60, Day 5
Breaking Into The Pros
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
Answer: Exactly. Then I can focus on fishing and not on whether
or not I can pay the bills.
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.
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:
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.
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?