October 17, 2013 by Chad Gary
My, how times change. It used to be all a person needed to be a professional angler was the ability to catch fish consistently, an ability to read water, a solid knowledge of fish behavior and a proficiency at a handful of baits and an angler could nab a few sponsors and enjoy the pro angler life. Then along came the Internet - and with it, social media. Now any aspiring pro angler must also be able to blog, Tweet, Facebook and shoot and post video on the fly to keep their persona visible to the public, fans and sponsors alike. The Internet changed the way anglers marketed themselves. It even changed an entire industry - the media who cover the anglers and the sport of professional bass fishing. Consider this stat: Adults spend more media time on mobile devices than newspapers and magazines combined (eMarketer, December 2011). Fifteen years ago I was an outdoor writer for a daily newspaper. I received press releases and story pitches from agencies and writers by snail mail and fax. Today, my department pitches members of the media mainly using email and through social media. Gone are the days of newsrooms full of reporters hoofing a beat and chasing down leads the old-fashioned way. Today, with press releases, photos and even video sent via email, reporters covering an FLW tournament can manage the whole thing from their living room. Perhaps the ones with the most to gain in this electronic information revolution is the angler. It's easier than ever for Joe Pro to let his fans and sponsors know what he's doing with just a few flick of the fingers on a cell phone. The public relations department at FLW has accepted this change, and I think our efforts at promoting our anglers and FLW are stronger than ever thanks to social media. Our social media efforts include our accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest. We're even posting some pretty cool photos on Instagram. When anglers post to their social media accounts and tag FLW, chances are they get a reciprocal share from us. This cross-pollination of promoting is the very basis of social media. Both parties benefit promotionally from the usage. But we're taking angler promotion beyond social media. For example, we currently have eight pro anglers who contribute blogs to FLWOutdoors.com. Besides updating you with the latest trends, thoughts and techniques on competitive fishing, these blogs also list links to the anglers' personal websites, social media accounts and so on. Again, both parties benefit from the content. The more anglers promote themselves, the more they promote FLW. As a result, FLW promotes the anglers by sharing their social media interactions. And the anglers' friends promote them by sharing the interactions. And FLW fans share the interactions. And so on, and so on. It's a whole six-degrees-of-FLW-angler thing. I get asked quite a bit by people how a person makes a career of professional fishing. Years ago I would have said all it takes is practice, practice and more practice. Now I tell people to fish all the time and volunteer at trade shows or industry events to make sure people know you're willing to work hard. But more than anything, make sure you understand self-promotion and what a valuable tool social media is. By the way, I encourage all anglers on the FLW Tour to submit blogs for FLWOutdoors.com by contacting either myself at firstname.lastname@example.org or Gary Mortenson at email@example.com. Consider this your invitation to let us promote you.