Justin Baccary is the founder and president of Station 26 Brewing in Denver Colorado.
A “reformed” investment banker, Justin followed his hobby of making beer to a position at a small brew pub. Before he knew it, Justin ended up with a business plan for a brewery in 2013 before purchasing the old firehouse that Station 26 now occupies.
Hamlet Fort is Station 26’s marketing and events manager.
Hamlet most recently was with a PR firm in Nashville and specializes in digital marketing, advertising, PR, photography, and writing. He chased great beer and higher mountains all the way to Colorado.
Authentic & Original Public Relations
Station 26 utilizes Public Relations as their predominate form of marketing. This came about once their taproom capacity was met and they started packaging their beer for a wider audience. The Front Range of Colorado is a mountainous range full of breweries and around 90% of Colorado’s population. Getting the word out is important since there is no cap to how much a brewery can self-distribute in Colorado.
Justin and Hamlet recognize that journalists and bloggers get flooded with pitches every day. Crafting a pitch is almost an art form – you have to get to the point quickly while also having interesting, eye grabbing content from the outset. They make sure that their pitch is well written and using visual aids, when possible and appropriate, helps them convey complex information.
Being authentic and original are the two principals Station 26 focuses on while approaching PR. For example, an idea came about for a reggae regatta one day. The event ended up being incredibly unique, as they built a pool and raced remote controlled boats in it with a reggae band playing on stage. While events like their regatta speak for themselves, beer releases are a different, more nuanced story. Hamlet works with the second guest on this episode, Emily Hutto, who runs RadCraft: a local PR firm that specializes in promoting craft breweries to tell great stories.
Notable Quote from the Interview
“As with any group of bloggers versus main stream media, there’s a difference there. Your mainstream journalist is typically reporting on what’s happening in terms of beer releases or events or things like that and generally you’re finding withholding their opinions, or at least that’s what you would hope for. But the beer bloggers, people follow that group, like Justin said, I think a lot in larger numbers than people realize because beer bloggers, cause craft beer is such a thing that is a hobby and a lifestyle for so many people that they want to hear people’s thoughts and opinions and beliefs about beer because that then informs what they go and chase and try and drink.”
Emily Hutto is a Colorado based journalist and marketing professional.
She has been communications manager at Dry Dock Brewing, a contributing editor for Craft Beer & Brewing magazine, and is the author of the Colorado’s Top Brewers book. In 2012 she founded RadCraft to support the communication needs of brewers and elevate the quality and credibility of craft beer media.
Emily believes PR encompasses everything a company does that represents their forward-facing role to the public. It could be labels, participation in beer festivals, or non-profit organizations. She takes a traditional approach and applies it specifically to craft beer, telling a brewery’s story. It’s a holistic approach that helps tell a story via how a brewery presents and engages with their audience.
Through PR, the way a brewery’s story gets told is predominantly through news releases and coverage. The process begins with discovery, asking a series of questions of a potential client to get at who they are, who their audience is, and what it is they want to convey. This background understanding is used to craft the message and informs what audience to reach out to and what kind of story will appeal and interest them.
Media List Development Hack: reach out to the Brewers Association, members can get access to huge media lists that span across the country. This gives you media contacts to review in determining what publications are relevant to your brewery.
A PR firm can help you in a variety of marketing aspects. They can build and manage your media list; create news releases; and approach media contacts.
If considering a PR firm, look for one that recognizes that each brewery has its own set of needs and challenges. Knowing what a brewery is about, where it’s coming from, and what they’re communication need is are crucial components in collaborating with a brewery to meet its goals.
Notable Quote from the Interview
“Critical to an effective craft beer PR plan, whether you’re working with a big firm, an in-house professional, or independent company like RadCraft – is both craft beer savy and interest.” – Emily Hutto
Recent Station 26 blog post
Craft Malt, for Craft Beer: Root Shoot Malting