“The time was right to give True Love’s readers more of the content that they value and treasure, in a visually captivating package that will keep them coming back for more throughout the month,” says editor Lerato Tshabalala. “When the magazine’s readers open the magazine, they are going to feel like it’s a familiar, trusted friend – someone that they’ve known for years, someone who understands the issues that they face every day, but who is also ready to discuss the latest in fashion, food and celebrity gossip.”
Tshabalala, who took up the reins at the magazine in December 2011, says “I have immense respect for this product because I grew up with it. I have a deep understanding of who the True Love woman is, so when I worked with my team to decide on its future direction, I did it with my heart and soul. All the changes that we have made come from a place of immense love and respect for the magazine, and for the role it has played in the history of so many South African women.”
Although the magazine’s masthead remains unchanged, a new approach to the cover lines makes it much easier for readers to see what lies in store for them between its covers. “We have changed the font inside the magazine to offer more open, easily readable expanses of text,” Tshabalala says. “We have also opened the layout up to create the perception of a more relaxed read, and we have included many more visuals than before, to create variety and depth in the content that we are offering to our readers.”
These visuals are the device through which Tshabalala is introducing more international celebrity content to the magazine – a move which has already been well received by readers. “True Love is a quintessentially South African magazine, which is why you will only ever find a South African woman on our cover,” she says. “However, South African women are part of global culture, and they want to know what their favourite celebrities are doing, wearing and where they’re going.”
The social-media savvy editor is also looking at building the online profile of the magazine. “We’re using social media to build the profiles of the people that work on the magazine, as I believe that our readers yearn for a close relationship with the editors who bring them the latest in fashion, food and beauty,” Tshabalala says.
“Our fashion editor Palesa Mahlaba (@SimplyPalesa) interacts with readers daily, offering fashion tips and advice and answering questions, as does our beauty editor Thami Kwazi (@Tkwazi). I also engage with readers regularly, using my Twitter handle of @LeratoTJ, and of course the magazine has its own Twitter handle, @TrueLoveMag. We also have an active Facebook page.”
It’s not just the magazine’s aesthetics that have been refreshed – a bold new mix of content has been created to respond to the expectations of South Africa’s urban black women in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
“There are some elements that are simply part of the magazine’s DNA, and remain an intrinsic part of the content mix, although they have been given a makeover,” says Tshabalala. “The familiar elements that remain are makeover features, articles about relationships, parenting, health and money – but they have been freshened up and made more accessible. However, we have created several new regular features that tap into the lifestyle of black South African women, to add depth and relevance.”
New additions to the content mix include, among others:
• International celebrity pages.
• Fashion and beauty polls conducted online but published in the magazine.
• Snapshots: a photo essay that celebrates positive and motivational scenes from South African daily life.
• Miz Canday, sex and sexuality columnist.
• Two Sides, a column penned by Ndumiso Ngcobo and Kgomotso Matsunyane, which offers the male and female sides to a particular issue.
• Dear Diary provides updates on must-attend social and arts events.
• What I Know Now, an interview with an iconic older South African, to remind readers of the history and values that brought the country to its current place.
• Street Style shows how real South African women are putting their fashion foot forward, snapped by scouting True Love photographers.
The magazine industry is a tough one, with many titles having come and gone in the 40 years that True Love has been resonating with South Africa’s women. With its fresh look and carefully crafted content, the magazine is set to be their closest friend and confidant for many years to come.
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