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The Safety Standdown Mantra: Learn. Apply. Share.

Paul and Gail Bowen with Greteman Group’s Ashley Bowen Cook at Safety Standdown 2011.

I spent my week soaking up aviation knowledge from the last man to walk on the moon and from Captain Kirk. Yes, my colleagues were jealous.

This week, I had the privilege of attending the 15th annual Bombardier Safety Standdown. I’ve heard about the advanced safety training seminar for years from my Greteman Group colleagues and our Bombardier contacts, but this was the first time I had the opportunity to experience it.

What started as an internal training session has morphed into a waiting-list event with more than 500 members of the business and commercial aviation community. These professionals come together to share knowledge-based training and increase personal discipline in order to develop improved safety cultures within their individual organizations. The inspirational four-day seminar reminds those in attendance that safety is an individual commitment and that the consequences of a weak safety culture are far-reaching.

Bombardier – Innovative, Dedicated

It’s fitting that Bombardier holds such an innovative event in Wichita – the Air Capital of the World and the home of Learjet. More than half of the attendees have been to the seminar before. Many return year after year because of the value it provides. Bombardier’s commitment to the event – open to all, regardless of the type of aircraft operated – serves as a strong testimonial to its support for the aerospace industry as a whole.

Subject matter experts ranged from Dr. Tony Kern, whose airmanship model serves as the foundation for Safety Standdown, to Captain Eugene Cernan, who sat on a panel discussing how safety is about each individual’s commitment to excellence.

A Visit from the Final Frontier

Wednesday evening’s guest speaker stretched the definition of aerospace. William Shatner, back from going where no one had gone before, entertained the crowd with stories of his own flying adventures.

Highlights included dedicating this year’s seminar to the late James Hoblyn, whose passion for giving back to the community made him one of Safety Standdown’s strongest proponents.

For photos of the event, visit Bombardier’s Flickr stream.

To find out more about Safety Standdown, visit

Aviation’s Promise of Recovery

A week ago today we were walking the very large footprint created by aviation’s largest show. Along with roughly 26,000 other industry enthusiasts.

The guardedly optimistic mood at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) convention matched our own. We’ve heard the forecasts. Watched the markets. And worked to prove the naysayers wrong.

Slow and Steady

Financial issues at home and abroad continue to depress new biz-jet sales. But, they’re better than they were a couple of years ago. And they promise to get better still. Just not as quickly or by as large a margin as any of us would like.

As we walked the static and convention floor, we spoke to everyone: aircraft manufacturers, suppliers, aftermarket support.

This resilient industry’s moving forward, connecting with new audiences, pushing into new markets. Press conferences and receptions for clients Signature Flight Support, Bombardier Business Aircraft, FlightSafety International and USAIG inspired us by their continued, forward-thinking investment in programs and support worldwide. Wichitan Brian Barents, vice chairman of Aerion Corporation, personifies the ability to create passageways through roadblocks. The economy may not be ready to support an $80 million supersonic aircraft, but the newly formed Aerion Technologies is finding a robust market for its natural laminar flow technology.

Staking Our Claim

Count Wichita in the innovators’ corner. As head of the Wichita Aero Club communication committee Sonia’s championed a grassroots movement to reclaim the name Air Capital of the World. Greteman Group donated our creative services to create a new logo and campaign to spread the word. We attended a rally at the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition’s booth with speakers U.S. Congressman Mike Pompeo and Kansas Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer. Those in attendance included National Institute of Aviation Research Executive Director John Tomblin, who was quick to share that NIAR’s leadership in aeronautical R&D and composite materials continues to put Wichita on the leading edge.

We’re proud to be part of this community and plan to do our part to help it achieve maximum altitude.

Countdown to NBAA 2011

What Christmas is to elves at the North Pole, NBAA is to Greteman Group. As the days tick off, the activity in our agency continues with a focused intensity. Deadlines that must be hit. Last-minute client requests that need to be worked in. Production files to check and check again.

But I’m really proud to say, we’re not working around the clock. After two-plus decades in the business, we know the drill. And burning out your team accomplishes little. In fact, it’s counterproductive. The cockpit isn’t the only place where mistakes can be tracked to exhaustion. Crew resource management and human factors come into play at a marketing agency, too.

If you plan to be an exhibitor at the 64th annual NBAA convention, I thought you might appreciate a simple listing that has helped us keep our sanity. And, if you see we’ve missed something, I hope you’ll share pointers that have helped you.

NBAA One-Week–Out Checklist

 The Nitty-Gritty

  • Ads in show dailies – Printer proofs and digital files turned over to the respective publications by or in advance of their due dates.
  • Announcements and press releases – Routed and approved through senior management. Ready to release at the show or have already sent embargoed releases to key reporters and editors so they can be working ahead. Online newsroom updated and maximized for reporters to easily find and secure what they need (including photography and video).
  • Booth graphics/giveaways/collateral – All double-checked and to the respective vendors with clear shipping/delivery instructions.
  • Booth staffing – Everyone briefed about show objectives and expectations. Any special apparel secured and badges/buttons produced.
  • Invites/events – Invitations should go out at least three weeks prior to your event. Follow up with a reminder to those who have not yet RSVP’d. If speeches are part of the event, introductions and talking points for each person should be written, routed and approved.
  • Social media – Make sure you’ve downloaded the new NBAA2011 app. Clearly lay out your strategy for what/when you will share through your blog, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter (#NBAA11), YouTube and who on your team is primarily responsible for writing, taking photos/video and posting. Give special attention to mobile as show attendees will be checking you out from their smartphones and tablets as well as at your booth.
  • Technology – Trust no one. Build in redundant systems and IT support to ensure all that everything from video displays to Internet connections operate without a hitch.

Your People

  • Remember please and thank you. Being on deadline makes it more important than ever to maintain common courtesy. You’re in this together.
  • Keep it professional and solutions-oriented. If upper management starts dictating last-minute changes, breathe deep and plan how you will address them. Can you negotiate for keeping to the previously approved game plan? If not, can you tap into outside manpower to protect your team from massive overtime? Is there middle ground? It’s too late to change your advertising, but new messages can be communicated through the media.
  • Maintain the relationship. You win the battle but lose the war, if you meet your immediate need but lose your team member’s heart. The show is all about building relationships and selling your product/service through face-to-face interaction. Your team is equally important to your success.

Your Feet

  • I want to close with probably the most important advice of all. When show day arrives, forget wearing new shoes. Go with the tried and true. And comfy. (No bunny slippers, please.)
  • If you simply can’t resist wearing your never-been-worn Manolos or Mephistos, be sure you have the coordinates of the nearest foot massage. Or bar.