fitness franchise pr

Summary of original Nicole Dunn interview on Athletech that can be found here.


In today’s fast-paced world of social media and instant advertising, Public Relations often takes a backseat in the marketing mix of companies, even in the fitness franchising industry. However, underestimating the power of PR can be a costly mistake for both fitness brands and their franchisees. 


According to a 2014 Nielsen study, PR was found to be 90% more effective than advertising in influencing consumers, making it a compelling avenue for fitness franchises. In this article, we delve into insights from Nicole Dunn, CEO of Dunn Pellier Media, with extensive experience working with top fitness franchises like Club Pilates, Orangetheory Fitness, F45 Training, and Perspire Sauna Studio.


Hire a PR Firm Specialized in Fitness & Wellness

To unlock the full potential of PR, fitness franchises should consider partnering with a PR firm that specializes in the fitness and wellness industry. This strategic choice offers several advantages, including expert guidance on the most suitable PR strategies for their brand. For instance, some fitness franchises benefit from targeting national media outlets, while others find greater value in securing coverage in B2B publications.


Dunn Pellier Media’s work with Club Pilates exemplifies the impact of a national TV spot. DPM managed to feature the Pilates franchise on “Extra,” a popular celebrity news show, with a segment that showcased Extra host Charissa Thompson engaging in a Pilates workout. Such exposure was invaluable for the brand, aligning perfectly with its direct-to-consumer approach.


In contrast, for Perspire Sauna, a fast-growing franchise specializing in infrared and red-light therapy studios, a B2B approach was pursued. This involved placements in franchise-focused publications to increase visibility among potential franchisees. Ultimately, PR, much like any other aspect of business, revolves around building and nurturing relationships.


Tell Compelling Stories to Attract Media Interest

Generating media coverage largely hinges on the ability to tell engaging stories. According to Nicole, fitness franchises with founders who have compelling backstories tend to capture the media’s attention. Anne Mahlum, the founder of Solidcore, whose journey from attending her first Pilates class in 2013 to creating her boutique fitness concept inspired by the experience, became a captivating narrative.


Additionally, fitness franchises can leverage “before and after” testimonials from customers who have achieved remarkable results through their workouts. These success stories are a magnet for media interest. Creating a genuinely innovative fitness concept and crafting a compelling narrative around it is another surefire way to attract media attention. Nicole encourages fitness franchises to think beyond the conventional and showcase what sets them apart from their competitors.


Seasonal opportunities, such as New Year’s resolutions or getting in shape for summer, also provide excellent chances to share captivating stories with the media. Even well-worn themes can be revitalized by PR professionals, adding a fresh perspective to annual events.


Find a Compelling Spokesperson

Media outlets seek content that generates clicks, views, and ratings. Collaborating with a celebrity or an engaging spokesperson can be pivotal for fitness franchises. Dunn Pellier Media successfully positioned Mark Wahlberg as the face of F45, contributing significantly to the franchise’s initial success despite recent financial difficulties.


DPM also worked with an Orangetheory franchisee in Los Angeles to feature Britney Spears, who had attended their fitness studios, in TV segments and even her 2016 music video for the song “Make Me.” Aligning with someone who resonates with the masses can yield remarkable results. However, a brand spokesperson doesn’t have to be a celebrity; it can also come from within the company.


Some fitness brands choose to position their CEO as a thought leader and educator, especially when targeting the business-to-business (B2B) market. For instance, Dunn Pellier Media elevated the profile of Sean Turner, CEO of Les Mills US, by securing interviews in leading industry publications.


On the consumer-facing side, fitness franchises can leverage personal trainers or instructors with vibrant personalities. These energetic and engaging personalities can become the face of the brand and excel in media appearances.


Create a PR Playbook for Franchisees

While fitness franchises invest heavily in providing franchisees with tools for business success, PR often goes overlooked. Nicole recommends developing a “PR playbook” for franchisees, equipping them with the knowledge needed to manage their media endeavors effectively. This playbook should cover essential aspects, including how to pitch stories to the media, which types of stories resonate with the media, and which brand elements to emphasize during interviews.


A well-structured PR playbook helps franchisees determine when to issue press releases and when not to, ensuring that their efforts are focused on newsworthy events. Particularly in smaller markets that the parent brand may not target directly with its own PR efforts, a PR playbook can yield significant benefits in terms of local visibility and brand growth.


Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Finally, while the benefits of building a robust PR presence are substantial, Nicole reminds us that it takes time to see results in the form of favorable media coverage. In an era dominated by instant gratification through social media, it’s crucial to recognize that PR can open doors to a different audience than what social media typically reaches. The investment in PR may not offer immediate rewards, but its long-term benefits are undeniable.


In conclusion, PR is a potent tool for fitness franchises to enhance brand recognition, build trust, and engage with consumers and potential franchisees. These insights from Nicole Dunn shed light on the importance of PR in the fitness franchising space. By following her guidance and incorporating PR into their marketing strategies, fitness franchises can navigate the media landscape successfully. Contact the Dunn Pellier Team today for a comprehensive fitness PR strategy.


Original Source: Athletech News, “Nicole Dunn, CEO of Dunn Pellier Media, shares how fitness franchise brands can master the art of earning positive media coverage