I read the New York Times daily. I like the food section on a Wednesday and the travel section on the Sunday. I flip through the beer and food magazines and I surf the web. I read about all those “other” places where exciting things are happening and find myself wondering why aren’t more people talking about St. Louis? There are great stories to be told here, but for many national writers there is the East coast, there is the West coast, and then there is everything else that you fly over when travelling between them. I decided not to wait any longer for those that write about places to come to us. We needed to go to them and this past week we did just that.
With the help of a great crew of PR professionals from O’Malley Hansen Communications, a young St. Louis based firm, I went to New York in search of these writers in order to tell our story. Andy White, our extraordinary Chef and leader of The Schlafly Tap Room, as well as Troika Brodsky, the voice of Schlafly Beer on the web and social media, joined me. Having never done anything like this before, we arrived with modest yet hopeful expectations.
We met with journalists who work for or write for a long list of publications and media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Inc Magazine, Forbes, Fortune, Fast Company, Details, Gourmet, Cigar Aficionado, Imbibe, Men’s Health and the New York Times.
Most of our meetings weren’t more than a half hour in length and we arrived with rolling coolers in tow, filled with 5 styles of Schlafly Beer (Kölsch, Pale Ale, Coffee Stout, Irish Extra Stout and Oak-Aged Barleywine) as well as 5 types of cheese for pairing (Dry-aged Jack, Sharp English cheddar, Humboldt Fog, Delice d’Bourgogne and Stilton.) The focus would shift from meeting to meeting depending on the interests of the writers and editors, but the message remained clear throughout: St. Louis is one of the best beer cities in the country and worth visiting (a sentiment that St. Louis beer writer Evan Benn trumpeted in his recent write-up for Esquire Magazine), and that the St. Louis beer scene is vibrant and growing, rich in history, and completely unique to us.
After three days and 20+ meetings, we left New York with increased competency and confidence in dealing with the national press, but still uncertain as to whether any of these writers would help to tell our story. Our story isn’t a complicated one. Despite the fact that St. Louis doesn’t have the mountains or ocean, St. Louis is filled with some of the most decent and hard working people I have met. It is a story of great history, architecture, green spaces, food and of course, the greatest beer found anywhere. It is nothing more and more importantly, nothing less.
In one of our last meetings, the writer asked, whether we were in New York ahead of launching Schlafly Beer there. I explained to the writer that Schlafly Beer is not available in New York. “Maybe someday” I said, “but for now you will just have to come to the source: St. Louis.” What a great feeling.