Freelance Journalist Focus: Sam Murphy

Sam Murphy is a freelance journalist who writes about sport, fitness and health. Her work has appeared in The Financial Times Weekend magazine, The Guardian, Observer Sport Monthly and Health & Fitness.

This week, FeaturesExec caught up with Sam to discuss her work, her PR pet hate, and what she’d do with £1,000.

About your journalism:

What do you write about?
I write about fitness, sport and health – and active travel (hiking, wild swimming, kayaking… stuff like that). You can keep up to date with my work on my brand new website

Where are we likely to see your work?
The Financial Times Weekend magazine, The Guardian, Observer Sport Monthly and Health & Fitness as well as some more specialist titles, such as Running Fitness, Cycling Plus and 220 Triathlon.

What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
I ran up Ben Lomond with the British champion fell runner – that was quite an experience. The plan was to interview her en route but I was too breathless within minutes and we had to go for a cup of tea afterwards! I also worked on the Guardian series, the Official British Army Fitness Programme, which involved going to the Physical Training Corps HQ to see what they do and work with them to adapt it to those of us on civvy street.

What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I’d love to spend a month in Kenya, living, eating and training with Kenyan runners to gain an insight into why they dominate the distance running world.

About you and PRs:

Where do you source ideas for articles?
Everywhere! Conversations, sport science journals, websites – I also look at foreign magazines and very specialist titles. There’s often an idea that can be made more mainstream…

How can PRs be useful to you?
By providing access to experts/athletes, providing kit to trial (keep it coming!) and by getting to know the slots I write regularly for so that they have a feel for what might be an appropriate pitch.

Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
It depends on how busy I am. I tend only to go to things that I am confident I can use.

If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
Stop sending me beauty and fashion press releases!

About you:

How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
Well, I’m not sure it would pay the bills, but I coach runners alongside my writing career. If I suffered terminal writer’s block I guess I might train as a physiotherapist.

If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
On a new computer that doesn’t regularly freeze, shut down or stop talking to the printer.

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Achieve more, attempt less.

What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
I’ve just finished Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. It’s utterly gripping and, yes, it is about running! I’ve left it out because there are lots of leads I want to follow up in it. Fiction-wise, I’m reaching the stark and terrible conclusion of Revolutionary Road.
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