The Power of Distinctive Specialties

I read an excellent book titled Newsjacking back when it first came out. Newsjacking is:

the process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business

Basically, find something going on that’s getting media coverage, figure out how you relate to that media coverage, then let the media know you’re somehow related.

Yes, this is opportunistic. Yes, it can gain exposure and backlinks. Yes, it must be done carefully to not appear sleazy.

So why haven’t I seen promotion of a PADI Reef Restoration Distinctive Specialty™?

Tubbataha Reef

In case you have been underwater more than you’ve been paying attention to the news, the USS Guardian is a US Navy minesweeper that ran into Tubbataha Reef in the Philippines. Tubbataha has been nominated as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature and from what I’ve seen in pictures and videos, it’s absolutely amazing.

By the way, how is a wood and fiberglass hulled ship a minesweeper?

This environmental disaster is a terrible situation and hopefully the damage will not get worse than it already is.

As someone who likes to help out our marine environment as much as I can, out of curiosity I did a search to see if there was a way for a diver to help in the upcoming reef restoration project.

Since the ship is still in place and complete evaluations haven’t been made, there isn’t a lot available for the diver wanting to help. But you could be priming the pump with newly certified PADI Reef Restoration Distinctive Specialty™ divers!

Get With It Instructors

This is a prime newsjacking opportunity that doesn’t have to be sleazy! Get a distinctive specialty put together where you can train divers on reef restoration and get them to a place that badly needs it!

Yes, the time frame to write a specialty, submit it to your certification agency and get approval isn’t overnight, so perhaps someone out there is working on this, but get the newsjacking machine rolling and announce its pending arrival. Get the website up, announce it on your favorite social media outlets, start contacting your email database, and post about it on your blog.

Sleazy Distinctive Specialty InstructorDon’t Be Sleazy

Some consumers think diving is overpriced (we know it isn’t) and some within the industry like to joke about Put Another Dollar In, but if your distinctive specialty provides excellent education and beneficial skills, do not be ashamed to write one.

I do my best not to go negative here, but I have to use what I consider a negative example of a distinctive specialty.

A couple of months ago, the PADI [Something About Being A Diver Scared of Diving] Distinctive Specialty was shotgun style announced on a variety of forums, followed later by the various SCUBA press release services. I’m not naming it or linking to it because I understand the creator is trying to provide a service he thinks is valuable, but to myself and plenty of others online, it’s a bad concept.

Here’s the idea (sorry, the website is rich on style, poor on content so this is the best quick summary I can find):

This PADI [Something About Being A Diver Scared of Diving] distinctive specialty course is expressly created for people with concerns and fears in context to scuba diving and water.

My thoughts when I first saw this, which were mirrored by almost everyone I saw on the forums was “Isn’t that called an Open Water course?” This was followed up with bashing on PADI instructors for certifying divers who were still terrified of the water. And the anti-PADI crowd made an excellent point, unfortunately.

This specialty, and the fact that PADI approved it, shows that there are instructors who certify divers who are afraid of being in the water. Why was this approved? As a dues-paying PADI member, I have to say I’m a bit annoyed that this widely publicized distinctive specialty is out there suggesting that PADI instructors will certify anybody who pays the course fee.

Even when I was teaching college students, every term I would ask “Why are you here?” and at least one person would explain about how they almost drowned as a kid and are hoping to get over their fear of the water. I’m pretty sure therapists make more than SCUBA instructors, but I may be wrong.

When I had students that weren’t comfortable in the water, I worked with them until they were. I even had students whose fears were so great, I told them to enroll in a private course instead of a group course so they could get the one-on-one attention they needed.

In my opinion, this is an example of a distinctive specialty that is capitalizing on the mistakes of others – SCUBA instructors certifying divers that shouldn’t have been. Maybe this is just a way for PADI to track the instructors who certify divers who shouldn’t have been, I don’t know.

Be an Ambassador for Diving

Keller Laros at Jack’s Diving Locker and his Manta Ray Distinctive Specialty, or Diana Hollingshead at Eugene Skin Divers Supply and her Habitat Diver Specialty are both prime examples of distinctive specialties that bring exposure to their instructors, are valuable to the ocean, and provide beneficial skills and knowledge to students.

A PADI Reef Restoration Distinctive Specialty™ whose certification dives include working on actual damaged reefs would be a great addition to the list of incredibly valuable distinctive specialties. So get to it — that wood and fiberglass minesweeper should be cleared from Tubbataha Reef in the next few months and that reef is going to need some help.

Have you written a distinctive specialty?

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