Calling fellow beer communicators – what, if anything, would you like the British Guild of Beer Writers to be doing?
I’ve sent a version of this post by email to all Guild members this morning. Now I’m posting it here to reach people who communicate about beer who may not be members of the Guild.
Last month I was elected Chair of the British Guild of Beer Writers, succeeding Tim Hampson who steps down after twelve very successful years during which he dragged the Guild into the twenty-first century, overseeing a growth in membership to record levels, a significant improvement in what the Guild offers its members, and a transformation in how fun and successful events such as the annual dinner and summer party are.
I have some big shoes to fill.
We say it an awful lot, but twenty years after starting work on my first book I really believe it: this is the best time there’s ever been to be drinking and writing about beer.
But at the same time, there’s arguably never been a worse time in recent memory for people seeking to make a living from writing. Print titles are struggling, and word rates and book advances are going down. For those of us who spend most of our time doing this, I doubt there’s a single one of us who hasn’t been asked to do what we do for free, or rather, for that precious currency, ‘exposure’. Of course, if you’re doing this as a hobby, maybe that’s OK – it’s easier than ever to get your thoughts, opinions and stories in front of people if you’re not expecting anything in return. And the Guild must represent your views too.
The nature of beer communication is evolving so rapidly I doubt there’s a single one of us who can keep track of the full scope of what we all do and how we do it.
The Guild exists to help its membership communicate about beer. To do that well, your board needs to know what you want from us. We’re working on loads of different projects and over recent years the Guild has greatly expanded the services it offers members.
But there’s more that we could be doing. To work out what that should be, I’d like to make the board a bit more transparent and encourage you to engage with us more.
The board meets approximately once every two months. We’ll post the dates of these meetings well in advance, so that if there’s anything you would like bringing up or would like discussing at a board meeting we can make that happen.
Pretty soon we’ll be setting up a ‘members only’ section. of the Guild website where, if you’re interested, you’ll be able to see key documents such as minutes of board meetings.
We’re also considering having meetings in different parts of the country. This would mean an increase in expenses, but if members outside London would be interested in meeting and chatting to the board where you’re based then that may be a good investment. (If that doesn’t appeal to anyone, we’ll save the money!)
And I’d like to ask you now: if you have any thoughts, ideas, opinions, inspiration, complaints, concerns, or bounteous praise (especially that last one) about the Guild and how the board is running it, please share them with me below. Anything I can deal with myself, I will. Anything that needs taking to a board meeting, I’ll make sure it’s on the agenda.
If you’re based in the UK and you communicate about beer but you’ve decided for whatever reason that you don’t want to be a member of the Guild, I’d love to hear if there’s anything we could be doing that would make you consider (re)joining. Should we be doing more to represent podcasters? Do you want to see more training? Do you want us to organise brewery visits? Could or should we be doing more to improve access to brewers? I’m open to all suggestions.
If you can make it next week, I look forward to sharing a pint with you there.