Something for Nothing

[dropcap size=small]Y[/dropcap]es, this column is offering you something for nothing … well, almost.
You can never actually get something for nothing from a column like this because the column itself makes demands upon your time, and what’s more valuable than that?

But if you’re willing to give me some time, I’m going to share some insights into working with the media that will come pretty close to giving you something for nothing. Follow through with them and you’ll end up with something that can really benefit your business.

You’ll get publicity.

As you know, advertising is something you pay for — something you negotiate and purchase in the marketplace. Whether you’re looking for a dollar bill-sized ad in your local paper, a billboard on an interstate highway, a 30-second radio spot during drive time or a full minute commercial during the Super Bowl, you can have it if you can write the check.

And that’s one of the issues of advertising — it costs money. It’s great for what it is. In fact there’s no replacing it on some level. With advertising, you control not only the message, but who carries it and when it’s delivered. That’s what makes it worth paying for and worth buying again and again.

Publicity is different. Whereas advertising can be purchased and controlled, publicity is something you can only hope to steer. It’s “editorial” content chosen by the staff who puts the newspaper, website, magazine or radio or television broadcast together. They deemed it worthy of inclusion because it’s something of interest to the audience. An audience seeks it out, even pays to get it.

So publicity can be just as coveted as advertising.

But if publicity is so valuable and you already know you can’t afford the advertising you want to do, how can you possibly hope to afford the publicity? The short answer is that you can’t.

Publicity isn’t for sale, but it can be gotten on terms that will work for you.

No matter where you live and no matter where your tackle shop is located, there’s a key outdoors media person who is the gatekeeper to the newspaper, radio program, television show, website or magazine you seek. And if you know who that person is, you’re already on your way.

If you’re not personally acquainted with this gatekeeper, find a way to contact him and get in touch. You need to meet. You need to introduce him to your shop. You need to invite him to go fishing. You need to be his friend. You need to be his very best friend.

That gatekeeper will help a friend in ways he might never help an advertiser. And you’re going to help him, too. You’re going to teach him things about fishing he never knew. You’re going to introduce him to experts he’s never met. You’re going to give him story or program ideas. You might even give him a store discount or throw him a couple of hot baits for free.

In return, he’s going to mention your store in a newspaper column or on his website or in a magazine article. Maybe he’ll invite you to be a guest on his radio or television program. He’s going to give you the kind of exposure you could never afford to buy, and it’s going to cost you almost nothing.

What’s that? You say the gatekeeper is already in the back pocket of your competition? They’ve locked him up by buying advertising that keeps his platform alive?

Well, that makes things tougher, but not impossible. You’re not afraid of a little hard work are you?

In that situation, your offers are going to have to be a little sweeter. The fishing trip you propose has to be gold — you better catch ’em. The store discount needs to be worth driving across town to get. You need to pull out the stops and dazzle him. You need to make your case with him. You need to show him that you’re worth knowing and worth helping.

Don’t worry. Unless the costs of dazzling him are too high, you’re still ahead. And you’re building a relationship that can pay dividends for years to come.

A rising tide lifts all boats. Let’s be that tide.