Bonefishing and Product Publicity

I’ve enjoyed bonefishing for many years in the Florida Keys, Turks and Caicos, and Belize. For a fisherman it is the ultimate. Bonefish, also known as the grey ghost, are challenging to catch and are ferocious fighters. You actually hunt and stalk them while they cruise the flats feeding. Seeing them is a challenge, as is catching one and actually reeling it in. It really takes a lot of skill and experience. The entire process and the bonefish fight is spectacular! One minute you’re enjoying complete serenity and in an instant all hell breaks loose!!

You’re on a small, 16 foot skiff in shallow water. A guide is quietly using his push-pole to propel the boat onto the flats preparing to try to catch a fish nearly two feet long and between seven to twelve pounds in water less than one foot deep!

You’re concentrating on the water, polarized glasses on, looking for signs of hungry bonefish cruising the flats for food. If you can see one, or a school, then your guide will determine their migration pattern and try to get you close enough to cast a small shrimp bait. Not too close because you’ll “spook” them. Not too far either or you’ll miss them. You need to be very accurate and calm. Then, if you get one on the line, the fight is unbelievable! They speed towards the deep water channel and the challenge is to stop them before they get there and break the line.


For me catching a bonefish is like having an editor feature one of my client’s products on the front cover of their leading industry publication and website, or having an editor feature four products on one page!!

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Why do I share this overview of bonefishing? When people ask me the difference between product publicity and a press release, it reminds me of the contrast between bonefishing and catching a sunfish at the river with a worm and bobber! The difference is huge. But that is what a lot of people think about fishing. And the same holds true for product publicity. Many marketers think product publicity is just a free press release.

As a product publicist, I’m creating a visual story, backed by concise copy to stimulate the interest of an editor or web host to publish it for their readers. I’m crafting messages to achieve specific marketing goals: branding your company as a problem solver, getting widespread exposure, generating sales leads, driving website traffic, optimizing organic search, test marketing, attracting OEMs or distributors, supporting distributors and sales reps or something else. That’s effective publicity.

On the other hand, people who write press releases and talk about free press coverage don’t get it. They’re often the ones who think buying distribution on the internet is really publicity which it clearly isn’t. They also think fishing is catching a sunfish using a worm and bobber.


© 2015 Steven M. Stroum


Steve Stroum

Steve Stroum

Steven M. Stroum, founder and president of Venmark International is a seasoned publicist, marketer, and entrepreneur who has been featured in INC Magazine, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, Industrial Marketing, OMNI Magazine, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, The Middlesex News, San Francisco Chronicle, and other media outlets. He has also appeared on numerous radio and television programs, addressed many business and civic groups, and been a guest lecturer at Boston College, Babson College, MIT, and his alma mater Northeastern University.

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