Media: Men's magazines: How to get this man's attention

It is easy to stereotype lads' mag writers, but what do they actually want from PR agencies? Cathy Wallace asks a selection of industry insiders what it takes to really impress them

If you want to reach thousands of 18- to 35-year-old men, you could try pers­uading former Hollyoaks actress and glamour model Gemma Atkinson to stand with a loudspeaker at the centre of Wembley Stadium. Failing this, you could app­roach a men’s magazine.

A mention in the pages of FHM, GQ or Arena could be read by hundreds of thousands of young, style-conscious potential consumers. But to reach them, you first have to impress the men and women who write and edit those pages.

Who works for a men's mag?

Mostly, but not exclusively, men in their twenties and thirties who encompass the fun, friendly spirit of their title. They are likely to be avid readers of men’s mags themselves. ‘Most men’s mag writers have grown up on a diet of GQ and FHM,’ says Mike Peake, co-founder of The Insider Consultancy, which offers companies advice on targeting the lucrative men’s market.

‘They are not there to do undercover investigations; they are looking for entertaining stories,’ adds Christine Morgan, director of consumer at Good Relations.

But keep an open mind – not every men’s mag writer or editor will be a thirty-something, hip and happening boy-about-town.

Benjamin Webb, MD of Deliberate PR, warns: ‘While it is vital to understand a men’s magazine’s target market, do not
assume the journalist is a carbon copy of his or her readership.’

How to pitch to them

Many glossy, upmarket men’s mags are monthly and selective about what they put on their pages, so make a big effort.

Know and understand the market completely, advises Sarah Locke, CEO of Braben. Do not fall into the trap of thinking all
readers want is babes and booze. ‘Content is developing to be useful and entertaining,’ she says.

Know which section of which issue you are aiming for and learn the deadlines.

And be realistic. ‘If you have something that is hard to promote, consider other avenues such as advertorial,’ suggests Morgan. ‘For a feature, offer something exclusive and meaty. For example, we took a writer to Japan to cover the launch of Uniqlo.’

For talent, think A-list actors and musicians. Sports stars are popular too – the team at Braben has secured seven front covers with boxing superstar Joe Calzaghe and has raised the profile of fellow boxer David Haye via exclusive interviews in GQ Sport and FHM.

Build strong relationships

Remember that journalists on monthlies are far more likely to have the time to build relationships than those on newspapers or websites.

Men’s mag writers tend to be young and discerning, so take them to trendy hotspots. Favourites old and new include Paramount, The Hospital Club, Elena’s L’Etoile in Charlotte Street and the Market Bar.

You do not need to have a product to promote, either. ‘Meet journalists even when you are not promoting something,’ says Richard Tompkins, senior account manager at Braben. ‘It keeps things on a friendship level.’ Alexandra Annable, account manager at Waggener Edstrom, agrees building a friendship with men’s mag journalists can pay off: ‘Often they are easily swayed over a beer.’

Mischief PR creative director Ben Dutton suggests a more laissez-faire approach to invitations, allowing journalists to bring a friend. They will enjoy themselves more and, most importantly, they will talk about the brand or client afterwards.

Send the right freebies

If you work with fashion or sports brands, find out journalists’ and editors’ sizes and send them samples, suggests Dutton. ‘Send a box of doughnuts or a crate of beer once in a while, and send samples to get people talking even if your brand or client doesn’t have much new to say.’

Send useful products rather than just hopping on a bandwagon – most men’s mag journalists will have an iPod by now.

Peake says top items on the wish-list include speakers and headphones, a decent cognac, a sat-nav, a coffee machine and a genuine, old-fashioned cut-throat razor.

Things to consider

‘Don’t take verbal confirmation as a definite yes as things can and do change,’ warns Tompkins. Do not assume you will get something in print every time.

Remember all men’s mags are different and find out titles’ policies – Men’s Health, for example, does not cover spirits so do not phone the team about Jack Daniel’s.

And make sure you have done your res­earch. ‘If you phone up a journalist and have not read the latest issue of his or her  magazine, then you should probably think about a different career,’ says Webb. ‘To fail to pick up the title is unforgivable.’

Joe Barnes, editor of Front magazine, warns: ‘Be honest. If Loaded has bagged an interview instead of us, tell us. Don’t say that person isn’t doing press. When we later see it in a competitor’s mag, it just makes us think PR people are bell ends.’

Exclusives are also a bonus, advises Chris Mooney, editor of ‘We want int­erview opportunities with interesting and hard-to reach people and early information about game and film releases.

Ashes tickets and free Sky Plus wouldn’t go amiss either.’

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