But, it wasn't for the usual reasons that I found this event so enjoyable (i.e., the personal camaraderie of social networking connections in Kansas City, the privilege of personally meeting these wonderful people sometimes for the first time, etc.).
Julie Weeks, Marketing Communications Manager for Boulevard Brewing Company, gave a fantastic presentation on the social media strategy and community building efforts of Boulevard Brewing Company.
Her talk focused on the social media phenomenon around Boulevard's Chocolate Ale. Here's her presentation with a hat tip to Eric Melin and the Spiral16 Blog:
Leadership Lesson #1: Be Transparent and Directly Address Difficult Questions
Julie directly addressed the recent product recall of Boulevard's Chocoloate Ale. She had the courage and guts to:
- Explain how the company discovered the problem
- Share how they're working to solve it
- Discuss how she's continuously informing Boulevard's customers / fans about this ongoing process
She openly fielded numerous questions. Plus, she patiently spoke with individual attendees about specific questions after concluding her presentation. I was one of those folks (more on that later).
Julie openly sharing this presentation and Boulevard's ongoing efforts in addressing the Chocolate Ale product recall demonstrates:
- "We've got nothing to hide"
- "We're working hard to address the problem"
- "We will keep you informed"
- "We're listening, We're listening, We're listening"
- "We made a mistake. Please accept our apology."
And, speaking of an apology ...
Leadership Lesson #2: When You Say You're Sorry, Mean It
Don't Cram Rehearsed Corporate Management-Speak / Public Relations-Speak Down Our Throats. Julie's presentation included the following YouTube video with John McDonald, Founder and President of Boulevard Brewing Company, and Steven Pauwels, Boulevard's Head Brewmaster:
Why This Apology Is Genuine. Why It Is Human. I asked Julie whose idea was it to produce and publish this video on the Internet. She said it was hers. And, she convinced Boulevard's top two leaders of immediately and publicly addressing this communications crisis.
"Speak From Your Hearts." The reason why this video resonates with me and Boulevard's many fans is because it's genuine. Julie told me McDonald and Pauwels did this video without a script.
Her only instruction: "I need you guys to speak from your hearts."
If Boulevard's fans and consumers don't consider this video a genuine and heartfelt apology (and it comes from the firm's highest leadership), I don't know what is.
Every Fortune 500 CEO in America could learn from McDonald's and Pauwels' plain-spoken example to inform its consumers of bad news (and the subsequent actions to make things right).
Otherwise, not only do you lose consumer trust, but also the CEO may find himself / herself pushed out. Just ask Richard Weldon -- now the former CEO of Johnson & Johnson. Due to multiple product recalls at Johnson & Johnson, Mr. Weldon is stepping down as CEO in Aprl 2012.
Weldon talked about Johnson & Johnson's apology and how it was working to regain consumer trust in May 2011 during an interview with Geoff Colvin, Senior Editor-at-Large of Fortune Magazine. Unfortunately, repeated and multiple product recalls over a two-year period upended Mr. Weldon's otherwise outstanding career (he was regarded as one of the most respected leaders in the pharmaceutical industry before these product recalls):
Pride In Your Organization. Pride in Your Products. Pride in Your Community. Boulevard Brewing Company is a Kansas City Community Crown Jewel. And, I'm proud to not only be a HUGE FAN of their beers but I'm also a HUGE FAN of Julie Weeks and Boulevard's leadership because of their actions.
(Around time stamp :25 of the YouTube Chocolate Ale Announcement from John McDonald) "We're a proud brewery and we want to do the right thing ..."
A Vital Kansas City Civic Principle. Boulevard Brewing Company embodies a vital Kansas City civic principle: Kansas City is a proud community built and driven by the resourceful and creative entrepreneurial spirit of people like the John McDonalds, the Henry Blochs, the Ewing Kauffmans, and the J.C. Halls:
And, that entrepreneurial spirit continues to thrive because of the leadership of people like John McDonald, Steven Pauwels, and Julie Weeks.
Hang In There Julie! As I conclude this post, I know Julie Weeks is working today, tomorrow, and how ever long it will take to address the Chocolate Ale situation. She takes TREMENDOUS PRIDE as Boulevard's online ambassador.
Julie, if you see / read / monitor anything remotely negative about Boulevard Brewing Company, please remember these four (4) things:
- Your social media friends and colleagues are rooting for you
- You're doing a fantastic job as Boulevard's Online Ambassador!
- Keep Doing What You're Doing
- Go back and read #1 - #3