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Sponsored Athlete Etiquette

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The second part in our sponsorship series – Part 1 was how to become a sponsored athlete – now, how to keep it.

Simply put, be the best sponsored athlete you can possibly be.

Here’s how…

Author Lesley Gale with Brit Chicks 8-way at 2012 World Championships, Dubai
Photo by Stikkos

(This is Part 2, read Part 1 if you haven’t)

Keeping Sponsors

So, you’ve been lucky enough to find sponsorship, hurrah! Job done! 

Not at all, like joining a formation, this is where the work starts. Hopefully this is the beginning of a long-term partnership. This requires effort on your part. 

Being a sponsored athlete involves a two-way relationship. If your sponsor is an equipment manufacturer, it means that you use equipment that you believe in, that you rely on, that you love and that you would recommend to any other athlete or skydiver. When you truly demonstrate that with authenticity the manufacturers will want to support you because you are already a valued brand ambassador.

Maxine Tate
Take some photos for each of your sponsors 😉
Photo: Brit Chicks showing off their Cookie bags

Read the Contract

Most likely there will be a sponsorship contract to sign. Read it thoroughly, be clear about your obligations and make a concrete plan to fulfil them. Most are annual contracts so check in at six months, re-read and make sure you’re on track.

You received gear – so now it´’s your turn. Showcase product-specific content. Being creative helps a lot! Post your gear check routine. Show what your CYPRES settings are – and explain why you did a permanent activation raise or set it to Speed mode.

Be easy – mostly things are just a google search away – search for things you need before requiring them – like graphics, embroidery files, logos. Make proposals but follow the guidelines. If a logo is always white – there is a reason for it.

You’re sponsored, did you connect yourself to the brand socials? Did you rate them there – if not, why not?!

Be helpful, if someone has an issue/questions with their gear – help them. If you can’t, connect them to your contact. Don’t be rude or demanding. There is a time, a limit or a budget for everything.

Jens Gosmann, Management Assistant, CYPRES

Think about branding in images – this fun shot of Amber Forte and Espen Fadnes has great logo placement for Squirrel (Freak4) and OneCall
Photo by Andreas Hemli

Keep in Touch

Communication is key. Keep in touch with your marketing contact. Send screenshots of your social posts, cool photos, video clips, short updates on progress towards your goals. Be grateful. Tell the sponsor how their support has facilitated you. Give honest feedback on the equipment or service that is provided, to help development. Give positive feedback too, of all the things you like.

Maybe things didn’t work out as planned, you lost a team member, and don’t look on track to achieve your goals, just let the sponsor know. They are humans and skydivers too. 

Stay in touch with the sponsor’s marketing team, regarding team changes, illness, accidents, we want to know you.

Pat Thomas, CEO, Sun Path Products
Take some fun photos for social media 😉
Photo: Brit Chicks UK 8-way at the World Cup, Saarlouis

Images

Take the time to take photos for your sponsors – teams and individuals – in your matching gear. Ground shots and freefall images. Use different angles to highlight different logos. Take some fun ones too for social media. Videos or video clips too but only short and amazing. Only send a carefully chosen selection to each sponsor and try to vary the mix.

DO: Send a framed photo to your sponsors at the end of the season signed with ‘Thank you from Team XX’. 

DON’T: Share images of you doing uncool things with sponsored equipment.

Brands are looking for ambassadors and exposure. Keep working on your skills, travel and keep investing to live those epic moments and out of that will come a bunch of content, Voila! Now share the content in a professional and correct way, this is our job. 

Will Penny
If you’re lucky enough to have sponsored rigs, wear them on the same jump of the cycle
Image: Brit Chicks 8 in their Sun Path Odysseys, by Stikkos

Teams

Teams have a special responsibility to present themselves as sponsored teams, not individuals. Ask your sponsors for T-shirts, to wear on the same day at a competition to give a team feel and promote the sponsor for minimal outlay. Many teams have two sets of rigs – the matching sponsored rigs, and everyone’s personal rig. Wear your matching rigs on the same jump. If you don’t then most of the photos from team training are useless to your sponsors. 

DO: Make a jump or two with an outside camera, or let your regular cameraflyer roam around to get some different angles and unusual perspectives. 

DON’T: Tell people how you’d have preferred sponsorship from a different manufacturer but you were over-ruled by the rest of the team

SDC Rhythm XP set the bar in terms of sport development in formation skydiving with over a decade of continued coaching, competing, and load organizing. They balanced the personal goals of competitive skydiving with the desire to train and mentor the next generation. And Sun Path has been part of that journey, we saw the value they gave back into the community and how our brand values aligned with that. 

Karl Meyer, Sun Path Products
SDC Rhythm XP set the bar in terms of sport development in formation skydiving
Photo courtesy of SDC Rhythm XP

Be Loyal

Only say positive or neutral things about your sponsor and their gear/dropzone/tunnel/staff. If there is something you do not like about the gear, tell your sponsor, not anyone else. There may be a simple solution – for example, your ‘canopy with hard openings’ may just need a different pilot chute. Or, the sponsor may be able to make a modification that improves the product for everyone. For example, Jack Bradford of Symbiosis Suits worked with Siân Stokes to develop a tighter bootie with a higher level performance. 

You are joining a much larger family as a sponsored athlete. Give honest feedback to your sponsor – not everything is perfect!

Pat Thomas, CEO Sun Path Products

DON’T: Jump ship to another sponsor. If you are lucky enough to get sponsorship, stay with that company for as long as they will support you. 

Our best asset we can give is ourselves, create your own style, believe in it. Be you, be friendly, approachable and willing to transmit your understanding to anyone who is willing to receive it. Give technical feedback to your partners, this is very valuable. Keep your gear new, well maintained and lead by example. Keep charging, keep searching and living the dream, oh and get your orders in, there is a long Vector lead time!

Will Penny
Keep investing to live those epic moments and out of that will come a bunch of content, Voila!” 🤩
Photo and quote by Will Penny, sponsored by PD, UPT, CYPRES, Tonfly and LB Altimeters

What we do – it takes a village. Your sponsors are part of that village – they’re the ones that believe in you, encourage you, support you and root for you. It’s an honor and a privilege to be a sponsored athlete.

Maxine Tate
Maxine Tate, supported by PD, Sunpath, CYPRES, Cookie, Liquidsky, Alti-2, Flight-1, Flysight, Chicagoland Skydiving Center and Skydive Carolina

Addendum: Consult your Potential Sponsor

The above is a general guide, compiled from a range of sources. But each manufacturer may have slightly different priorities. Check their websites to see if there is any information for potential sponsored athletes

PD has sponsorship guidelines and an application form here: ‘How to earn a PD Sponsorship

You can apply for a UPT sponsorship here


Further reading

Maxine Tate

SunPathlete Spotlight: Maxine Tate

Tamara Bartlett interviews Maxine Tate to find out what’s kept her at the top for so long

The Learning Process

by Maxine Tate

Maxine talks about the cycle of learning, and applying the same principles to a new discipline

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Meet: Lesley Gale

Lesley has been in love with skydiving for 35 years. She is a multiple world and national record holder and a coach on 20 successful record events worldwide. She has over 100 competition medals spanning more than 25 years and has been on the British 8-way National team at World events. She started Skydive Mag to spread knowledge, information and passion about our amazing sport.
Lesley is delighted to be sponsored by Performance Designs, Sun Path, Cypres, Cookie, Symbiosis suits and Larsen & Brusgaard

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