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Big 3 East Media Show

Story & Photography by Oleg Volk

Alternative to Traditional Gun Shows Provides Manufacturers with Direct Access to Media

The Big 3 East media show started because trade shows are inefficient for most companies’ advertising plans. An average company spends a lot on a booth, brings numerous staff to stand around for several days, and then their efforts are diluted by the nature of their audience. A typical trade show has a mix of vendors, journalists, gawkers and competitors all rubbing elbows. A person at the booth has little way to tell if the visitors asking questions or requesting sample merchandise are well-known writers, possible volume buyers or “bloggers” out for swag and free samples. One top-tier optics manufacturer estimated that 90% of the sample scopes were neither written up nor returned, and of the remainder, half were presented in unfavorable light. US Army Gulf War veteran Dillard “CJ” Johnson, photographer and video producer Andre Dall’au and renowned publisher of the Book of the AK by David Fortier, came up with a way to improve the situation. Based on their brainstorming in 2007, Big 3 media event was born in Central Florida.

The idea was to pre-screen participants, making the event far more efficient for the presenters. Writers, photographers, videographers and other members of the media were invited on the basis of their known track record and later by referrals from current members. To enable the participation of this select group, part of the resources supplied by the exhibitors was used to cover travel and lodging expenses. In turn, the journalists would put the experiences of the event into the front of their writing lineup, generating reviews and news releases at a higher rate than typical of conventional trade show coverage. The first show opened up with three companies presenting to four listeners.

From 2008 to 2011, the event moved to Kansas, becoming in effect Big 3 West. Since most of the pro-RKBA writers are still concentrated east of the Mississippi, and also because Florida was home to two of the three founders, 2012 saw the return to Daytona, Florida—Big 3...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N2 (February 2018)
and was posted online on December 22, 2017

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