In 2009, San Antonio was rated as one of the top 10 most obese cities in the nation. The following year, San Antonio Sports launched two programs aimed at promoting physical activity for kids and their families, but that wasn’t enough. Kids were still camped in front of their TVs, munching on unhealthy foods during the long, hot summers and adding on the pounds. Strongly believing that any citywide fitness progress was doomed to fail if fun wasn’t front-and-center, esd created the Fit Family Challenge, a bold plan surpassing original research objectives identified in a 2010 grant from the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation. Over three years, the Fit Family Challenge encouraged nearly 3,800 families to participate in weekly workouts and major fitness events, and earned some $2 million in publicity value. Despite growth, focus groups convened in 2012 told us we could improve the program during its third-year launch.
To make Fit Family Challenge more exciting for returning families and cool for those who had not yet participated, we added two free chip-timed 5K runs and big event activities such as a bike rodeo, kayaking and soccer clinics with the San Antonio Scorpions professional soccer team, along with cardio kickboxing, P90X and Kid Fit activities. These program changes were only the beginning. To spread the word, esd developed a communications strategy that fully integrated public relations and social media as well as non-traditional outreach. The tools esd used:
- Publishing a biweekly newsletter combining various multimedia to drive traffic to our weekly workouts and big events
- Creating a powerful identity via bilingual media
- Building an effective team through community engagement
- Changing the media landscape by working directly with local school districts to drive participation