Use DIY PR to Fight Inflation, Add Customers

Anyone who buys groceries, puts gas in their car, plugs in their hybrid vehicle, or buys a six-pack of their favorite craft beer knows the cost of everything is rising. Discussions and experience with inflation are everywhere. At the same time the number of cases of COVID-19 infections in the vast majority of the United States are also increasing, although hospitalization rates remain low due, in large part, to a robust vaccination effort.

On the horizon, amid the gloom, there’s a silver lining for craft breweries – the industry is projecting incredible sales projections after two years of tough times brought on by the pandemic. As incredible as these projections seem, there is evidence to back them up. According to a study of 2022 craft brewery growth trends by Comea POS hotel management system designed for breweries, bars, and restaurants, 59% of craft breweries saw revenue grow by 11-40% in 2021. That same survey found that 76% of craft breweries expect growth in 2022.

However, CBB recently reported that the Beer Buyers Index (BPI) signaled a contraction in demand for beer in the United States.

Brewery Market Infographic_Aug2022

To make that silver lining a reality in this challenging environment, brewers need to double down on their most profitable channel: the tavern. This means sending a signal to craft brewery customers – current and future – that tasting rooms are safe, offer unique entertainment or socializing opportunities, and present a better alternative to higher priced bars or restaurant chains that cannot. not offer the same local beer lover experience as the local tavern.

The most effective way to do this is to mount a public relations campaign that any craft brewery owner or manager can launch with thoughtful time and effort. This seemingly free medium takes two forms: owned and earned.

Owned media

Owned media includes a brewery’s website, social media, customer loyalty program and/or customer newsletter. To create a little buzz that helps everyone get a little buzzed, brewers need to create posts that demonstrate a steady rhythm of interesting and diverse events, new product offerings, specialty menus (if possible), and tastings. exclusive for the best customers.

To make the best use of social media, finding the right frequency of posting and using great visuals is paramount. Crowd shots, product shots, behind the scenes videos will all help attract good beer enthusiasts. The overall buy-local vibe should be maximized, with breweries partnering and labeling other local or affiliated businesses where appropriate. This helps put the brewery on the radar of followers of those other businesses – potentially finding and winning new customers that the brewery might not have reached on its own.

Earned media

Gaining media space is more difficult. Although it’s free in the sense that breweries don’t pay to advertise, there is an investment of time and effort that shouldn’t be underestimated.

It starts with identifying those who can get the brewery message out to the widest possible audience: print and broadcast media (i.e. local newspapers, TV news and radio stations), local and/or regional podcasters who cover small business issues or even the beer itself, influencers (don’t hit those TikTok kids; their followers are loyal and about a few thousand are of drinking age), bloggers, and even reviews of local restaurants. Brewers should also consider local residents with large followings on review sites like Yelp. They could be helpful if they were invited to the bar for a free tasting, offering them the experience of a beer reviewer that might just translate into a helpful review for their thousands of followers.

The key to making earned media effective is reaching out to the right media with the right reach that also caters to the right audience. Admittedly, this is not the easy task that it might seem at first glance.

Once the right media have been identified, breweries need to get creative. Here’s why: No one cares whether the brewery has great lager or stylish dining room decor. If it smacks of self-promotion, any message aimed at won media targets will fail. To avoid this classic public relations mistake, breweries must identify a need/interest/benefit of or for the public and work backwards to demonstrate how they meet that need, meet that interest, or provide that benefit to consumers who are not not their regulars.

Examples include:

  • Answer to a need : Guess what’s happening this winter? dry January – potentially a craft brewery’s worst nightmare. For savvy craft brewers, jumping on this growing trend by offering creative non-alcoholic beers could be a great way to ring the register as Gen Z and Millennials aim to cut spending and waistline while seeking the social aspect of meeting friends at the bar.
  • Respond to an interest: Sustainable or unexpected ingredients can introduce a craft brewer to an entirely new and often extremely loyal audience, especially when it comes to sustainability issues. Almost as important here is messaging. The further out the standard, whether for a local brewery, a local community or the beer industry itself, the more likely it is to deliver man-bite-dog information quality. In short, if it looks genuinely new and is designed to appeal to an audience not already invested in the brewery, it may attract interest from local news media, influencers and others.
  • Offer a benefit: Issues of diversity, equity and inclusion are central to the concerns of a large segment of today’s consumers that go beyond the qualifiers of race and gender. A good example is the recent coverage of Brewability in Colorado by CBB, which recently announced the installation of a vibrant dance floor that promotes inclusion by allowing hearing-impaired guests to experience the music on the dance floor of the brewery alongside hearing peers. The brasserie even offers a Braille menu and waiters who can communicate in sign language. While this is a substantial investment, it is actions like these that capture the attention of earned media that breweries should target to attract new customers.

Security and distinction

With inflation and COVID infections on the rise, craft brewers have an opportunity to look into the fact that their costs – especially those of smaller craft brewers – may not have increased as rapidly as those major beer brands, potentially making it a bit more economical. alternative. Factor in smaller, more limited menus and less overhead than a full-service restaurant with a large staff, and astute brewers can argue that date nights and social occasions are better spent with less expense. in the local tavern.

Add messaging that highlights improved dining room hygiene and sanitization practices in the wake of the pandemic, and community brewers are in a strong position to not only maintain, but potentially grow, their customer base.

Finally, factor in a PR campaign that highlights some distinctive effort being made to fulfill a need, fulfill an interest, or provide a benefit to the public, and craft brewers might just make the most of what’s left. of 2022 and set themselves up to operate in an even better 2023.

Rod Hughes is President of Public Relations Kimball Hughesspecializing in risk mitigation communication for wineries and breweries.

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