Many fitness professionals shy away from trying to promote themselves through the media because they believe it to be a great deal of work. And because PR is not an exact science, many can become discouraged when their first attempts do not result in the media attention they were hoping for. In reality, while it does take some effort to start, it is much easier than most people think. Plus, once the ball gets rolling, the media will come looking for you with no effort on your part. Being focused, unique and patient will allow you to discover firsthand the incredible benefits that come with being a media mainstay. Here are 10 easy ways to promote yourself and your fitness business through free publicity.
1. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
It’s important to understand that while no amount of paid advertising can buy the credibility you receive from being in the media, it is a very cumulative process. And that means that every little “media hit” adds up over time to make you a credible expert in the eyes of the public. Having a letter to the editor published in a newspaper or magazine is a terrific way to make your opinion on a health- or fitness-related article known.
How do you go about it? Simple. Just look for the instructions on how to submit your letter on the editorial page. Many will direct you to their web site so you can easily express your opinion online. About five minutes worth of work can result in your name and company being promoted to thousands of people. And depending on the publication, that number could easily reach into the millions!
2. INFORM THE MEDIA OF YOUR SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS
Please realize that you’re not going to have major media outlets come and cover your presentation to the local Rotary Club. However, when you send a press release to your local publications, most will include you in their community calendar of events. And remember, even the tiniest mention helps promote you and build credibility.
How do you go about it? Call all the area publications and let them know what you are trying to do. They’ll gladly tell you who to send your press releases to regarding your speaking engagements and how to send them. These days, almost everyone receives them via email, but you still need to check what their preference is.
3. BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH REPORTERS
If you look at most articles in newspapers, many have the email address of the journalist who wrote it. And that is sometimes the case with magazines as well. So if you’ve just finished reading an article on fitness that you particularly enjoyed, why not email the writer and let her know what you liked about it? At the same time, if you disagreed with what was written, you could politely explain your point of view. Be sure to add at the end you are always available to be quoted as a source.
Does this guarantee you will be featured in the next article she writes? No. But there’s a good chance she will use you as a source in the future, and it only takes about two minutes of your time.
4. CONTRIBUTE FREE ARTICLES TO WEB SITES
There are all sorts of web sites you can contribute articles to (i.e., EzineArticles.com). You post your article to these sites so web publishers will then use your material for content on their site. And yes, you do retain the copyright, and they must give you credit for using the article and include your bio, which should be pointing to your web site. The articles typically only need to be 400-500 words and can result in hundreds of web sites promoting you through an article it took you an hour to write!
Hey, just because a web site doesn’t get traffic like e-Bay doesn’t mean it isn’t worth while. And remember, you only had to write the article once.
5. "PIGGYBACK" ON CURRENT EVENTS
As you are probably aware, the media loves to cover stories to death. Whatever topics are hot in the news are the ones you need to be looking for. So for example, whenever a major professional athlete is caught with steroids, the media is going to be looking for experts to help make sense of it all. And they also want fresh angles so they can cover the same story in a different way.
How do you go about it? Call your local television and radio stations and ask to speak to the producer of whichever news program you would like to be covered by. Producers are the ones who will decide whether or not your idea is good enough to get on the air. Be as unique as you can. And if you’d like to get on TV, be sure you can provide some really cool visuals.
6. "PIGGYBACK" ON NATIONAL EVENTS AND HOLIDAYS
The media are always looking for unique stories on the same tired old themes. As a fitness professional, what are you doing to help your clients stay fit during the holidays? Are you doing anything special to celebrate National Women’s Fitness Day? If you are, the media would love to hear from you. Also, the more unique you are and the “fresher” your ideas, the greater the likelihood your story will be used.
7. PROVIDE GIFT GIVING IDEAS
You use all sorts of fitness equipment, right? Why not let your local media know that during the holidays, you are available to review all the latest gadgets and gizmos? I guarantee you at least one of your local morning TV news shows would love to have you in the studio to interview you about that. Just call, ask the station operator who the producer is you need to speak to and then tell him your idea. Yes, it really is that simple. If he likes it, they’ll have you on. If he doesn’t, then ask another station.
8. THINK IN "BITE SIZE" TERMS
The media loves small nuggets of information they can relay to their readers, listeners and viewers. So don’t be overwhelmed thinking you are going to have to write a novel to get your point across. If you have an idea for an article for a publication, simply email them your idea with the tips as bullet points. The article can always be expanded on or they may even just use the tips as is and give you credit for them!
Additionally, when sending out press releases, be sure to include quotes from yourself that the media can easily extract and include in a story. You’ll be amazed, but often times, publications will quote you directly from your press release and never even mention it to you. And once the media views you as a credible source, this will happen more and more, making obtaining publicity almost effortless.
9. RECYCLE WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel each and every time. If you write a newsletter, I’m sure you’ve written almost a book’s worth of great content. Take all those fitness tips and create longer or smaller articles out of them. You can create a whole speaking engagement out of material you already have on your computer. You can use the tips you sent to one publication regarding staying fit during the holidays and send them to another the next year.
10. RECYCLE YOUR MEDIA "HITS"
It’s critical to understand that each and every little piece of media attention you garner adds up to create enormous benefits. Yes, it’s true that not everyone who reads a particular newspaper is going to see your letter to the editor. Yes, it’s true that not everyone who watches a particular TV station is going to see the three minute segment that featured your fitness business. That’s why a great deal of the benefit from receiving media attention lies in your “recycling” them. In this case, recycling means you make mention of the times you were covered by the media in your marketing materials.
As an example, if you were quoted by a major fitness magazine, you should be sure to include that in your bio on your web site. And you could also be sure to use it in your introduction at speaking engagements. Additionally, if the article is on the Internet, you can include the link in your newsletter. The possibilities are literally endless when it comes to ways you can recycle the publicity you receive.
Working with the media is much easier than most people think. If you set aside 15 minutes a day to work on publicity, you would be astounded by the results. Your fitness business will be forever changed for the better. And remember, the more familiar the media becomes with you as a reliable source of credible and unique information, the easier it becomes. Before you know it, the media will literally come looking for you!