A day in the life of a magazine editor

I offer up my top tips for pitching to media and getting published in this short and sharp Q&A, originally published by FITposium.

What did you do prior to working at Women’s Health & Fitness Magazine?
My career is only in its infancy, given I’m still quite young. I grew up in a county Western Australia, before moving to Perth to complete my three-year Bachelor of Arts degree (majoring in English). Chasing a more prestigious degree, I moved to the East Coast in 2014 to study the Master of Journalism course at the University of Melbourne.

I was lucky enough to secure an editorial assistant position for Women’s Health & Fitness immediately after graduating. Since then, I have worked in a content marketing agency, run my own freelance consulting and copywriting business, and still regularly contribute to STRONG magazine in the US and Canada.

What was your first job at Women’s Health & Fitness Magazine?
I started at WH&F as a journalist/editorial assistant, working with the incredibly talented editor Rebecca Long. I was responsible for writing a fair proportion of the magazine, including two of the major fitness features every month. I also helped the online editor with Women’s Health & Fitness social media and liaised with the sales team to create content for clients.

What led you into the editor position?
After over five years as editor of Women’s Health & Fitness, Rebecca decided to make the move and head the companies’ latest addition to its brand umbrella titled muse. This left the position of Women’s Health & Fitness editor open, which I quickly jumped at. So – as it so often is in this industry – it was a lot of hard work and a healthy spoonful of ‘right place, right time’ that led to the promotion.

What were your various duties as the editor of WH&F?
WH&F was owned by a private publisher, so my duties were pretty broad. Which I loved! I was responsible for everything from editorial planning, marketing strategy, events and talent sourcing to writing, editing and image sourcing (including covers). It’s a crazy world, where one day I was sitting at my desk neck-deep in stories and deadlines, and then the next I was out-and-about at a photoshoot, industry event or speaking on-camera for our own marketing material! It was a lot of fun and I loved my job. I was always learning!

What were your goals with the magazine?
Our primary goal at Women’s Health and Fitness was to create original, science-backed and useful content for our readers. We were all about removing the ‘fluff’, and not just telling the reader what to do to improve their health and fitness, but also why they should do it. I think, in the end, it was about empowering the average woman to reach her personal body, health or fitness goals, whatever they may be.

What are you looking for from contributors?
There were three types of ‘contributors’ at Women’s Health & Fitness: journalists who wrote the articles; models/trainers who provided imagery and content for our covers, social media spotlight features and workouts; and then industry experts who we interviewed for our major fitness features.

In regards to industry experts, I was looking for people who were articulate and knowledgeable (tip: go beyond your basic personal trainer qualifications and get educated/experienced!), and went above and beyond in terms of content and timeliness.

For models/trainers, it was all about the quality of their images, their clear point of difference, their social following/brand success, how they aligned with our own brand values and how well they presented themselves on camera.

What makes a good pitch versus a bad pitch from a model?
For magazines, images are (nearly) everything; as they say, a picture tells 1000 words and told me a lot about:
a) how well you have researched the brand you are pitching to and
b) how your personal brand aligned with the Women’s Health & Fitness brand.

Images needed to be high-resolution, of good quality and aligned with our brand and style. For example, there was little point figure competitors sending images of themselves flexed and posed to Women’s Health & Fitness – we weren’t a body building magazine and those images didn’t appeal to our audience.

So I guess a good pitch is one that is simple, clear, provides good images, and demonstrates that the individual is knowledgeable, keen and well-researched. Your pitch should tell the editor what you can provide (image and content wise) and your main point of difference to other athletes/models.

What were red flags for you from someone pitching?
Apart from poor images, mountains of dense text with no spacing is a big no-no. Editors are extremely busy people – we need the short and sharp facts in an easily digestible format, or most of the time we just won’t have time to look at it.

Use bullet points, plenty of spacing and put low-res image examples within the actual email – just be sure to note there is high-res imagery also available. Don’t tell editors your life story: make it about them and what you can do for their brand, rather than over-selling yours.

Did you look into their social media to see if their brand aligned with the magazine’s?
Absolutely. The way I see it, the moment I put you in the magazine the brand and myself are endorsing you – at least to some extent. Your social media needed to align to our brand values/style in a similar way to your pitch.

How can people stand out in their pitches?
I know I’m repeating myself, but good images! Get a photographer on board who knows his/her stuff and create content for specific media genres. Make sure images are well lit, of good quality, high-res and not ‘busy.’

My fav pitches were ones where it’s obvious the trainer/model knows his or her stuff, and finds original and specific angles that I hadn’t thought of! It takes a bit more effort, but it doubles your changes of success.

What makes a good relationship between a contributor and an editor?
Clear communication, following through on promises and making sure you look after each other’s brands. Get content to editors in a very timely fashion without compromising quality, and I guarantee you they will come back time and time again! If you say you’re going to do something, do it; if you can’t, then let them know so they can manage their workloads. Most of all, be grateful: I think every editor and model/contributor alike gets a lot from a thank you.

What do most models not understand about the publishing industry?
Without meaning to be blunt, I think a lot of models don’t understand the number of pitches editors receive per day and how quickly you can become obsolete. The fitness models that do well know that no matter how ‘big’ they get, it’s always worth putting in the hard yards to gain media exposure because nothing lasts forever. Make sure you never take your success for granted and keep pushing toward your next goal. Stay humble and never burn a publishing bridge.

For more tips and tricks for pitching to media, send me an email today!

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