Media relations strategy helped new entrant airline during certification process.
Xenophon Strategies was the public relations agency of record for Virgin America during the new-entrant airline’s efforts seeking certification by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Virgin America is controlled and owned by U.S. investors but it is the Virgin brand, so closely associated with founder Sir Richard Branson, that is both an asset and a challenge to communications efforts for the new company.
By rolling out our news strategically, the airline would be positioned to enter the market with immediate impact followed by a period of sustained media coverage.
Foreign involvement in U.S. commercial aviation has long been a sensitive subject. We were challenged to help the airline develop a separate U.S. identity while investor outreach and the certification process moved forward. Because communications during the equity process are tightly regulated, we had to develop positive news in other areas of the airline’s development to sustain confidence in the company.
Our strategy was aimed at creating positive news announcements throughout all stages of the airline’s development. By rolling out our news strategically, the airline would be positioned to enter the market with immediate impact followed by a period of sustained media coverage. This plan focused on two key objectives:
We were able to positively influence media coverage throughout the certification process and, through cooperative triage of news reports, we were able to correct stories that appeared with messages counter to our desired positioning of the company. We worked with the airline’s communications team to build relationships with our longtime media contacts, helping establish the airline’s own media presence and keep it moving forward. Our strategy was highly successful. Virgin America was granted preliminary approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation in March 2007, concluding Xenophon's three years of work for the airline.
“The last time we worked together, Xenophon helped produce a strategic plan that ultimately transformed a bankrupt technology company with a stock option probe into a successful $2.1 billion acquisition.”