By James Manning
Outgoing marie claire editor Jackie Frank wasn’t going to hand over her much-loved monthly magazine to just anyone. She had an obligation to herself (now a Pacific group publisher), her readers, Pacific Magazines and the brand licence holder Marie Claire Group to find the best possible person to maintain the market-leading position marie claire has had since launching here 20 years ago.
That person turned out to be someone who had worked on the magazine previously, and was just working a few metres away from Frank at Pacific.
Nicky Briger brings years of magazine experience with her to marie claire after her successful editorships of InStyle and Who. But it is not just editing a magazine anymore, Frank likes to call marie claire a “content powerhouse” these days with all the different brand extensions bringing the brand to life on other platforms.
Briger told Mediaweek she remembers very clearly her first time on marie claire which was in May of the launch year – 1995. “It was in Miller Street, Sydney and there were only two other people in the office working pre-launch. The other people were Jackie, whom I’d been told was very formidable, and Karen Spresser, the deputy editor. I had applied for a sub-editor’s job.”
After several years in newspapers, Briger was working at ACP’s NW magazine at the time. “I was desperate to get to marie claire. I had just got back from overseas and I was obsessed with the British edition of marie claire. I had never seen a magazine like it and I just consumed everything. I pretty much begged for a position at the magazine and I actually was offered the job at the interview which is pretty unusual.”
Remembering that interview, Frank admitted to Mediaweek she didn’t even know what a sub was back then and she was happy to have someone who fit the job description.
There was a bit of friction though when Briger accepted the job with her NW editor ringing marie claire owner Matt Handbury and telling him that he couldn’t have her. Handbury meanwhile didn’t want people working too far ahead of the launch so he instructed Frank to give Briger an immediate holiday!
About the demands on her time now she is back at the magazine, Briger said she was hoping for some work-life balance after spending years editing the weekly Who magazine. “Not so,” she admitted after a few weeks in the role as she now juggles content across a myriad of platforms. “There is such a big brand footprint and so many different facets to it. What’s on the page is just only part of it. At any one time there are about seven different things to look after.”
Even though Briger was moving internally to her new role, she still had to serve out a three-month notice period at Who magazine as they made the transition to new editor Shane Sutton.
Asked if she was concerned if Frank might continually be looking over her shoulder, Briger said. “You should see how busy Jackie is in her new role. There are people lined up outside her office all day. She doesn’t have time to interfere.”
As to whether there was in-house competition between InStyle and marie claire, Briger said it was not like that these days. “We work together a lot, particularly with advertising. We are much better as the power of two with the competition outside the building. We share photos and talk about celebrities and what is working for each of us. It is much more collaborative.”
Briger agreed with Frank that the biggest competition for the brand is people’s time.
Using different platforms helps keep the brand uppermost in mind. Briger said they don’t just write content for the magazine and then publish that same content in four different places. They choose content to fit the platform.
“We would write about 8-12 stories a day at marie claire, depending on what is happening, to publish on other platforms,” said Briger. “It can range from shopping and fashion items through to news items and women’s issues that crop up across the day. marie claire is very much a platform for women’s voices and that is a great way to engage with readers.”
Returning to marie claire:
Briger: “I still love Who obviously…it is just next door. It was my passion for a long time and I started my passion for magazines with marie claire and I have never let it go. I have always followed the magazine and watched how it has evolved, to Jackie’s credit. I have always really been engaged with the content.”
As to how editor Briger might be different to editor Frank, Briger said: “I will be just as loud, that is for sure. [Laughs] We are quite similar in a lot of ways. [Frank suggested to Mediaweek that Briger is a much better journalist.] Jackie is very fantastic on the big picture and she will be a great help to me with that. Our journalism might be the real difference between us, but she is really a pretty good journo.”
Briger didn’t think regular readers would notice much of a change. “We will continue to focus on women’s issues which is something that is becoming very powerful and we will ramp that up. We will be having a lot more fashion upfront of the book to give the magazine a feel of more luxury at the front. There will also be more reportage and we’ll ramp up the visual side of that.”
She suggested there might be more news, bringing some of her former weekly news magazine sensibility to the brand. As to the challenge of reporting news in a magazine with long lead times, Briger said they could do those news stories online.
Briger is prepared to be spending more time with her major advertisers than she did at Who. “The thing with Who was we just didn’t have the time as it is very editorially focused and you are on the floor most of the time with the team.”
• Nicky Briger departs Who
“I’m thrilled to hand the star-spangled baton to Who’s dedicated deputy editor of six years, Shane Sutton. He’ll maintain the magazine’s thirst for the truth and has exciting plans for the future.”
• Briger back at marie claire
After recounting her story about getting a job on the magazine exactly 20 years ago, Briger tells her new readers: “I’m back home on my favourite magazine. I’d like to personally thank Jackie for giving me my dream job: to return as editor is an honour and privilege beyond words.”
• Briger’s favourite Who covers
“My favourite Who cover was a pregnant Dannii Minogue starring on the cover of our Most Beautiful People issue. The minute Dannii announced she was pregnant, we approached her for a pregnancy shoot as we wanted the image to embody the beauty of impending motherhood. Chris Colls’ image did just that and won the Maggies’ Lifestyle Cover of the Year. Dannii was a dream to work with as always. She was really enjoying her pregnancy and just glowing.
“My second favourite was our Victorian fire cover. The image of the lone distraught fireman among the flames was heartbreaking and powerful – it absolutely summed up the mood at the time.”
• Frankly speaking
The new editor has generously allowed her group publisher to keep a presence in her former title with the monthly feature Frankly Speaking where Jackie Frank interviews a special guest. In the October edition of the magazine she spent time with Khloé Kardashian.
“I don’t have to pay her as a contributor though,” said Briger, somewhat relieved.