Virgin America merges PR, marketing departments

SAN FRANCISCO: Virgin America has merged its PR and marketing teams to create a combined marcomms department.

SAN FRANCISCO: Virgin America has merged its PR and marketing teams to create a combined marcomms department.

Luanne Calvert, VP of marketing and communications, will lead the unit. She joined the company last year to oversee the brand and online marketing, in-flight content, and loyalty teams. Calvert reports to president and CEO David Cush.

Abby Lunardini, who previously managed PR for Virgin America as VP of corporate communications, will leave her role October 15 after more than five years with the airline. She will stay on as a consultant to the company, advising on media relations, PR, and social media.

“I feel incredibly lucky to have helped launch and build the Virgin America brand in the US over the past five-plus years,” Lunardini said.

Virgin America's PR and marketing teams previously worked together on social media, events, and other initiatives for the brand, Calvert said. The newly-formed department formalizes that close collaboration, she added.

“This is a formal change, but it has been happening organically over the last few years,” Calvert explained. “Message-driven PR has always been very important to us. More than ever, the lines are blurring between PR, social, and marketing.”

There are no other staff changes as a result of the combined departments, she added.

Ogilvy Public Relations, Virgin America's AOR since 2008, will continue to work with the airline, Lunardini said.

Lunardini was a member of PRWeek's 40 Under 40 list in 2012.

Launched in 2007, Virgin America has 51 planes, flies to 17 cities, and carried about 1.4 million passengers in 2011. However, the airline's net losses have reached $595 million since its inception, including $100 million last year despite a 43% revenue increase.

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