Men’s Health Andrew Daniels Talks New Role, Digital Media
Once, Andrew Daniels wore a pair of women’s high heels for a day. Consider it a sociological experiment of sorts, literally putting himself into someone else’s shoes. While it seems like a crazy idea, it’s the sort of cheeky style that gives his writing a compelling, brilliant edge.
A senior editor for Men’s Health Online since April, Daniels worked his way through the ranks. He started out as a reporter – the first Web reporter for the publication – way back in 2010 when the Web and digital publications were really just becoming a big thing. From there, he put in a lot of hard work and moved from reporter through to senior associate editor. You could almost consider it a meteoric rise, since Men’s Health is where Daniels landed directly out of college.
“I feel very fortunate to have a quick rise,” Daniels said. “I’m about to hit five years in June, which is kind of crazy to think about, since it is my first job out of college. And I never expected to be in the same place for five years. But I don’t want to leave any time soon, which is a good sign.”
It’s not to say he just sort of coasted along to his senior position. Daniels works hard.
“[As] senior editor I’m responsible for writing and editing and assigning 30-40 stories a week that show up on the website,” he said. “If you had to do a division of labor, it’s probably 75 percent editing, 15 percent writing and 10 percent extraneous stuff – production tasks, the podcast that’s an hour or two a week.”
In addition to all of his editing tasks, Daniels throws his hat into a lot of different rings for the publication. There’s Men’s Health Live – a nationally syndicated radio show that pops up in markets both big and small, and is on iTunes – that he co-hosts. And of course, there’s the writing.
“I usually like to write myself,” Daniels said. “A good week is when I can write two stories a week. I love writing and that’s ideally what I’d be doing all the time.”
— Andrew Daniels (@skippyd) March 20, 2015
His coverage area is colorful and interesting, to say the least. A quick flick through his clips show that he’s covered everything from celebrities – Vanilla Ice, Eli Manning and Aubrey Plaza, to name drop a bit – to weird men’s health issues.
“This stuff appeals to our guys,” he said. “If you really look at Men’s Health as covering everything that a guy could possibly be interested in, that’s the way to look at it. That sort of gives you the license to go out and cover the more irreverent things. If you view it under the prism of ‘This is actually applicable to a real world guy,’ it’s easy to maintain your journalistic credibility.”
Daniels’ writing is so compelling and relatable because of one particular detail – himself. He inserts himself into stories, creating this personable edge, a relatability for readers. Think back to the high heels. He slogged around all day in a pair of three inch spike heels for the sake of journalism.
“I love inserting myself into the story,” he said. “Obviously, for the benefit of the reader, of course. But I love ‘here’s what happened when I did this, here’s what happens when you do this.’ I love having fun and as long as there is a takeaway for the reader, you can do these goofy things.”
For someone who does so much work on the Web, it could be easy for Daniels to fall into the social media trap of throwing up a quick link, just to be the first. But that isn’t how they do things at Men’s Health.
“Our site is more news with authority,” Daniels said. “When you see a story from Men’s Health, you’d better believe that we’ve reported it with authority and that we’ve vetted it with our experts.”
In a world where social media and the Internet exist, having continuously updating content can be a beast hanging over your head. There is this almost constant need to be first, to be the one to break the story, to be noted as the first person to talk about a topic.
“It’s the nature of social media because it is so instantaneous and such an important tool for getting your news,” he said. “A lot of folks are just concerned about being the first one to report something or the first one to break a scoop, even if that scoop is not factually accurate or true.”
As for advice to the rising journalists of tomorrow, Daniels couldn’t put any more simply or beautifully – hustle your butt off.
“Hustle,” he said. “Hustle, hustle hustle. I think that’s what’s gotten me this far. Making your own opportunities, not waiting for an opportunity to fall in your lap. Going out and finding the stories yourself and telling the stories yourself.”
When it comes to pitching Daniels, email is the simplest and best way.
“Email, definitely,” he said. “I do tend to screen my calls if it’s a number I don’t recognize. I’ll let it go to voicemail and see if it’s worth-while. I do look out for emails and I do read every pitch that comes across. If you don’t hear back from me, that’s just in the interest of time that it’s not a fit. But I do try to follow up with everyone.”
But shooting off a blind, un-researched email is one of the biggest turn-offs.
“You’d be so surprised how many pitches I get that are addressed to ‘Hey Andrew, this could really work for Men’s Fitness,’ when they totally get the magazine wrong,” he said. “It’s a huge turn off when they don’t put at least even just a minute more into research. At least do a little more work in terms of seeing where I actually work.”
As for catching his attention, Daniels has an interesting take.
“Stalking is not a bad thing, those are almost always the pitches I respond to the most, when someone has stalked my Twitter or my clips,” he said. “They’re seeing what I cover and what I’d be interested in covering. It’s the attention to detail. I can almost always determine which pitches are genuinely addressed to me as opposed to a generic pitch.”
Featured image courtesy of Andrew Daniels
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