Design Plus Business Strategy

Studio Insider

Prostaff 101

Author: Darin Sims, 2014

Success can be defined as "achievement of intention or achievement of something planned" and a goal as "the purpose toward which an endeavor is directed, an objective, intention". Both go hand in hand in a specific direction. Simplified, success is reaching your hold that thought.


 In the competitive and highly desirable world of hunting and outdoor products, marketing is king. The outdoorsman is one of the most brand loyal consumers in the world, so getting to them first and effectively is a vital component of success in the market. Outdoor companies use a huge variety of media outlets including print ads, social media, radio, forums, blogs and the high profile hunting television show. With so many products bidding for the same consumers, and with the success stories of the BIG names in outdoor television, more and more people want to cash in on the outdoor market.


The term Prostaff is everywhere you look. Product companies, service companies, TV shows, online shows or just a bunch of likeminded individuals with a team name, prostaff are everywhere! What are they doing? What is a prostaff anyway? The widely accepted definition is a promotional employee performing some level of service for some level of compensation. It would be hard to call this a definition since nothing is really defined, but it is understood that all situations are going to be different. In most cases, the agreement between the two parties is vague to say the least leaving both thinking they are in a winning situation.


With larger companies that have hundreds, if not thousands, of prostaff or fieldstaff (some try to distinguish between these two but for purposes here they are one in the same), the prostaff is a number, a cost effective way to achieve brand recognition. They do not typically have demands beyond not using a competitor's product and aren't expecting much more than the prostaff being a groupie. If they get a social media post occasionally or if the prostaff is just using their product in their own circle of friends, the company has achieved their goal. Some large companies utilize "celebrity prostaff", getting successful industry personalities to be part of their team to promote their product. This is usually considered a sponsorship, but the term prostaff is used on the product's media outlets to show their involvement with these individuals or other large companies that are endorsing them. Every potential prostaffer sees this level and wants to get there, but may not understand this is a long, winding, uphill road that takes time, work and a little luck. The celebrity prostaff has typically already put in their time before the public ever hears about them.

For the companies with smaller prostaff armies, the position is much different. Smaller product companies may require the prostaff to be involved in sales, produce photos or video of the product or help at tradeshows. In some cases these things are well defined but that would be the exception. The goal of the company here is to get as much help as they can for as little up-front cost as possible, with the vague promise of having the individual "grow with the company". This road is paved with good intentions on both sides. Without a strong working relationship with well-defined goals and expectations and open communication, this will become a one way street with one side or the other pulling the cart alone. TV shows, or those striving to have a TV show, are as common as prostaff. Shows utilize prostaff for a wide variety of benefits to themselves: to get hunting footage, to gain access to hunting property, to provide services such as editing or videography, sales teams, tradeshow help, etc. Well established shows have a good grasp on these and know how to get the most out of their prostaff and the tasks are left open for the staff to pursue. If you find yourself on this type of team, be proactive and increase your value. Many make it to this point and waste it being content with where they are and forgetting to work. For many of the small startup shows these tasks are typically not well defined and the company is "playing it by ear". This common lack of planning is detrimental to the relationship and business.


So far, the perspective has been mainly from that of the company, so let's switch gears to be the prostaff for a bit. As mentioned previously, prostaff are everywhere and if asked, some of them don't really know what they are doing beyond "promoting the company". Understanding the goals (there's that word again) of the companies that utilize prostaff should help anyone wanting to be part of that team. Regardless of what type of company, show or product, a person wants to be involved with, the individual must set their personal goals before considering any company to prostaff for. Goals are the only way one can determine if they are successful or not. Goals may be as simple as being part of a team, hunting on TV or getting some products that are normally too expensive. The more ambitious may want to pursue a career in videography or become a high level marketing exec for someone. All of these are admirable, but all have very different paths. The companies effectively utilizing prostaff know what they want. The prostaff has to do the same to avoid wasting everyone's time. It is never a good situation when the company and prostaff are not on the same page. Resentment and hard feelings are inevitable when one or the other feels like they are getting the short end of the stick. Being forthcoming with goals may open up doors with the company as well. If the company knows their staff wants to grow, they are more inclined to give them that opportunity. Any company or group worth being part of is not looking for someone that is just happy to be there. We all know that type where the "Prostaff" title was the end game for the...nothing left to do here, I have reached the pinnacle. A person with goals that align with those of their employer will create a great working relationship. If a company does not have goals for their prostaff, they probably aren't ready to make that commitment. The same is true for the prostaff.


Defining goals...let's return to the opening paragraph. This will apply to all parties involved. Success can be defined as "achievement of intention or achievement of something planned" and a goal as "the purpose toward which an endeavor is directed, an objective, intention". Both go hand in hand in a specific direction. Simplified, success is reaching your goals.

BE SPECIFIC. You have to know where you are going to be able to know when you get there. "Increasing revenue" is a start of a goal, but not enough. "Increasing sales revenue by 30% in the first quarter" is a goal. "Creating a win win situation" is a motivational speaker's talking point, not a goal.

BE REALISTIC. Being ambitious is great but keep one eye on reality. Setting your initial short term goals too high will only lead to being discouraged early in the process.

BUILD. Short term goals should be building blocks to your long term goals. Break your workload down into manageable pieces. The little things will make big things happen.
TIME. Put a time limit on the goals you set. This is will help you stay focused and not lose sight of the finish line. A goal without a timeframe is rarely achieved.

REVIEW & ADJUST. Situations change so be able to change with it. Speed up, slow down, change direction, move tasks around, add resources. Be flexible without losing the intent of the original goal. Being too rigid or too loose can stop progress. Reaching your goals is being able to handle the changing environment we work in.

Prostaff can be very beneficial to both the company and individual if handled correctly. Whatever side you find yourself on, take the necessary steps to set expectations. What do you get, what do you give, what is the end result? As with any business, be willing to put forth the effort and time required to advance. Its a hard industry to get into and an even harder one to stay in. Know your purpose and your direction and success will be knocking at your door.