Sunday, March 09, 2008

Step by Step Guide to Free Publicity for Your Bar or Product

"Making the Most of the Media"

I was honored to be on a panel alongside two fab ladies at the 2008 Nightclub & Bar Show in Las Vegas: Ann R. Tunnerman, PR Maven and founder of Tales of the Cocktail and Jenny Adams, contributing Editor to Nightclub & Bar Magazine, Columnist for the Miami Herald, Author of "Mixing New Orleans" and Freelance Writer Extraordinaire.

My "credentials" include: Providing Mixology services (customized cocktails for parties and personalities); Editor of The Liquid Muse; I pen two monthly cocktail columns (one regional, one internationally syndicated) and freelance for other magazines. My non-alcoholic cocktail book (featuring original recipes) comes out in December. (I start Book Two next month.)

Our seminar was aimed at helping bars, restaurants and liquor companies make the most of the media. I've extracted some highlights from our seminar and added some personal notes:

1. Approach all types of press with your story ideas: blogs, magazines, newspapers, trade publications, etc.

2. Read several back issues of the targeted publication so you can suggest where your story / product might fit.

3. Explain your idea in 300 words or less, include contact info, any timely details.

4. Make your story idea specific and unique. Everyone says, “We have an awesome premium vodka!” A better pitch is: “Our awesome premium vodka is the only one in the world made from banana peels! We’re serving it to the Queen of England for her birthday bash held on a rocket ship to Jupiter!”

5. Send jpgs of the product / place / event with the pitch. Low-res is fine for online, and high-res 300 dpi is necessary for print.

6. Follow up by email a week or so later.

My personal requests, particularly regarding The Liquid Muse:

1. The Liquid Muse is devoted to cocktails, liquors, wines, bars, restaurants, destinations (travel) and the people related to them, with a particular focus on high-end / luxury angles. So, if you send me a “I (heart) Teddy Bears” T-shirt or ask me to publicize your beer-bong-a-thon, please understand that you are not talking to my demographic audience.

2. Don’t send me a press release about your new liquor and expect me to write about it without receiving a sample. Trust me, it’s not for yet another bottle of booze – my home bar over-floweth. I simply won't publicize a liquor I haven’t tasted.

3. Sending a sample doesn’t guarantee coverage. If I don't like the product, I’m probably not going to spend time writing about it. Ultimately, this is better for your product. I often write about things I love right away. If I'm too busy right then, I keep them in mind for future coverage.

4. Don't harrass me or write snippy follow up emails! If a review hasn’t gone up in a timely manner, keep in mind that my blog is a labor of love. I don’t make much money off it. If you aren’t paying for a review or advertisement, you are in line with all the other folks who want free publicity. Paying gigs always come first. A sample bottle of $12 booze, is not payment.

5. Refer to #2 – 4 for bar, restaurant and event coverage.

6. Send pitches via email. Do NOT pitch by phone. If I answer my phone, I’m usually driving. I live in LA. Driving is my very limited personal phone time. Don’t mess with it unless we have an appointment to speak by phone, or you'd like a Liquid Muse Signature Cocktail for an interesting and lucrative liquor launch or upcoming event. Then, please feel free to call me. If you want to pitch your bar or product for free publicity on my website, an email does the trick.

7. How can we work together? I'm always willing to cross-promote and team up on the right opportunities. E-me, then let's talk... I'm gearing up to re-vamp my website yet again, so I'm open to opportunities.

Please understand that I welcome your emails, press releases, invitations and product samples. I wish I had 6 employees because things would move a little faster on my end. I want to know what your PR clients are doing. I want to write about that fabulous new liqueur. I want to discover your restaurant / hotel / destination. Yes, I go on press trips.

I want to share all the fantastic, delicious, impressive things I experience with anyone who will listen. We want the same thing in the end --- we want to help people know how and where to spend their precious leisure time and money. And, they want to know, too. Help me help you, and we all win!

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