Pat Rigsby is the co-owner of several businesses in the fitness industry, including the Fitness Consulting Group. He also serves as an industry consultant focusing on the development of profitable personal training departments. To learn how you can improve your club's retention, referrals and profitability, sign up for Rigsby's free newsletter and get his three free business building reports at www.fitnessmarketingmachine.com. Rigsby can be reached at pat@fitnessconsultingroup.com.

Publicity is a great way to reach a lot of prospects with a limited budget. The key is to have a message that is newsworthy, which obviously changes all the time. You need something fresh that the public would want to know about.

That being said, here are five ways to generate free publicity for your personal training business:

  1. Write a regular column. Whether in a newspaper, magazine, online newsletter or print newsletter, a regular column is a great way to establish yourself as a fitness expert to your target market.

    An added bonus to writing a column is that you can send reprints of the columns to your clients and prospects to enhance your credibility when you're marketing to them.

  2. Write an article. Articles can be anything from a short essay on a fitness topic to a feature article in a magazine, newspaper, online newsletter, Web site or print newsletter. Again, article reprints can help you sell to your current prospects and clients.

  3. Send press releases. Sending press releases is an old publicity standby, but it is still widely underutilized by trainers. The trick is to make sure your press release is a newsworthy event. For example, launching a new boot camp or other program is newsworthy. Sending a press release about a charitable donation you are giving, complete with the relevant background story, could be newsworthy. It all depends on your target audience and the publication(s). Editors pick up press releases if they think the news is important to their readers. They do not necessarily care about you or your business. Your press release must be framed in a way that explains to the editor why the news is important to their readers.

  4. Align with a charity or other nonprofit organization. This is a great way to get free publicity. You could hold a free seminar in conjunction with a specific charity or organization, give a presentation, then give all attendees a free bonus like a special report. Be sure to issue press releases to your local newspaper, radio and TV stations, as well as community publications. Stories like these make great humanitarian interest pieces for these media outlets.

  5. Create a newsworthy event. Do a special event or promotion tied to a holiday or some other special occasion and call all the local radio stations and invite their morning personalities to participate. If even one radio station took you up on the offer, you would receive some incredible publicity. These types of events can be promoted through press releases and will generate plenty of word-of-mouth advertising.

There are countless ways that you can use publicity to promote your business. It just requires a bit of creativity and some action, but the rewards can be tremendous.