The Objective:The goal is simple, to secure Sponsorship with a company of your selection. Think long and hard as to whom you have in mind as far as who you would like to skate for. Not only does it matter a great deal but following the instructions you’re about to read will be way easier if you have an idea of what companies you want to approach.
The Benefits:The benefits differ from one company to another. However, you can usually expect to get gear either for free or for near at cost (more on ProForms later). Having a sponsorship can also make it much easier to get to events you want to be at. There can also be a great starting point for getting your own events together. You'll find out the full extent of what the company is willing to do for you down the line, but for now, let’s just focus on the first part.
The Targets:Think about it, is there a company that just gets you all stoked, a company whose ethos just seems familiar to you? Maybe your favorite board comes from that company and maybe you rip it 24/7. That sure makes the decision easier. However, you can pull sponsorship from more than just board companies. Local shops sometimes make awesome candidates -- why get one type of board when you can get any board? Being sponsored by a local shop means you always have a shop to work on your decks at, a steady supply of groms to stoke out and a location to really get riders together at. That's not all though: your options include companies that produce drinks, headphones, shoes, safety equipment, and skate hardware. If you’ve got a favorite local restaurant, get sponsored by them! Keep it local, think global! There’s no harm in trying. If you are feeling it set your sights.
Contacts:Eventually, you will need to contact someone at the company you have chosen to get sponsored by. How are you going to do this? These days with the internet, doing research and finding contact information is easier than ever. Check their website. Never be hesitant to pick up the phone and call a company regarding who you should talk to in regards of sponsorship. If your local shop carries the company you are planning on approaching, find out who they work with and see if they can get you some contact information or a business card. Attend events the company sponsors and pick up contact information or business cards from the reps there. Always keep a list of everyone you have contacted and their position! Keep the business cards all together and make notes on them if the rep gives you any advice. Ask around! You never know when someone you meet might be able to get you a contact that will one day get you sponsored.
How to put together a Sponsorship Package:This step isn’t necessary but it can help, and it never hurts to have it all together in one place. Gone is the day of VHS demo tapes. A rider's influence can be quantified by so many more values than one tape can impress. With online content, web portals and social networking sites, there are such varied points a rider can influence others from that it’s mind blowing. The goal here is to bring it all together.
In your sponsorship package you should have images of you skating, links to video of you skating, links to all of your social networking sites, links to community sites and information about your level of involvement. List all the events you have attended or planned and links to coverage articles or online news sources about the event. If you have ever been featured in any media source, in any way, shape and/ or form, include it! A burned CD of you skating is a good thing to have. In most cases you can just as easily find a place to load it. Also, a small business card graphic you can use to tag your e-mails that has all of your contact info or that you can print out and keep with you helps if you run into any skaters you want to rip with just pass'm on. Also in this list you should have a short Bio.
Writing your bio:Writing a Bio can be disconcerting for some people. It’s very difficult to really describe yourself. For a start, take a look at the Next Wave section at the back of this mag. The bios there can give you an idea of how to formulate your own bio. Ask your friends and family how they would describe you. Besides the basic interests, add where you like to skate, what style skating you really enjoy and, obviously, any outstanding results in competitions. List every event you have attended. Try to give the reader of your bio a small glimpse into your life.
Finding Help:Getting everything together to produce a good sponsorship package can be hard. What if you don’t have any good video or pictures of yourself skating? Do what you can with your group of friends; see if anyone has a good camera you can use and go shooting. Make some of your sessions about finding the most killer shot of doing what you love. If you’ve got no cam and no friends, then you can recruit. Local camera and video shops often know of people that might be interested in shooting you skating for a few bucks, or maybe free, if you promise to give them photo credits. Local colleges and vocational schools also have a plethora of eager, future professional photographers and videographers that are willing to expand their portfolio with something as dynamic as some solid skate shots. Posting up flyers looking for a photog' or videog' around the school is usually all you need to wrangle someone willing to shoot ya!
Always remember when working with anyone shooting photos or videos, you are their subject for the time they are shooting you and, unless they are paid, you are on their time. So show respect, always be on time and set up the shots and locations they would like to shoot. By all means, give them suggestions if they’re new to shooting action sports. Otherwise, if they want you to drop into that ditch and rock a finger flip on the far wall for the 42nd time, just shut it and do what they ask. Maybe that is gonna be the shot of the session!
Next read Methods for Contacting Companies.
Malakai Kingston is an editor for Silverfish Longboarding, and was generous enough to share this article with us, so we could share it with you. Check out Silverfish for more from Malakai, and for in-depth longboarding wisdom.