Day 151

In Strategic Communications, we covered the third and final part in our exploration of media kits. We have already looked at media releases and backgrounders. Today we learned about the last three items included in a media kit: the fact sheet, production information and a previous media article about your business.

The fact sheet is straightforward enough: a bullet-point list of the salient parts of the media release.

Likewise product info is what it sounds like: a one-page description of the products your brewery makes, hopefully with photos or graphics.

We spent a bit more time on the media article. Normally what you do is clip an article that’s previously been written about your brewery and include it with the media kit. It gives you some street cred in the eyes of the reporter reading your media release. “Geez, these guys have already been featured in _____,” he (hopefully) thinks. “I’d better write an article about them.”

However, since we are creating a media kit for a make-belief brewery, we’re going to have to create a make-belief article as well. So we again broke up into groups to examine actual magazine articles about breweries.

The article my group was given was a rambling profile of a particular brewery that sounded like the writer’s entire body of research was one casual conversation with the brewmaster over several pints. I was also disappointed that the focus of the article was the brewery rather than a special event involving the brewery. It didn’t help that the theme of the entire article was that tired cliché about how “overnight success” is the result of years of hard work, trials and tribulations blah blah blah.

(I was trying to decide whether burning the bills on my desk would be considered a fire hazard when a long cool blonde strode into my office and poured herself into a chair. She slowly crossed her legs.

“You could write a better article than that,” she cooed seductively.

“Nice try, lady,” I replied, “but you’re off your rocker.”  

She leaned forward and batted her eyes. Which I noticed because I was looking into her eyes. Honest.

“You love to write,” she whispered. “You could write about beer.”

“Keep talking, lady,” I said as I pulled a bottle from my desk drawer and poured us both two fingers of breakfast. “I like what I’m hearing.”

She took a sip. “You used to write magazine articles. You could do it again.” 

That was a mistake. I tossed back the contents of my glass and pointed at the door. “Nope.”

She look surprised. “But…”

“Look kid, I may have been a writer,” I explained as I shoved her out the door, “but I gave it up in favour of eating regularly.” 

I locked the door against further intrusions and went back to my typewriter. Where was I? Oh yeah. “I was trying to decide whether burning the bills on my desk would be considered a fire hazard…”)

If any of us are interested in writing about beer, we also learned about how to pitch possible story ideas to beer magazines, of which there are actually quite a number in North America, including DraftAll About Beer, Beer and Canada’s own Taps.

In order to sell an article, you don’t send in a written article. First you read the magazine’s contributors’ guidelines. Then you come up with a story idea that seems to meet the magazine’s needs. Next is a one-page letter to the magazine editor outlining your story idea, the research you would do and who you would interview. If the editor likes your idea–and be prepared for the editor to accept your pitch but change your entire story idea–then you start creating your article.

Finally Prof. Sandra Merk showed us the contributors’ guidelines for one beer magazine. I was interested to see that the final guideline was “We generally do not accept pitches on brewery profiles; simply existing is not news.”

I like it.

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2 Comments on “Day 151”

  1. I like that you went all Mickey Spillane on it.

    • Alan Brown Says:

      I grabbed him by the shirtfront and shoved him up against the wall.

      “Listen, kid,” I snarled. “I end sentences with prepositions. I split infinitives. I type on the rough side of the street. Pass the word that I don’t sling vowels for anyone but me.”

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