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