Beverage Sales and Public Relations
Beverage sales and marketing departments have long been adversaries across the business world. The beverage sales team doesn’t understand what Marketing does all day. Meanwhile, Marketing doesn’t understand how sales doesn’t see how valuable their contributions are to their efforts. I’ve heard stories, and had it personally happen to me in past positions, where a client decides to cut the PR budget, or release agency representation to focus on sales. It’s paradoxical, as marketing, and more specifically, public relations are direct drivers of beverage sales. How can a company expect to increase sales on their obscure spirit brand that no one outside of Asia has heard of without a PR team on their side getting the company and product background out to the media, and general public? This is the number one-way PR can help beverage sales: we draw attention, and generate interest in your brand. Some would say “but doesn’t a billboard or a magazine ad do the same thing?” Not really. These advertising tactics certainly draw attention to a product or company, but with less credibility compared to the goodwill and in-depth perspective that earned media Public Relations can provide. Think about how many ads you’ve seen today that you have ignored in favor of an article, that is the power of PR vs. advertising in action.
It’s About Relationships
What many business people don’t realize is the ripple effect that comes from building a relationship with media that advertising could never provide. In our business of wine and spirits, tasting a bottle with a journalist once, or bringing them for a visit, can provide a plethora of future stories. If someone wants to include a Loire Cabernet Franc in an upcoming article for instance, and they’ve tasted with your PR agency and/or the winemaker, or have been sent to that region by the agency, then they will call you up for a quote or a second sampling well before they begin researching brands that they have no prior experience tasting. This creates a snowball effect, that goes along with the next point.
Stories in the press as a result of PR stimulate desire, and convince readers to take action. When was the last time you read an article that told you to take XYZ supplement to give you more energy, lose weight, or myriad other health benefits? Did you feel like you had to buy it immediately? Again, that’s the power of PR. How do you think that journalist stumbled upon that particular supplement, or fill-in-the-blank product? It’s safe to say the relationship was created through public relations.
With Trade and Distributors Too
Public Relations also helps sales with trade and distributor relationships. Being close to those on the other side of the beverage sales equation (buying and distribution) allows an agency to delve deeper into what appeals to these people about your brand. That knowledge can be crafted into pitches and micro outreach to both trade and consumer publications. Knowing what distributors need and want propels outreach in a direction that appeals not only to consumers, but also to sommeliers, mixologists, buyers and others in the trade.
A final example to drive the point home is credibility. If your company is offering a product, a consumer typically wants reviews and more information prior to purchase. If this customer searches the internet and can only find information from a year ago, or worse yet, nothing but advertorial content, they may be wary to purchase. On the other hand, if they find articles from as recently as two weeks ago along with social media posts that create a positive and credible outlook on your product, they are more willing to buy.
At the end of the day, PR and sales work together in more intimate ways than what is always visible on the surface. There are many benefits to this relationship on both sides, and it is a powerful combination to solidify brand loyalty and media engagement.