Freelance Journalist Interview with Helen Foster
Freelancer, author and regular contributor to woman's interest titles, Helen Foster discusses calorie counting robots, karaoke beach bars and quirky Japanese culture. Whatever you do, don't mention the missed spa reviews.
About your journalism
What do you write about?
Anything to do with health, diet, nutrition and fitness.
Where are we likely to see your work?
What's the most memorable work you've done?
My favourite ever piece was one for Grazia on the latest Japanese health trends. No one would speak to me as I didn’t speak Japanese and so I had to hire an interpreter to get the quotes from the companies. She was more used to business translation and I was asking her to discuss calorie-counting robots.
What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I’d love to review spas. I have to turn down trips all the time and virtually cry as I do it. My dream job would be on the Spa Secrets website.
About you and PRs
Where do you source ideas for articles?
Mostly from new research studies. I tend to be known for finding angles people don't know about health so I'm always looking at new research and spinning things from that.
How can PRs be useful to you?
I have three regular news pages on Cosmopolitan, Best and Slimming World so I'm looking for genuinely new products and trends for those and my blog. And I'm always looking for experts to quote.
How and when do you like them to get in touch?
When doesn't matter, how is email. I try and keep my phone number secret as I'm on deadline pretty much daily and would rather be nice to people on email than stressed and snappy on the phone.
Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or interruption?
Working from home, they are often the only time I see people all week, so for my sanity they're essential. That saying though it takes me 90 minutes to come in to Soho so I don't go to everything I'm invited to – and breakfasts are virtually impossible.
If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you what would it be?
Tell me about things as early as they can. It's even more important now with social media/websites as I don't want to run something on a long lead news page if it's been online for the last two months.
How would you pay your bills if you weren't a journalist?
Badly – I’m not sure I’m qualified to do anything else. My dream alternative profession would be to run a karaoke beach bar somewhere hot – I get the feeling it might be more of a nightmare in reality though.
If we gave you £1000 how would you spend it?
Plane flights. Probably to India.
Do you tweet?
I do. I started off being professional and tweeting health news, now it's declined into chats with people I forget that I've never met. I do use it for the odd journo request though, particularly case studies and alerting people to what’s happening on my blog.
What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
I'm finding myself reading more blogs. My absolute favourite is Jonelle Patrick's Only in Japan. I am obsessed with the quirky elements of Japanese life and she posts something intriguing almost every day.
You can find Helen tweeting @healthehelen