Updated: Jan 28, 2019
Written by Jonathan S
Every day I receive at least one message on Instagram from someone asking for a pro-staff spot, or asking if I can give them something for free. Every single one of these messages are ignored. Why is that? It's not because I don't want to help, or I am being uptight. It's because every message I have read is wrong. Let me explain.
What is prostaff?
First off, we need to ask the question "what is pro-staff"? Some may think it's professional staff, some may think they are sponsored when on a pro-staff. However, it stands for promotional staff. When you join a pro-staff, it's not to benefit you, it's to benefit the company you are representing. It's a long term commitment that requires dedication, and a true belief in the brand. So many companies just hand out pro-staff to anyone who asks. I won't name anyone, but they should be easy to figure out. A very popular tungsten brand has what seems like endless pro-staffers, another company allows people to add a pro-staff item to the cart, then with the purchase of X product, they are now on the pro-staff. This totally defeats the purpose of what a pro-staff entails, and it seems like many companies are catering to the current norm of including everyone. A participation award, if you will.
How to stand out in the crowd
When you approach a company about a pro-staff position, you must ask yourself if you are doing it because you love their products, and want to help them grow. Or are you doing it for the title, the discount, and the ability to put "Pro-staff X brand" on your instagram bio? If you love the product, you are going about it the correct way. If you just want free stuff, that's the incorrect way, and many companies won't take you seriously. I know I won't. One of the main ways to help your cause is to spell words correctly, and use correct grammar. I understand mistakes happen, and I'm sure there's plenty in this article. If you send me a message that's a run on sentence, filled with spelling mistakes, or you simply put "can I hav sponcer, I have a youtube", then that message goes into the trash. After I take a screenshot of it, of course.
To give yourself a chance when approaching companies, you need to have a few things that you can bring to the table. I don't care if you are an Elite Series pro, or are just a casual angler who has a true passion for the sport. The thing that needs to be remembered is it's a business. It's not about what the company can do for you, it's about what you can do for the company. If you can provide dedication to the company, and be an ambassador of the brand, you are what many people want. However, experience does matter. I don't care if you've fished 10,000 tournaments, or 0, but someone who is familiar with the sport, and can sell products is the ideal staff member. If you're someone who has a year or less of bass fishing under your belt, I'm likely not going to choose you. It's not because you're a "noob" or anything like that. It's because the world of bass fishing is endless, and we as bass anglers are always learning. Someone who is a first year angler probably won't be able to tell a potential customer why the Dragon Custom Tackle Jager Bladed jig excels over this bladed jig, or that. Or why the DCT football jig is best in what situation. Of course the information can always be regurgitated from another source, then passed on to the customer, but genuine experience is better than "internet knowledge" so to speak.
Do you fish when no one is watching?
This next topic is probably the most important thing about sponsorship, pro-staff, etc. Elite Series Pro Gerald Swindle said it best. Do you fish when no one is watching? Time on the water is by far, without a doubt, the best thing you can do for yourself as a bass angler. Too many people are caught up in posting this to instagram, or getting X amount of youtube views. If you're fishing for views and instagram likes, you're not someone I personally want to represent my brand. True passion for the sport is what I, and many other companies want. If you get out on the water, and grind, and earn bites, you will be noticed. Fish first, build your repertoire, and the sponsors will come to you. I know I have missed a few topics, but if you can learn from this, and keep a few things in mind, you will go a lot further in bass fishing.
I do want to clarify that this is not an attack on anyone, or those who send me messages. I receive so many, I feel it's necessary to pass this information on, even if it may come across as harsh. I opted to not share any screenshots of messages I have, just so people don't feel they are being targeted individually. It's mainly for new, and young anglers. Remember, fish first, worry about sponsors later.