Here's a challenging subject for a PR classroom — or maybe airstrip — exercise: What strategy and tactics can help pilotless drone aircraft find their place in the American sun and skies? From their missions in the Afghanistan theater, drones have the image of sneak, deadly attacks. Now they want to fly them over U.S. landscapes?
Sure we do, says the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the drone industry's trade association in Washington. That's a chilling thought to people who don't like drones, like conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer and liberals who associate them with mayhem from the skies, and possibly a threat to privacy. Some airline pilots, moreover, are uneasy about sharing some part or other of U.S skies with drones. Women activists even held a Drone Summit last month on "Killing and Spying By Remote Control," and the industry, indeed, has hired a PR firm to fight back.
For its part, Congress, with President Obama's approving signature, has directed the Federal Aviation Administration to make room for drones in U.S. airspace. So it's not merely an assumption that the pilotless planes will be flying here; it's a near certainty. Again, class, what strategy and tactics, including flight plans, can make that fairly and safely possible?
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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