Brunswick CEO shares his social networking plans

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – If you were surprised by news last week that Brunswick Corp. CEO Dusty McCoy had created his own Twitter account, you probably weren’t a Brunswick employee.

It turns out that McCoy has been thinking about business applications for blogging for years.

“I did a lot of research at the start,” he said in an interview yesterday. “There were a couple of books out on blogging by executives. In fact, at that time, about three years ago, the literature recommended that senior executives at public companies not write blogs or undertake other activities like this.”

Despite those recommendations, McCoy said he then launched what he describes as a “half blog” called Dusty’s Forum as a way to communicate with Brunswick employees. He invites employees to comment on his blogs, which are posted somewhere between two weeks and one month apart, but because of the size of the company and therefore the time it would take to respond to each person, he is unable to write them back. Rather, he reads each response and uses them to help guide future blogs.

“It’s been for me very enlightening,” he said. “I’ve gotten lots of great feedback, help, advice and comments from fellow employees at Brunswick. I began to see the power of electronic communication in a less structured way than one normally sees in a corporation of this size with the ability of people who read to give me immediate feedback.”

Going public

After observing the power of communicating via social media, it wasn’t much of a leap for McCoy to consider a public blog when Brunswick launched last week. McCoy has already posted one blog to the site, which was created to provide information on joystick technologies and update the boating community on the Joystick Boat Control Tour being held this summer, and he plans to continue to blog on the site going forward.

“As we began to think about how we would set the site up, we harkened back to Sea Ray’s Aquapalooza event, which generated lots of postings on and lots of digital communication,” he said.

As the tour and site evolve, the Brunswick team also wanted to engage in an ongoing dialogue with the boating public as they got to know more about the technologies and try out the product. That’s where mini-blog site came in.

“Initially, I’ll be using Twitter to talk about Axius and Zeus and joystick technology, and what it means to boating,” McCoy said. “Over time, I’ll let my tweeting expand to talk about what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis so that our employees, our customers, the boating community and those who follow the industry can communicate with me.

“I’ve become convinced in my decades in the industry that boaters are very social, articulate and have wonderful knowledge about this as a recreational activity. The more I can tap into that and talk to people, the better I will be as a business leader, and the better Brunswick will be at satisfying consumer demand.”

And if you’re wondering whether it’s really McCoy tapping on the keyboard, he wants to set the record straight. While he and Brunswick’s director of Media Relations and Corporate Communications, Dan Kubera, may talk about the topics he intends to cover and even occasionally create an initial draft, McCoy said he always makes it his own.

“Others could write for me and prepare responses, but it’s not me and I believe there would be a bit of intellectual dishonesty,” he commented.

This is likely just the beginning of Brunswick’s and McCoy’s exploration of social media.

As McCoy said, “I’m talking to people who are spending much more time on the Internet than they ever had before. They’re reading more. They’re leading a more sane life. If we can tap into that and bring others in through digital communications, we’ll have done a wonderful thing for boating as well as all of our businesses.”

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