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The New Rules for Pitching 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.

The New Rules for Pitching the Media

Reporters are always looking for good stories but are also getting pitched all day every day. To get their attention, you have to make it as easy as possible for them to work with you. That starts with understanding that reporters ONLY want to interact with you if you have a story so don’t forward them a cute cat video.

Make it a Video News Release

Video is king. Even newspapers are running video with their stories, especially on their social media sites. Your odds of getting coverage increase substantially when you include short (Less than a minute) videos. News releases with video get 55% more viewers according to a study by

Don’t be Annoying

Work to develop a relationship with at least one reporter from every news outlet in your area. Make a point NOT to send them a constant stream of pitches or they will tune you out. Think quality over quantity.

Rules on Sending a Local Release

When sending a local release out, send it to one reporter at a time starting with the reporter who has covered you the most. You want them to know you are giving them first shot to the story.

If they pass, move to the next reporter.

Rules on Sending a National Release

Getting a national media hit is highly valuable. Because it’s so valuable, reporters on the national level are swamped with pitches. It’s super-competitive and challenging to break into that level. One way around is to leverage your local hits into national hits. For instance, if you’re rolling out a website on how to respond to an active shooter, make sure you have screen captures of all of your local media hits that you can put on your site.

Include links to these pages in your national releases. The more local media hits you have, the more comfortable a national reporter will be in contacting you.

A National List of Local Hits

Often, working with a publicist, you can get hundreds of hits on local media outlets around the country. For instance, if a reporter sees that your active shooter story is on the ABC affiliate in Pittsburgh, NBC Miami, CBS Los Angeles, and Fox New York City, that tells the reporter you are getting coverage.

Be Professional

Do not get upset if you don’t get a hit. There are a lot of reasons for that. For instance, I had a huge profile scheduled with the local ABC affiliate in Tampa Bay. They were going to do a 7-minute bio/profile on me. Literally hours before they were to arrive at my school, a Tampa Bay Buc hurt his back. They turned their van around and drove to the stadium instead. I never got the profile. That’s just the way media works. You can’t take it personally, but instead be understanding and helpful.

If you do get the story, share the links and copy the reporter on your shares so he/she can see you’re helping them get the story out.  The more media savvy you seem to be, the more comfortable the media will be for working with you.

Rules on Contacting a Reporter

Email is their preferred delivery method so stick to it. If you call, they will tell you to send it in an email. Calls are no longer as useful or welcome. The reporter knows you want publicity and doesn’t like spending her day fielding thinly disguised phone pitches from company reps trying to get free exposure.

The New Phone Call

Twitter and Facebook are the new phones. Twitter is the most used of the two, but use both.

Follow reporters on Twitter and make a note of what they like and how they work and their lifestyle. Make a file on each reporter with any relevant background that you can use to create a stronger connection.

Sample Local Release [Numbers notes are below the release]


Here’s a story for you. It’s a preview of an upcoming event that you can find below. [1]  I have a video for it as well. [2] Feel free to use as is, or edit to your liking. Let me know if you want me to send any individual clips. [3]   I’ll also send you a separate event invite in case you want to attend and cover it. [4] I know that your viewers will appreciate learning how families can gain control of bullying. [5]  So feel free to bring Sally and Joey. [6]  Also, I can introduce you to John Graden. He’s the anti-bully expert who helps your audience deal with bullying at school and work. [7] Anyway, we can talk about that at the event or when we get the chance.

Here are the video and preview. [8]


  1. [This tells the reporter he/she may get two stories out of this; the preview and the event. That is a welcome message.]
  2. [YAY! The reporter doesn’t have to leave the office and coordinate a remote shoot team.]
  3. [This relays that you understand how the editing process works and you’re making it easier for the reporter.]
  4. [This is a Google calendar event invite file that automatically enters the info on their calendar. NOTE: 99% of reporters use Google. Get to know how to send Google calendar event invites.]
  5. [This tells the reporter that you are focused on their audience, not your agenda.]
  6. [You learned on Twitter that Sally and Joey are the reporter’s kids.]
  7. [Here’s a chance to speak with a national expert.]
  8. [Include the release in the body of the email rather than attaching it. Make it all one read.]


Anti-Bullying Expert to Present Seminar for Families

Tampa Bay, FL –  Bullying is not going away, yet many families do not have a plan to deal with it. That’s according to anti-bullying expert and author John Graden. Graden will be teaching a seminar that will help families learn how to prevent and take control of any bullying situation. The 90-minute seminar starts at 11 am Saturday, November 22nd, at the Palm Harbor Public Library. [Always lead with Who, What, Where, When, Why]

VIDEO 1 link

VIDEO 2 link

VIDEO 3 link

Editable Video Package link



Library Info

John Graden Info [website, video, email, and phone.]

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