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How to Market, Advertise and Promote Your Program for FREE

Karen Gangloff | August 26, 2009

There many ways to advertise your Masters program, within your local community, for free this fall. The three simple promotions we highlight in this article will help you spread the word about your program in the event that you do not have an advertising budget. Each method requires a little elbow grease on the front end, but can help you fill your lanes with dues paying members. You can:

  1. Write and distribute a press release to local news contacts
  2. Write and distribute a radio public service announcement (PSA)
  3. Partner with local swim/tri shops

Press Release

What is a press release?

A press release is a “news story,” presented in third person that highlights a person, event or other news that illustrates to an editor why that person, event or news is newsworthy.

To whom do I send my press release once it has been written?

Send your press release to local media outlets such as the local newspaper, local television stations, local magazines, other business or any other entity that is in the business of publishing, distributing or sharing local news. If an editor or other decision-maker deems your press release newsworthy, your press release may be published or shared in its entirety or may lead to a revised “blurb” about the news that you are sharing.

How do I write a press release?

There are four important elements to include in your press release:

  1. Your Contact Information. Include your name, phone number and email address so that editors or other decision-makers can easily contact you for more information or to clarify the news you are presenting.
  2. A Catchy Title. A title is important in that it is the first (and sometimes the only) piece of information an editor or decision-maker will read before he or she decides to keep or toss your press release. Include vital information and your “angle” in the title.
  3. The Hook. The first paragraph of your press release should provide all necessary information in an interesting manner so that readers can fully grasp the concept of the news story and choose to continue reading.
  4. The Details. After you have grabbed the attention of an editor or decision-maker in the title and provided all vital information in the hook, you must provide the details of your news story in the body of the press release. If you are reporting an upcoming event, provide the date, time and other details such as the event website in the body of the press release.

Public Service Announcement (PSA)

What is a PSA?

A PSA is a short script that describes an upcoming event or effort of an organization. PSAs are distributed to local radio stations and can act as “fillers” for a radio host between segments, songs or other breaks during a radio show.

How do I write a PSA?

PSAs are typically formatted in 15, 30 or 60 second bits. The important element to remember when writing a PSA is that time matters. You must be detailed and concise simultaneously. Your PSA has the potential of reaching a large population, so use language that it easy to understand and relevant to the general public.

What information should I include in a PSA?

Here is a simple format to follow when writing a PSA for distribution among local radio stations:

  • Introduce the organization
  • Explain the organization’s role in the local community
  • List upcoming events or activities hosted by the organization that help support the organization’s mission (this may include the date of the first practice of the season or an upcoming recruiting clinic). Include details such as date, time and location.
  • Repeat the event or activity, its date, time and location
  • Share contact information for listeners who wish to learn more about the organization and its upcoming events.
  • Partnerships with Local Swim/Tri Shops

Partnering with local swim/tri shops

How can I get a local swim/tri shop to agree to partner with my Masters program?

Most swim/tri shops are trying to attract the same demographic as your Masters program, so partnering with these swim/tri shops will not only be beneficial for you, but their shop may gain new customers by promoting within your program. Start simple. Ask that your brochures, flyers or stickers be placed near the shop’s register to be given as a gift to customers and in return, you will provide all of your members with the shop’s brochure, flyer or other promotional material.

How can I continue to build a strong partnership with a local swim/tri shop?

To build a stronger relationship, brainstorm with the shop’s management about various promotions that would be mutually beneficial for his or her shop and your program. Here are a few examples of simple promotions.

  • Each new member that registers after a certain date receives a 10% off discount to the local swim/tri shop. This promotion not only offers an incentive to new members, but also encourages shoppers to spend money in the local swim/tri shop so that they can receive the discount.
  • Host a swimming clinic with your local swim/tri shop. The swim/tri shop can provide all necessary “toys” to be used during the clinic while you not only introduce your program to potential members, but also introduce the swim/tri shop’s breadth of product to customers.
  • Trade links. Provide a logo and link to you local swim/tri shop and ask to be included on their website and offer the same opportunity in return.

Often we expect marketing, advertising and promotions to be expensive, and a little bit intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be any of those things. Advertising can be fun, simple, and, most important, FREE.

When summer has come to an end and our members are back to the grind of work, school and other family commitments, it is more important to not only retain existing members, but to recruit new members. Without the pressure of a lot of traveling, championship meets and taper, U.S. Masters Swimming challenges you to get out into your local community and promote your program.

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