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1 July 2015

Memo to Self: A PR’s Guide to the Paris Air Show

Written by: Philippe Polman, Account Director at Edelman

Corporate Reputation, Culture, Energy

It has passed again, the Paris Air Show is over; everyone has returned home; the airplanes are gone; the chalets and stands have been cleared out; Le Bourget airport is back to being a very large, empty apron.

As so while the memory is still fresh, here’s a memo to myself: a short list of things I want to remember for the next show and the one in between (Farnborough).

1. Plan, but not too much. An event that attracts over 40,000 people is a busy affair and while there are many knowns, such as booth size, location, display items, and marketing materials, there are many things which aren’t known despite the best planning – announcements, press engagement, industry news and much more.

2. No fixed strategy for announcement timing. Planning (i.e. a timing strategy) is particularly tricky for announcements. Some years the big boys announce orders on Monday, crowding everything else out. Some years, as with this one, they wait until Tuesday and Wednesday, which previously was the chance for the smaller players to get some media air-time.

3. Organize press events. Surprisingly, press events either with an announcement or not, seemed to work quite well and get a fair bit of media attendance. If companies can conduct press events to demo a specific piece of technology then all the better. Couple it with a customer and media is likely to be interested.

4. Take a little personal time. If you’re there with clients, be sure they are happy (even if you’re in-house). BUT, on top of doing what you’re there to do, be sure to take some time for the sheer entertainment of the event. I was reminded of this when sitting in an interview between a client and a passionate aerospace journalist. He cut the interview short with the CEO because he wanted to snap some shots of the Rafale fighter jet that was about to thunder overhead. And it was OK.

5. Show your passion. There are a lot of aviation geeks. Showing your inner geek is the easiest way to meet others at the show. The sector draws enthusiasts unlike any other sector, and most are useful contacts in one way or another. Take advantage of the huge networking opportunity this presents.

6. Transport is a nightmare. Stay in central Paris. Transport around Le Bourget is a nightmare during the show. Stay in town, in a lovely boutique hotel for which Paris is famous; take the RER from Gard du Nord to Le Bourget and then walk 15 minutes to the show. On the way home, book yourself a MotoTaxi and beat all of Paris’s rush-hour traffic. It’s worth every penny.

Edelman supported a number of clients on their media and social media programmes at the show. Get in touch if you would like more information about the work we do in the aerospace & defence sector.

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