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Maximising media impact • Jennifer H McInerney • Editor, Club Business International


hether you’re staging a grand opening or celebrating your club’s 50th anniversary,

it’s likely that, at some point, you’ll be approached by a member of the media. To maximise this opportunity to obtain positive publicity for your facility, consider your Media-Friendliness Quotient (MFQ) – ie how prepared you are to handle a reporter’s call. T e key to successful media relations

is to be as responsive and co-operative as possible at all times. Journalists oſt en work under tight deadlines, so don’t delay. A swiſt response to media enquiries is the fi rst step to developing a healthy MFQ. Additional tips include: Display your phone number: It’s a

mistake to leave your phone number off your website in a bid to oblige people to contact you via email. You’ll frustrate reporters on deadline, who may well turn to your competitors for information instead. To prevent that from happening, clearly list your number on your ‘contact’ or ‘about’ page. Encourage follow-up: Prepare for an

interview by jotting down some notes. Then, when it’s over, make it clear that you’re available to answer any additional questions, and provide the journalist with

Are you geared up to take advantage of any opportunities for media coverage that present themselves?

a direct phone number and email address for this purpose. Designate a media point-person: This

could be the owner, general manager or marketing professional. What matters is that you have someone who’s prepared to take these calls. At Anytime Fitness, for example, Mark Daly, the national media director, draws on his 20 years as a journalist to facilitate coverage of the company’s milestones.

Ask the experts: Rewarding member referrals

What’s the most effective reward for members who refer one or more new members to our club? Jim Worthington, owner/president of Newtown Athletic Club in Newtown, Pennsylvania, US, offers his thoughts:

“Member referrals are still the biggest source of new memberships in the industry. We’ve found that the most successful referral programme is not based on the actual reward itself as much as the consistency of the offer and the way it’s marketed to members. “Our most successful referral reward

programme has been in place for two years. Every two months, we mail our members a letter with 10 referral cards. The letter outlines our latest promotion


referral bonus is US$100. It’s not a magic number, but it works for us. “By putting referral cards directly

into members’ hands, we’ve found they are more likely to use them. Our referrals increased threefold when we began consistently promoting this offer. We also promote it in-house, using banners, signs and stations throughout the club for easy access to referral cards. “Finally, we post the names of those

Recognise the members who refer new members

and the fact that, when they refer a new member, they will receive a cash bonus (we believe that cash speaks volumes). You can also offer a credit to their account, which is equal to cash in most people’s minds. Our

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who referred new members, so they receive recognition. All of these strategies combined and consistently implemented are what I believe has brought our success with member referrals.”

Read more answers to this question at

March 2013 © Cybertrek 2013 Inform your front desk: Finally, make

sure that anyone who answers the club’s phone knows who takes media calls, and also understands that reporters want information pronto. Like most of us, journalists hate being sent to voicemail, not knowing when – or if – their call will be returned. In a word, if you want to enhance

your press relations and maximise your exposure in the media, be professional.


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