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Making Waves with Water

Other than the air we breathe, nothing’s as vital as the water we drink. So when we had the opportunity to join the Wichita Water Partners team as its boots-on-the-ground, Wichita-based communications team member, we dove in. The new water treatment facility – the city’s largest-ever project – will replace the city’s existing 80-year-old plant. The project begins in earnest with a groundbreaking this spring. Plant completion is scheduled for early 2025.

We worked with Burns & McDonnell’s local and Kansas City-based team members in setting up one-on-one sessions with community and business leaders; developing outreach plans and press releases; creating branding, messaging and communication tools; launching a website and social channels; and shooting video testimonials. Greteman Group’s 30-year-history in the community helped as we leveraged our relationships and reputation to help allay concerns that Wichita had the right partner on board.

Wichita Water Works serves as a positive, confidence-inspiring statement. It reinforces that Wichita can trust its water supply to be safe and reliable for support both citizens and industries.

The content-managed, responsive site provides a platform for project details, staying up to date – and submitting questions or concerns.

Wichita Water Partners emphasized the local nature of its bid. Testimonial videos put a face to the partners and remind the public that these are people they know and trust – and who have served the community for years. And in some cases, for generations.

wichita water partners timeline

A looming question for a project of this size is how we’re going to pay for it. Infographics simplify the complexity of both federal and state long-term, low-cost loans. Once people see we have 20 and 35 years to pay off loans with 2% interest rates, it helps put their minds at ease.

Bold animations draw attention to key messages on the website and encourage sharing on social media.

Keeping the Community In the Know

Wichita Water Partners locked in its maximum price at $494.2 million. The plant will be built over the next four years. There will be lots of scrutiny, as there should be. As always, we will work to be proactive and truthful in all our communications. We’ll be there for the team. And the community.

Eyes-to-the-Sky Trailblazer

The aviation industry needs to come up with its version of the EGOT, an acronym for winning the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards. As it stands, there’s no single descriptor that encompasses Clay Lacy’s multi-pronged contribution to the aviation industry: airline captain, military aviation, experimental test pilot, air race champion, world record-setter, aerial cinematographer and business aviation entrepreneur. The Wichita Aero Club honored Lacy as this year’s trophy winner at its gala January 25.

clay lacy age 9
Clay Lacy, age 9, playing with a model airplane. He started soloing when he was only 13. To keep the airport from getting in trouble, he was encouraged to tell people he was 16. Clay said, “I thought, ‘That’s one damn good idea.'” Photo courtesy: Clay Lacy.

Wichita served as Lacy’s springboard to the sky. He started flying when he was only 12 by paying for instruction and flight time by working at Cannonball Airport, on his grandmother’s farm outside of Wichita. His first flight was in a Beechcraft Staggerwing. Lacy became a flight instructor and, in 1952 at age 19, he left the Air Capital for LA to become a United Airlines DC-3 copilot. Two years later, he took leave from the airline to pilot F-86 Sabre Jets for the California Air National Guard. In 1956 he met Bill Lear, a connection that would later change more than his career.

Clay Lacy wearing his Air National Guard flight suit, one of many he’d wear in his more than 70 year career in aviation. Photo courtesy: Clay Lacy.

From the Moon to Movie Stars

In 1961, Lacy spent a year in active military duty as chief standardization pilot on the Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter. He flew missions to Japan and Vietnam. In 1962, he played a key role in America’s race to space. He test flew the Pregnant Guppy, a modified Boeing 377 that transported the S-IV Saturn I rocket booster, integral to putting man on the moon.

Clay Lacy celebrating his birthday in his California Airman aircraft. Photo courtesy: Clay Lacy.

The relationship with Lear came into play in 1964 when Lacy became its distributor for 11 western states. He flew the first Learjet into LA’s Van Nuys Airport. Four years later, in 1968, he founded Clay Lacy Aviation, the West Coast’s first jet charter and executive jet management company. Hollywood’s biggest names wanted this sleek, new time machine. Frank Sinatra used his Learjet 23 to whisk Rat Pack buddies, Elvis, Mia Farrow and others to parties and premieres. Their social cachet helped launch the globetrotting jet set.

Early on, Lacy knew a business jet was also a workhorse. In his book Lucky Me, he says, “If the world’s decision makers did not have corporate aviation, we’d be ten years behind.”

clay lacy speaks at the wichita aero club trophy gala
Check out Clay’s book, Lucky Me, to learn more about his one-of-a-kind career. Photo courtesy: Visual Media Group.

A Race to Innovate

Lacy never seemed to slow down or coast. He raced his P-51 Mustang at events throughout the United States, winning the 1970 Reno Air Race. Partnering with Continental Camera Systems, in 1975 he developed the revolutionary Astrovision camera system. While he’s credited with more than 3,000 film projects, we probably know the air-to-air camera work most in such movies as Top Gun and Armageddon. He earned a reputation as the world’s leading aerial cinematographer.

Foresight Backed by Gumption

Under his leadership, Clay Lacy Aviation opened the world’s first all-jet FBO in 1981 at Van Nuys Airport. Within three years it doubled in size. It went on to introduce ultra-long-range business jet travel to U.S. charter clients with the Gulfstream GV in 1998 then the first Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) in 1999. The company expanded in 2002 with a full-service FBO and jet center at Seattle’s Boeing Field.

clay lacy at wichita aero club trophy gala
Clay Lacy laughs at the Wichita Aero Club gala as he’s remembered for his nearly endless contributions to the aviation industry. Photo courtesy: Visual Media Group.

Lacy’s storied aviation career includes winning 29 world speed records, flying more than 300 different types of aircraft and logging more than 50,000 flight hours. He amassed more flight hours in turbine-engine aircraft than any pilot in history. When he retired from United Airlines in 1992, he had logged more than 41 years of incident-free flying.

A Salute to Service

Lacy continues to contribute to aviation. He donated to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles international Airport. Closer to home, he contributed to the restoration and operation of Wichita’s restored B-29 Superfortress, Doc, and served as a trusted, firsthand reference for Greteman Group’s book, Wichita: Where Aviation Took Wing.

john o'leary presented the wichita aero club trophy to clay lacy
Airbus Americas Vice President of Engineering and Wichita Aero Club Chairman John O’Leary presented Clay Lacy with the Wichita Aero Club Trophy. Photo courtesy: Visual Media Group.

Clay has been awarded almost every aviation honor imaginable, but he concluded the evening by saying this award from his hometown means “a lot, probably more than any other award in the past.” It was here that he learned about aircraft and to have confidence in himself. That first flight as a kid spawned his early and lasting love of aviation. “Wichita looked so beautiful from the air, I thought, this is the way to see the world.” Of his illustrious career he credited his hometown, saying, “It’s all because of Wichita.”

clay lacy pictured with jack pelton (left) and dave fransen (right)
Jack Pelton (left), who helped introduce Clay (center), said underneath Clay’s accomplishments is a tremendously good guy, a man who “has time for everyone.” He’s pictured here with Wichita Aero Club President Dave Franson. Photo courtesy: Visual Media Group.

Lacy is a most worthy recipient of this Air Capital honor. Congratulations, sir. You make Wichita proud.

Wichita’s aviation community turned out in full force to celebrate Clay Lacy. Pictured (l-r): Rose and Jack Pelton, Julie and Tom Gentile, Renae and Ron Ryan. Photo courtesy: Visual Media Group.
Wichita Airport Authority Director Victor White and Ron Ryan, a former flight instructor, Learjet dealer, corporate pilot and founder of Ryan Aviation at the Wichita Aero Club Gala. Photo courtesy: Visual Media Group.
Airbus Americas Vice President of Engineering and Wichita Aero Club Chairman John O’Leary also presented WSU Tech with a $10,000 check to be used to help laid off aviation workers. Photo courtesy: Visual Media Group.

Respect Your Reputation

Reputation management has always bothered me. The concept of somehow controlling how a company or individual is perceived reeks of spin, possible cover-up and the false promise of a tight filter that only the right content can squeeze through.

At Greteman Group, we counsel clients to be transparent rather than strive for miracles through manipulation. If they’re guilty of bad behavior, we counsel them to change their ways and to communicate genuine apologies backed by how they plan to do better in the future. (Yes, there are dark PR firms and troll farms willing to spread lies, set up fake accounts and push out false narratives. Don’t engage them. Don’t even think about it.)

Do we try to influence perceptions? Absolutely. But we do it by providing balance to coverage and conversations, online and off. If companies ask us to make bad online reviews go away, get negative news off the front page or get a reporter to stop dredging up past fiascos, there is no magic wand to wave. But we can take action. Let’s take these reputation management examples one by one.

Bad online reviews – Perhaps a disgruntled former employee rants about your (perceived) toxic culture, badmouths management or trashes your products/services. Ideally, satisfied customers and other team members will organically step up to defend you and share their very different points of view. Because people are quicker to complain than to praise, it’s okay to ask your tribe for help in posting rebuttals and sharing their experiences.

reputation management example share positive news

Push bad news off the front page – In time juicier news will bump your story. While you’re waiting for that to happen, one strategy is to starve the news by removing the oxygen a response could provide. That, however, is seldom our recommendation. We believe in being proactive, working to correct misinformation, and telling your own story as much as possible. Your silence can be seen as a sign of guilt. Trying to drown out negative news with a barrage of positive press will be viewed for what it is – a misguided PR ploy. You should always issue a steady stream of the good things you’re doing as a company. After a crisis is not the time to begin such an effort.

reputation management example correct misinformation

Get a reporter to stop bringing up events you want readers to forget – This is a hard one. Reporters provide context, which can often mean talking about past incidents. Even if the current news is a glowing report about how your company helped save Australian wildlife by airdropping food over fire-ravaged lands, the article could still end with a reminder that the FAA fined your company six months ago for manufacturing substandard aircraft parts. Our counsel is, whenever possible, meet face to face with the reporter. Let him or her see you in a more human context. Answer reporters’ calls and take requests for interviews. Dodging a reporter never solves anything. Work to build or repair the relationship.

reputation management example tell your own story

It’s more difficult to change a perception than it is to make an initial impression. The time to start building your reputation was yesterday. If you didn’t do it then, begin today. You should issue a steady stream of newsworthy company happenings through press releases, enews and blogs. Don’t wait for a crisis to launch your effort.

Don’t know how you’re perceived in the marketplace? Run a diagnostic search of news articles, blogs and reviews. Listen closely on social media. Study the sentiments and any buzz uncovered. Do the same for your competitors. If you don’t believe you’re being accurately represented, you have work ahead. Develop actionable goals appropriate for your varied audiences: team members, customers, investors, influencers and the media.

The Bottom Line

Preserve and protect your reputation. It affects your company’s value, revenue, client recruitment/retention, workforce and marketing success. Your good name is built not through artifice, but by walking your talk. Do the right thing. Time will prove you right.

This column originally appeared in the Jan. 23, 2020, issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.

Sticker Strategy

Have you deployed Instagram Story stickers yet? If not, consider it. They’re an attention-getting magnet on social.

Air Capital Stickers

In 2019, we published a book about the Air Capital called Wichita: Where Aviation Took Wing. To increase awareness, we developed playful Air Capital Instagram Story stickers and GIFs. They’re for anyone who works in aviation or simply loves it. Our stickers have received more than 390,000 views so far. The aviator sunglasses that you can add to the top of your photo and “Grab Life by the Yoke” are favorites.

greteman group instagram story stickers

What Are Story Stickers?

No doubt you’re familiar with the @ and # symbols, which have been around for a while. You type them into tweets to tag and trend. Both are mechanisms to showcase brand personality in social posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and – yes – even the more professional LinkedIn.

In an Instagram Story, @ and # act like literal stickers you can add to any part of your graphic, photo or video – and they don’t stop there.

instagram story stickers

There are dozens of tools to highlight your brand personality in each 24-hour snapshot of your story. Consider GIFs, location, polls, questions, quizzes and more.

To find ours, search “Greteman Group” in the Instagram Story stickers search bar.

How to Add Stickers to Your Brand Strategy

First, find a graphic design partner who understands your brand personality. (Need one?) Figure out what type of movement you’d enjoy.

For example, our sunglasses animate as if gleaming.

Second, get on GIPHY. The internet’s largest GIF platform tracks uploads and views for marketers. It lets you measure your return on investment beyond simply how much fun you’re having.

Signing up, you’ll go through:

  • Brand verification
  • GIPHY sticker creation/approval
  • Creating and uploading GIFs

Finally, develop your Instagram Story sticker strategy.

GIFs are great, but brands don’t get to enjoy the “build it and they will come” virality of memes. You have to tell your audience about your stickers.

How? Use them. Encourage your customers, employees and partners to use them. Run a sticker contest and promote it on your blog, in customer emails and across social media. Turn stickers into swag to hand out at your next tradeshow – with directions to @, # and Story. Now, not only does your audience know about your stickers, they’re engaged with your brand and connected to your personality.

There you have it. Now, go tell a Story.

Stand Up and Speak Out

It’s difficult to say no to Karen Countryman-Roswurm, passionate founder and executive director for the Center for Combating Human Trafficking. So I rarely do.

Most recently, Karen talked to us about her plans to shake things up in 2020 by broadening the conversation to various forms of abuse, exploitation and trafficking. A private screening of the movie Bombshell would kick things off. Well, we immediately signed on, knowing Karen would want disruptive, head-turning marketing. Say no more.

be the bombshell icon

A Double Entendre Designed to Turn Heads

Our creative urges people to Be the Bombshell. Instead of the blonde, curvaceous beauty that normally comes to mind when you hear “bombshell,” one icon features a black bomb with a lit fuse about to be amplified by a megaphone. The other superimposes a woman’s face over a bomb. Her direct gaze connects with the viewer while the tagline below – Ignite Your Power – incites action.

The screening at Wichita’s Warren Theater East on the afternoon of January 4 drew a full house and a robust, follow-up Q&A. Karen and cohost, mamafilm founder Lela Meadow-Conner, facilitated. Their insights about the “mechanisms of silence” designed to keep us quiet in the face of exploitation continue to fuel my thoughts.

Join the Conversation

Bombshell is in theaters nationwide now. It stars Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie and John Lithgow and focuses on the sexual-harassment lawsuit that brought down Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. I highly recommend grabbing some friends, going to see it, then having your own discussion afterward.

Our Be the Bombshell creative will be featured throughout January, Human Trafficking Awareness Month. It will also be front and center on January 31 at the center’s sixth-annual anti-human trafficking conference held at the WSU Metroplex. Karen just announced that the keynote speaker will be Gretchen Carlson (played by Nicole Kidman in the movie). Time magazine named this former Stanford grad, Miss America, journalist, TV anchor and author as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

be the bombshell t shirt

Combatting Abuse, Power and Privilege

The conference will focus on creating long-lasting change for victims and those at risk. Subject-matter experts will share firsthand experiences of standing up to toxic culture. Presentations and breakout sessions will address everything from barriers to change to implementing trauma-informed care. Of the more than a dozen featured speakers, in addition to Gretchen Carlson, here are the three I most want to hear:

  • Rafael Bautista, who is a survivor of labor trafficking and now advocates for survivors nationwide.
  • Daniel Dye, who led the groundbreaking grand-jury investigations into the Pennsylvania Catholic Church’s sexual abuse of children and cover-up, uncovering more than 350 predatory priests and thousands of victims.
  • Marisa Kwiatkowski, an award-winning USA Today investigative reporter who covers child abuse and neglect, poverty, elder abuse, human trafficking, domestic violence and mental-health services access.

Sign Up Today

Karen says this will be the center’s best conference yet. If you’re looking for a day that will galvanize and energize you, join in. Learn more or enroll.

WHAT Sixth Annual Anti-Human Trafficking Conference Context Matters: Confronting a Culture of Exploitation
WHEN January 31, 2020
WHERE Eugene Hughes Metropolitan Complex 5015 E. 29th Street N., Wichita, KS 67220