Newsmaker: Sky's the limit for Meigan Terry as she takes Virgin Atlantic top comms job

Being repeatedly described as "one of the brightest and most successful comms people of her generation" certainly demonstrates Meigan Terry's ability to win friends and influence people.

Virgin Atlantic: BlackBerry's Meigan Terry will lead comms for the brand
Virgin Atlantic: BlackBerry's Meigan Terry will lead comms for the brand

Already a high flier at BlackBerry, where for the past eight years she was head of comms for Europe and Asia, Terry is now stepping out of the shadows at the formal business brand and taking on the role of leading comms worldwide for the high profile and flamboyant consumer brand Virgin Atlantic.

The question is, can she make that leap from behind the scenes to front of house?

Terry succeeds the airline’s former comms director Greg Dawson, who attests to the role’s highly demanding nature: "The job is high octane and great fun. Being such a high profile brand and industry, there is always a huge amount of media interest. Given all of the geographies involved, the job is 24/7 but that is just one of the reasons why it is so exciting."

The additional excitement may well be a draw for Terry, a Canadian national, but she already has the experience of a similarly demanding position at BlackBerry, where she has not only led corporate comms for EMEA and APAC but also headed marketing for BlackBerry Messenger.

Throughout her eight-year stint at the firm, Terry has navigated its ups and more recent downs. These have included ongoing privacy and security issues, particularly in the Middle East; the company’s unwelcome position centre stage in the London riots, when BlackBerry’s BBM Messenger was thought to have helped rioters co-ordinate their actions, and the transformation of BlackBerry into a consumer brand as it attempts to slow a fall in sales and brand equity.

Hotwire CEO Brendon Craigie, who worked with Terry for five years handling BlackBerry’s consumer and b2b comms, highlights the time before BlackBerry’s current and well documented recent woes: "She helped position one of the most exciting brands of the past ten years.

"I think it’s a great move and very appropriate that she is going from one iconic brand to another," he adds. "She’s highly regarded as a leader and manager of in-house teams."

The consensus among agency people who have worked with Terry is that she is a smart, successful business leader who knows how to get PR working for a business.

Andrew Bloch, MD of Frank PR, describes his former client as a very focused and smart operator: "She knows what she wants and how to articulate that, and how to get the best out of agencies. She is an excellent communicator and understands PR within the wider marketing team and the entire business."

Dynamo’s Alexis Dalrymple, who also worked with Terry at Hotwire, echoes this sentiment: "She is very smart, very good at seeing the big picture and slotting things together, as well as managing internal relationships."

It is her experience dealing with the Canada-based company across multiple territories that will be an asset to Virgin Atlantic, he adds: "It gives her great experience to manage the complex geopolitical nature of air travel."

She is approachable and commands respect and loyalty, adds Bloch. Craigie notes that two Hotwire staff moved in-house to work with her and both are still at BlackBerry.

Building these kind of longstanding, productive, internal and external relationships will likely be a key part of Terry’s responsibilities after a shake-up at Virgin Atlantic last year. American firm Delta took a 49 per cent stake in the airline in a tie-up described by Virgin’s new CEO Craig Keeger  as "a joint venture, not just an equity deal".

On the other side of the Atlantic, Delta CEO Richard Anderson has said: "The brand and Sir Richard Branson are a key part of this transaction for us; we intend on that brand being around permanently. By co-branding the number one brand in the UK and Europe as well as one of the number one brands in the world, Virgin Atlantic, with Delta, an iconic brand in the US, we are both stronger together."

Terry will be well placed to bridge the transatlantic divide, negotiating how these two brands can successfully work together to the benefit of both and communicating the vision of the CEO, to whom she reports directly.

BlackBerry’s loss is Virgin Atlantic’s gain, notes Bloch, and after a year-long hunt, it certainly appears that Virgin Atlantic has found the right woman for the job.

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