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SUBMITTED BY Kerby Meyers ON Sun, 02/12/2017 - 15:07
Note from CAS President, Sam Holloway: I am thrilled to add CAS Member, Kerby Meyers to our group of Member Experts. Kerby’s background includes a career in journalism as well as several years as Principal of The Communications Refinery where he offers training and consulting services in strategic thinking and communications. This first blog post is publicly available, future posts will be exclusively for CAS members.
You see them on a regular basis: announcements from national, regional and local brewers published in industry magazines, on brewing websites, local news sites and business publications.
Sometimes the news item features a new flagship ale or a seasonal concoction. Other times, it touts a new hire. Occasionally, it describes a brewery’s investment in a new brewhouse or taproom.
While usually brief and too the point, each bit of such content provides a valuable boost to a brewery’s online presence and, to some degree, its reputation among consumers and fellow brewers, as well as editors, reporters, bloggers and other influencers.
Given the potential ripple effect, the basic press release should be a key tool within your promotional toolbox.
Key Steps to Writing an Effective Press Release
Simply put, the basic press release must convey news of some sort. That is, a timely development within your business that is relevant to the readership of a publication, website or blog.
As noted above, the craft beer industry has some long-established news themes, but it could also make sense to announce community support events or other unique aspects of your brewery’s business that are coming down the pike.
To convert that newsworthy element and shape it into a press release, grab a piece of letterhead (copying and pasting your logo on the top of a blank Word doc will do) and write it at the top of the page.
On subsequent lines, add two or three supporting facts or data.
Review what you’ve written.
Confirm that all of the following questions answered: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? If not, determine if they need to be.
Now, looking at all of your notes, is the most essential point—the most newsy one—at the top of the piece of paper? Do the supporting points truly round out the information you’re looking to share?
For example, if you’re rolling out your Winter Warmer Ale, what are the flavors I’ll find in it? How are you selling it? When will it be available? Where can I find it? Is it becoming part of your core lineup or is it seasonal?
Once you’re satisfied that you’ve successfully covered all the relevant bases, you’re ready to whip your notes into shape.
Build on the Basics
Starting from your simple outline, put some meat on it: Add some context, some color and some active verbs.
Think of the added points as the answer to the question “so what?” Assess the relevance of everything you add, and if you determine it doesn’t add any value—or if it gets too technical—cut it out.
For example, will the specific hop strains be important to the description of your new IPA? Quite likely. How newsworthy is the background of your new head brewer? Probably worth a sentence or two. Do you need a lengthy quote on the life-changing journey that served as the inspiration for your Winter Warmer Ale? Save the complete version for the taproom, but whittle it down to the gist for the press release.
In the end, you should be looking at 3-5 paragraphs. Any more than that, go through the “so what” exercise again.
Top it with a basic headline along the lines of “ABC Brewery Taps Winter Warmer Ale,” and it’s virtually ready to go—allowing for a bit of time for polishing.
Regardless of the news you’re looking to share, adhere to the traditional KISS adage—Keep it Simple, Stupid (yes, that’s how it’s explained to young reporters). Provide enough information to support why this is news, but don’t clutter things up with extraneous copy.
Remember, it is generally going to be edited down to a short blurb, or if it is run in its entirety, it will appear on pages where readers only skim the first couple of paragraphs anyway.
Some Technical Pointers
To help enhance the effectiveness of any press release, consider the following:
- Assume the reader knows nothing about your organization—always close with a couple of descriptive sentences about your brewery (also known as boilerplate copy).
- Better yet, assume the reader knows nothing about anything—short explanatory phrases may seem redundant to you, but for some readers they’re absolutely necessary, and you don’t want to lose them.
- Keep paragraphs short—one or two sentences. Try and keep lengthy lists to a minimum.
- If you believe you have two items of near-equivalent importance, break them out into two press releases and send them a week apart (if possible).
- Once you’ve written a press release, put it aside overnight. Then, when you return to it in the next day or two, you’ll be looking at it as a reader/editor, not the creator.
As with any public relations effort, there are no guarantees of placement in any medium. But with a smart approach you’ll boost the odds that your announcement will establish a foothold in your targeted newsfeeds.