How to use drones in PR storytelling

Overhead drone shot of a packed parking lot

Drones. They’re everywhere. They can be found filming footage over city skylines, monitoring farmland and delivering packages to doorsteps. You can also find drones in PR strategies.

You might remember Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl LI halftime show when she was flanked by LED drones for the performance. Or perhaps you remember the incident at Petco Park (home of the San Diego Padres) in 2017 when a drone crashed into the stands during the seventh inning, just missing some nearby fans.

While drones may have reached a saturation point, the industry is still an emerging one. And just because most people know what to expect with drones, that doesn’t mean you can’t still surprise and delight them.

That’s where public relations professionals come in. Enterprising drone pilots and agencies are coming up with new ways all the time to take the technology and apply it to their work. Below are some methods of using drones to market a brand or assist a client in making an impression.

Keep a nose for news

When you first get your hands on a drone, it’s tempting to want to try the flashiest possible thing or play around for hours (we are all kids at heart). Instead, take a step back and think about how your drone can add to the newsworthiness of an article or piece of earned media.

For example, groundbreakings and grand openings are perfect for deploying some breathtaking drone footage or photography. Offering a fresh perspective can liven up what might be a well-written, yet routine, news story. Specifically, with an anniversary retrospective, a bird’s eye view can emphasize how far the organization has come in the past quarter century. Plus, if your agency has a team member with a drone pilot license then they can take care of the footage/photos themselves. That’s one less thing for media outlets to have to worry about and one more step toward having your story picked up.

Follow rules and regulations

The fastest way to go from an exciting day of drone flying to an unmitigated disaster is not knowing the rules. Even if you come up with a dynamic plan involving drones and present it to a client, they may very well reject it if there’s a risk of running afoul of the law. In order to avoid risking your agency and client reputations, do as much research as you can. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the governing body that regulates drones, has a helpful and detailed section on its website that can answer most of your questions.

Don’t forget social media

Social media and drones go together like peanut butter and jelly, like Jordan and Pippen, like an episode of “This is Us” and a good cry. After you’ve recorded some aerial footage, edited it and made it look as polished as possible, your instinct might be to upload directly to your agency’s website or YouTube channel. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, yet you could miss out on some potential buzz by neglecting your social channels. Think of how you’ll slice content for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even TikTok (drone content creators have their own corner of the platform).

Another potential layer you can add to the drone “cake” is including behind-the-scenes footage. Not everyone is aware of how drones are operated and how the sausage gets made. Show them. It could create a stronger connection between you and your audience.

Have fun

This one pretty much speaks for itself.

Photo credit: Kelly M. Lacy, Pexels

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