Virgin Atlantic turns to ITV for new head of global PR

Virgin Atlantic has appointed Laura Brander as head of global PR, filling a void left by the departure of Sarah Coggins in August, PRWeek can reveal.

Laura Brander is the new global head of PR for Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays
Laura Brander is the new global head of PR for Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays

Brander joins from broadcaster ITN, where she was head of communications for ITV News.

Brander’s role spans Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays and she will report in to senior VP of marketing Claire Cronin.

"After eight unforgettable years at ITV News, working with some of the best journalists in the business at an extraordinary time, I’m delighted to be combining my passions by moving into aviation and travel," Brander told PRWeek.

"I have long admired Virgin Atlantic’s bold approach to business and 2019 is set to be full of exciting developments. It’s an absolute pleasure to be joining such a dynamic and creative team, helping to drive Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays to become the most loved travel company by its customers and colleagues."

At ITV News, Brander was responsible for all internal and external communications. This involved taking a strategic lead on corporate and public affairs, crisis communications, issue management, special events, newsline publicity, digital promotion, talent promotion, reputation management, employee engagement, diversity issues, awards and copywriting.

She was part of the executive team at ITV News.

Prior to ITN, Brander was the senior corporate communications executive at BBC Global News. She also worked in the marketing team at Procter & Gamble pharmaceuticals earlier in her career.

Brander joins Virgin Atlantic in a challenging period. The trans-Atlantic airline posted a £28m pre-tax loss last year, compared to a profit in 2016 as it battles with discount carrier Norwegian Air.

Founder Sir Richard Branson recently reduced his stake in the airline to 20 per cent, offloading a 31 per cent stake to KLM-Air France, making Delta Airlines the largest shareholder with 49 per cent.

Coggins, who was ranked second in PRWeek’s Powerbook 2018, joined creative agency Theobald Fox as a PR director this month, following her departure from Virgin Atlantic in August.

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