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(Reuters) – Major technology and aerospace companies including Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), Intel Corp (INTC.O), Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O), Raytheon Co (RTN.N) and Airbus SE (AIR.PA) are vying to take part in a new slate of drone tests the United States is set to announce on Wednesday, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The wide interest in the U.S. initiative, launched by President Donald Trump last year, underscores the desire of a broad range of companies to have a say in how the fledgling industry is regulated and ultimately win authority to operate drones for everything from package delivery to crop inspection.
The pilot program will allow a much larger range of tests than are generally permitted by federal aviation regulators, including flying drones at night, over people and beyond an operator’s line of sight.
The U.S. Transportation Department is set to announce 10 winning state, local or tribal governments to host the experiments out of 149 applicants. Secretary Elaine Chao will make the winners public on Wednesday. The governments in turn have partnered with companies who will play a role in the tests.
At least 200 companies applied as partners in the program, a U.S. official said.
Companies including Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Boeing Co (BA.N) and Ford Motor Co (F.N) have also expressed interest in the program, the sources said, though it was unclear whether they all had joined applications and what they would be testing.
Qualcomm confirmed it is on at least three applications, and Intel said it hopes to participate in the program. The other companies did not immediately answer requests for comment.
Changes to U.S. policy that result from the tests are not expected for some time. Package delivery, which can be particularly complex, might not take place until later on during the program.
Earl Lawrence, who directs the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s unmanned aircraft systems integration office, told a Senate panel on Tuesday that many of the other projects “could go forward under the FAA’s existing rules, including with waivers where appropriate.”
He said after “the 10 selections for the pilot program are announced, the FAA will be reaching out to other applicants, as well as interested state and local authorities, to provide additional information on how to operationalize their proposed projects.”
The FAA is also working on proposed regulations to ensure the safety of drones and their integration into U.S. airspace.
The initiative is significant for the United States, which has lagged other countries in drone operations for fear of air crashes. That had pushed companies like Amazon to experiment overseas.
In the United Kingdom, the world’s largest online retailer already sends some packages by drone. It completed its first such mission in late 2016, taking 13 minutes from click to delivery.
Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco and David Shepardson in Washington; Additional reporting by Stephen Nellis and Paul Lienert; editing by Chris Sanders and David Gregorio
Whether you are looking to gain awareness, improve SEO, or increase sales, having great exposure can help you get there. But PR is not a band-aid for an overarching business problem–nor is it a get rich fast technique.
A great PR strategy can take many years to build. Over the years, I’ve seen many companies start their efforts, only to stop before they’ve given the program enough time to develop. I’ve heard dozens of marketers and founders explain that they quit their PR efforts after their pitch didn’t get picked up by enough outlets in the first few week. Gaining great coverage takes time, pitch optimization, and persistence.
Often times, if a brand could have taken a step back after a rejected story to tweak their angle and try again, the second story they pitch could have been widely successful. Here’s why you shouldn’t throw in the towel for your PR outreach just yet:
1. Relationships take time to build.
Imagine you are at a party. You immediately start talking about you, your business, and your news. Very quickly, many people will not want to talk with you.
The same holds true when you’re building relationships with the media. It takes time to get to know a reporter and what they are writing about and then creating relevant pitches that are helpful to them. When you build trust and rapport with reporters, they’ll be more likely to open your emails, which is the first step to gaining great coverage.
You can build a better relationship with reporters by becoming well versed with their past writings and looking for opportunities to tell them stories of interest. Take a look through their Twitter accounts and personal websites to learn more about what they’re covering and the news that is important to them.
When you reach out to a reporter for the first time, show them that you are knowledgeable about their area of coverage and that your story fits their angle. When we reach out to reporters we make sure to spend time reading their past work to ensure our pitch is the right fit for their area of expertise. It can be easy to burn a press bridge simply by not personalizing an email enough–take your time, do your research, and get to know reporters for the long term. Slow and steady wins the race.
2. SEO is a long-term game.
When you receive a press mention, you’ll likely see a spike in traffic on the day it’s published–but don’t discount the future traffic. If you are a mattress company and you get listed as “The Best Mattresses Ever Made,” you’ll benefit from both the spike and also later from people who are searching for mattresses and come across the article. Traffic from press articles should be monitored for months to come, even after publication.
An authoritative link will not only drive traffic, but will also help your website in the search engine rankings. This boost will not happen instantly. With time and relevant inbound links, you’ll see not just your referral traffic grow, but also your organic search traffic from Google.
3. Press takes commitment–and a bit of luck.
It takes a while to learn about the best way to pitch your product. Each time you pitch, you’ll learn more about what copy and message resonates with reporters.
If you’re not seeing any success, it does not mean you don’t have an interesting story. It might mean you are pitching to the wrong reporters, your email subject line needs work, or you simply didn’t follow up.
By tracking your emails with a tool like SideKick or Yesware, you’ll be better able to see who is opening your mails, what they’re clicking on, and how many times they went back to the email. You can use this data to refine your pitch the next time. With the media always changing, it also takes a bit of luck to pitch at the right time to the right reporter with the right story.
Pitching takes a strong backbone and you’ll get a lot of rejections. If you haven’t had success yet, keep trying. And if you’ve been pitching for months with still no results, it might be time to call in a PR pro to help you optimize your pitch and press kit.
If you’re looking to reap the benefits of the press, start early, optimize often, and plan your strategy for the long haul. This time next year, you’ll be glad you stuck with it.
The Trump Administration said Wednesday that unspecified local and state agencies as well as tribal authorities would help the federal government to create a set of drone regulations for commercial flights.
The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration, which oversee drones in the national airspace, released rules in Aug. 2016 for how businesses can use drones for tasks like aerial photography or to monitor farms. However, many states and local governments have enacted their own drone rules that in many cases conflict with current FAA regulations.
Although the FAA has approved some companies to use drones to photograph property damage, for example, doing so could potentially violate local privacy laws if drones take pictures of nearby homes without their owners’ consent.
This mishmash of local and federal drone rules in addition to the hurdles to businesses of obtaining FAA approval for commercial drone flights has caused some companies like Amazon amzn and Google goog to move their test flights to countries like United Kingdom and Australia where laws are more lax.
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The Trump Administration’s drone program is intended to make it easier for companies to test drones by having local authorities, tribal government, companies, and the federal government work together. It’s also designed to give businesses more flexibility to fly drones at night, beyond the sight of human operators, and over people’s heads—things that are currently banned without approval but important to making drone deliveries a reality.
“Overall this is a hugely important step forward,” said attorney Lisa Ellman, who helps run the drone advocacy group Commercial Drone Alliance. “The intent is to open up the skies to commercial drones. It will help us gather data to inform future rule making.”
Still, the Trump Administration revealed limited details about how the new drone program, planned for the next three years, would work. For example, the administration said in a statement, “Prospective local government participants should partner with the private sector to develop pilot proposals,” but it did not say how those partnerships would function.
The DOT said it would evaluate at least five applications in which local authorities and companies will jointly propose plans for potential drone projects in certain municipalities. But, the DOT did reveal how it is determining the appropriate projects or its criteria for how it is selecting participants, likely to be many considering it will include numerous local governments as well as companies with competing interests.
The department also did not say how much the federal program would cost, but it added that the cost would be revealed in the coming days.
Nevertheless, several organizations and companies that are interested in drones are pleased about the Trump Administration’s initiative.
“The beauty of this program is that the White House is allowing everyone from cities to states to tribal authorities to apply,” Greg McNeal, co-founder of drone startup AirMap told Fortune in an email. “States and cities will apply to open the airspace for operations that they’re most interested in, that are the best fit for local conditions and complexities, and that allow them to welcome drone operations that can kickstart their drone economy.”
Drone advocacy group Small UAV Coalition, which represents companies like Google’s parent, Alphabet, and Amazon, also commended the program.
“As the pilot program gets underway, the Coalition looks forward to continuing to work with Congress, the FAA, and all stakeholders to advance long-term FAA reauthorization legislation that will help ensure that the United States fully embraces the immense economic potential and consumer benefits of UAS [drones] technology in the near-term,” the group said in a statement.
But just because the new drone program debuted, doesn’t mean that local authorities, the federal government, and corporate interests won’t butt heads. States are still free to enact their own drone law regardless of Trump’s proposal.
Supporters of Trump’s plan like the Small UAV Coalition, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, and the Academy of Model Aeronautics praised how the new drone program still designates the FAA as the ultimate authority over drones, trumping local governments. One reason these groups like this is because local laws often impede corporate interests especially surrounding privacy laws, thus limiting the ability of companies to launch commercial drone projects.
“We are encouraged that this new program appears to preserve the FAA’s authority over the nation’s airspace,” said Academy of Model Aeronautics spokesperson Chad Budreau.
About why it’s taken so long for such a framework to be developed, Ellman explained that’s just the way Washington D.C. politics works.
“I think when you’re dealing with any major federal government policy, there’s just a lot of ‘I’s’ to be dotted and ‘T’s’ to be crossed,” Ellman said.