Fiona McAuslan is the Managing Editor of FitPro, the world’s largest network of fitness professionals. With a background in journalism for publications such as the Guardian newspaper, The Telegraph Group, The Independent and The Financial Times, Fiona took over the role at FitPro three years ago and is now considered one of the leading authorities on content strategy within the industry.
As content creation and distribution continues to grow in importance for fitness professionals, we met with Fiona to learn how they can catch the attention of editors and get their content published where their audience are most likely to see it.
How important is it to get yourself in the press as a fitness professional?
There’s a popular opinion among fitness professionals that they need to be publishing content in order to get their names out in the market. There’s certainly a lot of truth in that, but just firing out emails to editors of every fitness magazine isn’t going to achieve much. Every day I receive countless emails that have no personalisation and have clearly been sent to 20 other journalists. I admire the proactivity but as they clearly haven’t bothered investing the time in getting to know me then why should I bother investing the time in getting to know them?
Building relationships with key editors can be one of the best marketing moves you will ever make as a personal trainer, but you have to approach it smartly.
What advice would you give trainers to ensure they target the right publications?
1. Be clear on your goals – ask yourself the question, what do I want from this? Who am I trying to get in front of? Is this publication going to offer that?
2. Consider local publications – everyone always wants to have a national feature but local publications are often going to have a more immediate impact on your business, and they are absolutely crying out for great content.
3. Know who you’re talking to – read a copy of the publication cover to cover. You need to understand their brand and their audience or how can you know what content they will want from you?
How should they write their email to ensure they stand out and get noticed?
1. Create a compelling headline – that means not only “attention grabbing”, but also highly relevant to the publication in question.
2. Take a specialist approach – there are countless personal trainers out there offering content, so what can you offer that will stand out and be really relevant to their target audience? For example, if they have a strong female audience can you write about pre and post natal fitness?
3. Don’t rule out contributing small quotes – after all, if your goal is to get a mention and possibly a link back to your site then you can just as easily achieve that through a 50 word quote as a 1500 word article.
4. Timing is everything – editors are busy and forgetful, so keep following up. For example, if you send the initial pitch on the Monday you should probably be following up by the Thursday.
5. Consider building rapport with them on social media – Twitter is brilliant for building relationships with editors so show your expertise and offer help where you can but just don’t be pushy.
6. Link to your other work – editors want to see that you really know what you’re talking about, so if you’ve published content elsewhere or have your own blog then make sure you link to it.
And what advice would you give to ensure the journalist then not only uses your content but comes back to you for more?
1. Pitch a regular slot – that way the editor knows that part of their content is always taken care of.
2. Follow the brief – don’t write something you weren’t asked to write. Often trainers will get carried away and write huge volumes of content that isn’t relevant to the agreed article headline. This can be hugely irritating to the journalist so just keep it simple and follow the agreed brief.
3. Don’t be too self promotional – it makes it harder for the journalist to feature you and besides, it’s far more powerful to demonstrate your expertise than to simply talk about it.
4. Pack your content with quotes and statistics – this always makes content more engaging and credible, and the journalist will thank you for it.
5. Include lots of imagery and (if possible) video – great imagery is really hard to come by for journalists so they will really appreciate all the visual assets you can offer. It can even be worth hiring a photographer for a day and building up a bank of imagery that you can use for future articles.
6. Help share the content – if you’re on social media then make sure you and your friends tweet and share the article. The more exposure it gets the more the editor will want to involve you in the future.