He Hunts, He Fishes, He Doesn’t Like Modern Sporting Rifles

I admit that I had to do a double take when I saw the Facebook image and news flash across my screen that NSSF has invited Bill Engvall to be the new headliner at SHOT this year. I mean, they bill him as a target-shooting hunter, what would possibly be bad about that?

Well, except Engvall is on the record promoting the idea that no civilian should be allowed to own an AK-47. He also said in that video that he’ll compromise with people calling for an outright repeal of the Second Amendment and ban guns that shoot too many rounds that would ruin meat while hunting.

When fans challenged him on Twitter at the time, he dismissed the concerns of his “redneck” fans: “My Twitter account blew up. All these country fans of mine, and redneck fans were like, ‘Are you a Communist? You can’t take away our guns!'” I even remember challenging him on the issue at the time, and he stood by his statements that civilians shouldn’t be allowed to own them. I was rather shocked that he was responding at all, but he did.

I find it interesting that Engvall is now more than happy to run and deposit the check issued by a group that gets their donations from companies that make and sell the very guns he wants to ban.

I get that Jay Leno’s cancellation put NSSF in a bad spot, but it seems there had to have been better options. To the best of my knowledge, other than mocking his fans who disagreed with him a few months after the incident, I’ve never heard Engvall try to make the situation right by educating himself on the issue. Even Jim Zumbo made the effort after his anti-“modern sporting rifle” remarks.

Another Substantial Financial Loss for Reed

We already know that the Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show was a multi-million dollar event for Reed Exhibitions, and they lost it because of poor execution and dismal communication with their vendors and customers. Today, they lost another show with NSSF announcing that Reed will no longer manage SHOT.

What surprises me the most is that the contract is terminated immediately. I figured they would at least ride out the issue until 2014 is wrapped up since events of this scale are not something you pull together in a day.

We certainly wish NSSF luck in pulling together a successful SHOT Show in 2014, and we take a little joy is knowing that while this is ultimately no big deal to Reed’s overall bottom line, losing a millions over their anti-gun positions is still a bit of a victory.

2010 SHOT Show Busts a Bust

Remember in 2010 at SHOT when the ATF raided the Smith & Wesson booth? Turns out nothing came from that. All charges were dropped and the informant is in prison. Notes TFB:

So in summery, the BATFE and FBI made a high profile raid during SHOT Show to arrest a 21 gun industry people. Their case was hinged on the word of a thief, druggie and all round morally bankrupt individual. Bistrong got just 18 months while the accused spent two years fighting their case. This hardly seems like justice to me.

This is more and more what Uncle Sam’s justice actually does look like.

SHOT Coverage

The Shooting Hunting Outdoor Tradeshow (SHOT)  is underway this week. If you’re looking for coverage, I’d suggest popping over to The Firearms Blog (who is there) or SayUncle, and just keep scrolling. Maybe it’s the bad economic times, but I’m just not as excited about all the new gear this year. Everything I’ve bought recently has been under 300 dollars, and used.

SHOT Slow Down

There are now two reports out that the first day of SHOT seemed to be much slower than years past.  Interesting.

I’ll be curious to know what today is like.  Did folks just want to shave a day off of travel to save a few bucks?  Or, are they doing such brisk business at home that they are trying to minimize time away?  Or, is it because all the distributors and companies are so backordered with current products that they just don’t see much of a need to go play with the new?

There are so many possibilities.  If you know someone in the industry who isn’t going to SHOT this year, or has shortened their time at the event, what is their reason for cutting attendance this year?

Be Still My Beating Heart for Browning

Every once in a while I am shocked and left speechless. After researching so many failed opportunities to really harness new media, Browning’s presence is like a beacon of light shining out of a computer monitor onto the floor of SHOT.

And no, I’m not just saying that because I’m in love with the Cynergy. I’m setting my Cynergy love aside for this review.

browninglogoFirst, I decided to check out Browning after reading The Hog Blog’s review of their new Maxus shotgun from Media Day. I wondered if they even had anything on their website about this new gun now that fans were talking about shooting it. Seems kind of important when it comes to media, yet so many seem to fail at this simple task. If you have people talking about it, make sure they can come to you as the producer and get details so they can make the decision on whether they want to buy it when it is out on the gun store racks.

Score! Browning has the information right on their front page. Even better? It’s under a link to a blog that’s being run during SHOT Show with actual live updates from the floor. I believe my words, upon seeing an actual updated real life inspired post, were inspired by Heeding God’s Call: Holy crap!

browningpageMore importantly, even though they announced their new gun back in November, Browning realizes that writers will start talking about their product now that they have it in hand. Since that starts with SHOT, they made sure that release was still on the front page. Even better, if you’re really interested in this new line, it’s easy to sign up to get more information from Browning as the product rolls out this year. Customers, they are a good thing!

But the good news on new media integration doesn’t end there for Browning. Remember how I highlighted Facebook groups for Ruger that had self-identified customers and nothing was posted about their new rifles and handguns? Browning is so ahead of that curve.

There’s the official Browning page which 2,125 fans, posts started on the discussion board by Browning staff about what customers want from their social networking outreach, an announcement about their own SHOT coverage, fans bragging about looking forward to the new gun, videos, and photos. It does look like postings by Browning are a little sparse, but hopefully that will improve.

I would suggest that Browning bring the 30 fans of the John M. Browning page in on the fun. Maybe join that group and add some fun facts or engage it a little more. It’s a small group, but they are folks who obviously love the man and hopefully the products still produced under his namesake.

However, it’s interesting that Browning opted to start a page instead of a group. It doesn’t appear that they are adding applications to it, but maybe they valued the tracking abilities over the higher profile personal messaging benefits of groups.

The Browning Group (704 members) and Browning-The Best There Is Group (550 members) don’t have any posts or news at all. While I understand that Browning has an official page, I don’t think that it’s worthwhile to write 1,254 members of other groups off.

In addition to mixed results on social networking attempts, the attempt to do and share video gets a “meh” reaction out of me. Maybe it’s because I’ve been so terribly disillusioned by Ruger’s failed attempt at something real, and I should rank Browning’s at a slightly better rating of “it’s there, but not quite right.”

Featured prominently on Browning’s SHOT blog is a video link. They have a small little video player that has, as of “press” time, five videos showcasing products actually on the floor there at SHOT. Four are about other products, and one is actual footage from Media Day. However, none of these videos can be shared or posted. If I wanted to share their video about the absolutely gorgeous John Moses Browning Signature Gun Case with a friend who might be interested, I can’t do that easily. I would have to tell them to go to the video page and find it, something that will become much harder once they upload more videos.

What Should Gun Makers Expect from Viral Content?

I’m a fan of managing expectations. I’d much rather under-promise and over-deliver. I also don’t believe in doing something just to say you did it, just to add another metric that means nothing to some final report.

Since I’m talking about new media at SHOT, I thought I would throw out this quote on the meaning of “viral” when folks think about online efforts.

That’s why if a client says, “we want to create a viral video,” my first question will usually be, “what do you mean by viral?” If it turns out that their goal is to create compelling content that people in their targeted audience will WANT to send to their friends and family, then we’re off in the right direction. But if they really mean, “we want to create a video that will become immensely popular and spread like wildfire and everyone will see it,” we’ve got some ’splaining to do.

Because nobody can really predict whether or not a given piece of video or writing will take off like crazy, and there are a lot of people trying to make it happen. It’s a question of timing, content and opportunity that’s inherently chaotic, and hundreds or thousands of viral attempts fail for every one that gets seen by enough people to hit the bigtime — say, to get promoted to the top of YouTube or picked up on tv. It’s so remote a possibility that it may not even be worth aiming for, other than for fun.

But, good content CAN spread widely to targeted audiences through viral channels, regardless of whether or not it breaks out to a larger/mass audience.

This is much like what I said yesterday about the potential of Ruger’s video efforts. I would never expect them to go viral in the way most people think of viral. But, it would be worth it for them to re-think their efforts so that their current and most dedicated customers could pass around content they find informative and interesting.  And it would be good if they actually produced material on site and posted it timely.  But that’s another issue.

Live Broadcasts Online from the SHOT Show Floor

One of the innovations with the most potential audience growth over the years has been internet radio. Consider that an event like SHOT would have to rely on phone interviews or set up a full radio row in order to get serious radio coverage for their vendors. I’ve run a radio row before. It is not fun. None at all. After it was over, I went straight to the bar.

But with online audio production, the potential reach of an audience is even larger than what it would be with a full radio row. (Whether any host has made that reach is another question.) So that means for anyone broadcasting live, while you still have the work of setting them up with lots of bandwidth, the payoff for SHOT and the vendors has more potential than your general regional radio host.

When you consider that podcasters don’t need to broadcast live if they have purchased their own recording software and gear, then there’s zero effort for a small payoff. Although considering how small most podcasting audience numbers are, it may not be worth the time of most staff at an event like SHOT. Plus, because it’s not written word, vendors must hope that podcasters have some sense of SEO in order to make the archived broadcast turn up in search results.

The most prominent of online broadcasters from SHOT would have to be NRA News. They will be broadcasting live beginning at noon on Thursday and Friday. But perhaps the most interesting element of the NRA News coverage is that it doesn’t stop on the show floor. They actually give vendors and newsworthy organizations year-round coverage when they replay the interviews during their regular show breaks.

However, their big weakness is the lack of linkable/embeddable archives. Add into that the fact that with a flash-only site, it can’t be searched through Google. In order to get the most out of these interviews, companies need to have someone who can record them when they air or request a digital copy from the broadcaster. It would be wise for new media PR staff to set up YouTube channels and special pages on the company website to highlight positive interviews. Integrate these with other new media efforts and traditional marketing videos to keep content fresh for the most dedicated followers. By making versions that can be embedded, a company’s most ardent supporters can become an army of advertisers.

For podcast interviews, I still suggest that companies get copies before the interview goes live so they can do their own editing. With a relatively basic video program, b-roll can be added to the audio to really spice it up, and highlight what you want in order to share it with your biggest fans online.

One of the issues podcasters will face when dealing with PR folks is that their reach, while easily measurable, is tiny compared to radio (internet or broadcast) and there’s less direct return. However, whenever it’s viewed as part of a community-wide conversation, it’s worthwhile for the new media PR to at least pay attention once a year. Is SHOT the best time? Depends on the company and what they have to offer. It’s definitely appropriate at the NRA Exhibits.

UPDATE: I see one vendor did decide to host a radio show in their booth on Sunday.  ACR Electronics has announced they will host “Xplor the Outdoors” with Jim Solomon on Sunday morning.  It airs both regionally and streams online.  Perhaps most beneficial to ACR and the other companies sending representatives to be interviewed is that fact that the show’s webpage features a very informative pre-post making it more likely that archives of the broadcast will be picked up by search engines when potential customers are searching for information about their products.