By Heather Caufield
The craft beer industry and individual breweries continue to maintain a considerable and growing presence in mainstream media. In outlets such as CBS News, CNBC and the New York Times, coverage of craft beer has grown consistently and considerably, reflecting a respect for the industry and underscoring a growing wave of support and awareness among American consumers.
Recognition of craft brewers as tastemakers, entrepreneurs and artisans, along with the increasing level of exposure, will ultimately drive the industry to reach 10 percent of market share. The more consumers read about the rise of craft beer and what distinguishes it from the big guys and imports, the more they will demand it. Make sure your brand becomes part of the discussion. Now is the time to ensure that your public relations efforts are efficient and smart, so you can ride the wave and fully take advantage of fresh consumer demand.
Effective public relations campaigns involve a myriad of activities, including writing press releases, pitching stories to the media, and maintaining a social media presence. But one of the oldest, most basic, and most important public relations tools is the creation and maintenance of an up-to-date media kit. Also known as a press kit, this set of documents provides the media with information about your company, whether journalists inquire about your brewery or you initiate the conversation with your own pitch for a story. By including your media kit, you can assure a great beginning for both of these exchanges.
Media kits are best when concise and compelling and available both online and in print. Traditionally, a media kit is a folder filled with company information sent to members of the media. But in today’s digital world, an online media kit is essential in addition to the physical printed kit. While less prominent, the physical media kit remains an important tool to bring to events and trade shows, or interviews and meetings you might have with media members.
Having your media kit readily available online benefits both your company’s bottom line and the media’s time. With an online media kit, you save on printing and shipping costs with the ability to email a simple URL to target journalists. This URL should be prominent on your website’s media/press page so that interested journalists can easily find it when perusing your site.
No two media kits are the same, but there are basic documents that you should always include:
1. Backgrounder: A one-page summary of your business story. How, why and when did you start? What milestones have you passed? What is your company like today?
2. Fact Sheet: Bullet out the most important information about your business for quick review by busy journalists. The hope is that they will review your entire press kit, but since this will not always be the case, it is essential to have the details boiled down for them.
3. Product Information: A document that lists and describes all of your beers, including images, if possible, as well as where (and when, for seasonal beers) they are available.
4. Press Clips: Pick your best media clips, the ones that paint your story and those that come from the highest caliber media outlets. For print and online coverage, use a PDF version of the story. For TV or radio interviews, include a DVD in the press kit folder and URL links to the segments or embedded files in the online press kit.
5. Press Releases: Include any recent press releases that are relevant to your big-picture story. You don’t want your press kit to be overwhelming, so only include two to three releases. And be sure to swap in new releases as appropriate.
6. Press Contact: Include contact information for the person who handles your media relations. Put a business card in the pocket of the folder. The background and fact sheet documents should list the media relations contact person as well.
7. Web and Social Media Integration: Make sure your press kit and collateral materials point people to the many ways they can engage with your brand. On Twitter? Include your handle. Have a Facebook page? Encourage people to become fans. These are extensions of your brand, and warrant inclusion and promotion.
While these are basic guidelines about the content of a media kit, there are no rules. Your media kit reflects your company’s style and should line up with your branding strategy. Don’t forget to include language about craft beer in general and what makes it different from other beers on the market.
Also, it is crucial that the press kit looks polished and remains up-to-date. If a graphic designer is not available, have the most tech-savvy person on your team handle the layout. Simple is fine, but make sure your fonts, page margins, bullets and graphics are consistent throughout your kit. Most importantly, make a point to review the press kit every few months to ensure that all of the information is accurate and relevant.
This is a pivotal time for the craft beer industry, and one that can translate to growth for your brewery. Make sure that your branding helps, and doesn’t hinder, your success.
Heather Caufield is a senior account executive at The Rosen Group and serves as a public relations consultant for the Brewers Association. Most recently, she has placed stories about craft beer on The CBS Evening News and ABC News Radio. The Rosen Group (www.rosengrouppr.com) is a full-service public relations firm that provides its diverse group of clients innovative ideas, trustworthy counsel and results-driven campaigns that encompass media relations, special events, social media and collateral materials.