Focus Interview with Julia Buckley, editor of Running Free

Running Free is a monthly magazine launching in December 2008, aimed at runners of all experiences and abilities.

FeaturesExec caught up with editor Julia Buckley in the run-up to launch day, to ask her a bit more about Running Free. She tells us how the magazine aims to inspire, how she works with PRs, and how her idea of a relaxing day is going for a run!

About the publication:

Tell us a bit about Running Free:
Running Free is a new monthly magazine for runners, our first issue is out early December 2008.

What was your driving force behind starting the magazine?
We saw a gap in the market for a more down-to-earth and accessible magazine. Also running is traditionally a sport that’s accessible to people with all income levels – expensive kit, equipment, and health clubs are not required. The high cover price of existing running magazines is not in keeping with that ethos – times are hard for many people right now, so what better time to launch a free running mag?

How do you differ from other magazines?
Well, we’re the only free independent running magazine in the UK. We’re also more beginner-friendly and more into inspiration than competition.

Describe a typical reader for us:
We exist to support and inspire everyone who runs – from the 100 marathon club to someone jogging around the block to shed a few pounds.

What stories are you most interested in covering in the publication?
Anything to do with running and runners – races, kit, nutrition, technique, avoiding injury, recovery, etc. We’ll also be sending journalist-runners to take part in and report on races across the world. For issue 1, for example, we sent someone to the Venice marathon. These inspiring features will usually form a four page spread and will be our main cover feature/image. Obviously these have to be planned at least a couple of months in advance to give our journalist time to train for the event.

How do you decide the content, front covers and headlines?
I’ll just be going for headlines that I think will most compel readers to pick up the magazine. For issue one I’ll be shouting about our interview with Sir Ranulph Fiennes, our advice from a range of brilliant experts including Gillian McKeith and Liz Yelling, our shed-load of high-value competitions, our reviews of the latest running gear, and the main feature will be the Venice Marathon.

Do you produce a features list?
Only for internal use. We’ll usually have already decided how we’re going to approach features, so if I need input on a particular piece I’ll send some sort of call-out specific to that. Otherwise I think I’d probably be overwhelmed with suggestions that we wouldn’t be able to use anyway.

About PRs:

Do you work closely with PRs?
Yes, on Running Free we have a gear reviews, competitions, and how-to guides and working with PRs is essential to these. For my freelancing for other magazines it’s a bit more tricky – magazine editors usually want an exclusive, or at least something that’s not widely reported elsewhere, which of course is the opposite of what most PRs are trying to do with any story they’re offering me!

It’s always nice to work with people you know are competent and will deliver on their promises, so if something I’m working on with a PR goes well I’m much more likely to work with them again. If it doesn’t and it’s down to them I might need some convincing!

I’m hoping to get to know more travel PRs in the near future to help with our Race the World content, where we send journalists to take part part in races abroad.

What information/input from PRs is most useful to you?
As much info as possible really. I like people to be up-front about their expectations and let me know from the start what their requirements are if I take up the interview/product review/comp/etc they’re offering. High res images are always good, it’s so annoying having to chase them.

What’s the best starting point for a PR who wants to tell you about their client?
I work from home and across different titles, so email is best to ensure work doesn’t encroach on my private time and to help me stay organised.

Do you have a PR pet hate?
Just when people are unreliable and make excuses. I don’t understand why sometimes PRs offer me things that they can’t deliver on, surely it’s obvious that’s only going to annoy and inconvenience me and put me off working with their agency in the future.

When is the best time for PRs to contact you & when is your deadline for contributions?
Running Free, as well as most other magazines I write for works at least two months in advance. I’m getting lots of emails from PRs about Christmas stuff right now that would’ve been useful a few weeks ago, but now it’s just too late.

About you:

What are your editorial duties/responsibilities at the magazine (e.g. commissioning, nibs, subbing, features, interviewing etc)?
While Running Free is in it’s fledgling stages I’ll be looking after all of the above – and probably more besides!

What do you love about your work?
Well I love running and I love writing, so it’s an ideal job really! Despite any gripes I’ve mentioned PRs are usually really lovely people who are great to work with. Other perks include the free sample running gear, which is always very exciting – even when it’s not for me! – and taking part in lots of races in all sorts of places.

Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
Ooh, I’ve worked in lots of places, some details about my career are on my website:

As for my position as editor of Running Free, the publisher was looking for an experienced journalist with a passion for running and the right sort of writing style and attitude. I think they came across my website and asked me in for a chat and it went from there.

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Be yourself. Works for writing style as well as dating!

I’d love to have a go at…
Gosh, lots of things! Since my recent interview with Ranulph Fiennes for issue 1 of Running Free I’ve been thinking how cool it would be to be an adventurer. So maybe I’ll try an adventure type race soon.

A phrase I use far too often is…
I’m always apologising for not being a very fast runner. This is bad, you’ve got to think positive! I’m not even particularly slow, it’s just that I know lots of speedy types with a lot more experience than me, I really need to stop comparing myself to them.

What’s your idea of a relaxing day off?
I know some people will grimace at this, but a good long run really helps me de-stress. I also love walking in the countryside. I regularly contribute to Walk magazine, published by the Ramblers Association.

[lnk||_self|Running Free]
[img|jpg|Julia Buckley; editor of Running Free]

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