Katie Bulmer-Cooke: Hoping for a happy ending in Skinnypigs Twitter row

I'm a self confessed social media super-fan. I use it every hour of my waking day, it's a constant source of inspiration and information and it forms a very large part of my business.

Monday, 23rd October 2017, 2:11 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 9:19 am
The Skinnypigs advert

So this week when a friend on Facebook shared a link to a Twitter spat involving a local fitness company and a disgruntled mam, I couldn’t help but take a look.

As the debate continued to rumble on through the week, I couldn’t help but feel that everyone had a point to some degree.

Without wishing to sound like I’m getting splinters on my bum from sitting on the fence, I can genuinely see everyone’s point of view.

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First up, there’s the mam, who complained that the marketing materials used by Skinnypigs fitness classes, stating that their sessions ‘will make you look better naked’, was inappropriately placed next to a school.

Related: Owner of Sunderland fitness class defends controversial ‘make you look better naked’ bannerI get her point … kids have enough to contend with regarding body image, from air brushed images in magazines to heavily filtered pictures on Instagram, and, of course, body shaming, that seems to be more prevalent than ever.

On a side note, could this lady have sent a private message to Skinnypigs instead? Maybe yes … but the power of social media means that everyone is entitled to their public opinion should they wish to air it.

Skinnypigs, however, is running a business and has as much right to advertise its services as anyone else, and in addition, they’ve created marketing materials and a strapline that certainly grabs your attention, and I’m all for doing things to make your business stand out from the competition, so hats off to them for that.

Following the initial exchange, cue support for both parties, and for me this is where, in my opinion, the point got lost.

There seemed to be a lot of people who felt that Skinnypigs was being discredited as a service.

This wasn’t the case at all … no one said that the classes weren’t good, it was simply the marketing tactics that were being questioned.

But then it was time for, in my opinion, an example of how not to deal [as a business] with comments from the general public.

There was a real opportunity to deal with the initial comment from the school mam to get some positive PR, maybe inviting her along to the class so she can see what Skinnypigs is really all about and how many women the business has helped to achieve their health and fitness goals.

Maybe just a simple, ‘we are sorry you feel that way and will take your comments on board’, or a referral to the website to find out more about the classes, but no … a tidal way of tweets ensued.

Skinnypigs has no doubt built a very big and successful business across the North East, helping so many women gain confidence and become fitter and healthier, which is a brilliant achievement for all involved.

It has been marketed in a way that ensures the business stands out from the crowd, which is brilliant, and indeed difficult to do in a very crowded industry.

After 16 years of working in the fitness industry and consulting for many big fitness brands, I know that you really have to be innovative to stand out, but as for PR and communications … there are some lessons to be learned here!

I hope that this Twitter spat has a happy ending.

Who knows, maybe the banner will be re-located and the mam from the local school will become a Skinnypigs member …

You never know, but here’s hoping that both parties go on to be happy, healthy and successful.