We regularly receive press releases from brewers and PR companies. Some releases come direct from the brewers themselves while others from sophisticated PR firms, but the message is almost always the same: We have something new (usually beer) and we think what we have created is pretty cool. Would you like to share this news with your readers?
Sometimes beer companies send free beer (and a glut of coasters, glasses and other shwag) with a news release, which is appreciated. Occasionally the beer is great, but usually not so much. I still have a tall can of Great Western Original 16 (noticeably bad beer) sitting under my kitchen sink and despite my alcohol induced glass shattering habit, I still have three cupboards full of branded beer glasses.
The rules of the beer PR game are simple, yet many companies fail to get it right.
- Beer needs to taste good for people to care and talk about it. A PR campaign will fail if the product it is supporting is sub-standard. Make great beer, tell people about great beer.
- Just tell us about your company, your beer and what you are up to. Promotional campaigns succeed when the campaign is relevant to the beer. Schwag and gimmicky PR campaigns that have little to do with beer do not build awareness that sticks. This does not mean anyone should communicate in a matter of fact or boring manner, but it does mean the message and the product need to be aligned. Humour can be a great tool, but it has to relate to beer in some way shape or form.
- With enough money, rules one and two do not apply. Rule three is pretty much reserved for the big brewers (unlike Budweiser, craft brewers cannot and should not sponsor professional driving events such as NASCAR).
I say all of this because I want craft brewers to succeed. The world of beer marketing is dominated by a few giant corporations with deep pockets, balanced by thousands of small brewers, which also happen to be growing quickly. Too often craft beer PR fails, which in the end hurts the craft beer movement. Make delicious beer, talk about it and repeat.