How proactive, strategic public relations helped drive attendance to one of the nation’s premier UAS events


Red River Valley Research Corridor’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Action Summit is one of the premier UAS events in the nation. Presenters include leaders of federal agencies, universities and commercial entities who cover topics such as trending UAS technologies, practices and current issues facing this rapidly growing industry.

This year’s summit was held May 30-31 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, ND. The theme, “Where the Future Gets its Flight Plan: Global Destination for the UAS Industry,” focused on worldwide industry growth potential and expansion to civil and commercial markets.

This year, the event was co-hosted by U.S. Sens. John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp, Northrop Grumman and the City of Grand Forks, and it attracted an international audience of more than 350 attendees. The summit also received strong support from North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, U.S. Rep. Kevin Kramer and the entire Minnesota congressional delegation. With all this great backing, we’re inclined to think it’s kind of a big deal!

So, you’re probably wondering what it takes to put on such a complex event.

It’s all about the planning and the people

We begin planning for next year’s summit before the previous summit has even wrapped up! Next year’s dates are Aug. 26-27. One essential aspect of event planning is to assemble a planning committee with relevant technical background and industry connections. Additionally, our summit goals are multifaceted:

  1. We help facilitate connections that create industry partnerships that fuel the development of new economic enterprises. 
  2. The summit showcases important UAS research, development and commercial activities in the region.
  3. Ultimately, our efforts are designed to serve as a catalyst for boosting the level of economic activity in the UAS industry by bringing together partners from all over the globe.

It’s all about finding the right location

You know what they say…location, location, location. For the UAS Summit, several organizations in the Grand Forks region bring a unique mix of UAS assets and programs that make it a hot spot for UAS. There are quite a few benefits to hosting the UAS Summit in the Red River Valley, like:

Grand Forks and the state of North Dakota are taking aggressive steps to be a leader in the UAS market, including the development of a UAS business park called Grand Sky and numerous other efforts, including the UAS Action Summit, to make our region an international epicenter of UAS activity.

It’s all about the promotion

Engaging the right audience is paramount to the success of any event. We begin our public relations efforts as soon as the dates are set for the event.

First, we take time to develop key messaging. Then we begin engaging with the media at local, state and national levels. Up until the first day of the summit, we’re consistently working to generate pre-summit media coverage in an effort to build awareness of the summit, which in turn attracts participants, sponsors and exhibitors.

Finally, we identify potential story ideas and use them in continued outreach with media to encourage their attendance at the summit.

Media at Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Action Summit


The 2013 UAS Action Summit garnered media coverage from numerous local, state and national outlets. Here are a few links to our stories:

Check out the Red River Valley Research Corridor website to view more great media coverage or to learn more about the UAS Action Summit.

At Flint, event planning, production and media relations are a huge part of our creative process! For seven years, a number of Flint Group companies have participated in the organization of the Red River Valley Research Corridor’s UAS Action Summit, which is held at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. Praxis Strategy Group manages the Red River Valley Research Corridor. Media Productions produces the event. Flint Communications leads the public relations efforts.

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