How To Use News Headlines To Market Fitness, Nutrition and Wellness

The trick to marketing with news stories is to put a spin on the headline that ties it into your fitness, wellness or healthy lifestyle program.

Too  many blog posts and email newsletters simply regurgitate a fitness, nutrition or health headline or news story. I know exactly how it happens. Your marketing team’s in a hurry. (And to be honest, they don’t really understand what content marketing’s all about, either.) Their focus is mostly on getting SOMETHING done and checked-off because next month is always right around the corner.

news flashSo they do a quick Google search and scan the news headlines. Ta-daa! Content problem solved – at least for this month!

News stories are actually a very good starting place for content. It’s that elusive next step – putting it in a context that clearly supports the value proposition of your business – that turns it into real marketing.

Below, I’ll show you nine different ways to position a single news story.

For our example, we’ll use the NHANES critique reported October 9, 2013, in PLoS One. In a nutshell, this study concludes that participants self-reported significantly fewer calories than they actually ate during the forty-year period covered by ongoing NHANES data collection efforts.

Which one’s right for your fitness, wellness or healthy lifestyle business? It depends on your strategy, key marketing messages and target audience.

1) We take a balanced approach to healthy lifestyles

News spin: “External pressure to deny ourselves the food we love no doubt encouraged these participants to report far fewer calories than they really ate. Our program actually starts by identifying your favorite foods and building them into your plan…”

2) Our approach to wellness is unique

News spin: “Yet again, a mainstream study misses the point. Counting calories accurately doesn’t matter if you’re not eating the right stuff. The real problem with the American diet and indeed the American lifestyle is…”

3) Optimal fitness and optimal health require optimal nutrition

News spin: “What’s fascinating is how they figured out the data was bogus. They compared what participants weighed versus the calories they reporting eating. Guess what? The math didn’t work! Participants would have shrunk to (almost) nothing had they eaten as little as they reported. The point here is that math matters. Food fuels your body and everything you ask it to do. You must know your own specs so you fuel properly. What’s your resting metabolic rate and your…?”

4) We teach people how to use health information

News spin: “Let’s talk about how to evaluate nutrition surveys. First, self-reported nutrition data is notoriously inaccurate due to problems with recall. Second, participants report only the most recent 24-hour period, which may or may not represent their normal dietary patterns. Third, concerns about how their food choices are perceived may consciously or unconsciously affect how people describe their diets…”

5) We’re experts who “get it”

News spin: “We weren’t surprised at all that participants in this huge study misreported what they ate. That’s why we focus on intentional eating techniques. We suggest that participants keep food journals, but we never review them–they’re just another self-reflection tool.”

6) We believe in “healthy skepticism”

News spin: “Last month, we shared ways to check out those online ads about “this one old weird tip for losing weight.” This month, we talk about understanding scientific studies. Every day, another study. Should you pay attention? It depends. First, consider who sponsored the study. How do the study’s conclusions benefit them?”

(Coke was one of the sponsors of this study, which has attracted criticism from some.)

7) We’re in a life or death battle vs the usual suspects

News spin: “Big Food strikes again. We all know that Americans are eating too much of the wrong stuff. Of course the NHANES studies consistently show that people are eating more sugar than ever before. Is it any surprise that Coca-Cola funded a study that tries to poke holes in the obvious? The answer is to…”

(Notice that this spin has an “op-ed” feel; the same point in #7 focuses on education. Neither approach is better than the other; choose what works best for your business.)

8) Our fitness and nutrition experts know what’s right for you

News spin: “Who cares about this study? Health happens one person at a time. Looking at “typical” behavior across millions of people has nothing to do with how you live your life from one day to the next. That’s why generic advice about how to lose weight is a waste of time.”

9) Weight loss: a complex topic

News spin: “Sure, some overweight and obese people misjudge what they eat. So do some “healthy weight” people. Our one-dimensional focus on food is an oversimplification of what causes excess weight. Successful weight programs have to consider all the root causes of overweight, from side-effects associated with certain Type 2 diabetes and depression meds, for example, to weight gain that results from physical problems associated with other health issues, like fibromyalgia or arthritis, to…”.

The bottom line

The next time your marketing team’s scrambling for content, ask them to justify why they’re dropping in a recap of a recent health or fitness news story. Have they put it in context so that it actually supports your marketing and your business objectives? Or is it really just fluff?

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Leslie Nolen, Radial's president, is the nationally-known expert on the art and science of selling health and wellness.

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