130 Days in Seattle
Do I love the rain? Not particularly. Do I love fresh fish? Yum. Do I love to travel? Wheels up! Do I have a refined pallet for good coffee? Now I do – for the BEST coffee.
All of the above were just some of the ingredients for my “Seattle Assignment,” which began on October 4, 2011 at Seattle’s Best Coffee headquarters, which is also home to the iconic green siren – Starbucks.
After working on the Seattle’s Best business at Zeno for eight months I was offered a once-in-a-career opportunity to work onsite at headquarters on the communications team while a valuable team member was on maternity leave. I knew I’d have big shoes to fill but immediately felt embraced under the talented, smart, bold and inspirational wings of the company’s director of communications Jenny McCabe. My main roles would include: managing the company’s news agenda, optimizing operations communications (how we communicate with our cafes), refining internal communications (filling a need for how to inform, excite and connect with our employees), and the overall communications approach. Boy did those four months go by in a flash.
Ever planned a party with an invitation list of 6,000+ people? This girl has. Because who doesn’t love a good party!? One of the many rewarding experiences during my time in Seattle was planning building-wide events to tell the Seattle’s Best Coffee story to fellow Starbucks employees in fun, relevant and engaging ways. We recognized employees working at headquarters on Black Friday with a one-hour coffee break in connection with a Facebook-driven program to send 100,000 bags of coffee to people working on Black Friday. In February, to coincide with the kickoff of a yearlong marketing campaign, ‘Create Your Deliciousness,’ we hosted an event to replicate a Facebook game that would discover Americans’ passion for coffee and all the unconventional add-ins they put in their cup of joe to make it their version of delicious.
If I wasn’t planning events or at local Seattle radio stations making friends with DJs while plugging our new seasonal offerings on-air, I was diving into what would be one of my most unique experiences: learning the nuances of what it takes to operate a cafe effectively. This included understanding what it takes to run the day-to-day operations, how to stock cafes with product (even during the city’s biggest snowstorm in a decade), learning how to steam perfect, velvety milk, and how to position and communicate changes in the business to key stakeholders – in particular, franchisees that value Seattle’s Best as a partner to help them run a successful business.
Another “first” was standing up a new website and creating a weekly newsletter to inform employees about brand and business updates on a regular basis. The newsletter and website scooped up all the Seattle’s Best Coffee happenings and included things like: announcing new partnerships, kicking off the launch of marketing campaigns, staffing announcements and introducing employees to our target customers via their social media pages.
As I walked out the doors on my last day, Feb. 10, I truly felt like I’d left my “official” (and of course, red) stamp at headquarters.
And lastly, THE FOOD. Where to even begin… Some of my favorites: Spinasse, Olivar, Matt’s in the Market, the Walrus and the Carpenter (went twice; Pacific Northwest oysters are out of this world!), Oddfellows and Canon.
Until next time, Seattle!