Big Picture Event Design

Corporate event management in the aerospace and defense industry extends beyond picking the right venue and managing guest lists. There is a great deal to take into consideration, especially when you are inviting government leaders to attend or speak. Understanding the big picture—considering geopolitical sensitivities, ethical considerations, the composition of the guest list, and the nuances of panel topics—is essential. These factors help prevent missteps and ensure that the event not only runs smoothly, but also builds and strengthens key relationships.

We identified three essential event-planning strategies for creating memorable and effective experiences below.

  1. Plan Intentionally and Clearly Define Goals

Understanding leaders’ intent and how the event will enable the fulfillment of mission objectives within the organization is key to everything.

    • What is the purpose of the event? Is it to highlight thought leadership? Is it to enhance connection with a wide audience? Is it to connect with a core group of leaders? Is it to highlight a new technology or a product launch? Everything from the venue selection to content and event promotion will come from having a firm grasp of the purpose for the task at hand.
    • What does success look like? Is success connecting with a certain number of suppliers or potential employees? Is it building relationships with new or established customers? Is it a successful product demonstration in front of buyers that creates conditions for the business development and technical team to have more in-depth conversations? Understanding what success looks like to leadership will ensure that the event is designed to meet mission objectives, from capturing data to securing the right speakers on panels next to your organization’s leadership. It will be the basis for building your programming, picking event partners and building your guest list. 


  1. Assess Risk and Follow Protocol 

Planning events with government attendees or speakers requires extra care. One effective strategy to reach a larger audience and decrease potential conflicts is to have your event as part of a wider conference like AUSA, Fed Supernova, or SXSW. Doing so increases your odds of it being a widely attended gathering. Many conferences will let you pay to sponsor a track or dedicated programming that can be tailored to meet organizational goals. 

When inviting government officials to an event, it’s important to have trained personnel on hand to handle ethics clearance requests. Having a team in place that understands how to avoid missteps and follow government protocols will boost your likelihood of speaker requests being approved. When in doubt or if you have ethics questions, it’s critical to have them reviewed by an attorney who understands the ins and outs of navigating the government contracting space. We often refer clients to Ward and Berry, as they specialize in Gov Con Law.

If you are requesting government officials to speak at your event, make sure to add an additional 10-12 weeks for ethics and travel approval to be on the safe side.


  1. Use Content Strategically 

When thinking about panel topics, it is important to balance new and interesting industry topics that meet organizational objectives with sensitivity to how those topics could be perceived. Some of the more popular aerospace and defense industry panels include addressing problems facing a sector of the industry along with best practices for solving them, technological advancements and new applications for the technology. 

Before publishing abstracts it is always a good idea to have a senior communications leader who understands the industry review it. They will look at how the content balances industry trends with organizational goals, increasing the odds of impact while looking at the overall risk the topic may bring. 

As a full-service communications, marketing, and events management firm, we bring in senior-level communications strategists when planning content for clients. We consider topics from multiple angles before suggesting programming and speakers.  

By following these tips, your organization can increase the odds of creating a memorable event that meets your leader’s goals and builds strong relationships with those who matter most.

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