by Nicola Joyce aka thefitwriter
Ever wondered how people get their names, products and services in front of
industry journalists and magazine editors?
How fitpros can get in there with editors, journalists and bloggers?
First of all, understand how the chain of command in the media industry works.
There are in-house journalists (staff on magazines or newspapers). Their bosses
are editors, commissioning editors and sub-editors. Then you have freelance
journalists (like I used to be), who usually specialise in a sector. Freelance
journalists will be commissioned by inhouse staff to write features, interviews, kit
tests and other bits of content for the publication. Then there are PR (public
relations) people. They work on behalf of brands, and part of what they do will be
managing relationships with journalists and editorial staff.
What’s the process behind a magazine commission?
There are two ways in which a magazine article can come about: from a pitch
(from the journalist to the editor), or from a commission (from the editor to the
journalist). The latter usually – but not always – happens when the editor already
knows the journalist by reputation, or if the journalist has previously written for the
For pitches, journalists need to come up with strong, timely ideas. When they get
commissioned by an editor, they will usually need to find case studies, expert
comment and/or products to fit the brief. They may have to do this extremely
quickly and will therefore be looking for fitpros who can help by providing spot-on
product information, fantastic expert comment or strong case studies.
On the topic of kit tests – these are always commissioned. Freelance journalists
will never be able to pitch an editor the idea of testing a single product. So, if you
want to get your product in front of an editor, you need to send it to them first and
then they will send it to one of their freelancers to test.
What about fitness blogs?
If publicity via a fitness blog is on something you’re interested in, you need to get in
touch with bloggers. Bloggers are our own “editors” and those of us who do
product tests can be contacted directly to see if a review of your product would
make good content for our readers. Are blogs are a suitable outlet for your product
and a worthwhile part of your marketing strategy? That’s your call. But it’s worth
bearing in mind that customers are increasingly reading blogs for online reviews
You can also try contacting fitness bloggers to see if they need guest bloggers.
Personally, I find “cold call” emails offering guest blog posts irritating at best, but that’s usually because they’re very sales-y and not offering anything useful or
readable. So, by all means give this strategy a try (but not with me… 😉 )
How can you make the most of freelance fitness journalists?
Freelance journos want to work with you and hear from you, but you need to know
what they need – and what they don’t need – when a deadline is looming. Here are
a few tips.
-Do contact them, but only with information they have previously stated they’ll find
useful or which will fit the commission they’re working on
– Don’t send information which doesn’t fit the bill, no matter how strongly you feel
the magazine should feature it
– Do note their deadline and tell them honestly if you can help meet it
– Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver
– Do send complete information, images, case studies, contact details
– Don’t send information and then disappear off the face of the earth (at least let us
know who else in your team we should speak to)
How do magazine editors want to hear from you?
I asked one of the deputy editors I used to write for – Laura Jones at Body Fit
magazine – to give you some advice. Here’s what she had to say:
“Remember that editorial staff at consumer magazines like Body Fit get hundreds
of press releases a day. To give yours a chance of being read, make sure it has an
eye-catching headline, relevant content and all the contact details we might need.
Make sure you read the magazine first so you know what kind of content we do –
and don’t cover – and ensure you know who our target readership is.”
How to find a freelance journalist with a relevant commission
“This is all great”, you say, “but how do I begin to find freelance fitness journalists?
And how can I know which articles they’re working on?” OK, I’m about to let you
into some real industry secrets here… make sure you use these!
– Twitter – search the hashtag #journorequest – journalists use this when they need
a quote, comment, product for an article they’re writing. Save the search as a
stream so you can see it every day.
– Responsesource – use the website Responsesource – journalists and editors
upload specific requests here
– Networking – online and in real life. If you find a journalist in your sector, keep in
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes
for the sport and fitness industry.