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How to Work with the Media

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.

How to Become the Martial Arts Media Star in Your Area

media marketing
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

As a martial arts school owner, I made it a point to be the most expensive school in the area. In order to make that happen, obviously, my classes had to be really good. 

The other element was that I was consistently on TV, radio, and in the local newspapers and magazines. I even had a cable TV show for a decade. 

My guests included Tony Robbins (5 shows) and my mentors, Joe Lewis, and John Corcoran. 

Joe Lewis and John Corcoran taught me all I knew about the media at that time. It was invaluable information that I am sharing with you.

For two decades, I was “Mr. Martial Arts in the 10th largest media marketing in the USA, Tampa Bay, FL. 

One thing I learned very early in working with the media is that the easier you are to work with the more often you will get booked to come back.

Producers, reporters, and editors are super busy because everyone wants to be on the news. They are pitched non-stop all day and night.

So, if they have a choice between someone who makes their job easier vs someone who is difficult to work with, who do you think they are going to choose?

When an editor of a magazine gives you the opportunity to be the cover story, would you send him a bunch of links and amateurish images to sort through and then expect him to spend hours trying to write a cover story by pulling from 5 different articles?

Or, would you send him a completed, edited article with professional images, credits, and captions? Duh!!! McFly!!!

When you are working with the media, be professional. Martial artists are not seen in the highest image from the start, you just compound that by delivering a sloppy package to someone who can help your reputation overnight with a cover story or prominent placement in a press release or magazine. 

Learn how to look at an image. Is the top half filled with the room’s ceiling? Crop it out! Is it under-exposed like most shots, fix it or get someone to fix it.

Hire a pro photographer to shoot headshots and posed martial arts shots that look cool. 

All the images you see of me blurred or multiple images were shot in a photographers’ studio. The small investment in an annual photoshoot will pay you back multiple times over. Groupon is full of great deals on photographers.

Think about it. The fact you are featured on the cover of a magazine is newsworthy in your local area. It looks great on your social media pages, bio video, and website. It becomes an image in your bio videos (you do have a bio video right?).

Your Media Checklist

1. Always respond ASAP to media inquiries.

2. If you are asked to submit an article and images, package them together completed, cropped, and edited. 

3. Always have pro-shot images that are cover-worthy. I was in Germany as a coach for the WAKO-USA team. The president of the WAKO also published a magazine. I showed him a blur-effect image. He said, “If I can use this photo, I will put you on the cover.” Six months later, I was on the cover of Tatami. There was not an article about me in the magazine, but I got the cover.

4. Always have a pro-edited bio video

Bio Samples
2003 Bio

2018 Bio

2019 Slideshow Bio

2020 Bio

Keep a Career Timeline so people can quickly see your work over the years.

Today, it’s so much easier to leverage media appearances on your website and social media, that it would be foolish not to make media marketing part of your schools’ marketing plan.

If you want to ramp it up, even more, have a steady flow of press releases written and placed on high authority media sites like Fox News and NBC.

Here are some of the high-profile media sites that Empower Kickboxing licensee Geno Guevara landing on with links from the media site back to his website and map. That is serious Google juice.

3wzFM MetroNews HTV10

If you’d like to get that kind of coverage and Google power, visit for more information.

Whatever you do, make the process of working with you as easy as possible for the media. It will pay off big-time.

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