When we partnered with United Airlines to launch the airline’s newly appointed CRJ-550 commuter jet, we decided not to go big or go home. We just went home.

Specifically, we took the newly engineered jet on an exclusive five-day whirlwind tour of carefully selected regional hubs throughout the nation. It was a tactical local PR move that paid off because we looked for a fresh way to grab interest.

How to get attention by being decidedly different

Typically, a launch would focus primarily on national media outreach. But that’s the equivalent of choosing a macro-influencer and not engaging the strong voices of micro influencers.

For United Airlines’ newest offering, we devised an 11-stop media tour. Our goal was to unveil the jet to the places where it would matter most: regional airports in modestly sized communities.

With this approach, we hit upon the sense of community pride ubiquitous to neighborhoods and regions across the United States. The move gave United Airlines the chance to show its appreciation for the people and businesses that would use the jet to get from place to place in uncompromising style.

The 30,000-foot view from the community public relations trail

The tour was pulled together in two weeks. Fortunately, we had many local media contacts in target markets. The regular local media outreach we conduct for our clients daily allows us to enjoy close relationships with beat reporters and local news outlets along United Airlines’ commuter routes.

Although the turnaround time for mounting the jet’s regional launch may have been abbreviated, the results were robust, well-received, and positive. Before the event, we generated and distributed community marketing materials. Every piece contained compelling messaging about the CRJ-550 aircraft. At every stop on our tour, media came to see if the hype was real — and they quickly found out that it was.

Pivoting around PR challenges inherent in any fast-paced campaign

Though the urgency of the project proved to be a challenge, it was exciting to be a part of such an unconventional, community-focused campaign. The time-crunch proved to be an advantage, because community stakeholders realized they had a narrow window to get hands-on experience in a new aircraft.

Within a few days, the internet was buzzing with stories about the CRJ-550. Not only did local media outlets in all 11 markets cover the jet, but some national coverage was generated, as well. The campaign earned more than 74 million impressions.

What does this prove? Sometimes, smaller voices have a bigger impact. Our limited sneak peeks and community marketing produced far-reaching fame for a compact commuter jet that became an overnight celebrity. Best of all, communities served by United Airlines realized that their needs were being acknowledged and met by one of the largest, most respected airlines in the world.