As fashionable femme-focused powerhouse Cosmopolitan celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2012, we caught up with editor Louise Court to get all the gossip behind another busy and successful year. After starting out in local papers in Sussex, Louise has risen through the editorial ranks as showbiz reporter at the Daily Express, assistant editor at Woman's Own and editor at Best before taking the helm at Cosmo in 2007, winning the Editors' Editor of the Year at the BSME Awards in November.
Following Cosmo campaigns such as "Are You Generation Angry?" and "I Use the F Word, Do You?", we ask its editor some questions about Feminism, rewarding accomplishment, and the possibility of more diversity on future magazine front covers in today's interview.
The Cosmopolitan Ultimate Women of the Year Awards have honoured lots of truly deserving people – were there any winners in particular who you were excited about rewarding this time around?
The winners of the Ultimate Women of the Year Awards always bowl me over – they are so inspiring. My Editor's Choice [for the awards in October 2012] was Stephanie Kercher, whose sister Meredith was murdered in Perugia five years ago. The case made headlines worldwide and throughout the traumatic court hearings, which are still continuing, Stephanie has shown incredible dignity and strength.
Sarah Storey was awarded the Ultimate Paralympian Award – considering the UK’s enthusiastic support of the Paralympics back in the summer, do you think differently-abled people will start to feature more frequently on the covers of mainstream consumer magazines?
I think the Paralympic Games really transformed the way differently-abled people are seen in this country and abroad and I see no reason why they would not feature on (and in) more magazines.
Is there any gossip from the awards that we may not have heard about yet (that you’d feel comfortable sharing with us, of course…)
That's a tough one… but it was fascinating how many people wanted their photo taken with Rylan.
About Cosmopolitan’s campaigns/media for women
Tell us about the inspiration for the magazine’s “We use the F word, do you?” campaign…what does the 'F word' mean to you?
F stands for Feminism, of course, and I have always been a Feminist. Feminism means you think women are totally equal to men and they certainly should be paid the same.
Are there any upcoming campaigns you’re planning for the magazine that you could tell us about?
We are supporting the breast cancer charity Coppafeel, which works to make more young women aware of checking their breasts for the early signs of cancer. And we do a lot of work campaigning against domestic violence.
Cosmopolitan supports its female readers having “confidence in all areas of their life” – do you think there’s more pressure than ever on women to ‘succeed’ in all aspects of their lives?
I think there is a pressure on all of us to be perfect – which is impossible. So you have to decide what are the goals you want to achieve and work towards those. It is important to be driven by your ambition – not other people's, and to have belief and confidence in everything you can achieve.
Is it difficult to find a balance between the advertising element of magazine publishing – products targeted to women to improve appearance, for example – and providing a kinder, empowering and friendly read for females?
The modern world is all about choice. If you want to know about great beauty products that work, Cosmo will tell you about them – but there is no pressure to look 'perfect'. The magazine is full of loads to read if fashion and beauty aren't your thing.
About the magazine and journalists
Do you like freelance journalists to get in touch directly to pitch ideas? If so, how?
I love to hear from great new talent but, realistically, pitch ideas will do far better if addressed to the relevant department head. The more details the better.
How important do you feel ‘old school’ journalistic qualifications and training is when looking to start a career in the media now?
It is great that people can start their own blogs and can learn how to make things happen, but if you want to work in a consumer magazine you also have to learn how an office works, to understand things like legals, importance of fact checking and different styles of writing.
Do you feel personal style and appearance play a vital part in working for today’s big consumer magazines?
The most important thing is being able to do your job.
Do you tend to work with the same PRs or do you receive contributions from a wide range of sources?
We work with a lot of different PRs.
Of all the press releases the team receive on a daily basis, what percentage of them make it to publication?
I couldn't begin to imagine. We don't simply regurgitate press releases. You look at some and wonder why people bother to send them to the magazine (and if they have ever actually looked at a copy of Cosmo).
Do you find that your idea of what makes a story and a PR's tends to differ? How?
Many PRs think we will simply copy and paste a release. Everything in Cosmo has to go back to the reader. Why would she be interested in this information and how can it be written with a Cosmo attitude?
Describe a typical day at work: What are your editorial duties/responsibilities at the outlet?
I don't commission, sub or interview. I forward plan everything with the department heads, read copy as it goes through the system all the way to final, approve layouts, liase with the advertising team, work on specials, keep up-to-date with the news agenda, oversee Cosmo's digital and social media, discuss celebrities, features, fashion, beauty and who's going to go on the next cover. And before you ask – I won't tell you!
What is the best thing about being the editor of Cosmopolitan? And is there a ‘worst’ thing?!
The best thing about being editor of Cosmopolitan is the brand, the readers and the team. The 'worst' is it is hard to stop thinking about it.
Do you tweet?
Yes I do, I'm @LouiseCosmoEd.
If you could be anyone else for the day, who would it be and why?
Manager of Crystal Palace Football Team.
At the Ultimate Women Awards, Kelly Osbourne commented that “the best thing about being a woman is having a vagina”. What do you think is the best thing about being a woman?
It was Nicole Scherzinger who said that [and this moment marks the first time this interviewer has Googled "Nicole Scherzinger + … etc."]. I love being a woman because it meant I could give birth.
Sometimes, we at FeaturesExec think the best thing about being a woman is the prerogative to have a little fun, go totally crazy, and forget you're a lady. Men's shirts, short skirts; doing it in style, y'know.
Louise Court is tweeting/using the F word with aplomb @LouiseCosmoEd.