Michelle Sullivan is a veteran public relations and marketing executive with more than 25 years of experience working on Boston based, national and international brands. She has worked on both the agency and client side of the business which gives her an outlook and understanding that aligns directly with client-side communication needs and business expectations. After leading marketing and communications at The Boston Beer Company for more than seventeen years, she founded Sullivan Marketing Communications (SM&C) in 2017. She has a deep understanding of national and local media and how to turn the press into a powerful ally in shaping consumer perception.
Michelle worked on beer before the term craft beer existed and helped Samuel Adams wage the David vs. Goliath craft beer revolution that shook up the entire beer category through a decade-long, highly strategic, and widely lauded communications effort. Michelle served as a key strategic leader for public relations, marketing, advertising, media placement, and product launches for Samuel Adams from 2000-2014. She coordinated and integrated work across dozens of external agencies aligned behind driving corporate brand objectives, including earning hundreds of millions of dollars in on-message, brand building publicity that drove measurable changes in awareness and brand equity.
From 2014-2017, she managed all marketing communication for the Company’s Flavored Malt Beverage Division (FMB). In this capacity she led the highly successful launch of Truly Hard Seltzer, helping establish a new category. She also managed the $350m category-leading Twisted Tea brand, doubling its sales through a mix of strategic marketing campaigns to overcome brand challenges with existing consumers and attract new buyers. Michelle drove Twisted Tea and Truly to the number one positions nationwide in each of their categories through highly strategic and effective public relations and marketing campaigns, despite competing against much larger international conglomerates, in a hugely competitive retail environment.
Sullivan has extensive crisis communications experience having managed national product recall campaigns and national consumer boycott mitigation at Boston Beer and for several high-profile agency clients. Additionally, she is a sought-after resource for media relations and interview training for executives, board members and brand spokespeople.
Prior to Boston Beer, Michelle started her career in the Boston agency world working with clients like Starbucks and Legal Seafood’s, followed by The New England Aquarium.
A graduate of Boston University with a BS in Mass Communication, and from executive education programs at Harvard Business School and Kellogg School of Management, Michelle is a 2015 inductee to the “Society of Distinguished Alumni” of Boston University’s College of Communication where she has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in Communication and Advertising since 2017.
As a longstanding leader in diversity, equity and inclusion, Michelle serves as a key advisor to the Dean of the College of Communication and chairs the DEI committee working to make Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion a cornerstone. Additionally, she serves on the events and marketing committee for the Boys & Girls Club.