Editor’s note: This article is part three of a series outlining steps and concepts for those with the desire to tackle the youth obesity epidemic.

Read part 1: Creating youth programs >>

Read part 2: Utilizing down time >>

With youth obesity and sport performance training getting so much in the way of media attention these days, it stands to reason that the best and most efficient means by which to gain local interest in your youth fitness program is through large scale exposure via newspapers, television and radio. Media exposure is widely considered the most effective method of marketing your business for three very distinct reasons: It’s free, it positions you as the expert, and it offers a huge amount of exposure.

No Cost, High Value
Unlike other marketing avenues, media exposure is 100% free. There are no advertisement costs to pay and no material or reproduction fees to factor in. Appearing in the pages of your local newspaper or neighborhood magazines, as a guest on your regional news or being interviewed by a community radio show carries your best possible scenario in terms of marketing to your demographic: zero cost but maximum visibility. You will literally be seen by anywhere from hundreds, to thousands, to hundreds of thousands of people, depending on the population of your respective geographic area.

Instant Credibility
Whether we like it or not, the fitness professionals who appear on television or in the newspaper, either locally or nationally, are perceived by the general public as experts. Most other marketing strategies are considered to be just that — marketing. A ploy, so to speak, intended to get potential customers to believe in your credibility, honesty, ability and services.

That’s not to say they aren’t effective. To be sure, well-designed marketing in the form of brochures, business cards, ads and advertorials can be extremely effective at announcing your services to a specific target market and converting potential customers into paying ones. But as many people already know, the best possible endorsement for your services comes when someone else talks about you rather than you talking about yourself. There is no higher backing possible than that which come from the media. The media is considered honest, trustworthy and impartial by the community at large, serving only to showcase the news and information deemed important by the community and for community members.

A Borderless Reach
Although alerting local consumers to your local service offerings is a tremendous and often immediately rewarding reason for you to go after media exposure, the reality is that you can also market yourself and declare your expertise to a worldwide audience, given the right scenario. Very often, well-designed and well-placed media exposure strategies will land you on nationally-based television programs and even internally read publications. While this may not have an impact on your local business directly per se (although being able to claim “as seen in” carries tremendous credibility points with your local customers), it certainly can open you up to other revenue opportunities. If you have information products that are showcased on a website, for example, or perhaps you offer educational seminars, appearing in newsprint on a national or international level will certainly allow a broader base of potential customers to be tuned in to your service/product offerings and give them a place to find you.

Now that you understand the unique benefits associated with media exposure, the task becomes one of how do you get it? The simple answer is this:

Press Releases
A press release is a specifically written document that either keys media types into your services or discusses a particular aspect of your fitness niche and explains your take on the matter. Written well and in a compelling way, news directors will contact you for either a follow-up interview or ask you to appear live on their programs in order to discuss the topic. Here’s a checklist for how you go about writing an effective press release in order to showcase your youth fitness business:

· Decide on a compelling topic. The purpose of your press release is not to “promote” your business as much as it is a way of making yourself and your company newsworthy. Find a topic of interest related to youth fitness or sport training and offer your take on the subject. For instance: Youth Obesity — what’s the real problem in our society, and how do we fix it? Youth Sports Training — what's the correct way to enhance the speed of a young athlete? Injuries in Sport — Why are so many young athletes getting injured, and how do we prevent this? Youth Fitness — why do so many youth fitness programs fail in terms of compliance, and how can we correct this problem?
· Write about your feelings and thoughts related to topics like this. Do you have a unique take on the matter? Try to find one. Media outlets don’t want to do the same story over and over again and are on the constant lookout for fresh thoughts on topics that the community at large is interested in.
· Your press release should be no longer than one page. You are essentially listing the highlights of your thoughts and not offering every possible consideration you have on the topic. The press release will serve as an interesting and coercive outline that will compel a media director to call you for more details. It is critical to write the release using short paragraphs with proper grammar and without the use of “overstating.” Remember, this is not an advertisement — you are sticking to the facts but writing them in a gripping or convincing way so that your story will be considered newsworthy.
· Establish a media list, and send your release to them via email or fax. Creating a media list is actually quite simple and will take you no time at all. For local media, simply go to the websites of newspapers as well as radio and television shows, and search for each media director’s name and email address or fax number. These are readily accessible — media types welcome press releases daily and, in fact, need them in order to find interesting stories that the community will benefit from hearing about. For more national or international media outlets, you can use the same procedure as I mentioned above, but be prepared to be ignored at first. Making a national story is significantly more difficult than grabbing the attention of your local media.
· Now sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. They will call, and you will get media exposure. Be sure to always make an announcement on your website, in your brochures as well as on your storefront once you’ve appeared in the news. That’s another appeal of this form of marketing — it can be used forever as a credibility establisher.

Media exposure is by far and away the best form of marketing for your youth fitness business. If you’re not doing it, you need to be!

Brian Grasso is the Founder and CEO of the International Youth Conditioning Association and has appeared on ABC News as well as in publications such as Newsweek, the New York Times, ESPN and the San Francisco Chronicle. Become a certified Youth Fitness Specialist or learn about the specific aspects of training children, youths and teens for free by visiting www.IYCA.org.

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