PAO Academy - Day 1 from Atlanta, Ga.

Today marked the kickoff of the first ever Civil Air Patrol Public Affairs Officer Academy. It has been quite impressive so far.

CAP brought in two highly experienced marketing professionals to speak to us today. In addition, the National Vice-Commander, Brig. Gen. Amy Courter gave a very interesting talk on "Marketing in the 21st Century."

Being the blunt person that I am, afterwards, at a PAO reception, I told the vice commander that I was expecting her to be really boring the way some people in "suits"can be. Then, I went on to explain to her that I was highly impressed with how engaging she is and the wonderful way she interacts with people. She is a dynamic speaker. If you get a chance to hear her speak, take advantage of the opportunity.

What I learned today:
- National has been working with a marketing firm to create a new "brand" for CAP. If approved, our new motto will be "More than meets the Skies." This new way of marketing CAP will be integrated within the year. (I really like the plan. I will explain why when I get back.)

-At Regional Staff College, CAP members are taught how to speak publicly. That explains why many of the higher ranking members in CAP present so well in public.

-CAP is embracing the use of social media and web 2.0. This means that National is encouraging us to utilize blogs and social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Flickr to get the word out about what we do.

-The PAO awards were presented today. Most winners are from the Midwest and Western U.S. No one under the rank of 1st Lt. received an award. I don't actually think rank had anything to do with it though other than the amount of experience that each of them have. Some people were winners in multiple categories. All the entries were very impressive.

-Lastly, there are alot of retirees who are PAOs throughout the country. It never occurred to me that this demographic would be so active in CAP but it makes sense. Many of them grew up during WWII or just after so a sense of duty is very ingrained in their minds.

The National Commander is scheduled to speak tomorrow. It will be interested to see how the PAO's spin that given the current situation