Rally GA: Creating media moguls

Tools you can use to grow GA

May 1, 2011

Rally GA

Photo by Karen Shell

Guy Roginson thinks you should be a media mogul. Don’t drop the magazine just yet. Hear him out.

“It’s fairly obvious that a great number of small airport user groups and aviation associations all have great intentions,” Roginson says. “They are predominately made up of volunteers, passionate about flying, who have been involved with their airports for years, if not decades.”

That sounds about right so far.

“These individuals collectively comprise an unmatched wealth of knowledge that needs to be shared with the surrounding world to help rally aviation and mentor new pilots and aviation enthusiasts,” Roginson says.

"Roginson says the airport lacked a sense of community. 'There was no place to go for aviation-related events, and I had a hard time meeting people.'"

The problem is—they don’t know how to get the word out to a world that is increasingly plugged into the Internet and Facebook and Twitter. You need only look to the first person you meet who declares, “I didn’t know our town had its own airport!” to see why this is an issue of growing importance. AOPA’s Flight Training Initiative brings the point home: Two-thirds of survey respondents said they use the Internet for information about flight training. They can’t find you if you’re not out there.

Why bother to share all of that knowledge? It shouldn’t be allowed to go to seed, Roginson says, particularly when there are free, easy-to-use Internet tools that all pilots can use to build their aviation community’s online presence.

“We still see groups struggling to send out text-based emails, or emails with attached pdfs as newsletters,” Roginson says.

Roginson is not a Bill Gates or a Steve Jobs. He’s a small-business owner and private pilot based at Ernest A. Love Field-Prescott Regional Airport (PRC) in Prescott, Arizona. When he moved from San Diego, California, to Arizona in 2004, he was excited to be living and flying in the center of aviation in northern Arizona—an airport that hosts Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott flight department as well as helicopter and fixed-wing flight training facilities.

For all of that, Roginson says the airport lacked a sense of community. “There was no place to go for aviation-related events, and I had a hard time meeting people,” he told AOPA in 2009. “There was no known advocate group and nobody was talking about what’s going on at the airport.”

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His solution was to create FlyPrescott.com, a site that aims to promote aviation. But it is not a static page. FlyPrescott uses a blend of media—the site itself, YouTube, Facebook, and a blog—to serve as a portal that offers news and events, a quarterly newsletter, a flying club and visitors’ page, and safety resources. Roginson uses measuring tools to track traffic to the site and to prove its effectiveness, and has received advertising from local businesses “because they like what they see.”

Could you become a media mogul for your local airport? Roginson says if he can do it, you can too. Explore the tools he uses (see “An Internet Toolkit for Beginners,” below) to create your own Internet empire and then measure your results.

Becoming a media mogul takes a bit of work—but then again, passionate aviators are used to putting in the long hours to promote what they love.

E-mail the author at jill.tallman@aopa.org.

An Internet toolkit for beginners
Four tools you can use right now

Guy Roginson recommends these four tools to get the word out about your aviation efforts, news and events:

Facebook : “Is growing more powerful every day—and [is] free. If you haven’t noticed, Google, Bing and other prominent search engines are not only providing you with search results that include the normal website or business listing you may be looking for, they have also begun providing posts and social commentaries of the search subject from Facebook,” Roginson says. “If you’re already on Facebook but haven’t leveraged Facebook pay-per-click advertising, you ought to check it out. What we like most about Facebook ads is that you can control your ‘daily cost’ of how much you want to spend on advertising. Moreover, you can target specific demographics so that your ads only appear on pages of persons who meet those demographics.”

Blogs: Blogger.com “Is an easy to use, powerful, and free blogging tool from Google. We mention Google because since it’s a Google tool, if you use Blogger.com, your info gets indexed on the web and searchable almost instantaneously. Many companies and individuals use blogs as their websites as they are easy to update and essentially a great content management system. So, if you feel you will be updating a news page or website a lot, a blog may be right for you—no coding knowledge necessary. Finally, Blogger.com has built in Google Analytics with each blog you set up.” For tips on how to set up a Blogger.com page, Roginson recommends doing a YouTube search or Google search, or check out www.lynda.com, a comprehensive how-to site with high-quality videos.

Email-based electronic newsletters: “It is a proven fact that with all this social media and Internet marketing talk (all good news), email is still one of the most powerful tools for getting your word out. After all, aren’t most of the individuals in your email contact list your friends and business associates? Haven’t you received something funny or interesting from your friends that you then forwarded to someone else? They’ll most likely open it up and read your email and pass it on—that’s the beauty of the viral nature of the Internet. Best of all, there’s a tool out there called ‘Constant Contact’ and for a small monthly fee you can create beautiful web pages that can be sent via email. The program is easy to use and has great video tutorials that come with your monthly subscription. More importantly, it has built-in, powerful metrics where you can measure how many people have opened your email, who opened it, and what they looked at.”

Google Analytics: “If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist. If you’re serious about your marketing efforts, Google has another free tool that is very powerful, useful, and effective. This tool generates code for you that you can then embed into your blog or website code in order to track and measure visitors to your site. Although this is easy to use, you may want to talk to someone who is a bit more savvy with HTML code if you feel you’re over your head. I can’t say enough about this tool as it helps you see what people are or are not looking at—therefore allowing you to change the content of your media to meet the current trends and info your readers are following.” —JWT

Jill W. Tallman

Jill W. Tallman | AOPA Technical Editor, AOPA

AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who owns a Piper Cherokee 140.