Effective DIY Media Outreach

The 2020 Craft Brewers Conference in San Antonio was canceled due to the COVID-19 emergency. However, CBC Online continues to offer the craft brewing community online access to information. This event is free and open to all and continues for a number of weeks. After it concludes, the presentations will only be available to Brewers Association members. For now, the replays can be viewed by everyone.

Earlier, we reported on the presentation given by Brewers Association Chief Economist Bart Watson on the state of American craft beer industry. Today, we cover the presentation ‘This Ain’t No Fake News: Effective DIY Media Outreach Wins Friends and Influences People‘ hosted by Forbes contributor and veteran freelance journalist Tara Nurin. She was joined by panelists:

They set out to show that small businesses don’t need a million-dollar marketing budget to attract positive press. With some creativity, patience, and a few writing chops you can get your name in the news without spending money on pricey ad buys or public relations agencies. What will you gain? Free advertising, control of your marketing message, and, if done right, higher sales and customer loyalty.

While the audience was small businesses who happen to brew craft beer, the advice is equally applicable to kombucha brewers. In the face of shrinking ad budgets, and the fight to survive, free promotion via press and PR is timely.

Earned media

Journalists are interested in what matters to readers. This defines what is known as ‘earned media’. It’s coverage in articles, interviews, and profiles; in contrast to content in your own media, paid ads or money spent on influencers. The secret to earning media coverage is knowing what newsworthy topics will connect organically with local media.

Connecting with journalists

Build relationships with local journalists without immediate expectations that they’ll turn round and write a story about you. Invite them to your brewery when you re-open. Being known to journalists in the long-term will pay dividends.

The key question any journalist will ask is “who cares?” By paying attention to which kind of stories are being told in your region, you’ll know what matters to news outlets.

Example: The California fires impact on Sonoma County is the hook for this local newspaper coverage of Revive Kombucha.

Don’t overlook the value of promoting the experts on your staff. This is an easy way to grab a journalist’s attention, who might need a quote or another angle to a story they are working on. Build a relationship with local media and let them know who on your staff is an expert in fermentation, trends, packaging, and so on. Think of what angles to pitch, from straight news to trends and innovations.

Example: This profile of Tío Scoby Kombucha in Mexico City ties into both the concern about sugary sodas in that region as well as parallels with traditional Mexican fermented drinks such as pulque.

Build a communications plan, tell your story, and allow that to rise above the noise. Your communications calendar should align around new releases, special occasions, and seasonal relevance. Consider where you’d like to see your brand represented. If a magazine is doing a summer camping edition, you might pitch your canned kombucha as suitable for outside refreshment.

Example: This TV coverage of KC Kombucha from a local station focused highlights how it takes “holiday detox to a new level!”

Learn how to write press releases. They are not passe. It’s a way to get your message in front of people who can tell your story.

Don’t overlook Twitter. It’s where journalists stay up-to-date with events. Look at who journalists follow and are followed by to build a ‘heat map’ of key contacts. Savvy users figure out via Twitter what journalists are working on before anyone else. Hint: try searching for #kombucha+#news or #kombucha+#article and see what ya get. Then there are tools like NodeXL for deeper insight.

Innovation in the time of COVID

Craft brewers on the call reported a number of innovations in response to the current pandemic. These include:

  • In British Columbia, Canada, the alcoholic beverage community of breweries, wineries, and distilleries has come together in one campaign. It’s called Time to Buy BC and aims to generate local support in response to the COVID situation.
  • In Fort Wayne, IN a Facebook group called 2GoFW started as a community resource for up-to-date local restaurant, bar, brewery, and cafe listings while venues are closed to in-person patrons. Within three weeks, they’ve had 32,431 people join from a 250,000 person city.
  • One brewer noted that “the more real, raw, authentic social media, the better. I even had my taproom manager send over photos from her phone. People are loving this “inside” view.”

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