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Media Realtions

Generating National Event Publicity in the COVID-19 Era

Bitner Group worked to generate a positive news narrative for the staging of a drive-in air show that attracted a safe gathering in a pandemic “hot spot.”


New York International Air Show



More than 2,500 vehicles were carefully spread across the “Stay Safe and Separate” viewing area of the New York International Air Show in August, 2020.


The late-August timing of the New York International Air Show near Newburgh, N.Y. followed a peak of COVID-19 infections in U.S. metro markets and the spring spike in infections and deaths in the State of New York.  The State was only beginning to relax restrictions on mass gatherings and its political leaders were extremely cautious about allowing the first outdoor events.  Members of the general public were starved for entertainment opportunities and interested in outdoor venues, which were described as more safe to attend.  In response, B. Lilley Productions established a “Stay Safe and Separate” initiative at its New York International Air Show.


The Bitner Group team developed a comprehensive public/media relations strategy with the goal of securing pre-event and post-event coverage, which consisted of venue updates, event day protocols surrounding the new drive-in format and clear guidelines for additional safety measures put in place due to COVID-19. The team developed a targeted media list, drafted press releases, developed key messages and crafted customized pitches to drive event attendance and generate awareness of the “Stay Safe and Separate” initiatives in place. In addition to providing on-the-ground assistance at the Air Show, Bitner Group secured local and national media coverage, amplifying the success of the event and positioning the New York International Air Show as a national model to follow in the era of social distancing.


The New York International Air Show and its “Stay Safe and Separate” initiative became a model of safe and healthy outdoor air shows and other events.  Patrons arrived in more than 2,500 vehicles, which were purposely spread out across the airport grounds.  More than $1.7 million in publicity value was generated for the New York International Air Show, with 57 million media impressions.

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