Ryan Fitzgibbon is the creative trailblazer behind Hello Mr., a new-age print & digital magazine that’s redefining gay media culture for the millennial generation. Frustrated by the unending clichés and misrepresentations in gay lifestyle publications, Ryan launched a Kickstarter campaign aspiring for a more authentic, diverse portrayal. The project struck a chord with users, and his exploration of modern gay life is thriving through visual, written and digital submissions from around the world.
We caught up with Ryan as part of 360i’s “Influencer Spotlight Series” to chat about marketing to an LGBT audience, guidelines for thoughtful partnerships and more.
360i: You’ve referred to Hello Mr. as ‘an opportunity for a misrepresented generation of gay men to rebrand themselves in the eye of the media.’ By what guidelines should marketers looking to reach this generation of LGBT tastemakers abide?
RF: A healthy dose of realism is appreciated. I launched Hello Mr. to provide a platform for relatable, honest, and not so perfect reflections of life for gay men. The messages projected in the media are largely aspirational and generally optimistic. There’s a general apprehension to show that the LGBT community has any flaws. We see sculpted bodies and happily-wed couples, but Hello Mr. aims to show more sides of the story, starting with a matte paper and not glossy. To gain the attention of the Hello Mr. audience, you have to meet them where they are, not where you believe they’d like to go.
360i: When approached with partnership opportunities, what are the most important factors you consider to ensure you’re staying true to your brand?
RF: The biggest thing that I always have to consider is a brand’s value alignment with what Hello Mr. is about, and further, how accessible they are as a brand. The top brand attributes that we launched with, and use as our checklist, are accessible, realistic, insightful, coy, endearing and witty. It’s important that the collaborators we align ourselves with uphold these values so we don’t turn into a company that tells you how to be, or that prescribes a certain lifestyle.
Our partnership with Birchbox Man has been really great, since they understand our mission very deeply. They give us a lot of freedom in how we talk about their unique offering and how we present it to the Hello Mr. audience. Through every partnership, you always have to stay authentic to your brand.
360i: Tell us about your creative process and where you find the most inspiration.
RF: I’ve always been obsessed with magazines and found myself scouring newsstands, pulling inspiration from what was out there. Ironically, since launching Hello Mr., I’ve had to put the blinders on to make sure I’m making something different and authentic, without trying to replicate or achieve someone else’s success. A lot of inspiration for me now comes from following people’s aesthetics on Instagram and being plugged into platforms that are candid and not as composed. It’s so much easier to understand someone’s style and interests by the way they curate their feed, which all comes back to what Hello Mr. is all about – a reflection of everyday life for gay men.
360i: Tell us about the role that Hello Mr.’s social media profiles have played in drawing new readers and expanding the business.
RF: Instagram has been the strongest platform for us in terms of reader engagement and growing awareness. It’s also a great way to meet people and see new places through someone else’s lens. I’ve used it to gain contributors, as well as for insight into the interests of prospective readers. Instagram put us on their suggested users list earlier this year, which obviously helped expand our reach, but was also very validating for our effort, as keeping a consistent aesthetic was recognized.
The minimalistic quality of our covers make them very photogenic and shareable, which has helped give the brand expanded awareness. People really enjoy showcasing them, whether it’s next to their latte or on their nightstand. The various cover “misters” we’ve had have helped spread the word among their social media networks as well.
We use social media to share and tease out snippets from the stories that aren’t available online, and to keep the brand active between print issues. When articles are published, it’s great to see people having conversations on Twitter, sharing commentary and giving authors feedback.
360i: You enlisted in the help of Kickstarter and backers around the world to help launch Hello Mr. What tips can you share on how to make an impact by crowdsourcing?
RF: Have a clear strategy and calendar set out before you launch. There’s always going to be a plateau and a lull regardless of the project duration, so have a strategy to ramp up excitement, and have press lined up for that time – not just for the launch. I had Instagram and other platforms in motion to help heighten intrigue – it’s important to build a little momentum in advance. You hear success stories of people who get their projects funded within days, but not everyone is going to grab on right out the of gate. Also, it’s important to be realistic and transparent about your goal by letting people know where the funds are going.
To learn more about Ryan and Hello Mr., visit:
- @hellomr on Twitter
- Hello Mr. on Instagram
- Hello Mr. on Facebook
- Hello Mr. on Pinterest
- Hello Mr. on Spotify
To find Hello Mr. at a store near you, or purchase the iPad edition, visit the official Hello Mr. website.