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Wichita Chamber Over the Years Award

It’s been a month of reflection and celebration. April 1 marked Greteman Group’s 33rd year of business, and three weeks later the Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce honored us with its Over the Years Award. The kind comments generated by both events have been gratifying – and humbling.

Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce Over the Years Award
Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce Over the Years Award

If you’re reading this column, chances are good you’ve been part of our journey, whether in ways large or small. So, let me begin by saying thank you. The just-starting-out me had no idea back in 1989 how invaluable each of you would be along the way. Believing in us. Giving us a chance. Acting as brand ambassadors through the best marketing channel that will ever exist – word of mouth. Your support has been the proverbial wind beneath our furiously flapping wings. It also has helped us realize to trust the faith you and others put in us and to enjoy the ride more than we probably used to. It’s a good feeling.

Visual Storytelling Conveys More
We’re advocates of showing not telling, so I hope you’ll watch the four-minute video Method Productions put together. They did a great job, capturing the essence of our passionate band of pros and sharing just enough of our work to give you an idea of what we do and who we do it for. They also talked to longtime friends Mike Michaelis, Emprise Financial Corp. chairman and Reuben Saunders Gallery co-owner, and Elizabeth King, WSU Foundation CEO. I’ve personally learned so much from these two change agents, which makes their endorsements mean that much more.

The Chamber’s Over the Years award acknowledges a longstanding track record of good corporate citizenship and major contributions to our area’s economic well-being. At Greteman Group, we’ve always believed in giving back and have donated significant funds and in-kind services to a variety of life-enriching, community-enhancing organizations and initiatives. Our aviation niche benefits our region, too, as 80 percent of our clients reside outside of Wichita. That draws new dollars to our hometown.

Image of GiGi, Greteman Group's mascot walking through the airport projected onto a screen for a ballroom full of the Chamber's Honors Night attendees to see as Greteman Group received the Over the Years Awars
A still frame from Greteman Group’s Honors Night video produced by Method Productions

A Growing Tribe
The Chamber’s Honors Night tradition started nearly 60 years ago. Greteman Group will be added to the many names now gracing the Wall of Honor in the Chamber’s downtown headquarters. We like that.

The relationships we’ve built over the years make everything brighter and better. I’ll close by saying we’re thankful for what’s come our way and eager for the adventures still ahead.

Greteman Group Vice President Ashley Bowen-Cook; Sonia Greteman; 2022 Chamber Board Chair Damon Young

2022 Wichita Chamber Honorees
You can learn about all the fabulous, difference-making 2022 honorees here.
• Uncommon Citizen – Dr. Pat Do
• Exceptional Young Leader – Andrea Hattan
• Spirit of Wichita – IMA, Inc.
• Over the Years – Greteman Group
• Keeper of the Plains – Fidelity Bank RISE Car Park
• Ad Astra – Riverfront Stadium

Sonia Greteman and Chris Brunner Dedicate Their Estate Gift to Improving WSU’s Art Education Facilities

Originally published on WSU Foundation’s website. Reproduced with permission.

When Sonia Greteman and Chris Brunner reminisce about their student days at Wichita State, they still marvel at the experiences and opportunities they had.

They also wince a little. More about that later.

The couple attended WSU in the late 1970s and early 1980s, eyewitnesses to history unfolding as Joan Miro’s monumental mural, “Personnages Oiseaux,” was installed on the façade of the Ulrich Museum of Art. They attended lectures given by internationally acclaimed artists like Louise Nevelson and John Cage. And they rubbed elbows with Ulrich Museum Founder Martin Bush as he developed WSU’s renowned Outdoor Sculpture Collection.

“It wasn’t until many years later that I realized what a magical time we experienced at Wichita State,” says Greteman, a 1982 graduate who now owns Greteman Group, a successful creative agency in Wichita. “It just left an indelible impression on me as a young designer.”

Now, Greteman and Brunner, who earned a master’s degree in 1979, want to show their gratitude. They have pledged a significant estate gift and designated that it be used to renovate and update Henrion Hall and McKnight Art Center, two facilities they spent countless hours in as students.

That’s where the wincing is heard, as Brunner describes the frustration and disappointment he felt as a student – and still feels today – with the condition of Henrion Hall.

“It’s hard to describe without sounding too negative,” says Brunner, a highly regarded sculptor. “Our work space was wedged underneath bleachers of the old football field at Henrion. And things haven’t improved that much 40 years later.”

McKnight Art Center, Greteman says, was a fairly new facility when she studied there, but today, “it’s just kind of sad. It needs somebody to care about it.”

Their estate gift is all about helping to ensure that future art students have a learning environment that inspires them.

“I always thought that if I ever got to a place where I can help improve someone’s experience, I wanted to do that,” Brunner says. Adds Greteman: “I want young graphic designers to have a chance at the fabulous career that I’ve had. WSU was my entry point into the world and without it I couldn’t have achieved what I have.”

In the past decade or so, the two have reconnected with Wichita State in various ways. They served on the volunteer committee that helped raise funds for the restoration of the Miro mural. They are active supporters of the Ulrich Museum. Brunner is a big fan of the men’s basketball program. Greteman serves on the WSU Foundation’s National Advisory Committee.

“The NAC meetings are among my favorite days of the year,” she says. “They help me connect back to the university, understand the priorities and provide a snapshot into what’s going on. I come away inspired by students’ heartfelt stories and passion to change the world.”

The couple has a message for others whose experience at Wichita State shaped their destinies.

“It you have been thinking about leaving a gift, do it. Get it on paper now,” Greteman says. “If anything happens to you, the causes you believe in are protected and given new life. If COVID has taught us anything in the past two years, it’s that nothing is forever.” Says Brunner: “We care about this university. Our gift allows us to be a part of what happens to it in the future.”

To learn more about how you can pledge an estate gift, contact Mike Lamb, WSU Foundation vice president, at 316.978.3804 or [email protected].

Take Five with Deanna

Reputation management plays an important role in the marketing industry, and it takes just the right messaging combined with a spot of patience to truly get it right. Greteman Group Executive Vice President Deanna Harms brings just the right amount of poise, professionalism, background and brilliance to the table, leaving our clients with a clear and peaceful state of mind. Deanna was wonderful enough to step away from her day-to-day wordsmithing to answer five quick questions that give us insight behind her passion for marketing and PR

Question 1: What drove you to initially pursue a career in journalism?
I’ve always had a reverence for the written word and storytelling. Journalism felt noble. Then I graduated from j-school and learned the going rate for jobs open to me was roughly 15 cents a word. So I switched careers to PR.

Question 2: Who has inspired you along your professional path?
I recently attended Gridiron, a Society of Professional Journalists fundraiser, and was struck by all the named scholarships and how many were my mentors. Key among them: Les Anderson and Randy Brown. I’d include Sonia as a mentor/editor, too. Each set high bars. Stretching myself to reach those standards made me better.

Deanna with Sonia Greteman

Question 3: How have you found your expertise in journalism to be a benefit to your work at Greteman Group?
The rules of engagement are the same. Hook readers. Embed nuggets to keep pulling them toward your conclusion. Always tell the truth. Factcheck. Use multiple sources. Don’t be lazy. Your readers deserve better.

Question 4: What is your favorite thing about working at Greteman Group?
Good enough is never good enough. We question, dig deeper and ask for multiple options from which to choose the best. We don’t toss out an idea then move on. We work it.

Question 5: If you could instill one solid piece of PR advice into the minds of those beginning to pursue a career path in marketing and advertising, what would it be?
First, I’d say bravo, how wise you are, and what a sure-to-be-glorious journey lies ahead. So much is changing, it makes PR a fresh adventure, a field where you can make your imprint. Next, for those starting out, remember to build and nurture relationships. Protect your reputation by doing what you say you will, delivering your best always and circling back with the media or contact to ensure you’ve met expectations.