Fitpros: Do You Know How To Use Info From Press Releases For Your Own Content Marketing?

August 22, 2016

fitness pro use press release for content ideas

The other day, I shared a press release I’d been sent in a fitpro marketing Facebook group. Some of the fitpros in the group asked me how they should use the info in that press release. Here’s what I told them.

First up: what’s a press release?

A press release (or news release) is a document sent out from a business to members of the media. Any business or organisation with news to announce can send one: brand, business, organisation, charity, NGB, sole trader, or the PR people who look after them.

Press releases are typically sent to journalists (in house and freelance), editors, and bloggers. But there are plenty of ways to access them (or get them delivered to your inbox) if you’re a business owner who writes their own content.

There is tons of info online about how to write your own press release. But what about using other people’s press releases as a useful prompt for your own content? With 26 gazillion (<< estimated figure) press releases being generated every day, why not use the info! Here’s how – and why – you should.

What kind of press releases have useful data/stats in them?

Most press releases will be about product news or business announcements. But some will be story-led (particularly in the fitness industry), and others will use data/research/stats as the “hook”. These are going to be the most useful ones for you as a fitpro in constant need of content ideas!

But I’m not a journalist or content writer like you… how can I access press releases?

Here are some resources – visit the sites, see if they distribute press releases in your industry (but do think outside the box, too), and sign up

e releases
PR newswire
PR web
PR genie
ResponseSource
Sport4Media

I’d also recommend signing up to email/newsletter lists. Fitpros could try signing up for latest news from NGBs (national governing bodies) in sport, sports organisations like UKActive and Sport England. PT and fitness training companies are another great source (the type that deliver training to fitpros). It is also worth trying to get on the email list of leading sport and fitness PR companies (like Promote PR) as they will regularly send out useful news about clients and industry research.

Finding your own best sources of industry news is a bit like building a great swipe file. It takes time. You’ll need to keep an eye out for sources, and then bookmark/sign up to them. It will be an ongoing process. But stick at it and before too long you’ll have a valuable resource.

OK. Got it. So how, when, and why would I use “stats” type press release info?

As a fitpro, you need to generate content, right? (PS If you don’t have time, or hate doing it, I can help << click πŸ˜‰ ) Blog posts, Facebook posts, ideas for emails, newsletter articles. Every hook and idea helps.

Most of the press releases you’ll get won’t be helpful in this regard. But some will contain stats (from a study or survey), data, or industry insights. And you can use those as a hook for your own content.

Here’s an example:

You get a press release from a PT training company who are promoting their qualification for training older gen pop. As a hook for that press release, they have done a survey into attitudes and misconceptions about fitness. In the release, they give a load of stats from their in house survey.

>> 75% of women over the age of 55 have never gone into the free weights area of the gym. 63% of over-60s believe that lifting weights overhead will damage the spine.<> “Did you know that 75% of women over the age of 55 have never even set foot in the free weights area of a gym? That’s according to new researched published by XX Training Company, who recently surveyed XX men and women aged 50-70.”<<

(Then you'd add your own content, about how you can help older people train safely and with confidence… or whatever it is you do.)

You need to credit the course, and say where the stats are from. All the information you'll need will be on the press release.

Is that helpful? If you have any questions about using press release information for your own content, or about writing and circulating your own press releases, get in touch. I can help!

TheFitWriter Nicola Joyce on Facebook

Fitpros: Do You Know How To Use Info From Press Releases For Your Own Content Marketing? is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


I’m on a podcast (… so now you can hear what I sound like… !)

August 18, 2014

Screen shot 2014-08-18 at 17.37.57

Check my riddims! Not only am I blogging twice in the same day (!) but I’ve been interviewed on a podcast.

(Fun fact: “Be on a podcast” was one of my goals for the year. TICK!)

The lovely Katie Bulmer-Cooke interviewed me for her podcast – you can listen to the episode (number 7 I believe) here or directly on Katie’s website.

If you like it, share it!

Here’s what you’ll find out by listening to my interview:

– why fitpros and fitness businesses need to create more content
– how to reuse every single bit of content you produce
– the sporting challenge which kicked down the door and started my freelance writing career
– why your writing is part of your brand
– how to deal with awkward situations like… um… interviewing an Olympic athlete whilst they’re taking an ice bath
– how to find something to blog out within 30 seconds (it’s so easy!)
– why I think of myself as “a little dog” (did I really say that? I’m so weird)
– what I sound like when I guffaw at my own jokes

Thanks for the interview, Katie! x πŸ™‚

I’m on a podcast (… so now you can hear what I sound like… !) is a post from the Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


thefitwriter profiled on Fitcetera’s Yeah She Lifts

March 6, 2014

This week I’ve been interviewed by Georgina over at Fitcetera for her series about ladies wot lift called “Yeah, She Lifts”.

nicola joyce yeah she lifts

Check it out here (please excuse the overshare – I don’t think I’ve ever told that particular story before and I don’t know what possessed me to do so now!)

Thanks for the opportunity, Georgina aka Ms Fitcetera!

PS I don’t often write guest blog posts for people but when I do, they’re full of advice for fitpros about how to write press releases which get read – and used. Check it out over on FitPro Client Recipes.

thefitwriter profiled on Fitcetera’s Yeah She Lifts is a post from the Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Industry secrets – how fitpros should connect with industry media contacts

February 25, 2014

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 me), 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 publication.

For pitches, journalists need to come up with strong, timely ideas. When we get commissioned by an editor, we will usually need to find case studies, expert comment and/or products to fit the brief. We may have to do this extremely quickly and we’ll therefore be looking for fitpros who can help us by getting spot-on product information, fantastic expert comment or strong case studies.

On the topic of kit tests – these are always commissioned. We 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. (I can write a blog about press releases if this will help?)

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 and feedback.

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… πŸ˜‰ )

How can you make the most of freelance fitness journalists?

We want to work with you and hear from you, but you need to know what we need – and what we don’t need – when a deadline is looming. Here are a few tips.

Do contact us, but only with information we have previously stated we’ll find useful or which will fit the commission we’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 our deadline and tell us honestly if you can help us 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 write – 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 touch.

Industry secrets – how fitpros should connect with industry media contacts is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Advice for small businesses: how (and why) you should write in an authentic voice

October 3, 2012

I do a lot of business networking. Today, one of the groups I belong to (Athena Reading) asked me to talk to the group about making an impact through writing.

I don’t talk a lot about my job on the blog, but I’ve been a freelance writer since 2004 – I write features for magazines (mainly sport and fitness titles) and I also write content for businesses. It’s with my copywriter’s hat on that I attend local networking meetings.

Various people have asked for notes from my talk so I thought I’d pop them up here. If you work for yourself, are thinking of starting up in business or are part of a small team with no external marketing assistance, I hope you find them useful. πŸ™‚

How to write in an authentic voice which engages readers and builds trust, encourages recommendations and ultimately leads to more business.

Writing is a crucial part of your marketing strategy – even if you don’t think you have a one! If you’ve got anything “out there” in writing which is promoting your company, then you have got a marketing strategy!

As a copywriter, every word I write needs to make an impact and, more than that, it must make the correct impact.

First impressions count. If the first contact your customer has with you is your website, your Linkedin profile, or even a message on social media, those words need to convey your message, your brand and your character.

Those of us who run our own business – sole traders, one-(wo)man bands, franchisees, entrepreneurs and start-ups – are in a unique position. We are our business. That presents us with a great opportunity. If you always write with authenticity and honesty, you can’t go far wrong. Your character and your values will always come through your writing, and this will only serve to strengthen your brand or product offering.

Wording can – and should – convey your brand’s “voice”. So why is it important to be authentic with your writing?

People like to work with and buy from people and brands they trust. It will soon become clear whether or not you are being authentic with your writing, and this is important whether you’re writing a more informal piece of copy (like this blog post) or more technical or sales-driven content. Everything you write builds up to become part of your business and it needs to support and strengthen your brand, not contradict or confuse it.

How can you find your voice?

You’ll know when you haven’t! And you’ll know when you’re attempting to write in a voice which doesn’t serve you or your business. Obviously a chatty, informal tone won’t be suitable for every type of content. A technical document, or a press release will need a different tone of voice than your Tweets, blog posts and customer newsletter articles. But there should be something running through the centre of all of them which is authentic to you, your brand and your business’s identity.

If you don’t yet know what that is, then you need to take a step back and do some groundwork on branding and corporate identity. This is a really important exercise which will feed in to your marketing and networking (on- and off-line).

Think about what impact you want to make. What is the purpose behind the piece of writing you are about to to? Do you want it to drive sales, create more business, to encourage business partners to work with you? How do you want to be seen: as an expert, the go-to person in your field, an educator, an information hub/curator? Or as a place to get great service, fantastic products, or a unique business offering?

How to use your voice to connect with readers and make an impact

It’s never been more important to think about the quality of your content and the voice behind your words. Not so long ago, you might have needed content for a brochure, maybe flyers for special events, and probably a website. These days, most companies will have content on:

– websites
– brochures or other paper/leave behinds
– press releases
– editorial and articles
– adverts
– email marketing and customer newsletters
– blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Linkedin
– etc!

What’s great about all these newer platforms for content is that they give you the opportunity to create a community and a following for your brand, products or business. But you have you get it right. When writing for social media or any new and regularly updated content (website news pages, customer newsletters and emails), consistency is key.

Think consistency rather than frequency.

Stop worrying about how much, how often and even how good! Sometimes perfectionism can overwhelm the writing process and stop us from doing anything at all. Write consistently, get your message out there regularly, create a following of readers who look forward to what you’ve got to say. Don’t think that everything you write has to be ground-breaking, or very long, or painstakingly researched. If you are writing for a news section of your own website, your own blog/Facebook/Twitter, or your own business newsletter, then it’s far more important to write regularly and consistently.

How authenticity breeds trust and recommendations

The bottom line is that being authentic builds trust. This is true for the written word as much as it is true for what you say, your body language and how you treat people. In business, the words we write do a job for us, so make sure your words are working for you and not against you.

Make it easy for people to use your words to help you in business. You will spend precious time writing, so make your words easy to forward on, share, retweet or pass from hand to hand. Make your content something which people want to pass on, whether that’s to their friends and family (if you’re B2C) or to business contacts, clients or partners (if your business is B2B). So think about your content being useful and interesting, something people want to read and then want their most valuable contacts to read, too. Get the most out of everything you write.

Practical tips for producing quality content on a regular basis

– brainstorm – don’t wait to get started
– create an editorial schedule
– treat writing as a job
– remember, it’s part of your marketing, not a fluffy extra
– set aside and schedule regular time, then commit to it
– get it done. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike.
– don’t be a perfectionist
– remember, something is better than nothing to get started

Ideas and resources which might help (they help me!)

WordPress for blogging
Hootsuite for social media management
Teuxdeux for to-do lists
Google tasks for keeping notes
– Draft an email, save it and add to it over time (useful if you work with a copywriter or marketeer)
– Good old fashioned pen and notebook! Carry pen and paper with you at all times and jot down any ideas for writing, no matter how small or random. Chances are they’ll turn into one of your most popular and successful pieces of content.

If you’ve found this post useful, you might also like:
How to engage with fitness journalists and bloggers
The importance of quality content for fitness professionals
How I became a freelance writer (and other FAQs)
A few fitness copywriting examples
– And a few more here.

Advice for small businesses: how (and why) you should write in an authentic voice is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Byline in The Washington Post (and “Swim: Why We Love The Water” giveaway)

June 27, 2012

I don’t just train. I do a bit of work, too πŸ˜‰ I work as a freelance writer, doing both editorial work (features in consumer magazines, mostly, but some trade/industry publications, too) and commercial work as a copywriter (content for B2B clients, B2C clients and agencies).

I don’t often blog about work (I probably should do so more often), in fact there are only a handful of work-related posts on this blog:

Where you could have found my byline back in May 2010
How to engage with fitness journalists and bloggers
How I became a freelance writer (and other FAQs)
More bylines
My favourite commissions (at that point!)
A few fitness copywriting examples
– And a few more here.
The importance of quality content for fitness professionals

You can also check out some of my clients on my Pinterest board “my lovely clients” (cos they are all lovely – one of the benefits of being freelance is that you don’t have to work with the non-lovely ones).

On the whole, I am excited by everything I write. Every new commission still gives me a thrill, even after eight years. However, this one’s a bit special and I’d really like to shout about it. Indulge me, please. I promise we’ll be back to photos of my weightlifting belt and reviews of protein powders soon πŸ˜‰

In March, I was contacted by someone who purported to be a commissioning Editor at The Washington Post. Yeah right, I thought. Ha ha! But… it’s not quite 1st April. So maybe this isn’t an April Fool. Sure enough, it was real. The Washington Post had been looking for a book reviewer for the book “Swim: Why We Love The Water” and had found me. (For those of you who have only known me, or this blog, since I took up bodybuilding, you need to know that I come from a swimming background and have swum the English Channel twice). The Editor had read a few of my articles, blog posts and online features about swimming and decided to approach me.

I was very excited. I mean, come on. The Washington Post?

The review came out and is still online here.

Would you like to win a copy of Lynn Sherr’s book, “Swim: Why We Love The Water”? Because you can. I have a spare copy here (not the review copy with my bits of paper stuck all over it).

To win, please:
1) “Like” “Swim: Why We Love The Water” Facebook page
2) Tweet a link to this blog post, including my Twitter name (@thefitwriter) and Lynn’s (@LynnSherr) and include the hashtag #SWIM in your Tweet
3) Come and leave a comment on this blog post to let me know you’ve done those two things… and then tell me your most memorable swimming experience. I’d love to hear about it, no matter where or when it was. Pool, sea, lake or lido… tell me πŸ™‚

Byline in The Washington Post (and “Swim: Why We Love The Water” giveaway) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


A couple of thank yous (and did you watch the Jodie Marsh bodybuilding show?)

January 25, 2012

I’m feeling particularly fortunate at the moment. And a few thank yous are due.

I told you a while ago that Castle Gym, a bodybuilding/powerlifting gym not too far from me, offered me free membership. I love training at Castle (I tend to go there for my “big lifts” days – legs, back, chest) and am convinced it’s going to transform my training this year. In fact, it already has. So, a massive thank you to Jason and everyone else at Castle. I really am grateful for the membership and love training at your facility.

Then there’s my local gym, St Crispins (a Harper’s gym). A while ago, their PR people asked me to send a few bodybuilding photos and give a little comment about my experiences of training at St Crispins. I was happy to; I’ve trained there for years, during my swimming days, my triathlon days, my oh-my-god-I-love-Les-Mills-classes! days. The staff are wonderful, have been so supportive of my bodybuilding training, and are the first people I ran to with my trophies last season.

What I didn’t anticipate was the offer of free PT. Not just a couple of sessions, but a session a week throughout my 2012 prep. Thank you, thank you! (Although I’m not sure “thank you” will be quite the two words I’ll utter doing a conditioning PT session at St Crispins the day after doing legs at Castle…!)

On another note, the Jodie Marsh bodybuilding TV show was aired last night, but I didn’t get to see it because I don’t have Sky or Virgin. Jodie competed last year with the NPA and placed 5th at the Mike Williams Classic. I’m sure I’ll catch the show at some point but, in the meantime, did you see it? What did you think? If you didn’t know much about competitive bodybuilding, did anything surprise you?

Oh, one more thing! My fellow Physique competitor Anna Millington (who had a completely stellar year in 2011, culminating in a World Title) has written a fascinating report of her 2011 season – and everything which led to that high point in her bodybuilding career – on the NPA site. Read it here – it’s long, but worth it.

A couple of thank yous (and did you watch the Jodie Marsh bodybuilding show?) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


thefitwriter in the local news

July 21, 2011

What did I do? It wasn’t me, I promise!

πŸ˜‰

Don’t worry, I haven’t done anything scandalous, but it seems I have done something of interest to local print and broadcast media.

Which headline do you prefer?

Here I am in this week’s KM Extra (local paper in Kent where I grew up):

And here’s a snippet of an article in this week’s Wokingham Times (local paper where I live now) – full article is on this link. I’m sure the headline in the print version was something like “Nicola’s a natural…” which I thought was kinda nice (it being a natural bodybuilding federation, strictly drug tested and all):

Maggie Philbin!

On the back of the latter article, BBC Radio Berkshire got in touch and asked me to be the person their “roving reporter” is with that day. (The reporter happens to be Maggie Philbin – I remember her from “Tomorrow’s World”!)

When?

Apparently there will be short segments with me between 7am and 10am on Monday, at about 00:20 and 00:50 past each hour. The initial email even suggested Maggie might do a bit of training with me – let’s pump some iron, Maggie! πŸ˜‰

Do you want a press release?

By the way, this all came about because I sent one press release out… Press releases are one of the services I offer my copywriting clients. So, if you’d like a bit of this kind of action, you know where to find me! (Here)

Have you ever been on radio? How do you stop your voice sounding like you’re about four years old? Aaaaand… do you remember Maggie on “Tomorrow’s World”? (How did the theme tune go – that’s going to bug me now…)

thefitwriter in the local news is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Fitpros: how much quality written content are you producing?

May 25, 2011

When was the last time you created a quality bit of content which shows your passion and expertise?

I was at the Fitness Entrepreneur Bootcamp last weekend – a business conference for the fitness industry. One of my favourite speakers from last year’s event was back again: Nick Nanton of Celebrity Press, a branding guru based in the States. He really knows his stuff when it comes to identifying your positioning, building credibility and using your community. Important stuff for any individual, brand or business in the sport and fitness world.

I worked with Nick last year on a book project, helping some of his authors by ghostwriting their chapters. The book – “Total Body Breakthroughs” – became a number one best-seller on Amazon. Nick kindly offered to give a video testimonial for me and here it is

Thanks Nick!

What I really wanted from Nick was the best advice he could give my fitpro readers when it comes to writing content. Check out this very short video.

As you heard in that video, Nick says credibility is key for any brand, business or individual. And you build credibility through content – lots and lots of strong content. The more content you have, the more people know you know, he says. Remember, your target market aren’t mind-readers, you need to show them you’re an expert. Put your content out there so it can physically stack up to prove your expertise.

Nick advises you to create:
– blogs
– articles
– e-zines
– magazines
– newsletters
– press releases
– books
– seminars
– webinars

Online, offline, written, recorded, audio… it’s all relevant.

Nick says (and of course I’d agree) that you do need to make sure it’s well-written and edited (and he kindly says that, if you can’t do that or don’t have time, find someone like me who can do it for you).

Fitpros: how much quality written content are you producing? is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


How to engage with fitness journalists and bloggers

March 3, 2011

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I recently spoke at the FIA (Fitness Industry Association) Communications Forum in February. I was asked along in my capacity as a freelance journalist and blogger (although I also do copywriting) and my brief was to talk about how the delegates could find, engage with and make the most of fitness journalists and bloggers.

People in the room included PRs responsible for sport and fitness brands, inhouse marketeers of the same and operators of gyms, leisure centres, facilites and events.

Here’s the outline of my talk. I hope you might find it useful. Please remember it’s just my opinion and based on my experiences as a freelance sport and fitness writer. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them to the best of my ability – just leave a comment.

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Freelance journalists are positioned somewhere between the editorial staff of publications and the PRs and marketing personnel of fitness brands, products and events.

I’ve been freelancing since 2004. A quick rundown of my personal backstory:

– I was made redundant and moved out of London at the same time
– I’d always wanted to work as a journalist and sport was the obvious niche as it’s my personal passion
– At the time, I was a few months away from my first English Channel swim and I realised that, if I couldn’t successfully pitch sports Editors with a first-person article about Channel swimming, I would never make it as a freelance sport journalist!
– I did pitch that article idea, got a couple of commissions and worked my way up from there

I’ve now written for a range of consumer magazines and NGB membership magazines, including:
220 Triathlon, Triathlete’s World, Women’s Running, Body Fit, Good Housekeeping, Practical Parenting, Coast, The Olympic Review, Swimming Times (ASA), Tri News (BTF) and the inflight magazines of easyjet, Air Malta and BMI. I’ve also contributed to a couple of books – one produced by The Observer last year (for which I wrote two chapters) and one (as a ghostwriter) which last week hit the no.9 spot on Amazon’s bestseller list.

My niche is sport and fitness, particularly triathlon, running, cycling, swimming and open-water swimming and any fitness issue relating to women in sport.

On a personal level, I do a lot of sport: I was a swimmer as a child and at University, then took up running and ran for a club. I then threw cycling into the mix and took up triathlon. Latterly I learned to love road riding in its own right and have done sportives. My absolute niche is as an open water swimmer: I’ve swum the English Channel twice as a solo swimmer, and once (there and back) as a relay. I’ve also swum Windermere and around Jersey. In somewhat of a shock departure from all of that, I’m currently training for a bodybuilding competition – a bit of a change!

In addition to journalism, I work as a copywriter, helping companies and brands communicate by writing them clear, persuasive wording for marketing and sales: websites, brochures, newsletters, email marketing and content for social media (blogging, facebook, Twitter etc). I also write a sport, fitness and training blog – The Fit Writer.

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’s by reputation, or if the journalist has previously written for the publication.

Pitched
How do we come up with ideas? We will keep an eye on the market, read (online, blogs, forums, Twitter, magazines etc), research, listen, talk. When we pitch an idea we don’t have to have case studies or experts but it strengthens the pitch to be able to mention that we will be able to find these. We will want to put together a strong pitch that is pegged on a news item or something else timely. Case studies and human interest angles are always good.

Commissioned
If we get a commission from an editor, we will usually need to find case studies, expert comment and/or products to fit the brief. We may have to do this extremely quickly. We will not want to let the editor down! Whilst we will want to meet our deadline and our wordcount, it will be just as important that the work we file meets the brief, so we will not want to pad the feature out with “almost but not quite” ideas, weak case studies or incomplete information. We will therefore be looking for PRs or marketeers who can help us by getting spot-on product information or putting us in touch with fantastic experts or case studies.

Kit/product tests
As a note – in my experience, kit tests are always commissioned. So we will never be able to pitch an editor the idea of testing a single product as a straight test. That kind of feature always comes from the editor as a commission 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.

Blogging is a different matter . We are the editors of our own blog and those of us who have chosen to do kit tests/product tests on our blogs can be contacted directly with product information to see if it is a good fit for our blog focus and our readership. It has to be your call as to whether or not you think blogs are a suitable outlet for your product or your client, but consumers are increasingly turning to blogs for an authentic peer-to-peer voice when looking online for reviews and feedback.

Who does a freelance journalist work with?

Editors
They are our “bosses” in a way. They pay our bills, they have the power to commission us – or not. We want to keep them happy!

PRs
Can be worth their weight in gold but can make things more difficult than they have to be. Fantastic PRs are a real find and should be treasured! I think it’s silly to perpetuate the “journalists vs PRs” dynamic, as PRs often hold the key to great stories, fantastic ideas and compelling case studies. They are also the route to brilliant quotes from respected experts.

Marketeers
In-house marketing representatives of fitness brands, companies, products can be as useful as PRs but often seem less clued up about how to work directly with journalists and often seem a little “hidden away”. I wish more of them were more active in interacting with us. They can help by keeping us informed about new product developments, lists of events and any press opportunities. If you don’t tell us about it, we probably won’t know until it’s too late!

Product owners/entrepreneurs
Sometimes have a hard time connecting with us but need us – and we need them! They do need to understand what we need, though, which brings me on to my next point.

How can you make the most of freelance journalists?

We want to work with you and hear from you, but you need to know what we need – and what we don’t need – when a deadline is looming. Here are a few tips.

Dos and don’ts

– Do contact us, but only with information we have previously stated we’ll find useful or which will fit the commission we’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 our deadline and tell us honestly if you can help us 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)

A good relationship can last a long time

When we find PRs or marketeers who feed us great ideas and help us do our job, we want to keep hold of them! Personally, I am always happy to meet PRs a few times a year to have a mutual thrashing out of ideas, to tell them what I’m working on and to hear which clients they’re working for. As an example, I recently met up with a PR at a tradeshow we were both attending. I took part in a challenge one of her clients was running at the event (and blogged about it) and then talked to her for over an hour. She told me about her latest clients and suggested some really exciting, useable ways I could work them into pitches. As a result, I came up with at least four pitches on the way home, one of which was accepted and one of which is being considered. I really value that PR and will always read her press releases and take her phone calls.

What makes a good press release?

We’re always aware that editors get hundreds of pitches per day. Similarly, be aware that we get hundreds of press releases. Here are a few tips to help yours be amongst the ones we read and keep hold of:

– it’s not enough to have a product, you need to understand what we need in order to work that product into a magazine article
– we need an angle and a story to support the product
– newsworthiness is good – peg the press release on something topical or timely
– a spokesperson or ambassador is helpful
– case studies, stories, real people are always useful – but they need to be genuine and we potentially need to be able to interview and photograph them
– images need to be high res and labelled
– please don’t forget the basics – dates, contact details, names, ages, prices, RRP, where to buy…

What kind of news interests us?

This will depend on the journalist and their niche but, generally, anything related to a news story or event is better for us to pitch, as is anything with a strong human interest angle, a great set of quotes, a solid expert or spokesperson, and of course anything truly new, fun or innovative which hasn’t been done before! (Not asking for much, are we…!)

What do we need from you?

When we approach you:
– understand our deadlines
– tell us honestly if you can help in time or not
– full and complete information
– access to interviewees
– high res images
– (potentially) product to test

When you approach us
– relevant information which fits our niche (ie don’t send information about golf to an equestrianism journalist unless they’ve asked for it)
– friendly, helpful – meetings are good
– make sure you spell our names properly and don’t BCC with someone else’s name!
– personal details are good (Hi Nicola, I saw your feature about wetsuits in 220 Triathlon recently…)

How to find a journalist or commission
Twitter – search the hashtag #journorequest
– website Responsesource
– Networking – online and “real life”

Thank you – please do keep in touch with me and send me information about any relevant products, events, interview opportunities or brand developments. I am happy to consider product/kit tests for my blog, and guest blog posts. I am also available for advice or practical help about copywriting for sport and fitness.

How to engage with fitness journalists and bloggers is a post from The Fit Writer blog.


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