Glamour, Seventeen and Redbook—Oh my!
Sunny Sea Gold Spreads a Message of
Body Positivity Among Them All.

On this week’s episode of the PR Talk podcast, Amy Rosenberg sits down for a revealing conversation with author and content creator Sunny Sea Gold about her time working in the world of New York fashion magazines, how her personal struggle with binge-eating and body dysmorphia led her to advocate for change within the industry, and tips PR pros can use when pitching to these often-intimidating organizations.

Change Comes from Within

People like Sunny Sea Gold are the reason we’re seeing a more body-positive attitude in the media. During her years working as an editor at well-known publications like Glamour, Seventeen, and Redbook, Sunny pushed behind-the-scenes for better representation for people of all body shapes, and that led to real change. Today, women like Jess Baker, Tess Holliday, and Jessamyn Stanley are appearing in the most famous fashion magazines in the world and helping redefine what the words health and beauty really mean.

But it didn’t come easy for Sunny. When she landed her first big job out of college in the early 2000’s editing the health and wellness coverage for Glamour magazine, the industry had only just begun to reckon with the negative impact they were having on the culture. Sunny has been open with her struggles with binge-eating and body-dysmorphia — which was the subject of her 2011 book, Food: The Good Girl’s Drug — and at times struggled working in such an image and diet-obsessed environment.

Ultimately her experiences led her to begin advocating for change and speaking up about what she saw in magazine culture. She didn’t always get her way, but she was always listened to, which helped advance her larger cause. For Sunny, these efforts are about reflecting real people, because “every single person — no matter what kind of body they’re in — deserves our respect and deserves to be seen.”

 

A Difficult World to Break Into

This is a PR podcast, of course, so Amy was very interested in hearing Sunny’s tips for how PR pros can get the attention of editors in a very competitive New York magazine market. Sunny began by reminding listeners that the publishing world has changed pretty dramatically over the last few years. There have been lots of layoffs and lots of magazine closures which means compressed staffs are being asked to do more than ever before. As a result, it could take months before some staff members can even respond to an email. So if you don’t get a response, don’t take it personally. They’re just that busy.

When you do pitch, Sunny recommends putting a lot of thought into what you’re sending to make sure it really fits what the publication produces. Sunny cited Reader’s Digest as an example. Since they publish a lot of listicles, pitches that take this into account stand a much better chance of being accepted than those that don’t.

Beyond that, Sunny believes it comes down to connections. She recommends that PR pros do whatever they can to land “desk-side” meetings with lower-level editorial employees: titled editorial assistant, assistant editor, or associate editor. As Sunny puts it, these people typically “are open-minded, hungry for relationships, and hungry for ideas.” Desk-side meetings also provide PR pros with the opportunity to put a face with a name, and they can often get better responses from someone they know in person. And if you do land a desk-side, make sure to diligently maintain your contacts because you’ll never know who that young staffer will end up becoming.

 

Subscribe to Hear More

Though she’s no longer directly employed by the magazine world, Sunny continues her advocacy and education work by writing about parenting and body image for publications like Reader’s Digest, health.com, Elle, Parent’s Magazine, and Refinery 29. She also works with clients on branded content and helps clients make connections with people she still knows in the publishing industry.

To hear the entire interview, including more about Sunny’s struggle with binge eating and her life in the New York magazine world, click through or subscribe to PR talk on Stitcher, iTunes, or the Google Play store.

About the guest: Sunny Sea Gold

Sunny Sea Gold is a sought-after journalist and book author with expertise in women’s issues, health, psychology, obesity, body image, and parenting. She has more than a decade of experience telling stories and leading editorial strategy for some of the country’s largest and most well-known print and digital publications including Glamour, Fast Company, Reader’s Digest, Parents, WebMD, and O, the Oprah Magazine. As a consultant, she leverages her journalistic sensibility and deep understanding of the social, digital, and print-media landscapes to craft strategic communications plans for select corporate clients and thought leaders.

Connect and follow Sunny Sea Gold on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

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Josh Friesen
I'm a writer and content marketer at Veracity, telling client stories one post at a time.