Interview: Alison Kerry

The head of media at mental health charity Mind tells Annette Rawstrone how a feature in Glamour magazine has sparked a lasting partnership

Alison Kerry
Alison Kerry

It's not often that a charity is offered a partnership with a top women's magazine, spearheaded by a high-profile pop star. So Alison Kerry, head of media at Mind, says the mental health charity was thrilled to get a call from Glamour magazine suggesting that they work together to address the issue of depression.

The idea for the tie-up on the Hey, It's OK campaign came about when Frankie Sandford, singer with the pop group The Saturdays, approached Glamour with a proposal to tell the story of her struggle with depression. Kerry says the magazine recognised that it was an important issue for its readership and contacted the charity to broaden the article so it would tackle the taboo of speaking about mental health problems.

Glamour magazine"Frankie is very popular and it was the first time she had spoken publicly about the illness," says Kerry. "It was a really candid interview. One in four people experiences depression, but it is not talked about as frequently as other health conditions, so it was wonderful that she opened up.

"It can be difficult to cut through to 20 to 30-year-olds, and Glamour is the most widely read glossy for this age group. To be able to reach out to its audience was amazing. We do lots of work with the women's consumer press, but this approach was different - it was a true partnership."

The result was a 10-page focus in Glamour's May issue, featuring Sandford's story, a survey of 2,000 Glamour readers and an interview with Mind's head of information. A video of young women voicing their experiences of depression was put online.

Kerry says that the three-month lead time enabled Mind to have real input into the coverage, including discussing how best to present the issues, helping to design the survey and sourcing the people who would appear in the video.

What would be her advice to other charities seeking similar results? "It's important that your message works for the readership of the magazine," she says. "One of the reasons that this partnership worked so well is that this is an issue that Glamour readers can relate to. Access to young women living with depression who were willing to speak candidly to the magazine about what they have been through was also essential."

Kerry also believes it is important to use social media to back up a campaign. "We reached 10,000 people through Twitter and the viral video," she says. The story was picked up by the tabloid press, giving it a much wider reach. The campaign led to a rise in the number of calls to the charity's information line in April and May, many of which directly mentioned the Glamour publicity.

"There have been some really inspiring charity campaigns in consumer magazines in the past, particularly those led by cancer charities that have collaborated with fashion designers, high-street retailers and celebrities to gain widespread exposure and raise money.

"Fundraising was not an objective for this campaign but it would be interesting to work with a magazine on this in the future. It would be great to see a campaign on the scale of Fashion Targets Breast Cancer celebrating mental health."

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