As a New Englander at heart, the love for fishing and being out on the water comes naturally to me. The sounds, smells, memories and serenity that it brings are unique experiences that one cannot get elsewhere. Whether it’s taking a dinghy out on a lake or cruising the ocean in a motorboat, fishing is, and always will be, one of my favorite pastimes. Many people think that the trick to fishing is having the juiciest bait on the end of the line to allure the (BIG)fish. They think you can just throw a line in and voila!, you’ve caught one. Well, I regret to inform you that fishing is not that simple. It takes strategy and skill. It takes focus, determination, and an adventurous mind, and requires more than simply putting a worm on a hook.
Since joining the BIGfish team, I have learned that being a PR professional is, in fact, a lot like like fishing: you need all of the strategies and skills that you also need when waiting for a fish to bite. Here are some strategies to keep in mind for both activities:
Choosing the Right Bait:
One of the most important parts about fishing is knowing what bait to use. You must consider size, type and location, and must be able to gauge which is the most alluring in each situation. This is similar to PR professionals in choosing which journalists to pitch and what to story pitch to them. Those in PR know which journalists would be worth reaching out to and which to avoid. They are always prepared with all of the right assets a reporter might want for their story so the pitch is nothing but tempting for them. Both a fisherman and a PR professional’s worst nightmare is to scare away a fish/journalist with too much at once or to have them lose interest if you don’t give them enough. So, next time you’re about to cast a line in or pitch a reporter, think about the bait on the end of the hook and make sure the target will want it!
That Perfect Distance:
When choosing the best spot to turn off your engine and throw a line in the water, it’s necessary to keep in mind where the fish are in relation to where you are. When you see a school of fish, you must avoid coming too close for fear that they will disperse, but you also must be close enough for them to be interested in what you have to offer. PR professionals know how to navigate this distance. They pitch journalists in a way that is alluring but not too pushy and know the right time to go for it, but also when to hold back. Bottom line, don’t get too close but don’t stay so far away that your voice won’t be heard.
No one wants to be “that guy” that falls overboard. The key to avoiding this embarrassment is balance. Find strong footing on the boat and a firm grip on the rod and you’re good to go. Know how to gracefully cast the line and create that perfect distance without slipping. From a PR standpoint, this balance comes when getting to know your clients and figuring out how to best position them. It is absolutely necessary to fully understand their story, find their strengths and weaknesses, and present them to the press in a way that is irresistible. If you do this, you may just catch yourself some dinner!
Once there’s a fish on the line, you have to make sure to reel it all the way in. Knowing how to do this effectively can be tough. When fishing, it takes muscles and good timing to be successful, and in PR it takes effective communication. You must be convincing and have top-notch communication skills. Be timely, appropriate, and friendly with a little bit of push when necessary. You need the journalists and the public to be drawn in and stay on the line until they’re on board.
Too often I go out to fish and return home with nothing to show off. What I have learned is that fishing, like PR, can sometimes be discouraging. The key is to stay positive and have determination. Results do not come immediately; they take time and effort. When pitching a journalist, they may not respond or be interested in what you have to offer right off the bat. Sometimes it takes extensive follow ups or months of coordinating briefings and sending additional assets to make a story come together. Keep your head up and just keep swimming!
You have to love what you do. Why go fishing if you don’t like the ocean? Why pursue a career in PR if you don’t like to communicate? The key is to be passionate about your work and make sure to surround yourself with people who share the same passion. Love what you do and your surroundings and your experiences will be much more enjoyable!