Though the aviation industry gets plenty of coverage, the vast majority of it focuses on the trials and tribulations of commercial airlines. Private and business aviation stories in the traditional business and lifestyle press tend to be few and far between.
But it's not the lack of interest that bothers those within the industry - it's the tone of the coverage. Though prices for private planes begin at roughly $200,000 for a small plane and escalate up to more than $50 million for an executive jet like the Gulfstream G550, the one thing PR professionals in the private/business aviation space bristle at is the perception that these planes are only playthings for the rich and super-rich.
"We don't talk about lifestyles of the rich and famous - that's not how we market ourselves," explains Maryann Aarseth, VP of corporate communications for NetJets.
But Jessica Salerno, executive editor of the trade magazine Business & Commercial Aviation, suggests it can be hard to shake general interest and business reporters off the "fat cats" angle.
"This industry does get some coverage in the business press, but it's covered badly," says Salerno, who adds that she's routinely interviewed by business writers. "It takes a while to learn this market, but the general press don't do that and often even get the name of the airplane wrong when they're covering things like a plane crash."
That's not the case with either the enthusiast or vertical press covering business/private aviation. Most of these vertical outlets tend to be staffed by veteran writers - some of whom may be pilots themselves - so there's very little need for either reporter education or for PR professionals to provide experts to add that third-party perspective.
"A lot of the coverage of us tends to be product reviews," says Pia Bergqvist, Cessna media relations manager. "But even given that, there's still a wide variety of stories - I've sat in on interviews on the paint process, the interior designs, the service centers."
"We have our own guys who go and fly these things and then do a pretty rigorous pilot report," adds Salerno. "We also have staff writers who are experts in things like airplane interiors."
But Murray Smith, founder, publisher, and editor of Professional Pilot magazine, says there are some opportunities for PR, adding, "We're always looking for great photos, especially if they're exciting shots of things like a Bombardier water bomber used to fight fires."
PITCHING... Business aviation
Avoid the luxury angle - stress how a business jet purchase can increase a CEO's productivity, rather than the leather seats and plush carpet
Leverage general issues, like rising jet fuel prices and the move to making planes more environmentally friendly, to work business and private jets into broader aviation stories
Flying on a private plane or jet is a compelling experience, even for the most veteran journalists, so get reporters on your client's aircraft even for a short flight