Corporate Eye

More Skydiving: Adventures in Employer Branding with the U.S. Army

Skydiver 2

There’s anybody-can-do-it skydiving . . . and then there’s “Army Strong” skydiving.  Just take a look at  the illustration on the right for an example of that second category!

Here’s the photo caption:

At a zero angle of attack, better known as a “No Lift Dive,” Sgt. 1st Class Cheryl Stearns, from the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights, holds her position to build enough air speed to execute the “style set” in a competitive amount of time.

Even for someone (like me) who definitely plans not to jump out of a plane for recreational purposes, this description sounds pretty thrilling.  And it paints a vivid picture of the challenges and achievements offered by an Army career.

A recent post on Top Rank’s Online Marketing blog describes how the Golden Knights are making skilled use of social media.  The GK media gurus invited Top Rank CEO Lee Odden, along with a few other “digerati types,” to make a jump with the Golden Knights—and his account of the experience is great reading, both for armchair adventurers and for HR marketers.

In addition to this clever outreach strategy, the GK organization hits all the social media marks, with its own blog, YouTube channel, Facebook page, Twitterstream, and Flickr gallery.  There’s also a Golden Knights section on ArmyStrongStories, where “Soldiers, Cadets and Veterans of every rank, background and MOS are invited to share their unfiltered perspective on daily life in the military.”  The varied materials work together across all these channels to create a strong impression of challenge and reward—exactly the message the Army wants to convey.  And the emphasis on video really strengthens the effect.

All in all, the Golden Knights offer a great example of how to dramatize and distribute a career story.

Still haven’t had enough skydiving thrills?  Visit for videos of the 2010 USPA competition.  And last—here’s a less-thrilling but totally on-topic blog post from skydiving HR pro Trevor Nagle, SPHR:  Leadership and Skydiving: Lessons in Informed Risk-Taking.

(Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army.  Caption by Cpl. Sean Capogreco.)

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Cynthia Giles has followed a serpentine career path from academia to publishing to marketing and design to information technology and corporate communications. There’s plenty of detail about this journey at, but briefly--the common theme has been ideas, and how to present them effectively. Along the way, she became an accidental expert on data warehousing and business intelligence, and for the past ten years she has combined corporate contracting with an independent consulting practice that focuses on marketing strategy for smaller businesses and non-profits. Having spent quite a bit of time looking for work, and anywhere from two weeks to two years inside a wide variety of American companies—she has given much thought to what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to creating a great employment fit.