Best practices for leveraging partnerships to attain goals and accomplish R3 through marketing. Through partnerships, organizations can work together to recruit as well as retain and reactivate participants. Partnerships are a great way to build a large body of R3 volunteers to accomplish a comprehensive R3 strategy.
The Great, the Good, and the Just Fine
Partnerships are critical to helping achieve large-scale R3 efforts. Partnerships vary in extent, length and goals. Here are a few things to take into account when talking to new partners and assisting organizations with R3 marketing efforts:
- Organizations should form partnerships around or with organizations that can help them to reach their R3 goals.
- Traditional partnerships take time to develop; but marketing partnerships, especially with partners with similar goals, may develop very fast!
- Good partnerships require at least one main point of contact from each partner organization in order to coordinate events or campaigns.
- Extensive conversations are necessary to ensure it is a good partnership opportunity for all organizations involved.
- Realistic goals and expectations are necessary throughout partner conversations.
- Partnerships never allow for total control in an effort and organizations should be prepared to collaborate on initiatives (rather than dictate total outcomes.)
- Be aware of organizations’ current efforts to seek donations and of how they can support your organization through other channels beyond product such as in a promotion through social media, email, publications, etc.
- Wherever possible, connect potential or current customers with local hunting, fishing, or shooting opportunities as these locations have a high correlation to increased participation.
- Continue to promote and advertise industry-related websites which often list and categorize programs and opportunities by location.
- Publicize training to partner groups such as the R3 Symposium, any AFWA or regional association meeting, and other R3 training. The goal is to help increase your partners’ knowledge and awareness of other R3 BMPs.
When forming new partnerships, it is important to consider what a partnership with an organization may look like before you make the ask. Organizations are offered opportunities to collaborate all the time, and by considering the best ways to work together ahead of time, you will increase your chances to collaborate. A good way to think about it is to prepare a list of services you may offer your partners in exchange for a list of their services. Don’t just ask for something, but have something to return as this is what a true partnership is. If not mutually beneficial, the partnership opportunity may actually be sponsorship or a donation request. To avoid this one-way relationship, you should be very clear with what you want in return and include it in your initial “ask.”
Examples of Creative Ways Organizations Partnered to Benefit R3
- Sharing photos of resources of people, wildlife, or from their events.
- Recruiting volunteers.
- Marketing events through appropriate channels.
- Recruiting mentors.
- Sharing access to new places.
- Promoting mutual R3 events and opportunities.
- Promoting public opportunities to new audiences.
- Sharing membership information to cross-promote efforts.
Educate Partners on Measurable R3 Efforts & Marketing
It is important to make sure that partners are aware of your organization’s evaluation metrics and of your interest to ensure your programs/efforts are mutually successful. While not every event may be able to achieve all R3 goals, the collaboration of multiple partners will show the importance of working together towards one common goal. Some tips to establish common metrics for partnerships include:
- Showing partners the R3 opportunity and what your organization is doing to address it.
- Establishing a common language to discuss R3 and other collaborative efforts.
- Showing effective marketing techniques that have been used to see if it spurs any discussion or interest in helping to market the outdoors in targeted efforts.
- Referencing the National R3 community and National R3 Clearinghouse as resources for case studies on successful R3 marketing efforts.
Involving Partners in Planning
The best and most effective partnerships occur when all partners are involved in each step of a program or effort, ranging from planning to evaluation. Once your organization commits to building R3 partnerships, it is critical to involve your partners in the next steps of planning efforts as soon as possible. Here are some tips of how you may engage partners in your R3 planning efforts successfully:
- Involve partners in creating your organization’s R3 plan. During this process, you can ask them specifically about marketing, and if your partners have an interest in marketing, make sure you involve them where appropriate.
- Balance asks and services between all partner groups to ensure that you offer the same treatment for any partner and they all feel valued as partners in the larger group. Create guidelines if necessary i.e. the event needs to be open to everyone, or free admission/registration, whatever your rules need to be, to help all partners. You can even create MOUs so there is something to document the details of the commitments of all parties.
Event Recruitment with Partners
Partnerships are very helpful when hosting events. Here are some tips to leverage partnerships for better events and R3 efforts:
- Use partners to recruit for events, especially when recruiting from new target audiences.
- Focus on parks and recreation departments, state parks, community centers, and other partner organizations that are less likely to include current hunters/anglers/target shooters.
- Focus on recruiting mentors and volunteers from other partner groups that are more likely to be hunters/anglers/target shooters.
- Defer for guidance from the partner on how best to share your event, and in return how they would prefer your organization to share their events.
- For state fish and wildlife agencies, attempt to be the registration service or have a mutual understanding among partners that one event registration process may be shared among many partners to improve evaluation processes.
Partnership Opportunities for State Agencies
State fish and wildlife agencies have many opportunities to form partnerships to lead R3 efforts forward in their states. In fact, agencies may often serve as the lead partner in collaborative R3 strategy and in doing so provide additional resources to help partners achieve the collective R3 goals.
Within a state, there are numerous partners that agencies may form relationships. Other agencies have formed relationships with in-state partners by:
- Offering grants to other local organizations to hold recruiting events. For instance, agencies may work with bass fishing clubs, Hispanic community centers, state wildlife federations, state chapters of DU, NWTF, PF, QDMA, etc.
- Requiring evaluation of key metrics in the grant guidelines.
- Developing learn to hunt and learn to fish workshops and making train the trainer programs for partners to perform those workshops.
- Offering tackle loaner programs or other gear loaning programs to partners through new venues such as state parks or community centers.
- Leveraging a network of statewide organizations and hosting annual R3 meetings to figure out ways to work better together.
- Building a coalition of state-level marketing partners.
- Working with current partners to identify new potential organizations to partner with such as media or other governmental entities such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
- Partnering with tourism to establish a fishing/hunting/shooting trail in their state.
Partnering with Other State Fish and Wildlife Agencies
State fish and wildlife agencies may work together across state lines or within regional associations to accomplish mutual R3 goals. This approach has been very successful in managing wildlife and fisheries populations and provides ample opportunities for R3 success in the future. Examples of opportunities for agencies to work together include:
- Leveraging recreational opportunities and marketing them to hunters in other states, such as targeting lists of lapsed or nonresident license holders. For example, in 2020, Tennessee and Alabama worked together as bordering states to reactivate nonresident hunters.
- Collaborating to promote fishing on bordering water bodies.
- Leveraging shared resources or platforms to benefit both states for marketing.
- Continuing to network and learn at R3 Symposium, RBFF Workshop, AFWA/regional meetings, etc. and use those relationships to bounce ideas and best practices off each other.
- Becoming a part of the Association of Conservation Information (or other professional networks) and learning the best marketing practices through annual events and communication channels.
- Applying for multistate conservation grants to pilot ideas and benefit all the states in a region or collection of states at one time.
Resource Appendix – Supporting Content
- Success stories/case studies
- Use the R3 community – https://nationalr3plan.mn.co/topics/652438
- TN partners with TWF to put on learn to hunt/fish classes – https://tnwf.org/hunting-and-fishing-academy/ – the state agency funds this program with WSFR dollars at $250,000/year
- List of partners to consider talking to:
- State parks
- Sporting goods retailers (local or national)
- Quality Deer Management Association
- Scholastic 3D Archery
- US Fish and Wildlife Service
- Safari Club International
- State wildlife federation
- State agency foundation
- State extension office
- Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports
- Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation
- National Shooting Sports Foundation
- Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
- Ducks Unlimited
- USA Archery
- USA Shooting
- National Wild Turkey Federation
- Local fishing clubs
- Boys and Girls Clubs
- Nature Conservancy
- Orienne Society
- Local Park and Recreation Departments
- Local law enforcement
- Local government agencies
- Shooting ranges/gun clubs
- Church groups
- Schools (including colleges and universities)
- Local politicians or influential/famous people
- Marketing firms
- Working with social media influencers as partners – https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=521535998513544