The Firkin for May 2015

by Sean on May 31, 2015

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Two emojis and ten words. That is all it took for an employee who was the Digital Communications Manager for the NBA’s Houston Rockets to get fired.

That tweet which if uttered, minus the emojis, on a court by a player may have garnered a technical foul or a dinky fine. The joke was of the sore winner variety.  A heat of the moment stupid little thing that the interwebs throw around like superheroes toss super villains through buildings.

It is also basically what is chronicled via different examples in the new Jon Ronson book, “So you have Been Publicly Shamed”.  Which should be required reading for anyone with a Twitter account or friends of the non-computer variety. The take-away: Employees + poor communication of a brand is a bad mixture. And it is happening in craft beer now too.

Example #1

Despite it being baseball and boring, Padre fans got into a dust up on Instagram this month when Saint Archer Brewing thanked the Dodgers for being a big supporter (buyer) of the brewery. The passive-aggressive dig being that their hometown teams aren’t buying for their stadiums.

Was Saint Archer rightly upset about not on offer at Qualcomm and Petco? Probably.  Did they communicate that anger it in a way that exemplifies the brand. Not even close. All they did was alienate consumers on the fence and give haters a chance to hate.

You have to be crystal clear in your writing. Tone and humor get lost without any context to place them in. And I strongly suggest making each post as simple as possible and directed at a target audience. For Saint Archer it could go like this: Instagram that your beer is available at Dodger Stadium. Then a tweet aimed at Padre fans with the dates when they play in LA and can buy their beer. Then a third post with a link to where you can drink their beer in San Diego before or after the game since you can’t get it inside the ballpark.

It may be super neutral but it gets your point across unless your goal is to rattle the cage. Which is certainly a way to go but one fraught with paying someone to defuse any situations that get out of hand.

Example #2

Then Stone Brewing, who usually walk the line of cheeky as well as anyone joined the passive-aggressive rock throwing with a press release and label diatribe against those who copy and paste and Tweet about their beers. (Obviously shortened from the long-winded Stone PR version. 
They added this gem to the end of their press release about Bourbon Barrel Aged Arrogant Bastard: “Notice how this release does not do your work for you. I understand you are overworked and underpaid, but you will have to write this one up yourself. It’s called “journalism,” not “copy and paste-ism.” For better or worse, I trust in you. I truly hope you share that trust in yourself.”

I don’t know how re-running a press release is a crime.  I thought that was why press releases were sent out. Personally, I always skipped down to the tasting notes and what Mitch Steele has to say about the beer and what food it pairs with because it was helpful information. Then, maybe, skimmed the superfluous word-ery on top. It makes one wonder if this is an official Stone position or the opinion of one person in marketing who doesn’t like blogs that run press releases. 

In both instances, being passive-aggressive doesn’t work. It hardly works in real conversation between actual people.  Let alone on the web. Stone should have gritted their teeth and sent out the usual release for one simple reason.  The beer should have done the talking not a PR person. 

No matter the form of communication, whoever is in charge of getting information out to people need to be aware that their words and attitude will soon reverberate in the echo chamber of the interwebs. 

Mis-steps happen on social media and they will continue to happen as long as people see it as fun and not at all harmful. Either hire a professional firm and educate them on your beer and brewery or hire your own person who isn’t allowed to hit send on anything unless someone else looks at it.  Like a check that needs two signatures to be valid. 

That former Rocket?  He later spoke about how the tweet was responded to was not what he wanted but he owned up about how he alone was responsible for how it was received. He then said the magic words, don’t underestimate the power and reach of social media.

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