Today began with a Google Maps debacle. I have no idea how my husband and I got lost in this part of downtown Milwaukee with the sophistication of such technology but one missed turn and several “reroutings” later and I rushed in to my first staff meeting with the VP Communications leadership team. Let me take a pause here to introduce a few of the key players in this little adventure…
Joanne is the VP of Communication – overseeing the division leads in reputation management (Bob), integration and planning (Pat), regional communications (Sean), and organization and leadership communications (Erin). She also oversees a travel group related to regional outreach and has dotted line accountability to the communications folks on the financial side. Her executive assistant Patti supports the operation with great efficiency and just the right amount of policing to keep the distractors away.
I am also fortunate enough to have face time and exposure to the team members that report up to these amazing leaders – gaining their firsthand knowledge and perspective on the impact their roles have on corporate communication objectives. Everyone on the team is seasoned, professional and talented – a really strong group of capable and high performing individuals. It has been a pleasure being in their world.
OK – back to my experiences on day 3. Day 3 was post earnings day – which does not mean anyone actually takes a breath. The media relations folks were busy with follow up tasks and calls while division leaders focused on moving their teams forward to the next priorities. Sturgis is in early August but the really big impact event coming up is the annual dealer meeting with more than 4,000 in attendance across all regions. Sean’s team is in high gear for this venture – managing logistics, preparing breakout seminar sessions and coordinating with vendors, dealer owners and partners worldwide. And of course, during the staff meeting there was a tornado drill – driving everyone to the basement. It was my first one – felt much like a fire drill and not nearly as daunting as the earthquake drills I went through in California. After the meeting I was introduced to Tony who is in charge of media relations with the likes of Forbes, Fortune Magazine, Harvard Business Review and many more. He is newer to the team and had some great insights on building relationships with select media contacts from the ground-up, as well as strategies for maintaining them. He is also putting together a template media package and talking points for employees who go outside the organization for speaking and presentation engagements. We will meet more on that tomorrow.
I also received my first official assignment – a review and assessment of media coverage post earnings report – focusing on sentiment, message consistency + highlighting language themes that could have a positive or negative impact to the brand, sentiment or consistency of message. As an individual with an outside perspective I began with memory recall based on the meetings I attended and materials I received on earnings release day. I then pulled out the key messages from the earnings press release – all before reading the dozen or so articles from CNBC, Bloomberg, Milwaukee Business Journal and more – taking notes and making highlights along the way. Upon completion I met with the media relations team to review and debrief. It sparked some really informative dialogue. I have a follow up assignment tomorrow that will focus more on influencer chatter across blogs, social media and trade sites.
I was also able to visit the company Motorclothes store – scoring some great Harley gear and taking in the brand from a marketing perspective. Their quality is amazing.
The day ended with a dinner at Crazy Water – a recommendation from John who oversees communications for the N. America and Latin America regions. He’s a foodie and will be joining us tomorrow on our ride, dinner at MOTOR and Bike Night at the Harley Davidson Museum.
Tomorrow’s itinerary begins with a conference call with an agency specializing in reputation management, continuation of my review and assessment project post-earnings and meetings with individual from the reputation management team. Tomorrow brings new excitement and exposure with the ride and face time with the best brand ambassadors of all… the riders.