Magazine Production students get tips on writing for men from former FHM Editor

Former International Editorial Manager at FHM, James Lawrence shared tips on writing for men with third year journalism students in a special guest lecture.

Posted: 19 February 2016

image for news story Magazine Production students get tips on writing for men from former FHM Editor
Third year undergraduate journalism student, Lara McComish attended a special guest lecture with Former FHM International Editorial Manager, James Lawrence and produced this news article on the top tips he shared.
According to Mr Lawrence “Funny, sexy and useful,” was the winning editorial formula that helped FHM have a readership of 775,000 at its peak circulation in the mid-1990s.

In the beginning men’s magazines were either on the top shelf or specialist hobby magazines. In their 1990s incarnation they were there to be “your smarter, funnier best friend,” said Mr Lawrence. “FHM acted as both interesting reading stimuli, paired with friendly banter. Its aim was to let men know that it is ok to be who they are.”

The FHM phenomenon worked, Mr Lawrence revealed, because it took time to understand its audience. Before FHM men’s magazines had acted a bit like your bossy big brother, they gave serious advice in a serious fashion which could leave readers feeling inadequate. FHM worked hard to be helpful, realistic and funny, and make you feel OK with who you were.

Mr Lawrence said it was key for every magazine, not just men’s magazines, to understand its target audience. It was point not lost on the Magazine Production third year students, who are all in the process of creating their own print and digital magazines which they will competitively pitch to a set of industry experts at the end of term.
Another simple yet valuable piece of advice he gave to the Roehampton journalism students was to avoid stereotypes. “The last thing that you want is a magazine that looks like it has been made by a machine,” he said.

Earlier this year, FHM called an end to its print magazine and Mr Lawrence admitted that mass market readership seems to have moved online to sites such as Buzzfeed and The LadBible. However, techniques employed successfully by these sites were honed by FHM. “We connected with our largely male audience through listicles and used humour to engage with male readers,” he said.

He concluded the talk with his thoughts on the future of mens magazines. “GQ is still around, Shortlist is successful as are some of the top shelf and niche hobby magazines where the sector began. Will they be mass market? Maybe not, but the feeling of holding a magazine in your hands, turning the pages as opposed to swiping a screen, is a real breath of fresh air in a world full of screens and social media”.

This news article was written by journalism student Lara McComish.

The University of Roehampton has an undergraduate degree in Journalism as well as a postgraduate degree in Journalism that has been launched this year. Roehampton is one of the top two universities in Lon-don for journalism according to The Guardian University Guide 2016

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