As a unique band of marketing brothers and sisters who are expertly focused on the outdoors and the outdoor industry, we at TBA Outdoors put down our fishing rods and put on our writing caps to share some of our top public relations strategies, each essential in successfully servicing our clients.
1. Fish where the fish are.
If you have one takeaway from this post, let it be this: Sending out news releases to a massive list of email addresses is not a successful way to make an announcement in today’s email-saturated world. With over 270 billion emails being sent per day and only 24 percent being marked as read, sending personalized and relevant content is more important than ever.
While news releases are still a great way to announce important company news, if the information is irrelevant to the person on the receiving end, then it will not be picked up and may even harm your credibility when sending out future stories. When distributing a news release or pitching a story to media, it is important to know the audience you’re sending it to. In this case, it’s outdoor media.
Something to be mindful of when working in the outdoor industry as a PR pro is the fact that there are a ton of sources that focus specifically on one or two categories in the outdoor world. For example, Salt Water Sportsman is a magazine about recreational marine fishing in the United States and throughout the world. This may seem like common sense, but you would not want to send an editor for this publication any news about the new hunting gear that your brand just launched.
Another thing to note when communicating with outdoor industry media is each particular source’s niche or subcategory. Fishing is a popular focus within the outdoor industry, but the topic of fishing can be broken down into several fishing subcategories such as bass, saltwater, freshwater, trout, kayak, etc., and each source usually focuses more heavily on just one or a few of these.
One of the strategies that we at TBA Outdoors use is to make note of the niche of each publication. The best way to break these categories down is to base them off your brand’s target market. For example, Power-Pole creates a shallow water anchor that is only used in freshwater fishing, so we have created a list of freshwater publications broken down into the categories of bass fishing, fly fishing and kayak fishing.
2. Plan in advance for trade shows and events.
The outdoor industry is filled with trade shows and events that are key in building upon current media relationships and in creating new ones. It is incredibly important to plan ahead of time before attending a trade show like ICAST, SHOT Show or Surf Expo, to name a few. By planning two to three months before the event, you will give yourself enough time to develop and pitch interesting story concepts to generate coverage BEFORE the show, while simultaneously connecting with media members planning to attend the show in person and scheduling deskside interviews DURING the show.
Our PR team recently attended the Bassmaster Classic to assist in public relations efforts for two outdoor clients. To prepare for the big event, we created a public relations strategy two and a half months ahead of time that consisted of a media day and three days at the consumer expo. In preparation for the event, we secured a media-attendee list for the Classic and pitched individual members of the list to set up meetings, in addition to writing three news releases covering story concepts for media to keep an eye out for, developing a media kit specific to the event, organizing and recording a “Power-Pole Down” podcast, and developing a social media campaign to be launched during the expo.
A lot goes into the preparation and execution of an event like this, which is why it’s important to give yourself ample time to set it up for success. By doing this, you will secure ink in a lot of industry publications and create long-term relationships with top-tier members of the media.
3. Be a patient storyteller.
Scoring ink is not always the be-all, end-all. Communicating with outdoor industry media on a regular basis is extremely important. It’s crucial to build a relationship with these people, because that’s exactly who they are, people. Sharing relevant information that is not always about your brand, asking about their recent hunting adventures (or sending them pictures from yours), and mentioning a recent article or tweet they posted are all great ways to create relationships that are personal and work-related.
For example, you can send a quick email saying, “Hey, I read your article on Deer Hunt Tales and saw that you were in North Dakota. I have family out there and have been hunting in Park River before. How did it compare to your other hunting trips?” This will show that you read their publication and have similar interests, and it starts the conversation for when you have an interesting story to pitch them.
More often than not, it takes time to land a big feature or article in a top-tier publication. Be sure to have the relationships already made, and the process of scoring ink will be quicker and easier than ever.
4. Collaborate with influencers.
Instilling a sense of credibility with your audience is a key factor in promoting positive branding, and consumers are more likely to trust the people they see on their social media feed as opposed to traditional marketing. As Forbes has explained it, “The voice of the customer has always been one of the most powerful concepts in marketing, and today’s social media platforms act as one giant megaphone for that voice.” By putting your product in the hands of a trusted influencer on social media, your brand can reach larger audiences, promote positive branding, and increase customer engagement and awareness.
To get the most bang for your buck, we believe that partnering with micro-influencers (10,000-100,000 followers) is the best route to take. We recently partnered with a social media influencer out of Charleston with about 23,000 followers on Instagram to conduct an Instagram takeover for the brand, Hook+Gaff Watch Company. For the weekend, he attended a local Charleston event called Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, where he got to enjoy his time snapping photos of the event and location, all while wearing his new Hook+Gaff watch. He shared his experience on his Instagram feed and stories, took over Hook+Gaff’s Instagram page for the weekend, and coordinated a watch giveaway. The takeover was coordinated with ease because he was local to where the event was, it was mutually beneficial to both parties, and we had direct and open conversations about our expectations. As a result of the partnership, Hook+Gaff’s Instagram page gained over 200 new followers and saw over 72,000 impressions.
When it comes to public relations and leveraging media relations to generate coverage, there isn’t one magical potion to get your brand on the cover of the most coveted magazine in the industry. But at TBA Outdoors, we use these four guidelines to develop a strategic program to share the stories of each of our clients. Interested in learning more about how we can help your brand? Contact us — we’re here to help you implement a program that will ultimately move the needle on that sales dial.