Develop media relationships
This is part seven of a multi-part “More from media” series.
Your best bet for media coverage comes from the outdoor writers, photographers and show hosts that have used you in the past. If you’re new, you’ll have to develop those relationships from the ground up. That’s not all bad. Starting from scratch means you have no bad habits to “unlearn” and no bad history to overcome.
It’s important to keep expanding your universe of contacts (outdoor media people get old and retire, too), but it’s even more productive to strengthen and add depth to the relationships you’ve already made and used to good effect.
It starts with getting the person’s contact information and developing a record-keeping system that will tell you what work you’ve accomplished with him or her. List all the articles, all the published photos and all the shows you’ve done together. List the topics you covered and where and when the articles appeared (which newspaper, magazine or website).
The stories on that list will become building blocks for your career. If you and the writer did a story on summertime buzzbait fishing last year, you might want to propose a deep-cranking or mat-punching article for next summer. Once you start getting some real exposure, you won’t be able to remember which writers you’ve worked with or what stories they did without a list and you won’t be able to point out other story opportunities that complement the ones you’ve already done. A list can be invaluable.
Along with the media person’s contact information, add a list of the outlets he works with so you’ll know where his work might be published. If he’s only ever been published on a small website, he’s not your best bet to make the cover of Field & Stream. And if he’s an employee of a big magazine publisher, he’s probably not allowed to freelance for other outlets at all.
The more you know about the media people you work with and want to work with, the more exposure you’ll get because you’ll show what a great asset you are to them. This includes knowing a little about their professional talents. One media person might be a terrific writer, but a terrible photographer, or vice versa. If you have great photos for a story, but need someone to write it, you can go to the strongest writer even if he’s not a good photographer.
In these days of social media, you might want to become Facebook friends with your media contacts, join them on LinkedIn, and follow them the old-fashioned way — by reading what they write for magazines and websites. When you see a story you like, send them a nice note congratulating them on the piece and letting them know you’re thinking of them. It can mean a lot to a writer to hear from you. In an outdoor writing career that started in 1982, I can count on one hand the number of times a professional angler has done that for me. (Maybe my work isn’t that good!)
Ultimately, pro anglers need to look at media professionals in a cold and calculating way. The better the outlet that the media person works for, the more important they are to you. Someone working for Field & Stream is reaching more people than the guy writing for East Indiana Outdoor News. But since the writer working for East Indiana Outdoor News could one day be working for Field & Stream, you can’t simply ignore him. He’s still important and may become more important very soon. Besides, when you’re just starting out, getting your name and photo in East Indiana Outdoor News can be a big deal. It’s a start!
What goes around comes around
If you’ve just finished working with a well-known or well-positioned media person, it could be worth asking him or her to contact a key pro staff manager (but never, ever more than one) and tell that manager about the good experience he had working with you. Of course, before trying that, you’d better be very certain the media person had a good experience. If there’s any doubt about that — any at all, even in the deepest recesses of your limbic brain — don’t do it!
The point is, pro staff managers quite often have longer and more important relationships with the media than they do with their pro staff anglers. One reason is that media careers tend to last longer than professional angling careers. Another reason is that pro staffers come and go (and pro staff managers may move from company to company), but the media is always there, always looking for stories and always needing anglers to quote and photograph.
The big takeaway from this installment of “More from media” can be encapsulated like this: Keep your friends close, your enemies closer and your media contacts closest of all!
- Capture all the contact information you can on the media you meet.
- Keep track of your media exposure and leverage it to get more.
- When pro staff managers consider new talent, they often consult with the media.
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