Scalish, Hackney Offer Tips to Make the Most of Angler-Sponsor Relationships

CELEBRATION, Fla. – With the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series fast approaching, two Elite Series pros are revealing a few tried-and-true techniques they use to secure sponsorships.

2004 Toyota Rookie of the Year and three-time CITGO Bassmaster Classic qualifier Greg Hackney and 2002 Toyota Rookie of the Year Frank Scalish say BASS’ new guidelines in 2006 will mean more sponsor logos on anglers’ tournament shirts, boats and trucks than ever before.

That’s because Elite anglers - competing for more than $11 million in the Series, the Bassmaster Majors, the CITGO Bassmaster Classic, the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year program and other contingencies – are offering sponsors a heightened level of exposure.

“In the next couple of years, we’re going to see more non-endemic sponsors … it’s going to be huge,” says Hackney, 32, of Gonzales, La. “The way ESPN has come along with all of the TV programs, it’s really opened people’s eyes to the sport.”

Sponsor visibility will be greater than ever before with anglers fishing from their own boats on all competitive days of the Bassmaster Majors, including the final day when same-day coverage will air on ESPN2. Anglers will fish from their own wrapped boats on all days of the Elite Series except for the final day, when they will fish in a BASS-sponsor wrapped boat.

“The fishing in this game is the smallest part,” says Scalish. “Doing well gives you credibility and opportunities for media coverage, but nobody’s going to pay you money because you fish. They want to use you for advertising.”

Both competitors say the following tips will help anglers build a strong relationship with sponsors:

▪ Media mentions count. Save every clipping and record every TV and radio appearance. ▪ Show them value. Sponsors want to see value and anglers must be able to quantify the exposure they provide into a dollar figure. ▪ Relationships are about flexibility. In addition to the marketing value sponsors receive, anglers must be available for special appearances, autograph sessions and select company outings during their downtime. It may tough for an angler always on the road, but the work pays greater dividends in the long run. ▪ Fishing is only half the battle. Consistency and on-the-water performance is important, but being well-spoken, personable and able to present yourself confidently to fans, media and sponsors is equally important. ▪ Sell yourself, but be yourself. Find a sponsor that shares your values and is easy to get along with. You must have a good working relationship that both parties agree upon in order to be successful. ▪ Cross-promotion is key. When working out sponsor agreements, try to encourage each sponsor to work together, such as photo appearances in tournament shirts with all sponsors visible and news releases with all sponsors mentioned, to name a few.

While Hackney is working out the details for his boat and truck wrap, he’s confident the Elite Series prestige will open the door to more sponsorship opportunities. Today, his branding includes major endemic sponsors Triton Boats, Berkley, MotorGuide, Strike King, Quantum and DriDuds (rainwear).

“I am showing them what air time is worth,” said Hackney. “My time in the boat or being interviewed on ESPN wearing my jersey … I have to show them what a minute’s worth, or what five minutes are worth.”

Scalish, 44, of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, has worked with his premier non-endemic sponsor, Avon, Ohio-based Henkel Consumer Adhesives Inc., since 2003. Specifically, Henkel promotes its OSI Pro-Series adhesives and sealants product line, which wraps Scalish’s boat and truck and is the premier sponsor on his shirt. Scalish’s other sponsors include Silver Thread fishing line, Yum Bait Company, the Bomber Bait Company, and Yamaha Motor Corporation.

“I do good deeds for Henkel by going to trade shows and supporting some of their activities, which in turn keeps them interested in me and also gets people watching BASS and following the season’s point races,” Scalish says. “It’s all about creating a bigger audience and making more people aware of what’s going on in the fishing world.”

BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.

BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit