How we achieve.
When we adapt, we must do so to achieve results. We don’t promote change for the sake of change. We make a change to get results. It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it.
Over the years, our work (including a strategic and well-executed communication plan) helped Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport (BRD) reach record ticket sales. But when COVID-19 arrived in the community, we were charged with shifting the messaging to focus on the airport’s safety precautions and overall community value rather than increasing sales. While flights weren’t grounded, stay-at-home orders ultimately affected travel—but not for long. Despite the challenge of a pandemic, once initial restrictions and stay-at-home orders subsided, ticket sales quickly rebounded. The key was keeping BRD top-of-mind with safety-based messaging.
During April, May, and June 2020, BRD sold an average of 10% of available seats—mostly due to the State of Minnesota’s stay-at-home order, but also in part because of peaceful protests and riots in Minneapolis-Saint Paul. When Delta Air Lines released their Delta CareStandard in July, we instantly positioned it on the website and through regional public relations and social media ads. BRD saw ticket sales climb almost immediately. Our work helped propel sales to 75% of the available seats (on average) during July, August, September, and October.
During this pivot, we used only public relations and paid social media to promote the message. Our social media messaging targeted only those who could use the airport—an efficient, effective strategy with no waste. As ticket sales show, one-part traditional communication and one-part next-generation communication works—when done right.
“Strateligent’s public relations expertise and their ability to switch gears quickly helped us communicate critical COVID-19 safety information, quickly. The airport staff had more time to focus on implementing cleaning and other safety precautions, and we could keep our community informed of our efforts to ensure safe air travel. Strateligent’s communication assistance undoubtedly helped get ticket sales back up after the initial shutdowns.”–Steven Wright, Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport director.
Besides promoting the BRD’s COVID-19 preparedness plan, we helped communicate information about the airport receiving a $17.9 million federal grant. Being the recipient of such a significant amount, the airport wanted to quickly share the details behind receiving the grant and how it would be used.
Within hours our team quickly met, interviewed, researched, wrote, and circulated a detailed press release. In it, we detailed how and why the airport received the grant, and how those dollars would be invested—including to terminate the levy on the City of Brainerd and Crow Wing County residents, to pay operational costs and pay staff, to maintain runways, and to reline parking lots.
“Disseminating a press release was instrumental in ensuring that the public received accurate information about the grant and how it would benefit the communities we serve,” Wright said. “It was also key to helping residents understand the value the airport brings to the region—through services as a next day air mail hub, housing medical helicopters, offering flight instruction, and generating $30 million of annual revenue in the community.”
Changing hearts, impacting minds—it’s what we do.
Up next: How our long-lasting relationship with the Lake Mille Lacs Tourism council has helped turn a walleye fishing destination into much, much more.