Prostaff.......Give me free stuff please?
With the recent events on a Facebook page associated with call makers, I feel like now is as good a time as any to discuss the "pro staff" mentality going around, and the need for folks to ask for free stuff in general. By the way, if you're a fan of great custom calls, go check out Call Nutz on Facebook. The finest call makers in the world show of some of their amazing work on that page. And you'll also get caught up on the reason for the article.
So, first things first. The "pro" in pro staff means promotional, not professional. Most people think pro staff positions are there so that they can get a title for their FB profile, or Instagram account. That’s not the case. As a pro staff member, your job is to promote the business you're associated with. Use their products, spread the word about how good their products are, this type of thing. It has NOTHING to do with plastering social media with hash tags about you being a professional at hunting. Nothing.
Also, with very few exceptions, no company gives out free stuff to their promotional staff. Discounts, maybe. But unless you've got 3 World Duck Calling Championships under your belt, you're not getting a free call. Maybe KVD gets a free boat from Nitro, but he's also a 4 Time Classic Champ and 7 time AOY winner. Even the guys on that level are footing the bill for stuff. So just know, when you send a call maker a copy and paste email asking for free calls in exchange for a shout out on your Instagram account with 13 followers, you're not going to be successful. Most folks will try to turn you down in a respectful manner, but don’t be surprised if you're told to kick rocks in a not so nice manner. I get messages like this quite often, and on occasion, my patience with it gets a little thin.
So, why even bother with joining a pro staff then? I mean, no free stuff, what would you really get out of it? Well, I think the first thing you need to do is find a product you can stand behind without any benefits. I've got a small group of pro staffers for my call company, MiG Custom Calls. Guess what? They all bought multiple calls from me before I ASKED THEM. They didn’t come to me. They're all people I respect and appreciate. They proved to me that they stand behind my work without needing any incentive. Look for products you enjoy using. I'm in no way affiliated with any outdoor products aside from my own. I use Dakota Decoys because I feel they're the best on the market. I use Banded waders because they're the most comfortable waders I've tried on. I shoot Remington shotguns because they feel the best in my hands. Never been contacted by any of those companies. Doubt I ever will. But I stand behind their products because they've worked for me. Should be the same for anyone wanting to join a pro staff for a company. Nothing gets a message deleted by me quicker than the "oh I love your calls, I'd love to staff for you" message. The first thing I ask is where that person tried my calls. When they have no response, they get the axe.
These pro staff positons should be a mutual benefit for both parties. I use my guys as field testers for new products. If I'm working on a new toneboard, they get their hands on it first. Put that design through the ringer in the field. They give me honest feedback on the design, and we either go with it or make necessary changes. And I've never actually done a show, but all of my guys know that they may be asked to work a booth with me at some point. And yes, they do give MiG Custom Calls a shout out on social media when they kill a mess of ducks. In exchange for their help, we have arraanged some discounts on products, as well as monetary pay for working a booth if I ask them to, and possible payouts if they ever venture into the contest realm. I've also gotten the priviledege to get to know my guys on a personal level. I know their families, their interests outside of just waterfowling. These gentlemen aren't just folks I use to promote my products. They are as much a part of my company growing as myself.
See, nowhere in there did I mention anything free. It's not about free. It's about standing behind a product, and using said product to make memories, and a friendship that should last a lifetime.