By Andrew Waber @LetsPercolate
One of the most dyed-in-the-wool truths about media relations is that if a reporter genuinely respects you, you’re much more likely to have success with him/her (or at least get honest feedback to bring back to the client). Naturally, this axiom led SHIFT and I to one conclusion: beer.
And good beer at that. We decided to invite reporters to enjoy some of it with us, along with some tasty food at our offices (one without the other is a crime in 13 states. Well, not really, but you get the idea). We’d get nice, relaxing face time, and even if the reporter couldn’t come out, interaction around the event still built that relationship. This worked out tremendously, with many SHIFTers getting great feedback from their contacts, which we made sure were ones that they personally had corresponded with in the past.
As you may have experienced firsthand, tastings – wine, beer, or food – are always a big hit with any crowd. Harpoon does these regularly at their brewery, and there’s a reason why. Plus, this would be on SHIFT, and as we all know, free stuff tends to promote positive feelings.
After getting the go-ahead from senior staff, I found someone who’d be perfect to guide us through the event; a certified beer cicerone and Clown Shoes beer rep, Matt Gamble. Cicerones are a relatively new lot, as essentially sommeliers of the beer world. After helping me taste and pick out beer for the event, we settled on a group of five fall-oriented beers:
- Boulevard Long Strange Tripel
- Element Red Giant (my favorite)
- Fisherman’s Pumpkin Stout
- Slumbrew Flag Raiser (this brew and brewery are very young)
- Clown Shoes Clementine
The variety of beer meant that there was truly something for everyone. Going around the room at the event, I found SHIFTers that are strict Bud Light or Michelob Ultra drinkers gushing over a particular brew (the Pumpkin Stout was particularly well-received). As a lover of good beer, this warmed my heart.
For food, we decided to take Oktoberfest, which is typically held in September, and just move it up a couple months, getting tasty German grub from Jacob Wirth and calling the whole thing Novemberfest (SHIFT Beer Event doesn’t have the same ring to it). Kristen Zukowski and Paula Finestone helped me out tremendously in planning and executing the whole thing, with both of them having done the same for many a company event. Kristen was even able to order us some nifty SHIFT beer tasting glasses that I’m sure will be making more appearances.
The reporters and SHIFTers that attended had a great time (check out the Facebook album from that event), and while stress was most certainly experienced on the bank end, it was a lot of fun. We’re hoping to do this in some form again in 2012 and are excited to make it even better. On that note, Boston, keep your eyes peeled and your appetites ready for some more networking, media relations, and good food and drink in the New Year.