Farnborough Air Show enlists debut PR support

The Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC) has hired an external PR agency for the first time to promote the 2004 Farnborough International Air Show in a bid to broaden its focus from sales to the delivery of key industry messages.

‘One of the challenges is that Farnborough has been portrayed as a trade event,’ said Christopher Springham, partner at Luther Pendragon. The agency will work alongside SBAC’s in-house team on a media relations and crisis comms remit for the event, which attracted 290,000 visitors and £4.9bn of sales contracts in 2002.

Springham said that although trade media was a vital target, there was scope to broaden the range of media coverage. ‘We will look at its broadcast value for TV, radio and consumer media, as well as the business pages of national broadsheets,’ he added.

The success of the show, running this year from 19 to 25 July, has traditionally been assessed by the number of sales orders placed, but Springham said SBAC already provides publicity that drives attendance and sales and Luther will focus instead on developing opportunities for the media to explore industry issues.

‘Farnborough represents one moment when all the audiences that SBAC seeks to address congregate in one place,’ said Springham.

Luther’s remit also includes the development of crisis communications plans, although there has not been a fatal crash at the biannual show since 1952. Springham, who joined Luther in May 2002, was acting director of corporate communications for aero-engine maker Rolls-Royce and handled crisis PR for the Paris Concorde crash in 2000.

Beany McLean will lead the Luther team, with senior counsel from Springham and Luther founding partner Charles Stewart-Smith.

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