Freelance Journalist Interview with Fiona Bugler
About your journalism:
I’ve always focused my writing on health and fitness and my passion for the last ten years has been running. I’ve run 13 marathons and worked on numerous titles (including, Woman’s Own, BBC.co.uk, Slimming), websites and books. Before editing www.therunningbug.co.uk, I edited Running Free magazine and contributed to Runner’s World and Women’s Running. I’m also a fully qualified coach and personal trainer.
Could you please tell us a bit about the Fitness Writers’ Association that you’ve co-founded and the purpose of the group?
The Fitness Writers’ Association will hold networking events for writers throughout the year with keynote speakers discussing relevant and topical issues. We aim to connect fitness journalists and bring them closer to the rest of the fitness industry. The FWA will comprise of journalists who write professionally about fitness for magazines and newspapers, contribute to books and websites. We also have categories for students, and those who are coaches or personal trainers wishing to write professionally.
What inspired you to create the association?
I joined the Guild of Health Writers and quickly became a member of the committee. The Guild of Health Writers is a fantastic organisation representing professional full time health writers. I felt there was a need for another group that could represent those who specialise in fitness writing, which is a growing area, that often includes those who also practise what they preach, and do the workouts they compile for magazines and websites.
How do you envision the future of the fitness industry?
The fitness industry is by its nature energetic, dynamic and ever changing. And in recent years personal trainers and small businesses are competing against big corporations and Gym chains. Those individuals working in fitness need to expand their skill base and build their portfolio careers and for many that will include learning to write professionally to communicate to their client base.
What are your goals for the Fitness Writers’ Association? What direction do you hope it to take?
We hope that the FWA can be a forum for writers and fitness professionals to educate each other. Writing about fitness requires good technical knowledge and understanding how the body works, coaching skills, as well as being up-to-date with the latest research in sports science. Fitness professionals and bloggers can learn from professional journalists and we hope to offer courses to trainers wishing to write. We also envisage the FWA as a hub of communication, a venue for ideas swapping and fun nights out!
In addition to fitness, what do you write about?
I started my career as a freelancer writing about ‘snogging’ on teenage magazines. Since then I have written for many different publications on a whole host of subjects. I tend to write about what I’m doing, so when I was pregnant and having babies I was deputy editor at Pregnancy and Birth and wrote a lot about pre and post-natal fitness (and also trained as an antenatal aerobics instructor!) I’ve recently contributed to At Home magazine (following a renovation of my own house) and I regularly write articles on general health for a variety of magazines.
Where are we likely to see your work?
I’m now a full-time editor at www.therunningbug.co.uk, the UK’s fastest growing online community. We have 120,000 members and we update the site daily with news/views/reviews. I write on all things running and I’m always interested in hearing from PRs regarding new products, new people, new innovations. Check out my blog for the Bug here.
What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
As editor of Running Free magazine I was privileged to interview Mo Farah, Jo Pavey and Sir Ranaulf Fiennes. The interview with Sir Ran was probably the most bizarre, some of it conducted on the London Eye, some on the Embankment and some in the former GLC HQ (now the Radisson Hotel) – very apt to be on the move when interviewing an adventurer.
What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I really enjoy documentary style work. In my 20s I wrote articles on 'The Binmen of Belgravia' and 'The River Police' and joined them as they carried out their work. I’d love to write a 'Born To Run' type book or article, and uncover a remote group of exquisitely fit and friendly runners – preferably at altitude so I could get some training benefits! I’d like to be a cross between an anthropologist/explorer and a journalist.
About you and PRs:
Where do you source ideas for articles?
When I started out I sourced articles in cuttings libraries, now it’s websites. I love the ease of access to online resources and use professional bodies (the FIA), academic journals and I like to talk to experts in the field.
How can PRs be useful to you?
PRs help provide ideas and hooks by keeping us up to date with new products and services, and inviting us to try out new workouts, ways of running, coaching, or new products.
How and when do you like them to get in touch?
I prefer email as I’m very busy and don’t have time to talk for too long on the telephone. Having said that when I’ve built a relationship with a PR it’s nice to chat on the phone and I always like to meet PRs for coffee or at press dos.
Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
Yes, very useful. Sitting at a desk writing can be very one-dimensional. It’s vital that us journos are out there trying things out, testing products, meeting people, and reporting back to the consumer/reader/user about our experiences. If we stay staring at a screen we are not doing our job!
If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
It used to be not to make pointless phone calls, but this is a problem that has recently been avoided as I’ve built some great relationships with key PRs. The usual complaint is only send relevant information to us. We’re a running website, so like to hear about running, fitness and health.
How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
Running a very successful media business Anita Roderick/Sir Alan style and doing a bit of exploring/anthropology on the side!
If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
Do you tweet? Why, why not?
Yes, I’m a twitter addict: @therunninged
What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
Bedside table: 'A New Earth' (can’t get into it), 'Fifty Shades of Grey' (had to see what the fuss was about… can’t get into it).
Magazines: Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Women’s Running, Zest, Health And Fitness, Sunday Supps, The Economist!
Blogs – Huffington Post and, of course, www.therunningbug.co.uk!