The Penn State chapter of Ed on Campus hosted its first national magazine event when Men’s Health executive editor Bill Phillips, a 1991 graduate of Penn State, came to speak on Oct. 12.
Bill spoke to more than 40 students about the new role of editors, who now oversee “brand content,” which includes not just the magazine but what’s posted on its Web site, in books and even iPhone applications!
Before answering a ton of questions from young, aspiring editors, Bill shared 12 things that journalism professors aren’t teaching their students. Some favorites were:
1. Your writing isn’t about your writing. It’s more important that you know how to communicate with the magazine’s reader. Bill’s main point of the night: When writing for a magazine, it’s all about channeling who the reader is!
2. Do something different than a cover letter. Magazine editors receive tons of applications every month with cover letters that say the same old thing. Think of something creative that will make you stand out! Bill once received an application from a guy who redesigned a page of Men’s Health with a mix of articles about himself and pitches for the magazine.
3. Clips don’t matter, but ideas do. When Bill receives clips, most of the time he assumes an editor has rewritten them. Editors want to know you can contribute fresh ideas to the magazine they live and breathe each day. He added that your sixth idea is usually your best idea. (So don’t stop at your first thought!)
4. Seek out senior editors. Instead of relying just on Human Resources, Bill recommends finding the senior editor listed on the masthead of your favorite magazines and pitching directly to them. They’re always hunting for new ideas, and they hold real hiring power. (Visit Ed’s HR Contact Info page to find email formats for most publishing companies.)
5. Above all, talent rises. Although the job market may be grim at the moment, Bill says that if you truly have a passion for something, there’s always room for talent. –By Devin Tomb, co-founder and president of Penn State University’s Ed on Campus