Why I Didn't Stop by Your Conference Booth.

Author:Magnuson, Stew
Position:Editor's Notes - Conference notes

* Another Special Operations Forces Industry Conference has passed, where National Defense had three reporters on hand and about four dozen requests to stop by exhibitors' booths to check out a new product or to interview executives.

That was preceded by ITEC in Sweden, the Navy League's Sea-Air-Space and Satellite 2019 shows, the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, the Australian Air Show, the Association of the United States Army's Global Force Symposium and the Air Force Association's Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando.

All these conferences have one thing in common: about three to four weeks ahead of time, media relations folks begin inundating our email boxes with requests to stop by their booths for interviews. Many of them have a new product to show off and they want some publicity. Some are big contractors with a big defense program and they want to let the world know how well it is going.

Other vendors just want to see their company's name in our magazine and their executive quoted as an expert. "Stop by our booth and speak to our executive. He's a fascinating guy. He used to serve in the military!" Well, I need a more compelling reason than that.

I was cornered by a public relations hired gun at the SOFIC show and asked about the best way to place a story in National Defense. I will share what I told him with everybody.

When it comes to these big conferences, the odds are against you. They are a bit better when the show is near our office in Arlington, Virginia, and I can dispatch the entire staff.

For most out-of-town conferences, we can only afford to send one correspondent. That reporter has to cover it all. We prioritize keynote speeches by service chiefs and other VIPs, press availabilities with newsmakers in the military, and panels with topics that are of interest to us. Next, would be press availabilities with major contractors with major announcements to make. And then the reporter has to sit down and compose stories. That leaves little time to walk the exhibition hall or do booth interviews.

So, you're a public relations professional and you're tasked with getting some positive press about your company's new illudium Q-36 explosive space modulator because--as everyone knows--publicity is more powerful than advertising. We get that.

First of all, don't send me your press release as an attachment or a link. I'm not opening attachments from senders I don't know. I'm not going to your link. Put the text in the body of the...

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