Remember 10 or more years ago when you heard someone was part of a prostaff and you thought “Wow, that’s what I want to be” or you thought that person must REALLY know their stuff. Do you remember when the title of Prostaff really meant something? Those times have changed.
The title prostaff has taken on multiple meanings over the years and after a lot of research, it’s become clear that the real definition is still unclear. Originally, I believe that the “pro” in prostaff was derived from “PROmotional”. Meaning that person was put on staff to promote a certain product or brand. But over time, people began to associate the “pro” in prostaff as “PROfessional”. This title would be associated with someone who is a professional at their craft by earning a living at that field. So companies will recruit professionals like a tour pro fisherman or professional hunting guide and recruit them to help PROmote their products. So how do you tell what someone is? Are they prostaff or are they on a prostaff? Do you see the difference yet?
So let’s go back to when TV took hold and see how things have changed since then. Back when I was a kid, the only hunting or fishing shows around was a local guys doing a small show out of their houses that aired on PBS on Saturday mornings. Which I felt was always an odd time since that’s when all the outdoorsmen that would want to see that show were outside hunting or fishing. Anyway, as a kid I thought that was so cool watching that and thought those guys were gods. Then as the years progressed and I started reading magazines like Field & Stream and such and started noticing more guys that were always writing these articles. The thing I remember about these guys on local TV and the guys writing is at the end they would take a minute a tell us about the products they were using and mentioning the brands. Back then I didn’t realize what they were doing. They were PROfessionals PROmoting what they use.
Now let’s fast forward to today. If you’re old enough to remember TV back around the beginning, those prostaffers were all guys that have proven themselves over and over either by winning tournaments or guiding hunters to trophies of their lifetimes. Those were people we could loop up to and trust. So what do we have to look at these days?
A prostaff hunter or fisherman comes in a wide variety from the true professional we all know to the kid that really knows how to manage a high following on social media. Do each of them deserve a place and name on the list? Well, these days yes they do. BUT, this is where the word prostaff gets lost in translation very heavily. Does that kid with a large following on Instagram deserve to have the same title as that 12 time tournament champion? I don’t think so, but they all deserve to be something.
The Real Pro
This is the PROfessional you should pay attention to if you want good advice on a certain product and how to use it. They use said brand and make a living doing it. They are the true Prostaff in my opinion and they only ones who deserve that title.
The Discount Staffer
There is a marketing tactic that is being used heavily these days by accepting people to join a company’s staff team by having them purchase their products at a discounted “prostaff” rate. This is a genius tactic from a sales and marketing side of the business to be honest. It puts a company in no financial obligation to back that person while that said “pro staffer” is given the feeling that they have earned that title. Therefor that said person begins to post everywhere that he or she is now on the HUNTING STUFF prostaff team and try to push the product all over as much as they can. It’s free advertising for that company as long as the staffer doesn’t make the company look stupid. Which sadly is the case most of the time. Maybe the staffer has actually used that product and can back it up with proof. But more than likely they haven’t and the first time they’ve seen it was after they got it on discount. But hey, they’re prostaff now. Luckily a lot of companies are calling these positions Field Staff which is appropriate. Just make sure the staffer isn’t confused.
Here is where all the internet sensations should be. As a company, your goal should be using these people to your advantage with product placements and mentions. As a brand, you want to piggyback off these people on a small scale basis while their name or brand is hot. But don’t put all your eggs in this basket as who is trending today, may be rotten tomorrow. The internet sensation is more worried about building their own brand and working with companies at the same time is a benefit to them. But again, you need to be careful about these as they will adapt the title as prostaff as well to build their profile. They may be working to building their own brand, but having big name companies listed in their profile that they “prostaff” for helps them build credibility to their following but will ruin the credibility of the company.
When I see someone’s profile and read about all the companies they prostaff for, it’s kind of a joke anymore. It’s lost it’s luster and meaning over the last several years and I’m not the only one who thinks that. Here are a few thoughts from Twitter on what some think when they see the title “Prostaff”.
Jay Bowden @jb_bowden
“I used to feel like a Prostaff member was an expert in their field. Someone that is so experienced, has spent many hours fishing hard and suffering through the learning curve. A person that you respect immensely after a brief talk, because you can tell instantly they have forgotten more than you’ll ever know. Now it seems that folks that get exposure on social media are the ones representing the products, often with little or no experience using the products themselves. The pro staff has become an extension of the sales force. I think it’s a smart move to help promote your products, but I don’t trust salespeople. They are there to sell the product they represent, not help you find the product that fits you best. When it comes to buying high end fishing gear, you’re better off doing your homework yourself before buying.”
Gavin Pau @Treeninja78
“I think there’s a misrepresentation of the word term ProStaff today. They are more like brand ambassadors. Many prostaffers don’t work directly for the companies, they just “use the products” or endorse them.” Gavin also said, “Definition of ProStaff in my opinion is someone who represents the company and line of products with respect and humility. That person always has to represent him or herself in a positive manner at all times because they are in the public spotlight.”
Kyle Campbell @kcamp3
Prostaff. Oh man where do I start? First of all I think it is a great idea for companies to reach out to hunters and get them excited to get out and hunt. I feel like the whole “prostaff” idea is introducing new hunters and getting older hunters excited about staying with it. However, there are major flaws that I see. You have hunters with the prostaff label that feel they are entitled to something. Like the company owes them for their prostaff label. Also, no it does not mean professional. When a company makes you a part of their prostaff team they are confident you can successfully promote their product. Leading to sales. Not for someone to brag that so and so company made me prostaff. So now I can get major discounts or perhaps free stuff and not give anything in return.
The other big flaw I see are non qualified hunters getting prostaff deals because of who they are or perhaps what they look like. Just picked up a bow, or gun. Never harvested a deer yet are automatically “prostaff” and getting benefits that seasoned and way more successful hunters that would also be interested in and do way more good for the company and product.
What do you think about prostaff these days? Do you still see that title and think that’s someone you should trust their opinion or is it just so common now that you don’t even care? Let me know your thoughts on this topic.