Best Corporate PR Team

Virgin Atlantic Airways redefines what it means to be a ‘PR team’

The sky’s the limit for this group of PR mavens.

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Virgin Atlantic Airways received the 2012 PR Daily Award for Best Corporate PR Team because they don’t see themselves strictly as a “PR team.”

“We’re not just a PR team at the North America headquarters,” says Nadia Basil, who submitted the entry. “We’re the full communications model, working together on consumer PR, corporate PR, events and social media.”

Basil says the team’s goal is to grow a profitable airline, where people love to fly and where people love to work. The new PR model has given the team the ability to work on some creative projects.

“The key to our success as a full-service team is that we do so much more than PR,” Basil says. “Working as the full corporate communications model, we use social media channels to further our messaging and gain media interest.”

Here are a few examples of team projects, according to Basil:

  • “Red Hot Reporter”: Using Twitter and Facebook to raise the airline’s profile and create PR for the brand, the contest promoted awareness of Virgin Atlantic’s sponsorship of the NFL U.K. game.
  • “Flair in the Air”: This feature appeared on the front page of The Washington Post’s travel section and It was a direct result of pitching a “cabin crew training day” to a travel editor.
  • Holiday Wrapping Campaign: Virgin Atlantic offered gift wrapping post-security to passengers traveling with gifts.
  • Announcing new economy food service: When issuing the press release, Virgin Atlantic delivered the onboard afternoon tea box with a voucher to visit the Tea & Sympathy store. For employees, they used some expats in the office to teach their American colleagues about how to make the best cup of tea to eat with your afternoon scone. 

The team has set goals for itself in 2012. Basil tells us about four:

  • Drive awareness around its new Upper Class service: Garner 15 million media impressions around the launch of its new Upper Class service in quarters two and three.
  • Drive awareness to its new route in Vancouver: Garner 2 million media impressions from the launch of the new Vancouver service in May.
  • Share local best practices: Track success against their plans monthly, including highlights of proactive activity, reactive issues, media contact and upcoming activity.
  • Understand the perception of media targets: Audit the top 10 media markets each year, so that the team can see the impact of its work.

We congratulate the team that collaborated on the winning effort: Sarah McIntyre, manager; Michael Ettlemyer, program manager; Laura Kilroy, events; and Nadia Basil, coordinator.

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