National Airlines, a premier cargo/charter airline based in Orlando, hired Curley & Pynn in late November 2015 as it was preparing to launch scheduled passenger service that December from Orlando Sanford International Airport to Windsor, Ontario, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Announcing an established cargo/charter airline’s first foray into scheduled passenger service was a tall task, made even taller with only three weeks to plan before inaugural flights.
The Strategic Firm® Approach
With only a few weeks to plan, we had to work efficiently and scale down what would normally be major productions to mark the airline’s launch in each market. Working with airport communications teams in Orlando and Windsor (airport construction limited our ability to plan an event in San Juan), we finalized traditional airline launch activities, including water cannon salutes, passenger certificates and on-site news conferences.
Leading up to the launch, we hired photographers in Orlando and Windsor, and arranged tarmac access for key shots of takeoff and the water cannon salute. We distributed media alerts in each market to invite broadcast outlets to join the news conference, alerting them to the ability to be on the tarmac for takeoff.
Additionally, we developed a news release and fact sheet designating National as “Orlando’s Hometown Airline” to emphasize its unique claim as the only airline headquartered in Orlando and leverage travelers’ existing awareness of the popular destination. We also created individual press releases for each market, with separate releases formatted for travel agent trade publications in the U.S. and Canada. Meanwhile, our senior partners worked with National Airline executives to develop a crisis communications plan.
On the day of the airline’s first passenger flight, a member of our team joined the inaugural flight to Windsor to coordinate the news conference on-site and interview passengers for testimonials about the in-flight service. We worked the phones with local media, travel agent trade and aviation trade media to encourage coverage.
In addition, we provided an embargoed release to the Orlando Sentinel and The Associated Press to ensure day-of event coverage. For the Orlando market, we drafted an op-ed with the National Airlines president’s byline, sharing his appreciation for community and government support that allowed the airline to begin scheduled service so quickly.
We successfully generated awareness for National Airlines’ new passenger service among target publics. A total of 66 print, broadcast and online stories ran on the day of launch and in the week that followed – exceeding objectives for media coverage by more than 300 percent. In Orlando, seven outlets covered the news conference and, in Windsor, nearly all local media attended the event. Coverage by The Associated Press was syndicated in 25 outlets around the country.