When it comes to niche communication roles, aviation comms is way up there (pardon the pun). Airports aren't just a place you go to a couple of times a year to take a vacation or business trip, they are their own unique ecosystem and community that has very special requirements when it comes to getting the message out there.

As part of our efforts to highlight more specialized comms areas, we're highlighting the work of aviation comms specialists in our one of many PIO People profiles.

Ashley Iaccarino is the Communications Manager for Tampa International Airport (TPA), FL. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2016 with a PR degree and soon began working at TPA as an Intern. Ashley was then hired as a Coordinator swiftly promoted to Communications Manager.

Describe your role and what you get up to on a daily basis

  • Day-to-day content and engagement on all of TPA’s social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn)
  • Writing stories, content marketing and travelogues for our weekly newsletter
  • Working with media (along with others on our 5-person Communications team)
  • Creating scripts, ideas for videos/graphics
  • Managing our Air Service Digest (an email digest sent out twice a month with new information on air service and route information)

Who are your main audiences at the airport?

We have all of our followers across our social media accounts (more than 220k), newsletter audience (66k), internal audience (700 employees) and airport tenants (nearly 10k employees).

What are your daily routines that keep your audiences engaged?

In addition to posting at least once daily, we respond to comments, DMs and retweets to provide customer service through our channels. By maintaining a posting consistency, our audience has some sort of expectations from us not only for when and how often we will post, but also to expect that they will see fun, engaging posts with our voice and tone always prevalent.

Do you use multi-lingual posts and if so, what's the process for that?

When we do use multi-lingual posts, we typically have a translator translate the text (both in captions and graphics) appropriately. We want to make sure the message we are trying to convey makes sense to our readers no matter where they are or what language they speak.

You have 19 airlines flying into TPA - how connected are you with them when it comes to putting out key social campaigns?

Our airlines are really one of our key stakeholders, so it’s important that we share messages benefit the Airport and the airlines/their business. We do coordinate with our airline partners on key social campaigns, i.e. new flight/route announcements, to ensure that our audience is as informed as possible.

New and resuming routes are just as important and exciting to us as they are with the airlines, so it’s a positive, symbiotic relationship.

Tell us something about airport comms that a lot of people would be surprised about

It’s actually really fun! I’m always doing something different – literally every day it’s something new – so I really never get bored. I get to practice my creativity and share my ideas our communications and marketing teams, and I’m able to collaborate with smart, creative people from whom I learn every day.

How did you have to adapt during COVID?

We had to do somewhat of a content pivot during COVID because we went from having all of this good news, new routes and airline information to share to having almost the opposite and a 97 percent decrease in our passenger numbers, so it was tough.

We had to create more content that was relatable to our audiences while they were stuck at home and not traveling to share that we are people too and we understand what they’re all going through. We made a number of videos to show passengers that the airport is still here if people NEEDED to travel even though our passenger numbers are down. Some examples:

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into aviation comms?

It’s a really fun industry that’s always changing and evolving. My advice would be to study industry trends and always stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the aviation world.

How important is multi-agency and stakeholder working when social media is such a key part of the airport's comms strategy?

It’s crucial to ensure that we are always sharing information that is in line with not only our strategic objectives and our brand, but also in-line with being fair and true to our stakeholders. Social media plays a huge role in that, so there’s always a good amount of collaboration in our campaigns and projects.

How does your role change when there is an emergency?

Crisis communications is a big part of what we do whether it’s practicing for an emergency or actually dealing with an emergency. Social media has really taken a front seat in the process of communicating to our audience during an emergency.

It gives us the ability to share updates and information with our audience in real time and answer any questions people may have. We have to take on a more serious tone during times like these and ensure that we’re sharing necessary info to whoever needs to hear or see it.

We study our emergency process and do practice crises every so often to make sure we’re all on the same page and ready in the case that we do have a crisis at the airport.

What are the main challenges you face?

Working for a government agency, it’s sometimes hard to come up with content that reaches all of our audiences whether it’s for stories in our content marketing sphere or on social media. I’ve learned that this isn’t always possible, so it’s important for us to continually come up with new, different content.

What's the absolutely best thing about your job?

The best part of my job is being able to connect and engage with our audience. I feel like over the three years that I’ve been at the airport, I’ve been able to learn who our audience is on social media and really deliver them content that they enjoy and are entertained by. I love that I have the creative freedom to share my ideas and thoughts through the airport.

You can connect with Ashley on LinkedIn and follow Tampa International Airport on Twitter.

July 1, 2021
PIO People

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