Planning the Future of Terminal 1 at SAN

Public Relations Campaigns

After completion of the $900 million expansion of Terminal 2 at San Diego International Airport, sights quickly turned towards the replacement of Terminal 1, which was built in 1967. Though the need to replace Terminal 1 was clear and the community wanted the airport to stay put at its current site – some people were also skeptical about spending money to continue improving an airport with site limitations. The Airport Authority needed to develop a public relations campaign to roll out the Airport Development Plan (ADP), which includes replacement of Terminal 1, and turn skeptics into supporters.

Entry Statement

1. Project Goals: 

Goal #1: Raise awareness with San Diego residents, elected officials, local and regional agencies and media, and create buy-in that continuing to invest in the airport at its current location is the right thing to do.
Goal #2: Minimize opposition with target audiences.
Goal #3: Earn positive and/or balanced media coverage.
• 75% of coverage includes key messages
• 75% of stories balanced/positive in tone

2. Production: 

Working with the Airport Authority’s public relations agency, Porter Novelli, staff developed a public relations campaign to reach as many residents as possible and provide opportunities for public input. Activities included community meetings, a public open house, social media, Frequently Asked Questions, comment card, project overview, a web page on, newsletter and e-newsletter distributed to more than 7,500 opinion leaders. Media relations included a media briefing and media materials such as press releases. To reach San Diego’s leadership, staff hosted meetings with key business leaders, elected officials, military representatives and regional agencies to generate support.

3. Evaluation: 

Results for Goal #1: Raised awareness about the ADP by hosting 1,000 attendees at more than 100 meetings, reaching 6,757 readers via SAN newsletters and collecting approximately 120 online survey responses from the public. Feedback from each forum was positive.
Results for Goal #2: Successfully completed Phase 1 without any formal opposition to the ADP. This has allowed the Airport Authority to move forward with Phase 2 to identify a preferred concept and conduct the environmental review process.
Results for Goal #3: Secured 20 media placements, earning more than 3.7 million print, online and broadcast media impressions.
• Media coverage achieved 100% key message placement and 100% positive/balanced tone vs. a goal of 75%.

4. Budget: 

The budget was $225,563 for July 2013-March 2015, or just .09 cents per resident over the age of 18. The campaign came in $70,562 under budget.