Hello, lovely PR person. We hope this advice will be of general use to you in understanding beer bloggers, as well as helping you communicate with us in a way to which we’ll respond positively.
1. How can I get you to mention our brand in any context whatsoever?
Do something interesting or, rather, get your client to. We’d be most interested in the launch of a new beer or an improvement to an existing one but even launching a really terrible beer might lead us to mention how terrible it is.
The following things are rarely if ever interesting:
- new packaging or labelling;
- new advertising campaigns;
- contrived marketing events, e.g. ‘flashmobs’;
- changes of staff at head office;
- Facebook groups;
- Twitter hashtags;
- contrived viral videos;
- generic infographics you’ve sent to a thousand other bloggers.
2. How do I get you to say nice things about our brand?
(a) Engage with us. Don’t send us emails only when you want something — comment on the blog or talk to us on Twitter between campaigns. Even better, get the people who actually make the beer to engage with us, even if it’s to tell us we’re idiots and that we don’t know what we’re talking about.
(b) Make good beer and help us find it. Tell us where we can buy it near where we live (Bristol) or via mail order. We’re probably not going to say nice things about a beer we haven’t tried.
3. How do I get you to stop saying bad things about our brand?
(a) Make the beer better and tell us what you’ve done to improve it.
(b) Get someone (ideally a brewer) to make us think again by getting in touch to tell us what is interesting about the beer. Maybe we’ve missed something or just don’t get it: we’re happy to be persuaded.
4. Why should we waste all this time and energy tailoring things for you?
Yes, correct. Hardly anyone reads this blog. So, if you can’t really be bothered to engage with us for that very legitimate reason, don’t contact us at all. Badly tailored or targeted emails irritate us so not only do they fail to engage us but actually make us feel less warm towards the brand you’re trying to promote.
We don’t demand huge amounts of personalisation but it’s nice to be addressed with some sort of name, i.e. not just ‘Hi!’ or ‘Hey there’ and it helps if there’s some sense that you’ve read our blog. That doesn’t mean pretending to have been a fan for ages or naming one of our blog posts at random — that’s just cheesy — but if you scan, say, our last three posts, then you’ll get an idea of the tone and scope of our writing and whether what you’re promoting might fit.
5. What kind of engagement don’t you like? And what would you prefer?
(a) See question 1 above.
(b) We can rarely find the time to go on media jollies in Belgium, Norfolk or wherever. And, in fact, we find the blog posts that these kinds of events generate — especially when five land in the same week — pretty boring.
(c) Why aren’t there more ‘meet the brewer’ events on Twitter? Cheap, easy, genuine engagement. In fact, why isn’t one of your brewers (head or otherwise) on Twitter right now chatting to people like us every day?
(d) If you’re going to launch gimmicky beers, why not make them interesting as beer? We’ve not shut up about Fuller’s Past Masters series and have spent hundreds of pounds of our own money buying bottles of it, despite not receiving one email about it from their PR people.
6. Will you run a paid advertisement?
Some bloggers do this, and good luck to ‘em. We’re not trying to make money from the site, and don’t like feeling obliged to be nice about a sponsor, so the answer has, so far, always been no. We might consider running ads for charities or other good causes (for free). Ask us — it can’t hurt.
7. Why aren’t you interested in the cereal, mushrooms, butter or gin I’m promoting?
If you bought a mailing list of ‘food’, ‘beverage’ or ‘lifestyle’ bloggers and we’re on it you’ve either (a) been ripped off and should go back to the agency in question and ask for some money back; or (b) haven’t spent enough time tailoring the list. Of course you can just keep spamming people but it’s not very professional and does not generate goodwill.
8. Can we work in partnership with you to place content on your blog?
We take queries like this to mean that you want us to pass off your content as our own, or marketing copy as a ‘guest post’, for the purposes of boosting traffic to a commercial website (SEO) and raising the profile of a particular brand. We find this fundamentally dishonest and think it devalues blogging as a medium. We’ve worked hard to produce content and earn whatever reputation we have and don’t want to throw it away by misleading our readers.
Write your own blog.