Virtual State Marketing Workshop Prepares State Agencies for 2021 Season

Like most events over the past year, RBFF’s State Marketing Workshop, presented by Fishbrain, had to be held virtually due to the ongoing pandemic. Convince & Convert founder Jay Baer emceed the three-day event with a record-high number of participants attending via Zoom. Focused on the theme of “Shaping the Future with Customer Engagement,” the Workshop featured nine general session presentations, nine breakout sessions, and a roundtable discussion from our sponsors.


Presentations can be downloaded from our online Resource Center and recordings from each session are available on the 2021 RBFF State Marketing Workshop playlist on YouTube.



Benefits of Going Virtual

Hosting the Workshop through Zoom allowed for an historic level of participation. Nearly 500 people from agencies in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., RBFF, its partners, and Workshop sponsors registered for the event, and representatives from 11 state agencies presented.


While in-person networking wasn’t possible, participants were able to virtually meet up through the event app Whova, interact in small breakout rooms during social time, and ask questions and share insights throughout presentations using the chat and reaction features on Zoom.



New Angler and Boater Insights

To kick off the Workshop, RBFF’s Rachel Piacenza and Ipsos’ Stephanie Don discussed the changing face of fishing and boating, taking participants through the highlights from the Ipsos study “Casting a Wide Net: Identifying New Anglers and Boaters and Determining Tactics for Retention.”  



Though fishing and boating are becoming more diverse, there’s still work to be done as explained during the diversity, equity, and inclusion presentations on the final day of the Workshop. Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer of the TX Parks and Wildlife Department David Buggs and Awkward Angler Podcast Host Erica Nelson educated participants on why diverse audiences and representation are important, where to start, and how to ensure all communities and people feel welcome, safe, and respected at each touchpoint of fishing and boating.


R3 Advancements

As the Ipsos study mentioned above showed 90% of new anglers and 94% of new boaters hope to continue participating in the future, many of the presentations focused on recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) efforts.


J.D. Strong and Micah Holmes from the OK Department of Wildlife Conservation, and Andrew Bade and Rick Jacobson from the CT DEEP Bureau of Natural Resources presented how their states were able to increase their State Angler R3 Scorecard scores and advance their R3 efforts.



The following day, Jenifer Wisniewski from the TN Wildlife Resources Agency and Karl Scheidegger from the WI Department of Natural Resources explained how their agencies implemented angler surveys to inform their retention strategies.


Also, Eddie Herndon from the VA Department of Wildlife Resources led a breakout session discussing how his agency used focused groups to learn more about new and returning anglers’ attitudes toward fishing to enhance its R3 efforts.



Digital Marketing Successes

The Workshop wasn’t the only thing to go digital this year: many states focused on digital marketing and advertising during the pandemic to connect with consumers. Iowa was able to successfully target Hispanic women in its recruiting efforts using a hyper-focused digital campaign; Tennessee used geofencing to promote urban fishing opportunities; and Pennsylvania relied on digital marketing to increase its license sales.


Texas used digital marketing to reactive lapsed anglers, and Arkansas implemented a new automated marketing platform for customer outreach. Additionally, Nebraska demonstrated its use of predictive modeling to target anglers likely to lapse.


Organizational Change: The How and Why

Sara Parker Pauley AFWA’s first female president and the director of the Missouri Department of Conservation, revealed how and why her department needed to evolve as the state’s population and natural resources continue to change. Walking Workshop attendees through the process, she highlighted the challenges, lessons learned, and results achieved as her department worked to place the customer at the center of everything it does.




Mental Wellness Benefits

As the country marked a year of pandemic restriction and social distancing, Dr. Sue Varma joined the Workshop to cover her “Four M’s of Mental Health” and how states can use the mental wellness benefits of fishing and boating to encourage the public to participate and recreate responsibility.



The Coveted Customer Experience

To wrap up the 2021 RBFF State Marketing Workshop, Jay Baer gave the keynote presentation titled “Coveted Customer Experience: Grow Fishing by Focusing on the Three Things Anglers Truly Care About.” Encouraging states to be quick, clear, and kind as the industry works to retain the new anglers from 2020 and recruit even more people to the water during the final push to hit 60 million anglers by the end of 2021.



Workshop presentations, recordings, and resources can be found here. Any questions can be directed to Joanne Martonik at