Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What Mice Have to Do With Fitness

What New Studies Are You Using to Promote Your Fitness Services?

And Why?

I recently stumbled upon an online forum discussion about using research to score media attention for a fitness business.

A new study had just come out saying exercise curbs depression. The forum discussion focused on how the study would make a good publicity hook for fitness providers. Yes … except the study’s subjects were mice, which no one mentioned.

I’m glad I found that thread because it led to two things:

1. I got the idea to co-author a couple of articles on how fitness pros can benefit from sizing up new research. One of my favorite editors just accepted both queries earlier this week.

2. I got to weigh in on how to incorporate new studies into fitness articles and media pitches.

Here’s a modified version of what I wrote on the forum:

Editors and producers like to ask "Why now?" about any potential story. A brand-new study can satisfy that question, as long as the study is truly relevant and credible. You can find plenty of new research through online newswire services. However, before you write about it, analyze it.

You don’t necessarily need to know everything about research design – just look for important points, such as if the study was sponsored by any companies (and how that might influence results) and if the subjects are similar to your target audience.

Essentially, consider whether the study is truly worth mentioning, apart from its catchy headline.

I just finished an article for Best Health where I had to dig up multiple studies published in 2007 that would be relevant to female exercisers. It would have been sloppy reporting to just see what the newswires had to say and leave it at that.

I used Reuters Health and similar sites as a starting point. Then I found the abstracts. Then I contacted the lead researchers to ask them questions and/or get a PDF of the full-text study.

Any big magazine expects this of you. Local newspapers should, too (although I don't know if all of them do). And if you write about current research for your own client newsletter or blog, you owe it to your clients to get the facts straight.

Bottom line: Use newswire services like to get a heads up on what's out there. Then follow up by checking the actual study through journal websites and/or resources such as PubMed.

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