I was pleased to read Grand Rapids Press Outdoors Editor Howard Meyerson's column Saturday. Essentially, he said the outdoors is for those who like to observe wildlife as much as for those who like to hunt and fish. As an avid backpacker, kayaker, and camper, and one who doesn't hunt or fish, this resonated with me.
There are also some PR lessons here.
First, Meyerson cites a Fish and Wildlife Service survey that proves his point--71 million Americans observed wildlife in 2006 and spent $45 billion doing it. Research is always the first step in any effort to understand one's publics.
Second, the entire column shows how important it is to consider ALL publics. FWS and other natural resource management agencies do tend to communicate to and make policy for hunters and fishermen only. We can see in Meyerson's column that there is a huge--and lucrative--public that has been overlooked for too long. How often have you focused on the 'obvious' publics only to realize later that you'd missed an opportunity or responsibility towards others?
Years ago I wrote a magazine article about a man who made bamboo fishing rods. I'll never forget the sign in his shop: "It's not about catching fish, it's about being where fish live." Indeed. That sentiment applies to PR as well as fishing.