Sports apparel getting everyday play

The media have been doing an admirable job of boosting the number of stories about the importance of regular exercise to overall health and wellness.

The media have been doing an admirable job of boosting the number of stories about the importance of regular exercise to overall health and wellness.

One industry that's benefiting from this particular focus is sports apparel, which now finds plenty of opportunities and outlets for exercise clothing-themed pitches.

"You won't find a lot of interest from the traditional sports pages, most of which are geared toward team coverage," explains Lincoln Davis, a senior account executive at Edelman's Seattle office who represents running shoes manufacturer Brooks Sports. "But you can get a lot of coverage in the health and fitness columns in newspapers and magazines."

Given that sports shoes and apparel is a nearly $40 billion annual business, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, exercise-related clothing also gets plenty of notice from business and lifestyle press.

"We've gotten coverage from everyone from The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Cosmo to GQ, Maxim, Shape, CNBC, and CNN," says Amy Christopher, SVP with Baltimore-based Warschawski Public Relations, which represents Under Armour performance apparel. "The key is to focus not just on the core fitness enthusiast, but to really educate reporters who write for a more general lifestyle audience."

Because sports apparel is now considered everyday wear by many Americans, general fashion editors are also a key target, says Danielle Weingarten, SAE with KMR Communications.

 "We're working with everyone from Elle Girl and Cosmo Girl to More," says Weingarten, who represents Faremon Sportswear. "In the past, coverage would be limited to certain times of year, but staying in shape has become so important all year round that magazines are including fitness fashion in every issue."

While such brands as Nike and Reebok still get plenty of mindshare, especially on the men's side, Denise Dorman, founder of WriteBrain Media, notes: "Most of the coverage isn't that brand-conscious. I've been pitching Cocchia Styles women's golf wear to fashion reporters and editors, and they're mostly interested in what's new, hot, and interesting."

This emphasis on sports apparel as general lifestyle fashion also means the media are less interested in endorsements from high-profile athletes, notes Matt Meyerson, SVP of product placement for Beverly Hills, CA-based B/W/R Public Relations.

"I find I can get more interest in young Hollywood stars wearing the latest sports shoes or clothes," he adds.

PITCHING... sports apparel

Leverage the growing media interest in health and fitness by positioning sports apparel clients as experts for stories on the importance of the right clothing and shoes in any exercise plan

Sports apparel stories can be harder to place on broadcast, so pitch local TV and radio with stories linked to area-specific events, such as marathons

Make sure you tailor your pitch to different markets and include the local stores that carry your client's sports apparel

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