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John's Journal... Entry 60, Day 5

Breaking Into The Pros

click to enlargeEDITOR'S NOTE: Sam Swett of Covington, Louisiana, has fished on the B.A.S.S. professional bass circuit for 10 years. Avid fishermen in his home state know him as an expert knowledgeable bass angler.

Question: You rest in the middle of the pack as far as pro sponsors go. What will be required for you to break over and become one of those great pros who have all the big sponsors?
Answer: I think I need the proper mental attitude in the financial area. A lot of guys, like myself, sit in the middle of a tournament and wonder if they have enough money to get home or get their credit cards paid off. I would like to develop enough sponsorship to where I can take that stress off myself and focus 100 percent on my bass fishing. I try to increase my network as a fisherman to the present sponsors to get raises or literally to approach new sponsors and push their product to insure that I have more paydays. Then I can devote more time to fishing.

Question: The real key to breaking over the top in professional fishing is in getting sponsors so you don't have the money worries?
Answer: Exactly. Then I can focus on fishing and not on whether or not I can pay the bills.

click to enlargeQuestion: The biggest key to getting those sponsors comes with telling them what you can do for them and not what they ought to do for you, right?
Answer: That's exactly right. Many people make the mistake of saying, "I'm Joe Blow Fisherman, and I've won all these tournaments," but they don't say, "Hey, I can do this for your company too." If they don't work with the media or the public doing promotions and getting their name recognized along with the product, they have no value to a company.

Question: What will you have to do to become a fisherman in that real select group of about 20 pros that everybody knows?
Answer: I feel like I'll need tournament wins, plenty of media coverage and name recognition so that when someone opens a magazine and sees my name and my picture, they'll recognize me. The more name recognition I can get in public, the more that recognition will push me over the top. I may not necessarily have to have a tournament win because a lot of people lose tournaments. If I ever can become a TV personality as a professional fisherman, I think that'll help me break over the top.

click to enlargeQuestion: How do you get that media coverage?
Answer: Basically by schmoozing. You've really got act very boldly, and very forcefully, but at the same time, not arrogantly and not with the attitude that they must cover you. You need to approach the media in a professional and courteous manner and tell them what you can do for them. Always pass out your business card. I also like to make a bio and give that to the media. Then when a writer looks at my bio, he'll see my credentials. Later, if a writer keeps that bio in his file and I've made a good first impression with him, he may have a story coming up and think I can help him. For instance, I fish marshes and tidal waters all over the United States, which means I know something about fishing these areas. Approaching different writers, making good contacts and building up a good rapport with them works well.

Question: You do the same thing with writers as you do with sponsors. You go to the writers and ask what you can do to help them, not tell them the reason they should write about you? Answer: Exactly.

Question: You try and help writers get stories, photos and fish. You do whatever they need to get a story, right?
Answer: Yes, and I try to read up on a lot of different stories. I try to see if I can develop a little different twist to fishing so that the writer can include me and my technique. The media is so saturated with the same type of stories. I think writers find my coming up with a different flair that I think may attract the public and make the story more interesting a big help, especially if they can take my idea and work with it. I've found that developing your own personality with the media and the public works very well. Try to find a certain niche you can really key in on, a specific type of personality or fishing technique, and bring that to the media. Hopefully you can get name recognition that way.

click to enlargeQuestion: You also speak to bass clubs on how to work with the media, get sponsors and become a bass pro. What do you charge for speaking to a bass club?
Answer: My charge really depends on the time length. Generally I'll approach my sponsors and ask them to pay for it as long as I can promote their products. For personal public appearances, I charge between $250 and $450 a day.

Question: So often if you can speak to a club about your sponsors' products, your sponsors will pay for you to speak?
Answer: Yes.




Check back each day this week for more about Sam Swett ...

Day 1 -Getting Sponsors
Day 2 -Learning From the Pros
Day 3 -Funding The Fishing
Day 4 -Serving The Sponsors
Day 5 -Breaking Into The Pros

John's Journal