True or false: Bass anglers who garner consistent press are the ones who have a higher chance of landing sponsors. True. Anglers who can get a company's product in print are the ones who get contracts.
True or false: Only big name pros get press coverage because they win national tournaments. False. While it may appear that the same names in professional fishing hoard the press spotlight in the national magazines, there are plenty of opportunities for well-informed bass anglers to garner some “ink” on a regional level.
Just ask Allan Cagle of Winter Haven, Florida.
Allan who? From where? That is exactly the point. By his own admission, Cagle is not a household name in the top ranks of professional bass fishing. Yet, one look at his portfolio and it is obvious that he has developed a knack for media relations.
Cagle, 26, has generated a substantial amount of bass fishing print as a Florida angler. Over a two-year period, Cagle's picture appeared in The Ledger (Lakeland, Florida newspaper) multiple times. In addition, his name has topped The Ledger fishing section's headlines more than a dozen times.
But don't be looking for Cagle at the next Wal-Mart FLW Tour event. In fact, his name is not on the EverStart Series roster, either. So how does an angler who does not fish the national circuits attract so much press?
First of all, Cagle can catch bass. He recently won a Wal-Mart BFL regional on Lake Wateree in South Carolina. In doing so, he qualified for his fourth consecutive BFL All-American – no easy feat by any angler's standards.
But a regional victory and four All-American qualifications are not what land the name “Alan Cagle” in print so frequently. More often, it is Cagle's outgoing personality, diligence in establishing media relationships, and gumption to stay abreast of regional fishing conditions and environmental issues that keep his name in The Ledger fishing headlines.
Allan Cagle loves to talk about bass fishing. From lures and lakes to environmental issues that affect fishing, Cagle is well versed in many aspects of the sport.
His enthusiasm and gregarious demeanor has allowed him to nurture several key relationships with outdoor writers. “I make it a point to introduce myself to writers,” says Cagle. “I am not trying to say, ‘Hey, look at me, I am the greatest bass fisherman of all time,' but rather, ‘I love to talk about bass fishing, so if there is anything you need, please call.'”
Cagle fostered his first media relationship with Del Milligan, the fishing columnist for The Ledger, when Cagle was fishing club tournaments. He would call Milligan to give him fishing reports and tournament updates around the area.
After Cagle developed a rapport with Milligan, he decided to take the relationship a step further and invited Milligan to go fishing. Since then, the two have been fishing several times and have developed a solid media relationship.
Cagle reveals that the hardest step in developing a media relationship is the initial step of contacting a writer. He claims that making the All-American several times has certainly expedited the process.
“I have made some of my best press contacts at the All-American,” admits Cagle. “Before the BFL became a pro-am format, All-American qualifiers fished with press partners. I really made an added effort to communicate with the writers. That has paid some big dividends in terms of print exposure.”
From a previous All-American pairing, Cagle established a relationship with Harley Smith, a writer for Basser, the Japanese bass fishing publication. This relationship garnered Cagle some fishing press in Japan.
Along with his outgoing persona, Cagle also works potential media contacts with a certain degree of sincere diligence. “When it comes to establishing relationships with writers, I follow every lead I am given,” says Cagle. “If a sponsor suggests that I send a particular writer a portfolio or if I learn that a writer is in need of some information I can provide, I follow through on it. I leave no stone unturned.”
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Cagle's bass fishing communication skills is his earnest desire to stay abreast of fishing conditions and environmental issues around his home turf.
Over the last decade, Florida has been a hotbed for controversial freshwater fishery issues. From herbicides and aquatic weed control to drawdowns and re-stocking efforts, Florida's freshwater fisheries have been at the forefront of resource management challenges.
Cagle does not shy away from such topics. He takes it upon himself to contact agencies and find out what programs are being implemented and how these programs might effect freshwater fishing.
“I have a great contact at the Florida Fish and Game Commission who can provide substantial information about what is going on around this region. He is also an angler so he can tell me how things such as drawdowns are going to affect fishing over the short and long term.”
From a writer's standpoint, Cagle constitutes a reliable source on bass fishing, despite having never won a national tournament. Anglers who think that they must win a multitude of national tournaments before outdoor writers are going to warm up to them might want to take a page out of Cagle's notebook.