I spent most of this week at Kentucky Lake for the annual Strike King Media Event which is one of the biggest I attend each year.
Approximately 70 or more anglers and media people were there.
While the competitive fishing aspect is key to what I do for a living, working with the media and creating opportunities to discuss how-to tactics that relate to my sponsors’ products is every bit as important. It provides me with a chance to work one-on-one with the top media people in the industry and build relationships with those who cover our sport.
This topic relates to a discussion I had with the Grand Valley State University fishing team the previous week. My sons attend Grand Valley and are part of the fishing team there.
I got a lot of questions from the aspiring young anglers about how they can obtain sponsors and get people to notice them. They wanted to know how to separate themselves from other aspiring anglers, realizing that a lot of companies get a ton of requests from other young anglers seeking sponsorships.
Of course, winning tournaments and having multiple fishing successes help. However, what is equally important - and what I did when I started out - is work closely with local media for newspaper columns, radio interviews, photos and stories.
Times have changed with the advent of the internet, but the importance of building relationships with local media hasn’t changed.
It’s a great place for young anglers to learn exactly what the media is looking for, how to help them fulfill their needs and use that experience as you begin to attract other media attention.
A simple approach is to invite your local media out for a day of fishing. Even if they don’t write about the trip, you will build a relationship that will pay off down the road.
In Michigan, for example, the media was always looking for a story to build around the bass season opener. I would contact them ahead of time and try to set something up that not only provided them with story info, but photos that would help enhance their stories.
Sure, in this day and age you can build your own brand with digital photos, GoPro action video clips and all of the other elements that help build your reputation and brand. But you still have to have an avenue to attract attention from a broader base of fans and the local media is the best place to start.
The foundation I built with local media early in my career really helped me garner the attention I needed to attract sponsors. It doesn’t matter whether it’s with the Kalamazoo Gazette, a regional outdoor magazine or ESPN – it’s all important and helps put your name in front of the public.
When contacting the media, be prepared to offer them a solid idea. You can say, “I have a really unique way for catching fish (on a local lake) this time of year and I think it’s a story your readers would appreciate hearing about.”
That’s what media and writers are looking for. They also want to capture your personality as well as how to catch fish and all of them carries weight with sponsors.
Also, remember that media people work on short deadlines. If a person calls you for information, respond promptly. If you don’t answer or don’t get back with them soon, they will work with someone else who does.
When you meet with them, present yourself in a professional manner. Dress neatly; provide a clean, organized boat and equipment. Offer them the chance to fish and focus on helping them catch fish and don’t just try to show them up. They likely lack the experience you have, but they share the same desire to learn.
It’s all part of being a professional, creating a positive image and building your brand at the local level as you move up the ladder of success.
And it’s all about the attitude!