Working the Air Shows: Events are a target-rich area for recruiting

AF Reserve Recruiting

People tour an Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter C-130 at the Melbourne Air and Space Show in in Florida in March. Reserve recruiters will be looking for leads and spreading the Air Force Reserve story at air shows throughout the year. (Master Sgt. Chance Babin)

With the coming of spring, foliage is blossoming, temperatures are warming up, pollen is in the air and inevitably there is an air show going on this weekend somewhere. Air Force Reserve Command Recruiting Service recruiters are hitting the air show circuit aggressively this season looking to fill the ranks.

Air shows are traditionally a target-rich area for recruiting.

“The value of an air show is simple. Basically the recruiters are having a chance to engage with people and create leads themselves while spreading the Air Force Reserve story to the community,” said Chief Master Sgt. Alex Brown, AFRC RS Western Recruiting Squadron superintendent. “Air shows draw large crowds and what better place to get in front of somebody than an air show and tell them about the Air Force Reserve.”

Air shows do draw large crowds, but it is the diverse mix of people that help make air shows such a valuable venue for recruiting.

“There is such a great assortment of people at air shows. And most of the people attending have an interest in aviation,” said Chief Master Sgt. Michael Johnson, AFRC RS chief of advertising. “There are those who are of qualified applicant age 17-39, influencers, ROTC students, STEM students, first responders, prior service and aviation students.”
When an air show is located on an Air Force base it gives an opportunity to highlight the mission

“I believe air shows are of great value. Air shows give the Air Force the opportunity to tell our story and build understanding and support for our military,” said Maj. Gen. Randall A. Ogden, commander of 4th Air Force. “It is also a great way for people to see what opportunities the Air Force has to offer.

In addition to the great recruiting opportunities an air show provides, it also often allows the public to witness the swearing in of the young men and women who are taking on the challenge of serving during mass enlistments.

“I think these enlistments at air shows help tie us to our communities. We would not be a great Air Force without the amazing communities that support us,” Ogden said. “When people see these ceremonies they can take pride in seeing the commitment of these young men and women and some may even feel called to follow in the path they have chosen to serve our country.”

Ogden took part in a joint mass enlistment at the March Air Reserve Base Air and Space Exposition in late April. The joint ceremony included active-duty Army and Air Force along with Air Force Reserve, to honor the 100 year anniversary of March Field, which was an Army air field, an Air Force base and now an air reserve base. It was a way to pay homage to the base’s history.

“First of all I was honored to enlist these men and women into the greatest military in the world and start their careers in the service of our great country,” Ogden said. “Secondly, performing this ceremony 100 years after the first service members established March Field is an historic occasion that I will not forget. Hopefully our newest service members will never forget this great day as well.

One of the ways AFRC RS intends to get its message out to those attending air shows is by drawing in visitors to the new mobile marketing platform, which is an interactive marketing tool used to generate awareness, screen leads and educate influencers on the Air Force Reserve. Recruiting teams are encouraged to use the various attractions of the MMPs to engage with event goers to generate leads and accessions.

The MMP is equipped with large high definition touchscreens that feature interactive quizzes and games, and a photo booth for attendees to take photos against pre-loaded Air Force Reserve branded backdrops. It also features a pull-up bar and a charging station for mobile devices.

“The MMP gives recruiters a more interactive atmosphere,” Johnson said. “It is more approachable and we are able to educate the public on our mission more easily. Recruiters work each area of the MMP and will have an opportunity to engage with the public.

Johnson also encourages any reservists attending an air show to sign up for the Get One Now app and refer someone to join. Get 1 Now is the peer referral program for reservist and AFRC civilians to recommend leads to RS and earn various rewards for qualified leads.

“If they meet someone at the air show who is interested in serving in the Reserve, input their information into the Get 1 Now app.,” Johnson said. “This is an opportunity for Reservist and civilian employees to become a recruiter and help keep AFRC strong.

To sign up for Get 1 Now go to https://www.get1now.us/ or sign up for the free app. If you know anyone interested in joining the Air Force Reserve call 800 257-1212 or go to AFResrve.com.

(Babin is noncommissioned officer in charge of public affairs for AFRC Recruiting Service at Robins AFB, Georgia.)