We’ve been getting a lot of beer PR stuff sent to us recently. Some of it is so bad it makes me want to post horrible things about whatever is being promoted. I’m not going to do that, because nobody likes a debbie-downer, but I do want to post about some of the generally awesome and terrible things we regularly receive. I should also note that, as Erik stated, the only thing that’s really going to work is a truly great product and a brand that resonates with people. It helps if you have international distribution networks and multi-million dollar marketing budgets (see Molson, Budweiser et al.), but yeah, great product is where it’s at.
First I’ll start with the good:
- Can I send you a sample? Why yes, yes you can. If you’re launching a new beer, there’s no better way to get me to try it than by sending me a sample. Chances are, unless I’m already into your beer, I’m not going to go buy it just because you emailed me about it. A lot of companies (breweries/agencies) are hesitant to send out samples because they think us bloggers are just trying to scam free beer. Well I’ve got some news for you, we’re totally trying to scam free beer off you. That’s the single greatest thing about being a beer blogger, free beer. By sending us samples, and we’re just talking one or two bottles here, you’re making us very happy (unless it’s bad) and enormously increasing the chances we’ll talk about it (if it’s good).
- Please come to our launch party – Hey thanks, I’ll see if I can make it. Launch parties are also very much appreciated and I usually go if I’ve got nothing else going on. They are mostly pretty fun and they encourage active discussion of the new beer, since everyone there is drinking it. I enjoy talking to the brewery staff in person and hobnobbing with my fellow bloggers. The best launch parties have tasty food, minimal presentation time, free rides home, are at convenient times, and are conveniently located. If you want people to show, make it really easy for them.
- Do you want to talk to the brewer? - Yes, yes I do. Brewers are rad, down to earth, hardworking people. They also care way more about the beer than the marketing and communications people. I freaking love talking to brewers.
- Can I add you to our maillist? – Maybe, thanks for asking first.
You might think I sound like an entitled, spoiled brat right now. And while I am an entitled, spoiled brat, the crux of the situation is that PR people are trying to get me to do something I probably don’t want to do. If it’s not fun or interesting or easy for me, chances are I’m not doing it. Now for some specific real examples of awesome PR.
Granville Island, even before they were bought by Molson, have always been great. They email to tell us about seasonals in a very non-douchey way. They throw launch parties and invite us, plus our wives (we’re both married, not Mormons). They let us talk to the brewer, Vern Lambourne, who is a rad dude. Granville Island use Jive Communications and I really like dealing with them a lot. A post about the Brockton IPA launch we attended.
Rickards send us samples without demanding posts in return. They also invited us to the launch of their new seasonal last month, but we were too lazy to go. We once received a kinky sample box, complete with blindfold. A knock on them, I thought their Movember campaign was shameless.
Steamworks sent a six pack of their new bottled product attached to a giant balloon to my office. They invited us to their launch party too, but we couldn’t make it.
Phillips run their own mailing list, periodically sending out funny emails about their new beers. None of this FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE garbage, just the straight up info. Sign up for it here if your interested.
Not to mention the scores of breweries who don’t do any PR because their beer is so good, I’m looking right at you Driftwood.
Now for the bad:
- Free guest post for you! - We’ve been getting a lot of this lately. I always ask to see the content, despite never intending to post about it, and it’s usually a bs story with a few links to some major brand. The highest profile brewery to pull this stunt on us was Fosters UK. Recently somebody representing flask.com offered me $40 to post their spam. There’s your links, jerks.
- Why didn’t you blog about the sample I sent you? – Really, are you really asking me this? I’m not a corporate shill and I’m not going to blog about something just because you sent me $3 worth of beer. The real reason I didn’t blog about it is because I hated it.
- I subscribed you to our maillist without asking – Did you now? Thanks for that. And, oh, no unsubscribe link, thanks again. Guess what? You’re going straight to spam.
- Can I please send you irrelevant information? – How did you know I wanted to hear about things I’m not the least bit interested in? Your new wine, whiskey, far away event, and/or hot sauce would look nice up on this here blog.
- Broadcasting my private contact details - Oh, you meant to use bcc and not cc, cool. I can’t wait for the reply-alls to start. Breweries, ask yourself this, how much are you spending on your PR firm to have a technopeasant intern disgrace the internet?
- We’re hipsters, so we made art – In this day and age, you need to be creative to stand out, right? So why not hire a bunch of hipsters to make something they think is cool, but that’s also completely unrelated to a decent beer? This guy, who’s way cooler and richer than you, drinks Delirium Tremens, so you should too.
Oh man, writing that part about bad PR has me all worked up. I mean really, it’s simple. Make good beer, tell a good story (try starting with the truth), and do your own PR. Start a maillist, get on twitter, get on Facebook, go to local events, and spread the word. You’ll do better than most PR companies out there and you’ll probably have a lot of fun too.
And beer PR companies who might get offended by this (one guy I called out for sucking got my phone number and threatened to get me fired, a logical and feasible reaction, no?), just do better. I gave you plenty of good examples above.