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In recent weeks I have seen numerous columns, opinion pieces, webinars and debates covering the topic of women’s sport and how it has been specifically impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Just last week, Sky Sports hosted a really interesting debate looking at how women’s sport has been affected by Covid and how it rebuilds from here. Multiple voices from across the industry discussed the issue and there was a lively conversation happening on social media under the #WomensSportDebate hashtag.

Of course no element of this industry has been left untouched by the havoc the virus has caused, but I think it’s fair to say that the timing of the pandemic has been particularly cruel to women’s sport, which had undoubtedly been building significant momentum in the months before the outbreak. It’s also fair to say that when it comes to Project Restart women have had to take a backseat with female athletes, generally speaking, remaining on the sidelines whilst their male counterparts get back to work. Having said that, there is no denying the commercial realities that exist within the world of sport and organisations, teams and leagues have had to make some very difficult decisions about their priorities in what are undoubtedly very challenging circumstances.

However, amongst all of this pessimism I can find reasons to be optimistic. Do I find it cheering that the upward trajectory of women’s sport has been interrupted? Absolutely not. But I can find significant positives in the fact that the debate is happening at all, and with such vigour. I’m not suggesting that we women should be grateful that our opinions are being listened to or points of view considered, but the increased space now being given to discuss women’s sport and the issues that effect it, is, undoubtedly, progress.

It isn’t too much of a giveaway as to my age to say ‘I remember the days’ when this type of conversation – to this extent, across the mainstream media – just simply wouldn’t have been happening. It’s only really been in the last few years that women’s team sport has made it on to the agenda at all. I have seen it said by many people that they long for the days when ‘women’s sport’ and ‘men’s sport’ can be just simply ‘sport’. But we had this not so very long ago. We may have called it ‘just’ sport, but the men’s prefix was there, albeit silently. We didn’t need to say it because all sport was men’s sport as far as the mainstream media was concerned. Now at least, we are talking about women’s sport, worrying about women’s sport, listening to female athletes and considering the female perspective.

There are a number of reasons for this of course, and the entire sports landscape has started to wake up (albeit slowly) to the opportunities and potential that exist within the women’s game. However, a really crucial part of the puzzle is the increasing amount of space that the mainstream national media are now giving to the subject.

Whilst there is still work to be done, there has – without doubt – been significant progress made in the last couple of years. In a recent BBC Sport survey of elite female athletes, a whopping 93.4% of them agreed that coverage of women’s sport across the mainstream media has improved in the past five years.

I know some will be quick to point to the stats which show women’s sport is still hugely underrepresented on the sports pages, and I am well aware of the continued overwhelming dominance of men. I also know there is still a long way to go before female athletes are treated with parity. The BBC Sport athlete survey also found that 85.1% of female athletes still think that, despite progress being made, the media still don’t do enough to promote women’s sport. BUT – and it is a big but – there are undoubtedly more opportunities for women’s sport stories across major media outlets now than there has ever been before.

You just have to look at the brilliant work the Telegraph are doing with their Women’s Sport section for clear evidence of this. Day in, day out, that paper is now championing women’s sport, breaking a diverse range of stories, giving female athletes a voice and shining a spotlight on important issues that affect women from the elite level to the grassroots. This dedicated team didn’t exist until March 2019, but since it’s launch it has been a significant game changer. The Telegraph deserves an awful lot of credit for pushing women’s sport up the agenda and for dedicating significant resource to covering the topic.

There has been visible and obvious progress at the BBC too, although as a public service broadcaster of course they should be representing a diverse range of voices and stories across their platforms. But the number of reporters and correspondents who are working on women’s sport stories has continued to rise and, in another sign of progress, so too has the number of female sports reporters.

I could go on with dozens of other examples… Rebecca Myers is a fantastically talented journalist doing great things at The Times and Sunday Times, Natalie Morris at the Metro regularly tells the stories of female athletes and champions women’s sport stories, Suzy Wrack at the Guardian, talksport’s Women’s Football show, Sky Sports Sportswomen series…. These are all examples highlighting how mainstream media outlets are now telling women’s sport stories, and doing so on a regular basis, with proper resource and with talented journalists. And this is by no means an exhaustive list.

The data also unequivocally shows us that TV audiences for women’s sport are growing, live attendance numbers are growing (well, at least they were pre-Covid) and social media engagement is growing. At the same time, acquiring rights in the women’s sport space is still – generally speaking – relatively affordable.

There is therefore certainly huge untapped potential for brands who have the forethought to throw their commercial hat in to the women’s sport space. With a well-chosen partner, a commitment to developing a deep and meaningful relationship, some creative thinking (from both the brand and the rights holder) and a well executed communications campaign which makes the most of the opportunity that exists for women’s sport across the mainstream media – the value that is there for the taking could be huge. It will be very interesting to see which brands, and from which industries, step in to capitalise.

Women’s sport, brand partners and the opportunity for increased media exposure that is there for the taking

If a brand can grow its market share within their core sector, fantastic. But it goes without saying that looking beyond those core markets can provide even greater potential for growth.

When we started working with outdoor brand dryrobe, producers of the world’s most advanced change robe, they already had a presence second to none across the surfing sector. With their product also catering for a whole host of other outdoor pursuits though, their growth potential was obvious.

For us, it’s simply been about unlocking it. Here’s how we do it…

Act as an extension of the business

In the initial instance, it was paramount that we took the time to fully understand not only dryrobe’s target audiences for growth, but the technicalities of the product inside out.

By combing over this information to obtain a level of knowledge that you’d expect a member of the dryrobe team itself to have, it placed us in the perfect position to communicate the product to the right sectors, most effectively.

Doing our homework

As much as it pays to know your client it pays to know your media, and the results we’ve been able to achieve so far for dryrobe are certainly relative to us having a detailed understanding of the various sectors they speak out to.

If a given publication produces content that lends itself to a detailed review of the product, then tailor your approach to mimic that. If the only conceivable way a title may feature the product is through a competition, then likewise be specific.

Passion and enthusiasm

This one is a major contributor to our success…being passionate and genuinely interested in the sector. I come from a running background and would have loved a dryrobe to keep warm after a tough cross-country race back in my competition days. As a team that are all into our sport and fitness, this personal interest is definitely something that helps us achieve the results we do. Passion drives engagement and you’ll naturally come across as more genuine.

Don’t be one dimensional

Through our work with dryrobe, the product has now been featured across swimming, OCR (obstacle course racing), running, rugby, biking, triathlon, camping, canoeing, kayaking and rowing media. But we also reached out to tech media to communicate the innovation behind the product. As a result, we’ve secured them pieces in tech outlets, including in leading consumer tech magazine, Stuff (the article that they featured within actually made the front cover).

Having taken the time to invest ourselves in the business too, we saw dryrobe’s business story as another opportunity to drive traction for the brand. As a result, they’ve seen some great pieces of business coverage across the likes of the Daily Express Online, Forbes Online and most recently on Sky News’ Flagship daily business show, Ian King Live.

With each opportunity, it’s important to think about the finer details too, with conversion for dryrobe the ultimate goal. We had a competition with Trail Running magazine’s online ‘Win’ section that received close to 60,000 entries, while a similar competition we ran with Cool Camping left us with over two thousand potential customers that opted in to receive newsletter updates from dryrobe.

We maximise assets

dryrobe are regularly announcing exciting new partnerships, whether that be with brands or individuals, and we use this an opportunity not only to engage sports/activity specific outlets, but respective trade media.

Once we’ve announced them, the job doesn’t stop there though. I’d argue our credentials activating brand ambassadors are second to none and we always ensure we deliver as much value as possible from the relationships.

In recent months, coronavirus has without question posed an added challenge in coming up with fresh angles to generate media interest, but by acting on our feet we have been able to deliver stand out pieces of coverage activating dryrobe’s ambassadors time and time again.

From keeping fit at home with Father, Son surfing duo, Ben Skinner & Lukas Skinner on The Times Online, to celebrating Strong Women on the Metro Online with British Surf Champion Lucy Campbell, to helping others improve their physical and mental health in lockdown with paddleboarder Cal Major on Stylist Online, we pride ourselves on knowing the stories our contacts will want to write about.

As well as paying attention to the ambassador’s personal schedules to ensure we don’t miss opportunities, we also keep in mind the general news and events calendar. For example, we recently secured dryrobe a standout inclusion on the Daily Express Online, quoted as the product ‘taking the camping and outdoors world by storm.’

Through following the above approach, we’ve been able to consistently deliver against our agreed KPIs ahead of schedule, opening up numerous doors of opportunity for dryrobe in the process.

If you would like to find out more about what our specialist sport and fitness public relations team can do for you, get in-touch with our award-winning team today.

How PR can be key in unlocking the door to new audiences

These are unprecedented times for the world of sport. With the sporting calendar temporarily decimated, fans are searching for new ways to consume sport, while brands, teams and leagues seek new ways to engage with them. There was no blueprint for this, but one discipline finds itself well set for the situation: Esports.

At a difficult and uncertain time when we’re adjusting to a new way of living, people are naturally looking for something fun to watch and immerse themselves in while every mainstream sport & competition we know and love is temporarily on hold – and I think Esports can provide the fix that fans are looking for. 

Ben Cossor, Senior Account Director & Head of Technology

There has been a lot of conversation in the sporting world in recent months and years about the growth of Esports and its ability to move into the mainstream. Well, now it finds itself unexpectedly centre stage. Not only are existing Esports fans able to play and be entertained as usual, but traditional sports are already looking to esports to fill the void.

After the Australian Grand Prix was cancelled due to coronavirus symptoms in the paddock, Formula 1 stars Max Verstappen and Lando Norris leapt into online action. Verstappen finished 11th in “The Race All-Star Esports Battle”, where he took on a host of racing personalities and professional gamers.

Meanwhile, Norris joined “Not The Aus GP”, a virtual race around the Melbourne circuit which was organised by Veloce Esports. Both races were streamed live on Twitch and YouTube and saw huge surges in their typical viewership.

Elsewhere, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers also looked to esports to compensate for their postponed fixture. The clubs pitted their respective esports professionals against each other on EA Sports’ FIFA 20 via West Ham’s Twitch channel, whilst Leyton Orient are currently arranging a FIFA tournament of their own, with a host of idle clubs already signed up to compete.

We are also seeing an increasing amount of mainstream media coverage on Esports as journalists look for stories they can tell in their back pages, and as an agency working daily with sports journalists across the media landscape, we have seen a noticeable increase in the number of them looking for comment and information on this topic.

Of course as all fans will understand right now, there is nothing that can quite fill the void left by the sport you love to follow the most. However, in these strange times, as fans yearn for the thrill of contest, an awful lot of new eyes have turned to the digital world. And no doubt some of those fans who are tuning in to Esports for the first time now will become lifelong fans of the future.

There aren’t many good news stories in sport at the moment, but this may just be one of them. And we’ll take what we can get right now.

Are you interested in hearing about how we might be able to help you promote your offering? Speak to a member of our award-winning technology team today.

All eyes on Esports

In such a fast-paced news environment, it goes without saying that you simply must adopt an ‘always on’ mentality, to make sure you don’t miss the next big opportunity. Sport doesn’t stop, so we don’t either. From a fitness standpoint, the industry has become increasingly competitive as technology takes over and everyone is looking for the next big thing.

That being said, we pride ourselves on monitoring the news agenda meticulously on a day to day basis. It starts from the off each morning with a thorough review of the day’s biggest headlines; if you can identify that news hook dominating the agenda, it can prove to be a lucrative exercise for your clients.

Having identified topics that could ask as a catalyst to place our clients in the media spotlight, we’ll immediately target media with relative expert commentary/interview opportunities on the topic.

Through this approach, we’ve delivered impactful content that delivers a clear return for our clients. Here are just a few examples of where we’ve done it before…

PureGym

We began working with PureGym when they were a challenger brand with just 40 sites but in four years working together, they had over 150 sites and were the biggest gym operator in the UK.

PureGym was regularly featured in the trade press before working with us, but month on month we would deliver national coverage for them.

The proudest moment of the campaign though has to be when we got the PureGym brand next to Prince William.

It was announced in the media that the first-ever football match would take place at Buckingham Palace in 2013 between two of the oldest amateur league football clubs.

The PHA Group identified this as a unique sponsorship opportunity for PureGym to sponsor one of the teams.

With the media being given full access to the palace, we knew this game would get global coverage and we were proud to see pictures of the winning team standing next to Prince William appear in every UK national newspaper and in every other country around the world.

 Xercise4Less

For many of our clients, January is the most important time in their marketing calendars. It is also a very competitive period, with all fitness providers competing to grab the attention of consumers looking to start the new year with a health kick.

This was especially relevant for our work with gym chain Xercise4Less. The challenge we faced was standing out from the crowd and making their offering the most attractive against other health club providers.

We utilised the fact that Xercise4Less was giving people a five-day free pass in January to position them as the most attractive gym to try.

We secured a live on-air plug by Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis on ITV’s This Morning, as well as coverage in Daily Mail, Daily Express, COSMOPOLITAN and Liverpool Echo.

GentingBet

News agenda hijacking was also a key element of our activity for the GentingBet sportsbook. Ahead of the 2019/20 Premier League campaign start, the introduction of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was a massive talking point going into the season.

Last season saw a number of controversial decisions which would have been addressed if VAR was in use. To tap into all of the chatter around VAR, we reviewed the entire 2018/19 season and applied a VAR filter to see what could have happened if the system was in use.

The analysis suggested that Liverpool would have narrowly won the league, not Manchester City, and Cardiff City would have avoided relegation.

These provided big, media-worthy talking points which allowed us to create a genuine stir online. Resulting widespread coverage was secured with Sport Bible, Mail Online, Give Me Sport, Daily Express, Wales Online and TeamTalk.

If you’re interested in learning more about how we could hijack the news agenda for you, then get in touch with us today.

Hijacking the news agenda

 In January many of us make new year’s resolutions, a new goal or target to achieve going into the new calendar year. Whether it’s to kick a habit, learn a new skill or set a challenge, or even learn a new language. For most of us, we all land on the same goal after a festive period of indulgence – to lose weight and get back into our fitness regimes.

January has become a notorious time of the year for both gym and exercise classes to see record numbers and attendance figures skyrocket.

Unfortunately, though this impact doesn’t last for long, for most resolutions are broken before February and many people quitting those memberships in March and April.

So, what can fitness brands do to make sure they maximise their brand awareness for this competitive period and keep new customers and retained engaged all year round?

Building up to JanuaryTom Inskip,quote

Breaking into the fitness market at any time of the year can be a daunting prospect but trying to crack it in the build-up to the January rush is a real challenge. Tom Inskip, Associate Director says ‘The fitness market remains an incredibly crowded environment, so it is of absolute importance that you have one USP that differentiates yourself from the competition.

The latest craze and one which certainly differentiates itself from the competition is Rowbots. The class combines the rower with explosive floor-work and mental conditioning leaving you with the complete workout for both body and mind.

But for Rowbots to be a success come January, planning and preparation is required. You can’t expect an offering to be at maximum capacity at the turn of the year, if consumers don’t know what it is you have to offer and in turn how to access it.

Rowbots, which is still relatively new to the market,  have begun offering new members enticing deals such as unlimited classes for a week for just £25. It’s much more than just discounted workouts, it’s a strategy. By offering incentives and promotions will ultimately increase their brand awareness and boost signups for the new year when the ‘get fit’ rush hits in January.

Hiring a PR agency

We might be biased, but we’re also honest too. Working with a PR agency will give your business the best opportunity to maximise the moment.

The fitness industry is a saturated market, with hundreds of different offerings available to consumers. Using a PR agency allows you to extend your communications resources, have access to unrivalled contacts books and include other creative minds in your strategy. Most agencies are in touch with health and fitness journalists on a regular basis so know exactly who to put you in touch with and how to deliver the results you want for your business.

For example when we worked with Xercise4less, the leading low cost gym chain brand in the UK, our dedicated team spread the news of Xercise4less’s January 5 day free gym pass offer. Aware of time constraints the team gained coverage ahead of the Christmas and New Year slot. Key pieces featured in the likes of Men’s Health, Daily Express Cosmopolitan. There was also a prime time mention on This Morning where money saving expert Martin Lewis promoted the 5-day free gym pass.

Great content is key

Plateauing results can be a popular reason as to why people cancel their gym memberships. This typically happens when people start repeating the same workout without increasing intensity and frequency. Without correct knowledge or expertise of gym equipment, gym-goers are likely to stick to what they know.

In recent years fitness businesses like LDN Muscle and Maximuscle have blown the market wide open and helped to empower consumers to take control of their workouts by providing online libraries full of exercises, tips and useful advice.

maximuscle infographic

LDN Muscle infographic

Gym brands should note the power testimonials, transformation stories, and training guides and how they play a valuable role in keeping consumers engaged and enthused.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility has become one of the standard business practices of our time. Consumers now demand that companies start playing an active role in addressing social, cultural and environmental issues. Telling the story of how your fitness brand is helping the community or environment provides a great opportunity to enhance your profile in the media spotlight whilst also promoting a positive message to your customers.

For example, Europe’s leading health, sports and leisure group, David Lloyd Clubs has recently launched its charity initiative, ‘DL Giving’ which focuses on volunteering and fundraising in local areas. They have reduced their CO2 emissions and is the only company in its sector to have held the Carbon Trust Double Standard award.

Would you like to discuss creative ideas for your business and plan your next campaign? Speak to a member of our team today, to find out how we could help deliver your best sales figures yet.

 Four key ways fitness brands can capitalise on the New Year boom

With the Ashes wrapped up for another two years, and the little urn unfortunately on its way back to Australia, it’s time to switch our attention to the next sporting fixture in the calendar, and it’s not a small one either.

The 2019 Rugby World Cup gets underway this week in Japan, and the English will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of their cricketing counterparts who etched themselves into sporting folklore just a few months ago after claiming a first World Cup victory.

But whilst Eddie and the boys are busy taking on the likes of Argentina and France in the group stages. We’re going to go on a whistle-stop tour of what you and your business can be doing over the next month to make sure you capitalise on the Rugby World Cup.

Social media content creation

Whether it’s a feel-good status in preparation to one of England’s games, or a bespoke animation, make sure your social followers know you’ll be cheering them on.

Sporting events offer businesses a unique opportunity to show off their personality whilst creating content that they wouldn’t usually be able to get involved with.

It’s vital for brands to engage with audiences during major sporting events on social media – not least because it presents an opportunity to engage with an online community that they might not necessarily reach with their wider strategy. It’s important not to shoehorn your brand into conversation, but to immerse in conversation from a natural and sincere angle.

Joe Toal, Social Media Manager at The PHA Group

Social media has clearly evolved since the 2015 World Cup, community managers now have multiple tools up their sleeves such as creating polls, live streaming or even Instagram stories.

The main points to remember here is to make sure you continue to engage your audience, use hashtags and emojis to keep your posts creative.

CSR

Corporate social responsibility has become one of the standard business practices of our time. Consumers now demand that companies start playing an active role in addressing social, cultural and environmental issues. Global sporting events give businesses a great opportunity to do some good in the world whilst also enhancing their profile in the media spotlight.

For example, during the fifth and final test of the recent Ashes series, lyricist and big-time cricket fan, Sir Tim Rice, decided to donate £15,000 for every hundred scored and every five-wicket haul taken and £5,000 for every fifty and three-wicket haul achieved by England to cricketing charity, Chance to Shine.

Could your businesses offer an hour of charity work for every point that Owen Farrell scores during the World Cup? Or a donation for every try that Jonny May finishes?

Spontaneous moments

Any sporting event inevitably offers drama, excitement and unpredictability if it didn’t, we probably wouldn’t watch it. So, during this World Cup, we’re bound to see a few surprises, scares and maybe even an England win! So, use these moments to direct traffic to your site where possible. If you run an e-commerce site, why not offer a 10% discount code such as ENG10 if they progress through the semi-finals to the final?

Email marketing

Implementing an email marketing strategy around an event can run the risk of losing a potentially willing customer, who unsubscribes from your content as they aren’t interested in the event in question.

So why not start small? An idea from email marketing specialists Kickdynamic, is creating live countdown timers for a specific game.

This allows your business to mention that you’ll be supporting [insert your favourite team here] during the World Cup, whilst continuing with your normal communication. Like previously mentioned, events allow an opportunity for businesses to get creative and jump on the news agenda, but it’s key to remember where the line is.

If you’re interested in learning more about how your business can hijack the news agenda most often, get in touch with us today

Are you ready to capitalise on the Rugby World Cup?

The recent State of the UK Fitness Industry Report revealed that the health club industry is continuing to grow with more clubs, more members and a greater market value than ever before (£4.7bn). And this is just the health club sector. With each sector of the fitness industry becoming more and more crowded, what do fitness brands need to do in order to position themselves as market leaders? Here, we take a look at five great ways to do just that.

1) Sharing success stories
Consumers will always be drawn to fitness brands if they can see that the product or service is having a positive impact on people’s lives. The leading gym chain in the UK, Xercise4less, has been very successful in placing case studies, which show off how the gym chain has helped to change members’ lives for the better.

Some examples:
A member who has used Xercise4Less facilities to lose weight
A member who is using exercise to fight off mental health problems
A personal trainer duo who launched a class for mental health

2) Utilising Instagram Influencers
In a recent survey by One Poll, Instagram was voted one of the biggest influencers, when it comes to consumer behaviour, ahead of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Every month we are witnessing more and more influential Instagram users pop up on the scene, users who inform and educate their followers about health, fitness and nutrition through their Instagram channels.

These individuals are all part of a new generation of online influencer, which the savviest fitness brands are already tapping into.

Although an online health and fitness influencer may have a smaller reach than traditional media outlets, their followers are likely to be precisely the target audience that fitness brands are looking to attract.

Fitness clothing brand Gymshark, which was founded just over two years, has clearly invested a lot of its marketing budget on engaging with online influencers. Now Gymshark is a market leader in the “trendy” gym clothing sector. Through effectively engaging with online influencers, the brand has built up a social following of over 1.5m on Facebook and over 2.7m on Instagram.

Here are some great examples of social media influencers that health and fitness brands should look to engage with:

  • Lydia Millen and Ali Gordon: They are known as ‘The Lifestyle Couple’ of social media with over 1m followers between them. They currently work with the likes of GymShark, a leading supplement brand and the camera brand Olympus.
  • The Harrison Twins: Owen and Lewis Harrison have over 1.25m followers between them and are the face of leading sports nutrition brand ESN.
  • Zanna Van Dijk: Zanna has attracted a great deal of attention for documenting her body transformation on Instagram. She now has 240k Instagram followers and works with a number of brands including Adidas.

3) Becoming a voice of authority
If yours is a fitness brand which focuses on the wellbeing of its customers then it is important that consumers believe in, and respect, the advice and opinion of individuals within your organisation. Positioning these individuals as voices of authority within the media is a great way of gaining respect from consumers and also cementing the reputation of your brand as a trustworthy industry leader.

In order to gain that respect, key spokespeople from your organisation should be writing thought leadership pieces on a regular basis on the subject(s) that they specialise in. It is also important to keep on top of the news agenda, as this will help to provide your spokespeople with the opportunity to react and respond to relevant news stories which are been covered in the media.

LDN Muscle, a business which produces downloadable e-guides, are regularly featured in this way in the media. Often, this even goes as far as providing them with the opportunity to use negative stories, as a way of promoting their own products and services in a positive way:

Here are some examples:

https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/health/8-ways-to-stay-motivated-to-workout-regularly-a3732246.html

When TOWIE star Gemma Collins discussed her use of juice diets, LDN Muscle provided comment on the dangers of such diets and explained how to get in shape using their Bikini Guides, instead.

4) Securing celebrity ambassadors
Many brands within the health and fitness space choose to utilise celebrity ambassadors to help build the profile of their brand and promote their products or services.

When it comes to brands identifying a suitable celebrity ambassador, it is imperative that they choose someone who their target market can relate to, and will respond to.

One of the best celebrity partnerships was launched by clothing label Ellesse with Lucy Mecklenburgh. The partnership was designed to promote Ellesse’s range of fitness clothing. Lucy is incredibly popular amongst young females and has shown an incredible passion for fitness in recent years. As such, this was a brand ambassador relationship which was believable, and which effectively targeted the correct end user.

5) Exploring cross promotion
With so many different markets in the fitness industry, there are many opportunities for brands to cross-promote their services with other brands operating in the same sector.

This tactic not only enables both brands to gain access to the database and social media channels of the other but, in doing so, it also allows both businesses gain a greater level of exposure amongst a new audience.

Specialist food company MuscleFood has carried out cross-promotional activity with brands in the running events sector and protein market, as well as with gyms and online personal trainers. MuscleFood always offers strong promotional discounts and competition prizes when it does this type of activity. Both brands, meanwhile, benefit from a greater level of exposure. Like GymShark, MuscleFood has, through cross-promotional activity such as this, been able to gain a very strong presence on social media, including 270K followers on Instagram.

If you’re interested in learning more about how PR can make your fitness brand stand out, get in touch with us today

Make your fitness brand stand out

There is no doubt that women’s sport is having something of a ‘moment’ right now. Barely a day goes by without a major development being announced, be that about a new sponsorship relationship, new broadcast deal, new media launch or other significant investment of some type. It’s truly fantastic to see so much progress being made in such a short space of time, and long may it continue. The positive impact the increased visibility of women’s sport will have, particularly on young girls being inspired to get active and discover their own passions, is a major achievement and one that should be celebrated.

The growing interest and investment in women’s sport also presents a major opportunity for brands, and it is one that we have been able to capitalise on for a number of our clients. OPRO, the maker of the world’s most technically advanced mouthguards, is the official mouthguard partner of a number of professional sporting organisations including England Rugby, the UFC and Great Britain Hockey. They also have several athletes signed as brand ambassadors, including Taekwondo World Champion Bianca Walkden, England rugby player Vicky Fleetwood and GBR Hockey player, Shona McCallin.

Brands investing in women’s sport is a story in itself at the moment, and we have been able to leverage that to help secure coverage in business and trade media for OPRO, but it’s in the sports pages where the increased opportunities are most demonstrable. The number of journalists writing about women’s sport and the pages and sections dedicated to covering it have increased significantly in recent months. Most notably, the launch of the Telegraph women’s sport coverage has taken the space and prominence given to female athletes and their achievements in a national newspaper to a whole new level, but the space being made for women’s sporting achievements at most of the national press has increased. We were able to capitalise on this for OPRO during the recent women’s Six Nations tournament, placing interviews with Vicky Fleetwood in both the Independent and Mail Online.

The Independent online - Vicky Fleetwood Mail Online

There is also an opportunity for brands to use their relationships in women’s sport to encourage participation at the grassroots level, and in turn to secure media coverage for those initiatives. In January, in partnership with OPRO, Bianca Walkden hosted some taekwondo classes for school children as part of her mission to encourage thousands of girls to give martial arts a go. We invited BBC North West, ITV Granada and the Liverpool Echo down to take a look which resulted in the below coverage.

BBC News North West - Bianca Walkden

ITV News Granada Reports - Bianca Walkden

As female sporting success is increasingly celebrated and the profiles of our top female athletes grow, there are also more opportunities for coverage away from the sports pages, in profile slots, set piece interviews and Q&As. Again, we have had success for OPRO here, lining up interviews for their female athletes in the likes of the FT and the Sunday Times.

FT - 'I lost my phone - with all my photos from the 2014 World Cup on it.' - Tamara Taylor, Rugby player

The Sunday Times Magazine 28.10.18

For brands involved in women’s sport – or for those about to step in to a women’s sport sponsorship partnership for the first time – the opportunities have never been greater. If you would like to find out how our award-winning sports team can help you make the most of these relationships, you can contact a member of the team here.

How to make the most of the growing interest in women’s sport

We all know the health benefits that come with exercising and being active, it helps to strengthen the heart, it reduces blood sugar levels and helps to control weight – the positives are endless. But what about those who don’t want to exercise and have little interest in sport?

Earlier this year Nuffield Trust published a report on obesity in the UK, the results didn’t make for pretty reading. In 2017 the UK adult population was made up of 65% who were classed as either overweight or obese. The percentage of people specifically obese in 2017 was 29%, 11% more than in 1997 and 5% more than in 2007. This trend suggests that by 2027 we could be looking at well over 30% of the UK adult population classified as obese.

Even more worrying is that this trend has started to reflect in adolescents in the UK.

A Sport England survey released at the end of 2018, found that 1 in 3 children (32.9%) do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a day, and girls fare particularly poorly. Whilst research conducted by the Women in Sport found that only 8% of girls aged 13-15 were achieving their daily exercise recommendations.

What can be done about this alarming problem? How do we engage with younger generations and inspire them to want to participate in sport and stay active?

We’ve looked at the organisations that are helping and supporting girls to take part in sport.

Women in Sport

The facts don’t lie, 1.5 million more men play sport than women each week and only 8% of girls are meeting recommended exercise guidelines. Meet the organisation determined to change that. Women in Sport exists so that every women and girl in the UK can experience the lifelong rewards of sport. Their vision is that they want to help create a society where women and men have equal opportunities. Whether it’s campaigning for more women in the boardroom or equal pay, the organisation is continually looking to drive change for the better through commissioned research and creating insights which focus on women and girl’s participation in sport.

UK Coaching

Leading the way in coaching excellence. UK Coaching have been around for more than 30 years equipping coaches in the UK with the required skills and knowledge they need to make a positive difference.

In the expert opinion section of their website, several researchers have articulated about the drop off rate among females from when they transition from primary school to secondary school.

As this has been identified as a key area of improvement, UK Coaching have created an excellent hub of resources from podcasts to guides all available to coaches and teachers to help them inspire children and stay in sport for longer.

Chance to Shine

Focusing more on giving all children the opportunity to play and learn through cricket. Chance to Shine are actively encouraging children to play cricket through visits to schools and working with 39 County Cricket Boards across England and Wales.

The charity believes that cricket can help to develop children’s personal, social and physical skills. The promising news is that since the charity’s inception in 2005, of the 4 million children reached, 46% are girls with this figure still rising. Inspiring and giving children more playing opportunities are at the forefront of how they measure impact.

Youth Sport Trust

Established in 1995, the national children’s charity is passionate about improving children’s lives and creating a future where every child enjoys the life-changing benefits that come from play and sport.

Last year, the Youth Sport Trust launched its new five-year strategy that focuses on the development of children’s sport, the key objective at the heart of the strategy is to tackle the disturbing decline in young people’s wellbeing. Youth Sport Trust are ready to support schools, teachers, parents and coaches to help young people discover the joy of movement and nurture happy active lifestyles.

If you’re interested in finding out more about what our team could achieve for you and how we could raise your profile, please reach out and speak to one of our experts today.

Participation in sport – the organisations helping to promote it

A flurry of recent client wins has seen the Sport & Fitness team onboard several new sports tech, fitness and lifestyle products. The team have been busy planning their approaches and drawing up their media targets.

But, with a multitude of brands and products claiming to be the most innovative, the most technologically advanced, how can you stand out in a busy market place?

Be an expert

 To be able to sell a product at any level, it’s imperative that you first understand your product inside out. By having an in-depth understanding of the USPs of the product, its journey and the latest innovations you’ll put yourself in prime position to educate your target audience effectively.

With client, SIXPAD, we did just that by trying out the product first-hand. This allowed us to drill down into the science behind its EMS technology, providing us with the platform to build a complete understanding of the key messages we wanted to convey in our outreach.

Be strategic

 The number one thing you must identify first in your outreach is your target audience. You want to leverage your product with the goal to drive sales, so you have to make sure you’re getting your product in front of the right people.

With clients such as OPRO and dryrobe who cater for such varied and sometimes niche audiences, we’ve shown an aptitude to do this time and time again, but it’s only achieved by a meticulous level of planning in the initial instance.

Once you’ve identified your media targets, it’s naïve to think the job is done. In what is a constantly changing media landscape, as a team we conduct regular audits of the media to identify new opportunities for our clients.

Finally, it’s important to look at the bigger picture when planning any product focused outreach. What events can I tap into to get the product recognised in the media? What are the key sales windows for the product?

With mouthguard provider OPRO, we always use events such as the Six Nations to get media engaging with the product.

For SIXPAD, we helped them increase store sales by 98% in December compared with November 2018. During January, SIXPAD saw three times as many online sales on Amazon against October’s numbers.

Tell a story

 In an environment of ever-increasing competition, if you can tell a story through your product this will only give your campaign another dimension.

With OPRO, we’ve done this to great affect achieving widespread coverage across the national business media including BBC News and Forbes.

Treat yourself as an extension of the business and take the time to understand how you can use that business’ assets to maximise brand exposure.

New partnerships announced, both on a corporate and ambassador level are an opportunity to engage with media. By looking for the talking points within these, you will only unlock further opportunity.

With OPRO ambassador and England Rugby International, Vicky Fleetwood, we used International Women’s Day and the recent Six Nations to generate some incredible exposure for the brand across national media.

Within each piece of coverage, in order to inspire more girls into sport we communicated OPRO’s ethos to reinforce that point.

Be meticulous

 To secure this level of detail, you must be meticulous in managing each opportunity you secure. This starts right from the initial approach to media.

Think about how the product can excite them and how you can tap into the emotions of the writer and your target audience.

Never lose sight of the goal

 Finally, never lose sight of the goal of the campaign. Evaluate success regularly and use it to shape your approach.

 

If you’re interested in finding out more about what our team could achieve for you in the press, or you’d simply like to know more about our product placement expertise please reach out today. We’re here to help you achieve your business goals.

Product PR – The art of selling