Established in 1993, Runner’s World has become the most widely circulated running magazine in the UK. Andy Dixon, the magazine’s editor, says: “The key to our success, first and foremost, is that we’re trusted by the reader. The magazine has been there every step of the way as the sport has grown into the mass participation activity it is today. We work hard to make our advice useful and expert-backed, and make the overall package entertaining in terms of the presentation. We also speak to all of our readers equally as runners rather than segregate them into male or female runners as some of our competitors do – our roughly equal male/female audience split is something we are very proud of.”
Runner’s World will produce a number of additional features ahead of this year’s Olympics: “We are running a regular feature series called ‘The Olympic Moment’ leading up to the Games – the inside stories of great Olympic races and athletes of the past to whet the reader’s appetite. We also have a column called The Olympian, by Jo Pavey, an elite runner who has already competed in three Olympics and is aiming for a fourth this summer. Closer to the Games we are looking to offer an Olympic special supplement featuring stats, features, interviews and previews.” The magazine also offers a number of regular features, such as the Gear pages, in which they preview new running products and group tests as well as the twice yearly running shoe guide, comprising 16 pages, in which the team wear and lab test the latest running shoes.
For PRs wishing to pitch to Runner’s World, Andy advises “email is probably the best way as it might be something you can’t act upon immediately but want to ‘file’ for a future issue. It sounds obvious but PR professionals should at least have a passing familiarity with what the magazine is about, both in terms of its general theme and specific sections and pages. I’ve had pitches for Nordic walking features and karate black belts offered to us as running experts.”
Aimed at both male and females of any age, who run for fun, fitness or competition, the magazine has become more inclusive over the years to reflect running’s broadening appeal as a mass participation sport. “In the past the magazine was probably more focused on club-level, so-called ‘serious’ runners. Our service is now pitched to a broader readership, including those who might run just for fitness, weight-loss or stress relief without necessarily wanting to run in races regularly. It’s a challenge to cater to such a broad church but the beauty of running is that it’s so accessible to such a wide audience.”
18,000 twitter followers and over 7,000 Facebook likes are testament to the importance of social media for Runner’s World: “Both Facebook and Twitter are a great way to connect to our audience. We run snap polls and competitions and do all of the things it’s impossible to do in a print product with a six-week lead time.”
As for the future, Dixon says there are still challenges. “As running has become more competitive, so has the related media marketplace. In common with most other media brands, our website will assume a more important role. However, I do think the death of print, certainly in the case of specialist brands like Runner’s World, has been overstated, and the magazine will continue to evolve and grow to meet the needs of a growing running audience.”
For more insight into sports, read our previous spotlights with media including sportinglife.com, Footy-Boots.com, The Tennis Space, FitPro, Nicola Joyce, Oliver Brett, Metro, David Gurney and TalkSport, Craig Bloomfield.