Each month, ForceBrands partners with The Tasting Panel magazine. The Tasting Panel offers an insider’s look at the tastemakers and trendsetters in today’s growing beverage industry. From winemaker profiles, to brands that are the bartenders’ best friend, this monthly publication gets up close and personal with today’s influencers and explores the products they love the most. With a readership of 85,000 professionals across all levels of the industry, The Tasting Panel maintains its position as a leading authoritative voice in the beverage industry. This article originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of The Tasting Panel.

ForceBrands’ Hot Shot feature in The Tasting Panel magazine’s April issue zeroed in on Breakthru Beverage Group‘s Director of Integrated Marketing Communications, Alison Hamm. We caught up with her to learn more about her career and what she finds most exciting about the state of the beverage industry right now.

Alison HammHamm joined Breakthru in the fall of 2016 as a digital content team lead and was promoted to Content Manager in 2017. In her current role she’s held since January 2018, as the Director of Integrated Marketing Communications, she leads a team of writers and designers who are responsible for creating digital marketing campaigns that drive sales for Breakthru Beverage’s entire footprint across the U.S. and Canada. Breakthru Beverage’s award-winning team manages customer emails, Breakthru’s corporate website, and social media channels — all with a goal to consistently raise the bar with new, innovative ways to communicate with the trade in the digital space.

ForceBrands: How did your background in editorial lead to working in the beverage industry?
Alison Hamm: I started my career at Indiana University as a Content Specialist, which led to editorial and marketing roles at Groupon and at a financial services startup in Chicago — in addition to years working in the restaurant and bar industry as a server. So, while I am still relatively new to the industry from a distributor perspective, I’ve been passionate about marketing communications my entire career. I went to journalism school because I loved writing and storytelling. While I admittedly didn’t always love working as a server — one of the most challenging jobs I’ve ever held — I’d argue that those experiences equally set me up for success in my current role.

FB: What do you find most rewarding about the work that you’re doing?
AH: Working with such a talented, smart group every day is far and away the most rewarding aspect of my job. Although we’re split up by design and content specialties, I would describe every team member, regardless of title, as a creative storyteller. For some, their role involves telling stories through writing. For others, it involves storytelling through photos, infographics, or illustrations. I love that in the digital space, you can tell an engaging story in many ways to resonate and connect with different audiences — from an Instagram story to an email campaign to a feature article.

FB: Can you give us an example of an effective digital marketing campaign you recently completed that was successful in driving Breakthru’s business?
AH: Last spring, we launched a feature series called Women in Wine. Our goal was to tell what’s unfortunately still a largely untold story: Who are the women shaping today’s evolving wine industry? We felt it was crucial to tell a more complete story of the talented people behind so many award-winning wines.

To date, we’ve partnered with more than 14 different wine brands to highlight these leaders, including everyone from winemakers to sustainability specialists to CEOs — and the campaign is ongoing across all our digital channels. I consider it a continued success not only because of the critical acclaim from our customers and suppliers, but the way it showcases the depth of the team’s talents. Each story we publish is a collaborative effort to write, design, and promote, and I’m proud of my team’s small role in working toward a more inclusive industry.

FB: What is the most important thing brands today can do to make a meaningful — and lucrative — connection with consumers?
AH: In a constantly evolving and highly competitive digital marketing landscape, brands have the power to reach bigger consumer audiences all the time. But that crowded digital space can also equate to fleeting attention spans and less brand loyalty, considering we’re all continually introduced to new brands. We know that millennials in particular — who are hugely influential buyers and consumers of alcohol (and all now at the legal drinking age) — place a huge value on new, authentic experiences. When brands are active in local communities and support causes on both local and national levels, that creates a real, memorable connection for all legal drinking age consumers. That also resonates here at Breakthru, as it directly connects to the company’s commitment to making a positive difference in our local communities. You can see that from a quick scroll through our News section on our website!

FB: It’s 5 p.m. and you take a seat at the bar. What’s your drink and why?
AH: It will likely be a beer, but my specific choice depends on where I am and the time of year it is. I love trying out local beers wherever I travel. I’m more than ready for some warmer weather in Chicago and the lighter beers to accompany that, like fruited sours and easy-drinking pale ales. Aside from beer, tequila or mezcal cocktails are my favorite, no matter the season or the city.

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