As a government, aerospace and defense communicator, you’re probably planning now for your company’s next industry trade shows and events. With spring and fall trade show “seasons,” there are plenty to choose from. AFCEA TechNet. Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting and Expo. Air, Space & Cyber Conference. The Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC). And so many more!
Most GovCons participate in at least three or four big events annually. For each one, you’re working with your team to finalize any educational presentations you’ve secured, nailing down your news announcements and preparing your spokespersons to ensure they’re ready to brief media at the event. It takes weeks and hours of time to ensure everything is just right for those two-to-four days of exciting, compressed activity.
Now, put yourself in a GovCon reporter’s shoes. They, too, are likely planning to attend multiple shows each season. With the return of live events, reporters are short-listing the ones they’ll travel to, scanning programs to select the sessions they’ll attend, conducting background research and tightly scheduling their competing priorities.
- News Beat. Every reporter has their own news beat – industries, geographies, companies and technologies they monitor and write about. Even if a publication covers a range of topics, most reporters develop an expertise within a defined area of interest.
- Compensation. Most reporters are freelancers, paid by the article. If they don’t write, they don’t get paid.
- Images. Reporters are expected to submit artwork with their articles. Stock images are accepted, but they must be managed so a publication doesn’t use the photo more than once within a short period of time.
- Articles. Based on our research with GovCon reporters at AUSA, most reporters aim to write at least one or two articles daily during trade shows.
- Interviews. Our same research showed that reporters are conducting five (or more) interviews each day! This means, for every story written, there may be three or four interviews that do NOT yield any press coverage.
- Scheduling. To get to the sessions, interviews and networking activities that are important to them, reporters like to lock down their trade show schedule and plans weeks in advance.
So, if you’re eager for reporters to cover your news, first put yourself in the reporters’ shoes. If you have company news you want to promote, only contact a reporter if:
- Your news is worthy of reporter attention. If you’re announcing a minor product enhancement, a small government contract win or industry award recognition, resist asking for a reporter to cover your news. A website news post and social media promotion is sufficient.
- Your news fits the reporter’s beat. Only pitch reporters who cover your kind of news. Emailing the media about something that’s not relevant will hurt your chances of getting their attention in the future.
- You’re early. Once you know you’ll have strategic news to share at an upcoming industry event, reach out to a reporter early – weeks ahead of time – to see if you can get on their schedule.
- You’re flexible. An interested reporter may want to talk to your executive in advance of the event, so they can write the article early. They can hold it under embargo until an agreed-upon date/time. Or they may want the interview to happen after they’re back home. Be flexible about when you connect, trusting that the reporter is managing their news flow to fit the interests of their readers.
- You have custom images. This isn’t required, but if you have a custom graphic, product image or executive headshot that’s media-ready, your reporter will be immensely grateful! This saves reporters an extra step and makes their job easier. (And you get the chance to visually support your story that the reporter presents to the market).
We’ve been working with GovCon reporters for decades and have tremendous respect for all they do to educate the government and defense industry. As a group, they are smart and dedicated professionals who are proud to translate trends and developments into insightful articles that advance our understanding. Between and during each trade show season, we say, “Thank you, reporters! We’re looking forward to reading more!”