at lots of new redesigns, pitches and magazine ideas,’says McCarthy. ‘I knew when I came here that the fact that the redesign came so easily was a very good sign. When it comes easily and it’s not torture it normally means it’s right.”

So what are the big changes at the monthly for the 30-plus woman? Judging a redesign by its cover, it’s a case of a new logo, but McCarthy says she has completely overhauled the title, giving it the design values of a fashion magazine and features with ‘more interesting women’top of the agenda. Providing they match the criteria of the ‘smart and fashionable’Eve reader, that is.

Who fits the bill? Socialite-come-amateur porn star Paris Hilton and the car-crash lifestyles of child stars such as Britney or Lindsey Lohan may sell plenty of copies of Heat, but are apparently Eve readers’ worst nightmare.

High-profile women

For Eve, it’s all about the Sarah Jessica Parkers and Angelina Jolies of the world. High-profile women, and not just from the world of showbiz – stars in the world of fashion, homes, beauty and business are all on its list.

‘We want women from all walks of life,’McCarthy says, pointing to an interview with Patricia Field, the stylist for Sex and the City and Ugly Betty. ‘Very inspiring women; you’ll see a lot more of them in the magazine. Glamorous, stylish business people. You could see a stylish chief executive or the head of a beauty company. It’s very flexible, as long as they’re fabulous and someone our reader would be interested in.”

It was the Eve reader that McCarthy says drew her to the title – the fashion-conscious career woman who is capable of being both deep and shallow – a woman that McCarthy sees a lot of herself in.

‘I’ve loved all my editing jobs, I’ve looked after some great magazines, but I don’t think I’ve had a reader that I’m as close to as the Eve reader,’she says. ‘I love everything about her. She can be in a board meeting worrying about profit one minute and striding down Bond Street thinking about handbags the next.”

Former OK! editor McCarthy joined Eve in January after a year at Emap and then a freelance stint in new product development alongside editorial director Judy Maguire at News Magazines.

Haymarket’s Eve, bought from BBC Magazines in January 2005, saw a small decline in circulation in the most recent round of ABCs in February – it was down 2.4 per cent year on year to 168,270 – only its second year-on-year decrease since launch in 2001.

McCarthy says she hopes her experience on the weeklies – along with OK! she covered maternity leave for the editor of American celebrity weekly Us Weekly – will help her bring a fresh view to the monthly market, which she feels is often the last to respond to the fast demands of the new digital age.

‘Monthlies is the only sector that hasn’t changed and responded, so I feel I’m in the right place at the right time,’she says. ‘I think the sector could do with an injection of fresh ideas and creativity. As a weekly editor you’re very plugged into the world, and you learn how to create talking points in the magazine and come up with stories that are going to be picked up in the press.”

McCarthy has made two new appointments since her arrival, firstly taking on Grazia’s associate editor, Sarah Pyper, a US Weekly colleague, to be her executive editor. ‘We were London girls in Manhattan together – she and I know each other very well and work well together,’McCarthy says.

Her second appointment was Sun Online’s Louise Compton to be digital editor of Eve Weekend, the magazine’s digital offering currently based around in a weekly email format listing eight things to do at the weekend – such as a handbag to buy, a weekend break or something to cook.

A simple online strategy, perhaps, but with 40,000 unique users McCarthy thinks it’s a far better solution than an ‘unwieldy replica’of the print magazine online, a mistake she thinks many publishers make.

The Eve reader is a high-flying career woman who doesn’t have time to trawl through a website and read long features online. She’s also a bit busy for self help and self reflection, unlike the Psychologies reader, says McCarthy.

While Vogue and Heat have both done a good job online, McCarthy thinks other magazines seem lost. ‘They’re examples of good brand extensions,’she says. ‘Everything else is just a great big rambling strangeness. It has to suit its medium. But I think everybody in publishing has struggled a bit with online.”

McCarthy says that Eve was the first magazine to appoint an eco editor, the environment being an issue which the title takes seriously – but, of course, in a glamorous, stylish and entertaining way. A four to six-page report on a serious eco issue each month has been a regular feature for some time, with more coverage recently introduced.

Consumer awareness

Although abiding by Haymarket’s environmental policies, including recycling and rethinking international travel, McCarthy thinks that Eve, like the rest of the magazine industry, could be more effective raising consumer awareness.

‘The fashion industry itself is not very green,’she says. ‘Initially you have to create a desire among readers, the consumer, for eco fashion. If you don’t do that, nothing else will work.”

While McCarthy sees herself exactly like her Eve reader, it hasn’t always been that way. Her first editorship was at Majesty magazine, a monthly covering all things royal, with a split readership here and in the USA. Being Irish, she says she didn’t have a huge interest in the royal family, but had a great time working on the title. Although no royals were actually interviewed in the magazine, McCarthy filled the pages with visits to a newly restored Windsor Castle,

nosing round the houses of royal cousins and interviews with royal employees.

‘I was there through the breakdown of Diana’s marriage, and the Fergie and Andrew days – the days of great royal stories,’she recalls.

After two and a half years on the title McCarthy then followed her former Majesty editor, Nigel Evans, to The London Magazine to be his deputy.

Her big break came in 1999 when then OK! editor Martin Townsend hired her to be his deputy on the celebrity weekly. Townsend and McCarthy were the team whose £1m deal for exclusive coverage of Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas’ wedding was scuppered when rival magazine Hello! printed secret photos of the event, resulting in a near seven-year legal battle between the titles costing millions.

McCarthy enjoyed ‘access all areas’privileges including manicures with the bride and her girlfriends at a hen party the night before, a family dinner with Kirk Douglas and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Jack Nicholson and Martha Stewart on the big day.

‘I was staying at the Hudson Hotel in New York and had a phone call in the middle of the night saying Hello! had pictures and all hell broke loose. Martin was whisked back to London to deal with it. I felt gutted,’McCarthy says.

After promotion to editor on OK! when Townsend left, McCarthy was headhunted by Jann Wenner, owner of Rolling Stone and Us Weekly, to cover maternity leave on the latter.

The job involved working 60-hour weeks and was ‘punishing and brilliant’says McCarthy who, once the maternity cover was over, remained in New York and returned to OK! with the ‘hilarious’title of international celebrity director.

Then pregnant with her second child, McCarthy left Manhattan in 2006 and returned to London, joining Emap on new product development with former Elle editor Fiona Macintosh. Tight lipped about what she worked on, as ‘new product development is very shady, you’re never allowed to say anything”, McCarthy is now content to focus on developing Eve.

Something new online is promised at some point this year, and new editions of Eve are on the horizon to join the other six in Indonesia, Mexico, Greece, Turkey, Romania and Lithuania. Although involved in the global expansion, she has no plans to work abroad again.

‘My job now is to concentrate on the UK edition, and that’s what I’m here for.”

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