Work to the medium
This is part 18 of a multi-part “More from media” series.
Media is media, right? Actually, that’s not even close to right, but it’s the way a lot of fishing “pros” think. They figure if they’re working with someone in radio it’s about the same as a newspaper, about the same as a magazine, about the same as television, about the same as the web. And as a result, they don’t get the kind of coverage they want or that their sponsors want.
Part of being a true professional is knowing the medium you’re dealing with when you’re dealing with the press. They are not all the same and they should not be treated the same.
Let me give you an example.
There’s one day left in a tournament that you’re leading. After you come off the stage, you’re pulled aside by a writer working for BASS Times magazine — not Bassmaster.com. He asks what you’re doing out there. You give him scraps because you don’t want too much of the story getting out. Instead of helping him with his job, you’re actually wasting his time. It’s not enough to tell him that you’re catching them in 3 feet of water on a reaction bait. He needs more detail than that, and because his story will not be out for more than a month, you can give it to him. Just make sure he understands that the information you’re sharing is not to be given to anyone else.
Most of the media — especially the media associated with more reputable outlets — can be trusted this way. They want a good relationship with you almost as much as you want a good relationship with them. They have no interest in betraying you. That’s not how they make their money. They make their money by telling a good story that you’re not giving to everyone else.
If you don’t share details with that writer, he’s not going to like it. He will know you don’t trust him and you’ll be making his job more difficult. You will be wasting his time. The only thing you could do that would be worse would be to tell him an outright lie about your fishing methods. Either way, though, you are sabotaging what needs to be a good relationship.
Don’t be afraid to ask
If you know what platform a media person is working for, just ask. They’ll tell you. It’s not a secret. How they answer determines what you can say to them in that tournament scenario.
When they answer, be sure that their answer is exhaustive. When I was the senior editor of BASS Publications, occasionally I’d be working at a tournament and serving several of the BASS platforms. My primary duty may have been to write for one of the magazines, but I may have also been writing daily updates for Bassmaster.com and doing commentary from the “War Room.”
When you encounter someone serving multiple platforms and media types, treat them like they’re working for the most immediate outlet — the one which will be publishing or posting or broadcasting the story first. In the case above, anglers should have looked at me as a web outlet and not just as a magazine outlet.
Here’s what you can and should tell each type of media person … at least until the tournament’s over. Then you can tell them all everything!
The web (digital media) and radio: If you’re at a tournament and being interviewed by a web outlet, know that your comments could be posted in a matter of moments. They may even be shared via live, streaming video. Act accordingly. If there’s a day of competition left, don’t give away anything you don’t want your competition to know about.
Newspapers: Usually, it’s going to take these guys a day to get anything out there, but remember that they have websites, so it’s certainly possible that they’ll post the story right away.
Television: Treat TV like the web and radio. Assume that anything you say will be public in minutes or hours, not days, weeks or months.
Magazines: Print magazines are the giant tortoises of the media world. They are extraordinarily slow. You can usually tell them everything right away. You can probably even tell them how you’re going to fish the next tournament, too. By the time they get your first story published, the second tournament will be over!
Media demeanor and style
When you’re working with media, you always want to look and sound your best, but there are some platforms with which that’s even more important. Where there are cameras — and there are cameras everywhere at a fishing tournament — make sure you’re wearing a clean, fresh jersey, a clean cap and that you’re well-groomed.
Where there are microphones, you can be a little more discriminating. Yes, you always want to sound good, but it’s not always critical. It depends on who’s recording you and what their plans are for that recording.
If the person recording you is doing it in lieu of taking notes, you can keep things loose and informal — it’s a conversation. But if that person is recording you for radio or the web, you need to step up your performance. Lose the “uh” and “like” and “you know” and things like that. Those issues can make you appear stupid or lazy. You want to be seen as intelligent, articulate and extremely knowledgeable. For that, you may need to practice — maybe a lot. But it’s worth it.
Practice is easy. All you need is a camcorder or digital voice recorder so you can watch or listen to yourself be interviewed. And you don’t need Oprah to be the interviewer, either; a friend will do. Give them the scenario — you’re just off the stage after weighing a great catch and he or she is there to get the story. The questions are usually pretty basic: How’d you catch ’em? What lure did you use? What was your pattern?
If you stumble through that kind of stuff, you have real problems. Practice until it’s second nature.
And remember to keep your answers tight — not monosyllabic, but tight. Think about the sound bites you’ve seen on television and heard on the radio. They don’t ramble for a minute or two. They’re relatively short — just long enough to cover the subject — and they’re to the point. Plus they’re interesting! For God’s sake, keep your answers interesting!
The interviewer needs to get something from you that he can’t get anywhere else. If you can’t deliver that, why does he need you? He can just as easily go to the next person. Give your interviews some personality and some insight. That’s critical.
- Know the platforms that each media person is using. If you don’t, you don’t know how to talk to that person.
- If you’re being recorded, keep your answers brief and to the point. Lose any distracting speech issues, like “uh” or “like” or “you know.”
- Practice, practice, practice!
- Be interesting! Boring fishing pros are a dime a dozen. Interesting fishing pros are sought out by the media.
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