I’ve been involved with FLW “officially” for eight years now. Lots of people ask me how I got to be the Director of Public Relations for the world’s premier tournament-fishing organization, so I’ll tell you. It’s a career path I never could have planned.
In 1996 I graduated from college with a career in graphic design. I got a job as a graphic designer making news graphics … pretty mundane stuff. After a few months, the editor of the paper walked up to my desk and said, “You like to hunt and fish, right?” I grew up hunting for squirrel with my grandfather in northeast Arkansas. I went to high school in Stuttgart, Ark., the “Duck Capitol of the World.” I fished every chance I got. So I answered, “Yes.” The editor asked me if I’d like to be the outdoor writer for the newspaper.
I instantly agreed. I liked to write, but knew nothing about journalism. I had two mentors who taught me the journalistic style. I immersed myself in the outdoor writing world. A few years later, a friend offered me a job in the outdoor industry as a public relations representative. I accepted. I learned everything I could about the industry.
Fast forward. I had been a media guest of FLW at some of the BFL All-Americans and had realized the quality organization it was. I told my wife, “This is the company I want to work for.”
A few years later I answered a phone call. FLW. They had a job opening. I applied. I interviewed. I was nervous. This was the company I wanted to work for. I remember telling Dave, my interviewer, “Look no further. I can do it.”
Fast forward. This is my eighth season with FLW. This is my 17th season in the industry. I’ve listened to pro anglers talk in forums about what they would like to see happen in the industry. I’ve had coffee with casual fans and listened to concerns. I’ve had meetings with industry bigwigs at ICAST about growing the sport. And I’ve had Thanksgiving dinner with anglers and their families and talked to them … and I’ve listened.
In fact, I’d like to share a few facts and figures from the recent Forrest Wood Cup in Shreveport. Professional bass fishing continues to grow in popularity, and fishing fans and the media attention it garners is proof of the booming popularity.
For example, page views to FLWOutdoors.com jumped 45 percent in 2013. During the Forrest Wood Cup, FLW Live’s coverage of the weigh-in jumped 20 percent, with almost half of that traffic coming from the FLW mobile app. The live camera shots from the competitors’ boats proved to be wildly popular and returned 12 times the amount of traffic as the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup.
The media corps for the Forrest Wood Cup in Shreveport included members of the media from across the country. More than 50 members of the national, regional and local media were present for the Forrest Wood Cup. In addition to local television in Shreveport, other local TV outlets in Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida and South Carolina followed and reported on their hometown anglers’ progress in Shreveport. Radio shows in Seattle, Austin, Memphis and northwest Arkansas were on the ground to cover the action. Other radio coverage was garnered in Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Missouri, Florida, North Carolina and even Canada.
Overall, there were almost 2,000 media hits during the Forrest Wood Cup period with overall total impressions of 4.7 billion.
These numbers tell me that the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup was a success for FLW, for fishing fans and for the anglers who benefit from this kind of coverage.
And I’m looking forward to an even bigger and better 2014 season.
Do you have a topic you’d like me to discuss? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter at @FLWChadGay.