(Note: I just changed the title of the post to better reflect some of the content. At first I named it "Social Speakeasy" to evoke the sense of community, but I like this one better.)
Welcome, readers, to this week’s version of the Teardown Report! I hope that all of you are recovering nicely from the Dubai Air Show and had a good trip back home. For a nice recap of the event, check out the hash tag #DXB11 on twitter. You’ll see that many companies, journalists and enthusiasts have been using it to create a home for news at the show. Here at Aviation Week we made our own microsite, which includes all of the versions of Show News and top news stories, blogs, photos and videos. Read about passenger-to-freighter drama, record Airbus orders and Emirates’ growth plan in the midst of a turbulent economy.
This week, I wanted to delve into a social media trend that I have been noticing more of in the past few days: Employee-based reporting. For some companies, this means bombarding the internet with artsy videos of their workers doing their thing. For others, it has propelled them into a somewhat controversial arena—reality television. No, not kidding. Read on.
More and more aviation companies are looking for a more “grassroots” feel to their marketing and social media campaigns, and often this tends to involve putting the employees in the spotlight to be ambassadors for their brand. In theory, this is nothing new. For example, think about how many times you’ve watched an ad for a university and saw Joe, the hometown football hero, or Melissa, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, relating back to their wonderful experiences at that institution. It is no secret that workers exude a positive image for their companies.
Pratt & Whitney uses this philosophy to showcase their customers. A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting with @MatthewPerra and the @PT6Nation social media team, who told us candidly about some of the challenges they faced when crafting the PT6 Nation campaign. Their goals were to showcase customers using the PT6 engine for their various jobs and to create a community for those people to talk about the engine online.
These new initiatives are taking on these “grassroots” style campaigns, and some companies are getting creative. The result seems to be documentary-style footage that gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at how an airline works.
@SouthwestAir is showcasing its employees' stories via an art form that has been loved and hated in recent years: reality television. Yes, I was perusing the Baltimore Sun today and noticed a story about Southwest partnering with TLC to give a candid look at how the airline works.
According to this article, the show doesn’t have a name yet. But it will bring camera crews to BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport to document the airline in the midst of its consolidation with Air Tran, and apparently the busy Thanksgiving holiday. I’ll actually be flying the airline next week from this spot, so we’ll just have to see how “candid” the footage of the classically busy and chaotic travel season is. Regardless, I'll probably be watching this one regularly, as the concept of an airline opening themselves up to camera crews will probably be both entertaining and informative.
Southwest has been one of the airlines that gives their employees a voice, as their blog Nuts About Southwest features airline employees sharing their stories through their own posts.
I wonder if line maintenance and AOGs will be part of the shows? Considering that overnight checks are a huge part of whether an aircraft is on time or not, it would be fun to see.
@GEAviation is taking a similar approach to showing the inner-workings of its operation by following a group of engineers in Durham, N.C. that get to check out their GEnx engines fly in Seattle. This video is just one in a series for its campaign GE Stories, which are available on the GE Reports YouTube channel.
For you #avgeeks, here’s another one showing more about the engineers building up the engine and explaining some of the technical details of the process. Yes, it’s a bit of an advertisement for the GEnx, but I think that some of the footage of the fabrication process is pretty interesting.
After viewing these two examples, what do you think? Could MROs use the power of video to get the future engineering workforce more excited about what they do? One of my favorite parts of going to visit facilities is taking photos and video of how the operations look, and I’m sure that you readers enjoy taking a sneak peek into different facilities to see how they compare to yours.
These videos are undoubtedly beautiful and put together by experts, but that does not mean that MROs cannot make more DIY productions. I really hope that we see more footage from more MROs disseminated throughout social media channels. Of course there are lots of challenges—getting software, being mindful of IP concerns, etc. But if you would like to show us what you’re up to, we are listening.
I'm off next week for the Thanksgiving holiday, so we will return with the Teardown Report in Dec. Have a great holiday and good luck with the 2011 wrap-up mania! See you in two weeks.