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How to Get Media Coverage for Your Martial Arts School

by | Offline Marketing & Sales

Setting Expectations for Martial Arts Students Upfront

Authority is highly influenced by emotion.

While your staff and students may intellectually understand that you are the boss and master instructor, they have to feel it, not think it.

It’s the emotional connection that anchors your authority on a deep level.

If there is one powerful moment in your role as a professional martial arts instructor, it’s in the enrollment conference.

While the parents may see you as the master black belt, they usually don’t have an authoritative reverence at this early stage.

The enrollment conference is a seminal moment for you to establish your authority and gain the respect and gratitude of the family you’re dealing with.

Presenting the programs and their cost to parents can be tense at times. Some parents want to negotiate. Others might object to the agreement. Some want a safety net in case their child wants to quit.

While it’s important that you are prepared to overcome any objections, it’s when the bottom line is signed and the initial investment is completed that you have a critical window to demonstrate your authority.

Many owners complete the transaction and gush with statements like, “Awesome. It’s great to have you on board. Johnny, you did an awesome job tonight. High five! Thanks Mrs. Jones it’s great to have Johnny as part of our family. Let me know if I can help with anything.”


Who has the role of authority here? Mrs. Jones and her credit card. That was a missed opportunity.

Let’s try again. You would adjust this script to the age and circumstance, but here is an authority template for the enrollment conference.

Mom has just enrolled Johnny into the program.

You, “Johnny. You want to learn Empower Kickboxing, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good. I want you to understand that your mom just enrolled you into a six month program. You are going to learn a lot of great skills and lessons. It’s going to be fun and sometimes it’s going to be hard. That’s the good part because that means you’re learning. So you have to pay attention and practice at home 20-minutes a day when you don’t have class.

Are you going to work hard and practice?”

“Yes sir.”

“I’m glad. Your classes are Monday and Wednesday at 5pm. When are your classes?”

“Monday and Wednesday at 5pm.”

“Good. You’re a smart guy. That means that you have to be ready to come to class by 4:30 on Monday and Wednesdays so that you’re not late. Will you do that?”

“Yes sir.”

“No matter what you are doing, you will be ready by 4:30, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good. The first lesson is integrity. Integrity means that you do what you say you are going to do. You keep your promises. You promise to work hard and be ready for class, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“No matter what you’re doing. Right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Great. We’re going to be so proud of you. Your mom just enrolled you, so please turn to her and say, ‘Thank you mom.”

“Thank you mom.”

“Alright. When someone does something good for you, you always say thank you. That’s called gratitude. What’s it called?”


“Correct. So you’ve learned two important lessons today. Integrity and gratitude. What does integrity mean?

“Keeping your promises.”

“Yes. What does gratitude mean?”

“Saying thank you.”

“You got it! You are going to do great, I can tell already.”

“Remember, your class is…”

“Monday and Wednesday at 5pm.”

“When will you be ready to come to class?”


“You have a good head on your shoulders Johnny. You’re going to be good at this.”

“Because you’ve showed your mom gratitude and you’re going to keep your promises, here is a school t-shirt for you to wear. Every time you put it on, I want you to think of integrity and gratitude. Will you do that?”

“Yes sir.”

“I just gave you a shirt. How do you show gratitude?”

“Thank you sir.”

As taught in the MATA Certification program, it’s also a good idea to let mom know that it’s important that she control what Johnny is doing around 4:30 which is the agreed upon to be ready for class.

If Johnny is playing with his friends or deep in a video game, it’s going to be harder to get him to get ready than if he is cleaning his bedroom or something he’d like to leave to go to class.

Keep in mind that mom is watching this happen before her eyes. What have you done to establish your authority?

  1. You’ve provided her with a language pattern that both her and Johnny understand. This is huge.
  2. You’ve given mom the “integrity” framework to deal with any reluctance to go to class.
  3. You’ve provided her with a strategy to engage Johnny in less fun activities so that going to class is an easy decision.
  4. You’ve laid out when Johnny should get ready for class without complaint.
  5. Before her eyes, you taught her son important lessons with real world examples. No doubt, your authority sky-rocketed in her eyes and in her heart.

Look for places where you can make these kinds of strong emotional connections.

Demonstrate true authority and leadership. That will last much longer than a trite, shallow compliments like “Awesome! Good job.”

This will help your students to understand how and why they are training with the best school.

Share and comment below.

This is an excerpt from my new edition of The Art of Marketing without Marketing.

Nothing is more powerful than the media for elevating your business above your competitors. I’ve been working and pitching the media for decades. I’ve had my own TV show, published a national magazine, and have been featured in many major media outlets including, publications, TV, and radio.

In my experience, here is how to get media coverage.

Understand that the media get pitched all day long. Everyone wants the “free publicity” that the media offers so you have to stand out from the crowd. There are two ways you can do that:

  1. Focus on why your event or pitch is unique among the 30 other press releases they received today.
  2. Make their job easy. This is HUGE.
  3. Properly craft, present, and follow up on a press release.

Why is Your Event is Newsworthy?

Before writing the press release, brainstorm with your team or both sides of your brain to come up with three reasons that your event is newsworthy. These are called angles.

For instance, I teach anti-bullying seminars based on my book, Stop Any Bully. Anti-bullying seminars are nothing new. However, the angles I present with my sponsoring host are:

  1. All (or part depending) of the proceeds will be donated to the schools of families attending the event.
  2. The seminar is being taught by an internationally recognized anti-bullying expert author.
  3. The seminar is targeted for parents more than children. This is a departure from the typical instant bully-proof, confidence-building in one-hour seminars.
  4. This is NOT a bully-proof, be kind, show confidence and kick in the ding-ding typcial karate seminar.

How to Make Their Job Easy

The news-media work on tight deadlines. They do not have the time or interest and hand-holding you through the process, so let me do it here for you.

Speak to the Medium

Before pitching a TV station, think about what they need. TV is visual, so paint a picture for the producer that helps him visualize the action.

Years ago, I was called by the local CBS station to be guest on a live noon show for a segment discussing a young American man who was caught with marijuana and sentenced to six lashes with a cane. As a martial arts expert, they want my comments on what that experience might be.

As I was driving to the studio, I kept thinking of how I can make this interesting. While sitting at a red light, I noticed a fruit market with a table of watermelons. I quickly pulled in and bought two of the biggest, ripe watermelons and stuck them in my car next to a bamboo cane that I had grabbed from my karate school. Doesn’t everyone have one?

Why did I buy two watermelons? In order to do what I wanted to do, I had to convince the floor director that it was going to work.

When I walked onto the set with two watermelons, he immediately demanded what I had in mind. I was fine, because I expected this exact reaction. Floor directors are under a lot of stress and some can be quite nasty.

I invited him to follow me outside where I set a watermelon down. I said, “I think this will illustrate what this kid is about to experience.” Then, with all the fake, pre-strike Bruce Lee facial expressions I could muster,  I raised the cane high and ripped it through the air and split the watermelon almost in half. Almost was even better because the melon laid their like it was bleeding guts out on the ground. His jaw dropped and he said, “That is f****** cool as s***. I was a hero in his eyes and a regular on the show after that.

That would not have worked on radio so think ahead of how you can maximize your value to show and its medium.


Watch Out For Egos Bigger than Yours!

While most show hosts are easy to get along with, the production crew around them may not be as nice.

The reason I brought two watermelons was because I knew, from experience, that floor directors can be egotistical jerks. One melon was to calm the guy down and the second for the live show.

A floor director is in charge of the visuals. Being a karate guy, my appearances almost always include a demo. This requires finding out where the light ends so that your kata or demonstration can stay within it.

Here is what I learned. If I’d say to the floor director, “Hi. Nice to meet you. Here is what I have in mind…” He would snap back something like, “I’m the floor director. I’ll tell you what we can do!”

In time, I learned to let the floor director take the lead by asking him, “Where do you want us to stay so this looks good?” This made him the boss, and everything fine.

Build Their Confidence in You

This is more for radio and TV guest appearances, but it always applies when working with the media.

The reason that you often see the same guest commentators on TV and radio is simple. They have proven that they can be depended on for interesting observations or explanations. They are good guests who add value to the show.

The media business is cutthroat. If a producer can get fired for greenlighting a guest who bombs. So, once you get on a show and demonstrate that you can be be interesting, concise, and entertaining, you have a much better chance of being invited back. You have become a low-risk guest and will most always get the call over someone with whom the producer has no experience. It’s simply too risky.

Some of best examples I can give you are the famous scientists that we always see on TV.  Dr. Michio Kaku and Neil deGrasse Tyson are masters at taking something that is highly complex and making it fun and easy for the rest of us. That’s why they are called upon over and over again on space and science subjects.

Dr. Oz did the same on the Oprah show. He made enemas entertaining.

Rather than give technical answers to technical questions, they make them easy to understand with answers that start with, “It’s like a….” Or, “It’s as if…” Or, “You know how you do this, this is like that times 50-million…” They make comparisons that we can all understand.

COBRA-Defense Founder Chris Sutton has a catalog of sound bites that he created to explain his self-defense program. For instance, “When you need self-defense, nothing else will do.”

Where can you take a common but complex issue and make it as clear as a cane splitting a watermelon? In other words, how can you make enemas entertaining?

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