Journalist Q&A: Betty Wong, Fitness

Fitness editor-in-chief Betty Wong talks to Lindsay Stein about the new look of the magazine, its increasing social media presence, and how it finds fresh ways to motivate readers.

Name: Betty Wong
Title
: Editor-in-chief
Outlet
: Fitness
Preferred contact
: betty@fitnessmagazine.com
Website: www.fitnessmagazine.com

Why did Fitness decide to do a redesign?
I've been at the magazine for about four years and we've gone through a few minor refreshes, but with so much momentum going behind the brand, we felt it was a great time to take an even bigger leap in our design evolution.

We really want to bring more vibrant energy and fun to our imagery and voice. We think editing a magazine is a lot like going into training for any big fitness goal.

There are times when all that work seems a little monotonous and unmotivating. Sometimes you just need a big change to stay engaged and excited about your routine and the same goes for our reader.

She is very committed to her exercise and fitness level, but very often wants to change up a class or find a new activity.

What are the key aspects of the redesign?
You will see on the cover there's a lot more energy and it is brighter. We're trying new photographers to get a different look.

We're going to be doing indoor and outdoor covers, and we changed up the flow of the book a little bit. We used to open the magazine with the "I Did It!" section, which always got a really great response. Readers love to see success stories, so we expanded that and turned it into a three-page section. It's a really inspiring way to open up the magazine.

Our "Fit Life" section was revamped and renamed "Pulse." We would often address trends or new movies or talk to trainers behind the scenes of movies coming out. Now it includes fitness, beauty, diet, and health. It includes our play section, which is news and ways to have fun, whether it is travel, a new book about fitness, or a fresh TV show.

Has the voice of the magazine changed?
With the redesign we realized we can have a little more fun and not take ourselves quite so seriously.

Now the magazine is a little more tongue-in-cheek, because even if you're dealing with something serious - such as health information - it's fun to see clever imagery and clever concepts.

We are still very much an authentic and accessible friend to our reader. We give her the real deal when it comes to getting fit and losing weight. We do not try to sugarcoat it. Our readers are committed to the fact that fitness sometimes is hard work and takes a lot of grit and sweat.

We don't make it look like everyone's bouncing around on the beach. Sometimes you're in a gym and it's sweaty, dark, and not that attractive, but it still can be very motivating.

Fitness prides itself on not hiding the facts about weight loss to it motivated readers.
What's going on with online and social media?
The website is the place where our readers are able find a treasure trove of our workouts as we go deeper into content.

All of the workouts we do in print have accompanying videos, so if you want to hear from our trainers how you're supposed to do the exercises you can find them on our site.

We also wanted to come up with templates that could easily and efficiently translate to our tablet edition. We've been on tablets since April 2011 and we really want to create a design that can be transferred quickly to iPads, Kindles, Nooks, and other 10- inch and 7-inch devices and still be very readable, engaging, fluid, and vibrant.

We've had Pinterest for about a year and a half and it's referring more traffic to our site than Facebook. Readers love to follow us on Pinterest for the motivating imagery. We have a really popular section just on motivating mantras - things that will psych you up to stay committed to your exercise routine.

Fitness always tries to keep growing on social media. We have more than 375,000 followers on Facebook, and Twitter is a great way for our readers to hear what we are thinking or seeing at events and stay engaged with us on a daily basis.

What should PR pros keep in mind when pitching you stories?
It's important for PR practitioners to really understand the unique points of difference of my title versus those in our competitive set.

Even though Fitness may cover exercise, nutrition, beauty, fashion, and health, just like Self, Shape, and Women's Health, we all do it in our own unique way and we all have a different skeleton and presentation of our content.

It's important to understand the architecture of each of the titles and really know when you are pitching something if it should be a news item or part of a larger feature. 

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