Growing Your USJA Dojo – Tips and Suggestions for Success
Starting a new dojo or running a dojo can be very challenging and rewarding. These challenges include administrative duties as well as growing the club and recruiting new students. The United States Judo Association is a great service oriented organization that offers many programs to help Coaches and Senseis retain their students.
As a Chartered USJA Club you and your students receive all the benefits the USJA offers. USJA forms and documents can be downloaded from our website Instructions for setting up a Golden Tiger Martial Arts supply account to purchase judo uniforms is also outlined on the site. It is important to track your student’s attendance for promotion and to help retain student memberships. To this end, the USJA’s Database and Coaches Portal are designed to make this a simple automated process.
Advertising and marketing can be an issue for anyone who does not have experience in the business side of owning and operating a dojo. A presentation on Growing Your Dojo by USJA President, Gary Goltz covers many good ideas in detail. An article on How to Grow Your Club by Dr. Ronald Allan Charles has even more good suggestions. Also below is an outline on how to get free PR for your dojo.
Getting Judo Publicity
by Dan Daniels
Publicity – spreading of information to create interest (Webster New World)
Would the above description benefit the activities of your Judo program? In most cases the answer is a resounding YES!. Think of the added prestige for your club and players when the public is made aware of your activities. In today’s society there are three main outlets for your club information and they must be approached differently with a different mix of information.
The first act in any publicity program is to identify the areas that you will contact on a regular basis.
6. Publicity is one of the most important parts of club operation. Regardless of your status, whether non-profit or operating as a money making facility, public awareness and recognition can not be gauged in $ . Each individual who becomes aware of your club is a booster of sorts and has an impact on the general publics attitude. These are the individuals who in one fashion or another support your membership.
There are three general types of Newspapers with subdivisions under each.
Depending upon size they may or may not have an individual assigned to Sporting activities. You must ascertain just who is responsible for this part of the papers news copy. A phone call or personal visit is always a first step in making a lasting information source for release by their paper. Tell the individual who you have contacted just who , what and where you are. Your name, the club you represent and where you are located.
Remember to emphasize the fact that you are calling or stopping by on behalf of the local Judo club from their town. Use the name of the town before you use a club name just as you would the local High School. Your High School has a Name but the athletic teams have another. Remember you are promoting something in their mind for the community. The club must be portrayed as the YOUR TOWN Judo Club sponsored by YOUR CLUB NAME!
Hopefully you have received a warm welcome from the newspaper reporter and can then continue your presentation as far as club accomplishments. Always include travel information in this conversation and state , regional and national accomplishments if possible. Like many of us these individuals have no interest in the sport of Judo and no knowledge of what you are talking about in most cases. You must make it simple for this person to cover your activities, and put forth a minimum of effort.
Ask how they would like your press releases structured and the method of getting them to the reporter. In today’s world most papers do have an internet connection. Having this ability will allow you to send them not only your news copy but pictures for their use as well. Remember to always include a picture if you can with a full explanation of what is shown. DO NOT use words that are Japanese unless it is for an article that is being done on the sport itself. Call a throw by its American name or just state that an individual is being pinned.
Promptness in reporting is always an asset. Make sure that the information from your last event is gotten to them in a timely fashion. Do not be offended if they do not use your information at the first submission. We hope that they will, but you must continue to send it to them each and every time that there is news of the Judo Team.
This information will get used at some point. There is the possibility of a slow or full news day and this will have a direct effect on the insertion of your information. If you are dealing with a large paper they do have many stories to choose from, if it is a small paper they cover almost exclusively local news in a 20 mile area and usually have a one person staff covering sports activities. This is the place to drive home the idea that they are printing news of their town’s Judo Team .
This type of publication differs from a daily in that they are almost always in smaller towns that will not support the advertising needed for daily publication.
It must be remembered that there is a very good chance of being included in their news section if the Press Releases from your club are done to a point where there is very little for the publisher to do. Chances are that there is no sports department as we think of it only sport stories that are included. The same individual who you deal with on a club level is probably the same individual that puts in the Obituaries . This type of paper can be an excellent outlet for your club. Remember to search out all papers in your area not just the one in your immediate town. This holds true especially if you have students from various area towns.
Every piece of contact information in the above daily outline applies to the bi/weekly and in some cases there is more work needed on the clubs part as they (the paper)has limited ability to cover any sporting activity and in most cases rely on stringers (individuals who provide information for news sources but do not work directly for the paper or electronic facility).
This may or may not be one of your best news outlets. Shoppers are usually distributed to each and every home in the area at no cost. Many of these papers do include a small section for local news. They will not have a sports reporter in fact they probably will not have a reporter of any type just individuals who solicit commercial ad’s. Any information that is given to them should be completely done, with little expectation of any type of rewrite or copy improvement. By this we mean do it right the first time. This rule applies to all news outlets of course but in the case of a shopper paper to be used, it must be a simple operation for them to include it in print.
If your Club operates as a non-profit organization make sure to include that information on your letterhead so that the paper does not feel they are running free ad’s for a commercial facility.
You must be very careful in the wording of your press releases if you operate your club as a commercial venture. The smallest inclusion of your sponsorship should be included only once in each release. If you get on the wrong side of this individual or newsroom you will have a problem in ever recovering from the attitudes that prevail there . These attitudes will exist long after that individual leaves the employ of that paper.
Dealing with the electronic media can be the toughest of all mediums. You must remember that the individuals you come in contact with consider themselves celebrities of a sort and expect to be treated that way.
In the past radio was limited to a very small number of stations that served your community. This was due to licensing restrictions, power limitations and ownership allowed by law. In today’s market places we have in many cases multiple stations owned and operated by the same company. When contacting your “local” station ask if it is part of a larger group operation. If you have only one station in your locality this action is not needed. You may wonder the reasoning behind this suggestion. Your contact person may indeed be serving more than one news room. In some operations there are two or more stations operating from the same building.
As radio is a voice medium (no pictures) the information you present to them should be short and to the point. Remember that most news casts on radio do not exceed five (5) minutes in length. This means that if it is a commercially sponsored broadcast there may be only 3 min of real news. Most small stations will welcome your information if it is done in a professional manner. As with the small newspaper, the staff requirements do not allow in most cases for a full time sports director. Most stations have an individual who covers the local athletic events and this may be a good starting place for you to call if you have had any contact with that person through local school activities etc. As with any activity you must continue to provide your local station with information on a continuing basis. If your club is going to (name of town) for a tournament send a short release informing them of that. After the fact provide them with result information so that it can be used when they need a filler. Local school athletics, followed by semi professional athletics and community based programs for youth in the community usually will take precedence over Judo news. As pointed out in the newspaper section you must portray your club as representing the community (see sample press release for radio).
It cannot be emphasized enough that you MUST do everything possible to make the job of the station newscaster easy. DO NOT just say we went placed second and here is a list of people who went and those who placed. Remember that you are dealing with individuals who have no background in the sport of Judo and are doing the club a favor by running the press release. Write out your releases as you would like to have them read and keep it short and to the point.
As with newspapers ask if this information can be E Mailed to them or the method of delivery they would like to have. Do not take a radio station a press release that is not current. They must be gotten to the station the same day that the activity happened for use that evening or in the morning if the meet happened on a Saturday.
To often the information is late in some cases up to a week because no one did their job on the club level.
Always keep in mind the old radio news motto
When you hear it- it’s news ….. when you read it – it’s history
This part of our news system is indeed the toughest one to deal with. The demands of the stations for sporting news start with national professional sport information and then decline from there with local School sports results and in last place are the secondary activities that may be of some interest to them.
Unlike other news mediums TV stations do have a sports director and this is the individual to whom you should appeal. Remember to always treat this person with respect as they have the power to make or break your TV coverage
In this medium you have the ability to use news copy, still pictures and action shots of Judo in action . Again you must find out the best means of communicating this information to the news room. Once this has been decided the types of information that can be used must be decided. Printed information is always acceptable, but how about pictures. Can they be digital JPEG shots that are transmitted to them by E Mail? What about action shots ? Movies, if so in what type of format. As very few clubs have professional studio quality cameras ask if their film chain will accept VHS or a film stream shot with a digital camera?
Usually your news will get to the station on a Sunday and this is when a fill in individual is usually in charge doing two or three things at once. If you can present a finished product that takes a minimum of work for them it may well indeed be used as a filler to round out a sports cast if the news load is light.