Ready for Takeoff: Launching the Mid-Atlantic Opportunity Park
In 2022, Cambrian Hills Development Group announced plans for an aerospace innovation hub featuring a 100,000-square-foot maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility at Pennsylvania’s John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport (JST). Along with meeting a growing need for aviation business activities, the initiative – including additional retail space for parts suppliers, paint shots and distribution facilities – was envisioned to create opportunities in a region with historically high unemployment rates and income disparity.
When Cambrian Hills Development Group was ready to market the MRO and retail space to potential tenants, it retained Curley & Pynn for related communications advice, counsel and program management. After creating a verbal and visual identity for the initiative, now known as the Mid-Atlantic Opportunity Park, as well as foundational communications tools, we faced the challenge of publicly launching the brand.
With a goal to help Cambrian Hills Development Group generate awareness and excitement about the Mid-Atlantic Opportunity Park among potential tenants and other key stakeholders, we set out to achieve the following objectives within a six-month period:
- Secure at least 15 news stories among local, regional and industry media outlets;
- Reach a combined readership of 100,000 aviation business leaders and decision-makers;
- Confirm at least three (3) state or federal leaders to speak publicly in favor of the initiative;
- Increase LinkedIn following by 250% and secure 5,000 combined social media impressions; and,
- Increase the number of unique website visits by 25%.
Leaders of the development group were already involved in planning the inaugural Aerium Summit conference and trade show designed to build a talent pipeline for future tenants of the MRO and adjacent facilities. Knowing the event would bring together target stakeholders from industry, academia, and government – including potential tenants and referral sources – we agreed it was the ideal place and time to launch the initiative.
Ultimately, we determined a special groundbreaking ceremony during the Aerium Summit was the most effective way to reach target audiences with news of the Mid-Atlantic Opportunity Park. Curley & Pynn managed all event logistics, including creation of a detailed agenda and talking points, design and delivery of formal invitations, procurement of custom backdrops and engraved shovels, and selection of a photo and video partner who could help capture assets for marketing and media outreach.
Identifying a location for the event proved more challenging than expected. The Mid-Atlantic Opportunity Park was on the opposite side of an active runway from the hangar that hosted the Aerium Summit, which threatened our ability to bring attendees to the site of the groundbreaking without disrupting their conference experience or interfering with airport operations. Rather than bringing attendees to our groundbreaking event, we brough the groundbreaking to them in a truly unique fashion. Working closely with JST airport staff, we created a custom groundbreaking box filled with dirt from the site, which allowed us to maximize attendance while mitigating negative impacts to the conference agenda.
In the weeks leading up to the event, we developed a news release, confirmed media attendance and coordinated interviews with spokespersons from Cambrian Hills Development Group, JST and government who conveyed the significance of the project and its impact on the region. We coordinated the participation of public officials and prepared spokespersons to deliver remarks.
On the day, we managed event dry runs and setup, including stage preparation and audiovisual logistics, and served as the media point of contact. Following the groundbreaking, we distributed a video news release to local and trade media who could not attend the event. Our team also attended the Aerium Summit trade show on behalf of the Mid-Atlantic Opportunity Park, offering another avenue for stakeholder engagement.
Public relations strategist, Sean Asher, mans the Mid-Atlantic Opportunity Park exhibit booth at the inaugural Aerium Summit.
The Mid-Atlantic Opportunity Park launch event successfully raised awareness of the initiative and its importance to the community and industry.
Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the momentous occasion, which was headlined by the attendance of local and state elected officials, including Pennsylvania State Senator Wayne Langerholc, U.S. Congressman John Joyce and U.S. Congressman Glenn “G.T.” Thompson (via video message).
The engagement of elected officials piqued media interest, resulting in over 20 stories secured in outlets such as the Tribune-Democrat, Aviation Pros and Pittsburgh Business Times, and a combined 140 million media impressions.
In addition, we achieved the following:
- Reached over 100,000 local and/or aviation business professionals;
- Increased LinkedIn following by 40% in the 180 days following the event;
- Secured a more than 500% increase in organic social media impressions over the previous month leading up to the groundbreaking; and,
- Increased unique website page visits by 190%.
The client was thrilled with the overall outcome, and Curley & Pynn’s efforts ignited forward momentum for the Mid-Atlantic Opportunity Park that will positively impact western Pennsylvania for generations to come.
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