Abby Lerner – Editorial Director, Greatist

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The beginning of the New Year has long offered the hope of new beginnings. January is even named after Janus, the Roman God of beginnings and transitions! The tradition of making a resolution for the New Year is an ancient practice that continues today. These days, most resolutions involve bettering one’s health, well-being or finances. The amount of resolutions to “get fit” becomes quite measurable when trying to get a treadmill at the gym in January.

The most difficult part about any long-term goal is staying motivated and having the support to follow through. Fitness and health goals are especially difficult to reach in the long-term as they can involve some pretty serious lifestyle changes. Greatist aims to offer support and guidance for readers looking to improve their mental and physical health.

Greatist has developed a reputation for engaging and informative content by offering research-backed articles, slide shows, and first-hand accounts of universal struggles and successes. The passion and experience the writers have is palpable. As editorial director Abby Lerner puts it, “Everyone here is experiencing the same things as our readers, so we really put ourselves in the position of what we would want someone to tell us.”

Lerner started off 2014 by joining Greatist in January. She comes from three- and- a-half years at Shape magazine and two years at Men’s Health. Although new to the publication, she is familiar with the site. “I’ve been in the position of a Greatist reader for a number of years, and we worked with them at Shape in a syndication partnership,” she said. “I’ve had a chance to become really familiar with their voice.”

“One thing about the editorial strategy at Greatist is that we really focus on what we are doing and how we can produce the absolute best quality content,” Lerner said. “Outside of the site is where a lot of the conversation is happening. Social is a huge part of it and story ideas mean that at the beginning the idea has a social component. We are focused on socially developing content as one cohesive creative process.” She described how this has pushed the staff to create engaging infographics and visuals that can stand alone and still tell a story citing their Pinterest page.

Lerner also referenced the annual Health and Fitness Influencers list as a way to really give readers the tools to explore the topics and connect with professionals and experts they may not otherwise find themselves.

The ability of the editorial staff to tap into reader reaction has provided perspective into future content. “Everyone here is so dialed into the audience and what people like and don’t like. You feel like you are super close to the people that are engaged with Greatist,” she said. “Because it’s a smaller team, you can really take immediate action based on that feedback and it is a really good feeling.”

Growing up in a house with two parents in the medical field gave Lerner an early start on appreciating the human body. “It’s always been part of my life and something I was always interested in. Figuring out how the body works and how we can control things.” She spent many years as a serious ballerina exploring this first-hand. “How we have the choice to act a certain way and how quickly the body reflects that – is fascinating to me.”

As a pre-med student at Northwestern University, Lerner saw that her passion was researching and enrolled in the journalism program. Her internship with Men’s Health confirmed that this was the right decision. “Everything I was doing – I was so excited for. If you have a passion for the content, it makes a huge difference.”

Passionate writing makes for compelling reading. For those of us that may need some extra inspiration to run those extra miles or explore a new way to reach that health goal, it can make all the difference. Being engaged in the content, and referencing some graphics on the go might be all you need to keep that resolution this year. And who knows, maybe next year you can even provide the inspiration for someone else!


Pitching Tips

Lerner is interested in topics related to health, fitness and nutrition for the younger generation.

Also, don’t be vague. “Pitches should be specific, timely, and geared towards the latest research or how current events relate to health and fitness,” she said.

Additionally, Lerner is interested in topics related to mental health. “We cover a lot of psychological and happiness as well as weight loss, diet and well-being.”

Greatist is on Twitter at @greatist and Lerner can be found at @LiveandLerner.

About Laura Botham

Laura Botham writes features covering the movers and shakers in the media industry, daily updates, and Top 10 lists. She is a media researcher at Cision, specializing in Internet media. She is a freelance artist, enjoys traveling, the mountains, and can always make time for a cute animal video.

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