Special thanks to Eileen Domiati, editor of Women Health & Fitness Magazine for being a part of this exclusive interview. If you like what you read – be sure to check out my new e-book Fit Model Guide which includes multiple interviews with editors of fitness magazines on what models should know about pitching to publications.
James Patrick: How did Women Health & Fitness (WH&F) Magazine become to be and when did it launch?
Eileen Domiati: It was the brainchild of both my husband and I almost 9 years ago. Dubai and the UAE in general was on the cusp of evolving into one of the region’s top health and fitness destinations and it was at this time we realized that there was a niche for a high quality publication to facilitate this process.
JP: What makes the publication unique in the fitness industry?
ED: Since our publication hit the shelves of the UAE, we knew that one of our priorities was to keep the population updated with what was happening in the industry in the UAE and of course, the world. With the help of titles such as Oxygen in the US and Fitness, South Africa, it was evident to the reader, we had the research to back up all the information we published. As the editor, it is imperative I deliver features that will not only engage the reader but will also make a positive impact on their lives and hopefully one they can pass on to their family and friends.
JP: What do you look for in the talent you feature?
ED: I’m sure most editors will acknowledge, one is always inundated with women who are aspiring to be featured on the cover or in an editorial. Personally, how they bring this across to me is very important. I like to feel that any woman I feature on the cover is approachable by any of our readers and is not too full of the ‘airs and graces’ often associated with such kind of fame. The imagery that they put forward is extremely important. Our covers are renowned for being fresh, natural and alive so this criteria is paramount in any application I process. On a yearly basis, WH&F runs a Cover Girl competition to find a new role model that personifies, health and fitness but also one whom never dreamed of gracing the cover of such a high-end publication.
JP: Out of all the pitches you receive from models, how do people stand out?
ED: First impressions are the ones that stay with you, so images are crucial in the decision process. In saying this, I’ve had many gorgeous women who would potentially make the cover but their background story would not be enough to impress a reader. In many cases, a little more digging and you may find out through their social platforms that they would not be the right person to have as a so-called ambassador of the brand. So ladies, be careful with what you put out there, it can come back to bite you. Besides it’s nice to leave something to the imagination.
JP: What are no no’s when it comes to models pitching to your publication?
ED: Hmmm… Too pushy, overly confident and again not approachable. Our demographics are 25-55 year-old women and I would like to say that any woman that I choose to put on the cover would be able to sit down with any of our readers and inspire them, but in a natural non-intimidating manner. As for images, I’ve had many where the quality is totally unusable and backgrounds are off. Also attire is very important when going through the process of elimination. We get a lot of booty short images but some would be more suited for Playboy! This sexual portrayal of a woman is not one I am particularly fond of and is of course not the image that the brand is going to carry.
JP: What are the key pieces of information or detail you look for in a pitch?
ED: Not comparing myself to Oprah, but I do like my aha! moments. So whether this is through a new fitness technique or someone’s real life transformation story, the pitch should have something that makes one sit up a little and take note.
JP: How can talents develop strong relationships with you and the publication?
ED: Honesty is the best policy when dealing with any editor of a publication. If the model happens to have submitted her work to other publications and there maybe even a slight possibility of her being covered in a magazine of the same genre in the same region, she should be transparent. In my opinion, it would sever any ties I had with that model if she failed to mention this prior to our collaboration.
JP: What do you think most talents don’t understand about the publishing industry?
ED: Business can be tough, especially in a region such as ours where the population is minor compared to other countries. It is critical for me to ensure that there is not a repeat of a particular model or feature that maybe carried in a magazine of similar genre. This is where transparency is even more important. Some models don’t take any of this into consideration when trying to get their brand out there. But this lack of respect will not go unnoticed and eventually they will burn any bridges they have with editors.
JP: What do you look for when models are pitching articles they have or want to write?
ED: The models should have a clear vision of what they want to deliver to the readers. They should also ensure they have good quality photography to support their copy and at this stage in the business, it should have somewhat of an edge about it so it will engage the reader’s attention from the get-go!
JP: With a lot of pitches coming from overseas to you, how important is it for the pitch to be localized to your demographic?
ED: It is so humbling for me to see such amazing talent, so keen to be part of this great magazine. Women are women no matter where they live in the world. We all have our days when working out, staying on track with our nutrition while keeping on top of our other duties can be quite daunting, so this is where WH&F comes into play. My objective is to help as many women as possible live healthy, fit and happy lives so that they too can help others. Information that is current, interesting and doable is my top priority when sitting down to decide the flat plan for each issue. Models, writers and health experts from anywhere in the world who feel that they too, can contribute to my ethos, I look forward to hearing from you.
JP: Have you had difficult experiences working with particular talents? If so, without names, what could have been done better or differently?
ED: I would have to reiterate honesty and transparency. I have had countless relationships with models and photographers over the years and the lack of these two criteria have resulted in their terminations. I pride myself in honesty/integrity, I am up front with those I deal with in the business and I credit these characteristics for much of the success of our publication to date. I know this is your blog James, but it would be unfair of me not to give you the praise you truly deserve. Your professionalism and efficiency is one that is truly hard to find and I’m so thrilled that our paths have crossed. I look forward to many years of working together.
“I have followed WH&F since Oct 2006. The content of their Magazine is rich and crosses all genres of fitness. I learn so much on both a personal and professional PT level each month. I apply this knowledge to my clients and often refer back to previous issues to refresh my memory. The athletes WH&F feature are inspiring and I have formed many friendships with these inspiring women. WH&F is so unique and I will continue to follow them for years to come. I have personally witnessed the editor practice what she preaches with regards to the content of WH&F. When the editor of a magazine lives a healthy balanced lifestyle it makes you realize how WH&F take great pride in what information is shared with their readers to help achieve their personal goals”, said Cindy Louise Moxon. Just one of many loyal readers of WH&F.
Be sure to check out the magazine’s Facebook Page if you are interested in learning more about the publication.