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STM fashion appointment brings industry claws out

THE much-hyped magazine STM may have successfully debuted as a lift-out in last weekend’s The Sunday Times newspaper but the appointment of a public relations consultant to the key role of fashion editor continues to raise eyebrows.

Several advertisers have questioned the editorial appointment of Melissa Lekias, whose public relations firm Magenta specialises in fashion-related PR and represents a host of industry players from department store group David Jones to shoe company Cecil Brothers’ brands Zu and Betts.

Magenta also ran STM’s launch event which gained prominent coverage in the forward pages of the Sunday newspaper, including a picture of jewellery outlet proprietor Alan Linney, whose company Linneys is a client of the PR firm.

Several STM fashion industry advertisers told WA Business News they were unaware that Ms Lekias operated Magenta.

CBD-based jeweller Solid Gold’s brand consultant Baynham Ross said it would be raising the matter in discussions with The Sunday Times’ management regarding concerns it has about the handling of its STM advertising contract. That contract is worth up to $100,000 over 12 months.

Baynham Ross director Dick Baynham said discovering the appointment of a PR agent as STM’s fashion editor was an unwelcome surprise to him this week.

“It absolutely crosses the line,” he said.

“It surprised me that she is the editor. I do think that there is a conflict of interest and we certainly weren’t made aware of it before booking our advertising.

“I would say that it [the advertising contract] is pretty much out the door at the moment.”

Mr Baynham claimed Solid Gold’s advertisement appears to have been moved from its booking on page 3 of STM to page 5 to make way for a David Jones’ advertisement.

“Something like that has never happened [to us] before,” Mr Baynham said.

Also questioning Ms Lekias’ involvement in the magazine is Ron Smales, owner of Smales jewellers in Subiaco.

Mr Smales, a former client of Magenta, said he was “flabbergasted” when he opened the magazine on Sunday to discover a consultant for rival jeweller Linneys was responsible for editing the fashion pages.

“I paid $3,000 for an ad and then Alan Linney appears in there. I feel that is quite unfair. I’m the one paying the bills,” Mr Smales said.

A representative of retail giant Myer was also unaware of the appointment of Ms Lekias, a 40under40 winner, or her connection to its national rival David Jones.

The Myer representative, who declined to be named, believed advertising decision-makers in Melbourne would be concerned about the perceived conflict of interest for someone in an important editorial position.

Neither The Sunday Times nor Melissa Lekias returned phone calls made by WA Business News, although Ms Lekias has previously stated that she did not believe her appointment would pose a conflict of interest.

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