PR Rock Stars: Sun Country’s Brittany Chaffee
Young people amaze me sometimes. They’re brave. They’re fierce. And, they take risks that I would have never taken at that age. That kinda describes Brittany Chaffee. Look no further than her Wild Morning project for proof. Nowadays, she’s over at Sun Country honing her craft in the marketing world. But, this is one interesting woman. Let’s hear all about her in this month’s installment of PR Rock Stars:
You’re the marketing manager for Sun Country Airlines–and you’re a boomerang employee, back after a few years away. Why did you decide to come back to an organization you already worked for earlier in your career?
This is an interesting question, because it’s truly shaped how I strive to define my career. I left initially for an opportunity I didn’t think would sprout into my peripheral vision until I was at least thirty-five. In continuum, the same opportunity opened back up for me at Sun Country Airlines. I have my own little love affair with the airline, my mom has been there for 30 years, so I always tell people that blue + orange blood is just pumping through my veins at this point. The lesson here? If you have to jump a few lily pads in your career to get where you want to be, you should do that. Quitting and coming back for more, or not coming back ever again, is a professional warrior call. It is not embarrassing. I built, and did not burn, a lot of bridges along the way.
You’re responsible for influencer marketing programs, among a host of other responsibilities, at SC. What does influencer marketing look like for an airline?
Yes! I’m a part of a gallant little team (only three of us in the marketing department); the Lean, Mean Trifecta, if you will. That being said, I wear a lot of hats on a day-to-day basis. One of my favorite campaigns is most certainly our budding social influencer marketing program. We drove it on a test-run last year and the initiative went well. We sent six influencers (chosen organically) to three domestic and three international Sun Country destinations. For 2017, we wanted to develop a campaign that amplified awareness using our social channels as an authentic engagement tool.
A lot went into this process. I accept free coffee and good company to chat more about it, but of course, we can’t give away all of our best-kept secrets!
One more SC question: You actually started as a flight attendant at SC! I’m curious–what’s it like to work in marketing for an organization where you were once on the “front lines?” How has that impacted your perspective as a marketer/communicator?
That is true. I was once popping Diet Cokes and traveling around the world. I’m so grateful for that time, because I always tell my colleagues I’m now just a flight attendant with a computer. If we’re executing a campaign that involves inflight strategy, it’s helpful for my previous “front line” knowledge to understand what tactically will work and what won’t. What’s even better is seeing the love Sun Country employees have for this company. I’ve experienced it ten times over, Sun Country is home for lots of people that work here. The employees are family. And it’s always a tribute to travel but come home at the end of the day. I love the living daylights out of that mantra and experience.
About a year ago, you started a new project titled “Wild Morning.” For those who might not be aware, what’s that all about? And, what drove you to start it?
You know when someone asks you about your crush in high school? That’s how I feel about The Wild Morning. I just sigh and my arm hairs dance because I love it so much. The Wild Morning is a coffee table book about women and their mornings. I’m working on the book with my fellow co-founder, Dave Puente. We simply show up on women’s doorsteps (invited, of course) and watch them get ready in the morning. Dave takes the photos and I scribble notes and ask the women questions. The book will be a combination of Dave’s photos and my poetry, set to personify the raw honesty and vulnerability of the early morning hours through real women and their stories. The dawn — not unlike the women who wake to greet it — is inspiring, unapologetic, complex and real.
The females in the community behind this project have been cherub earthlings about the entire thing. Some of the women included thus far: Nora McInerny, Falen Bonsett-Lambert, Jana Shortal, Natalie Nyhus, Carly Zucker, and Emily Engberg (among many other soul-stirrers). These women, all women, deserve to share their unfiltered truths. In our social world, it’s okay to look beyond that Mayfair-filter-façade and see strength means vulnerability. Vulnerability is strength. Let’s just marry those two forever.
You’re one of about a BILLION people I know that graduated from the University of St. Thomas–most of which I would put squarely in the “rock star” bucket (Allison O’Keefe, LeeAnn Fahl, Martha McCarthy, just for starters). What the heck is in the water over at UST?
Seriously. St.Thomas is like an incubator for successful human beings, it is fantastic. The best part? The Tommie community is like a virtual pyramid of connections and opportunities. All of my girlfriends from St.Thomas are killing it in the PR world. I’m so, so lucky to have a network of women that light a little fire under my butt once in a while.
In your LinkedIn profile, you have listed right at the top of your profile: “I love a well written email.” I’d agree! But, what does that mean to you, exactly, and what are the components of a well-written email?
To me, a well-written email is like a pair of shoes. The more quality, the more seriously people will take you. Nobody takes me seriously when I’m wearing socks with flip flops. Nobody will take me seriously if I blast them a disruptive email that makes no sense. I’m realizing now that sounds super anal-retentive but I like a bulleted list, what can I say? Speaking of:
Components of a well-written email:
- Mind your manners with “Reply All”
- Spell check is fun (!)
- Bulleted lists are always helpful
- Don’t ask for things, tell things (politely)
- Don’t reply to a BCC (seen it happen in its natural habitat)
Finally, you spent a year-plus in media relations at Canterbury Park in Shakopee. One question: Did you meet track announcer and Minnesota Vikings play-by-play man, Paul Allen? And, did you bow to the uni-brow?
I did meet Mr. Paul Allen! I was a baby when I started at Canterbury Park, fresh out the gate – if you will. When you’re a junior in college everything is terrifying and someone MAY die in your presence – who knows!? Even though I was young, everyone at Canterbury gave me the most open and flexible space to learn. I worked in the press box with Paul, Kevin Gorg, and my boss, Jeff Maday. I can’t say enough great things about all of them. They were the classiest bunch of gentleman. As I said, things were very terrifying for me as a young professional, so didn’t bow to the uni-brow. I did go 9/9 picking winners one night at the track. Gorg be my witness.