How Breweries Can Use Public Relations to Their Advantage

Getting the message out to consumers through public relations is a vital role of any brewery, finding the right person to do that PR sometimes means stepping outside of the brewery to do so.

Many public relations offices have begun to work with craft breweries for such a task and as the craft beer industry matures, so does the business of promoting the product of craft beer.

For Bill Covaleski, a co-founder of Victory Beer, he admitted to Brewer that the brewery had never quite hired anyone that was a great writer and that was never a top priority in a hire they looked to make.

“A dedicated PR agency would give us above and beyond what we had on the team,” he said.

That led to working with Joanne Jordan of Food Shelter.

“It’s our role to understand the products and their role it to look at how it plugs into the real world and how it can be relevant to others,” Covaleski said, “It also bridges what we can build from. They look at our releases and deadlines and find ways to promote this product in this matter.”

Jordan, who has developed “The Mighty Pint” as a pared down “survival kit version” for craft breweries, says that she believes that PR agencies are the gateway for craft breweries to get their product into more consumers.

“We make sure all the crucial elements for success are implemented: earned media, solid sampling programs, proactive social media strategies set against robustly reactive social media feeds, event development, media training,” she noted. “Many of our clients sought outside counsel because they know they are too busy with day-to-day to maintain these components effectively.

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“Another reason is because by keeping this role solely internal, there’s the dangerous tendency to have only one perspective. Agencies serve other clients, whether in other industries or geographies. There is greater opportunity to discover the unexpected when looking at things through a different lens.”

Covaleski agrees, adding that diligence from a PR firm is invaluable. Especially compared to a smaller brewery that may have a PR person on staff that also has multiple other job titles.

“They aren’t going to write a release, blast it out and then move on to 10 others tasks,” he said. “They can take the time to contact to follow up with the material they sent. That diligence that we on our own, we could never undertake.”

Choosing to work with Food Shelter was a bit of a different choice since it had not worked in craft beer before, but Covaleski said he saw a thirst for knowledge from the agency.

“They were dialed in to food products and creating flavor, but they didn’t have the beer knowledge,” he said. “We knew it would be a work in progress to get us to the same level.

You can’t expect someone who hasn’t lived in a brewery like many of us for many years to be as knowledge as many brewers. We always have some editing role in making sure the message is as accurate as possible.”

Jordan has turned that into knowledge into wanting to help more smaller craft brewers with “a la carte” plans as well.

“There will be an application process so we can vet and confirm clients,” she said of the new venture. “We feel it embodies the spirit of the craft beer movement (before larger commercial breweries started swallowing craft breweries like they were as tasty as the liquid those places once brewed independently).

“It’s a way for us to help even out the playing field just a little bit and use our connections, knowledge and resources for the greater good of the overall industry.”

The program is also geared to assisting the media by giving them easier access to breweries they may not otherwise have had and make all of their asks a bit less cumbersome.

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