We at FITposium are so fortunate to have Katelyn Swallow, the new editor of Women’s Health & Fitness Magazine traveling out to be at our 2017 conference all the way from Australia! At the conference she will be sharing so much information about how to get your pitches seen by editors and how to build a successful relationship with the media. Prior to the conference, we did want to share this interview our team had the chance to do with her to begin to introduce her to our audience and to prepare your thoughts and understanding when it comes to developing a successful media pitch. We hope you enjoy!
What did you do prior to working at Women’s Health & Fitness Magazine?
My career is actually fairly short and sharp, given I’m quite young. I grew up in a little country town in southern Western Australia as a farmer/teacher’s daughter. I moved to its capital of Perth at 19 and completed a three-year Bachelor of Arts degree (majoring in English), before moving to the east-coast to complete my two-year Master of Journalism degree at the University of Melbourne. I was one of the very lucky few to get a job as a journalist for Women’s Health & Fitness immediately after graduating – and the rest is history!
Other highlights of my short career would be a six-month internship at the Australian Football League (AFL) media room and a little of bit of work in the domestic violence space, aiding in the development of key messaging media resources about the prevention of violence against women for Domestic Violence Victoria. I’ve also done some freelance copy writing for various companies, including healthy food products, and I now compete (very casually) in bikini competitions.
What was your first job at Women’s Health & Fitness Magazine?
I started at WH&F as a journalist/editorial assistant, working with my 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 our companies’ latest addition to its brand umbrella: muse magazine. 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 are your various duties as the editor?
We are a private publisher, so my duties are pretty broad. which I love!. I’m 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’m sitting in my office cubicle neck-deep in stories and deadlines, and then the next I’m out-and-about at a photo-shoot, industry get-together or speaking on-camera for our own marketing material! It’s a lot of fun and I love my job. I’m always learning.
What are your goals with the magazine?
Our primary goal at Women’s Health and Fitness is to create original, science-backed and useful content for our readers. We are 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’s 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 are three types of ‘contributors’ at Women’s Health & Fitness: journalists who write our actual articles; models/trainers who provide imagery and content for our covers, social media spotlight features and workouts; and then industry experts who we interview for our major fitness features.
In regards to industry experts, I am looking for people who are articulate and knowledgeable (go beyond your basic personal trainer qualifications and get educated/experienced!), and go above and beyond in terms of content and timeliness.
For models/trainers, it’s all about their quality of images, having a clear point of difference, their social following/brand success, how they align with our own brand values and how well they present themselves to camera.
What makes a good pitch versus a bad pitch from a model?
For magazines, images are (nearly) everything; as they say, a picture speaks 1000 words and tells me a lot about:
a) how well you have researched the brand you are pitching to and
b) how your personal brand aligns with the Women’s Health & Fitness brand.
Images need to be high-resolution, of good quality and aligned with out brand values. For example, there is little point figure competitors sending images of themselves posing to Women’s Health & Fitness – we aren’t a body building magazine and those images do not appeal to our audience.
So I guess a good pitch is one that is simple, clear, has good images, and shows the individual is knowledgeable, keen and well-researched. Your pitch should tell me what you can provide (image and content wise) and your main point of difference to other athletes/models.
What are 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.
Do you look into their social media to see if their brand aligns with the magazine?
Absolutely. The way I see it, the moment I put you in the magazine the brand and myself are endorsing you – or at least to some extent. Your social media needs to align to our brand values 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 too ‘busy.’
My favorite pitches are 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 almost 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 are going to do something, do it; if you can’t, then let them know so they can plan 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 sound harsh, 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 get 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.
Special thanks goes out to Katelyn Swallow for taking the time to speak to our team and share her insights on everything you need to know about how to get published in the fitness industry!