Why TheStreet's Beer Stories Matter

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- From time to time, I like to pull back the curtain.

For almost as long as I have been alive, I have worked in some form of media, primarily radio, print and now online. With a few exceptions, I have been part of operations with audiences comprised largely of affluent, 25-to-54-year-old men, but also a significant number of fellows in the 55-to-64-year-old "demo" and a growing number of 18-to-34-year-olds, as well as women.

Working primarily in sports and finance over the years, I have discovered the best way to serve these audiences is to deliver on the promise to bring them the most compelling core content. In other words, if you do sports and you're in New York, your audience needs to know that, come Monday morning, you'll be talking Jets and Giants during football season. And doing it well, which, of course, means different things to different people.

From a business and finance standpoint, I believe TheStreet ( TST) delivers on this promise as well now as it ever has. And, most important, we continue to evolve and improve.

While I can't speak for TheStreet as a company, it has always been my personal philosophy to find out what other areas move your audience. Because sports and finance audiences overlap they tend to share some common interests outside of sports and finance. Often, folks who love finance also love sports and vice versa. We tend to care about our kids, tech, food, sex, cars, music, some pop culture and, for many, beer.

I worked in sports radio during a time when the format was transitioning from all-sports to something programmers called "Guy Talk." WIP in Philadelphia was one of the first to commit to this philosophy and generate meaningful ratings with it. Now, it's commonplace.

The idea is that your core audience comes to you for sports, but they also care about other things -- such as those listed above -- so, in order to build a bond between your organization and that audience, you need to cover those areas. But not only cover them, live and breathe them as much as you live and breathe sports or, in TheStreet's case, finance. In the best cases, it just sort of happens.

And, in several areas, I think that's what's going on at TheStreet. I don't write about Internet radio because it generates massive pageviews (it doesn't). I write about it because it's a passion of mine. And I realize a meaningful -- and growing -- niche in our audience cares just as much. At the same time, we're bringing people to TheStreet who might not have otherwise found us with excellent music/Internet radio-related stories not only from me, but from Carlton Wilkinson, The Digital Skeptic, Jason Notte and others.

Which brings me to Jason Notte, who has become TheStreet's resident expert for all things #beer.

I decided to write this "inside baseball" rant, in part, because, as TheStreet's Director of Social Media (I'm still not sure what that means!), I receive considerable feedback from readers about the stories I post to platforms such as Twitter and Facebook ( FB). I'm often queried, directly, with something like what one reader posted publicly on Twitter Wednesday:

I never have been able to comprehend the notion that you somehow hurt your credibility as a "news and information" outlet focused on business and finance if you branch out into other areas your audience cares about. I mean, who hasn't discussed the girl "showing too much cleavage" or the guy dressed like Rico Suave around the office. We're humans, not high-frequency trading machines.

We also live in a time where a fair bit of public discourse obsesses over exactly what is journalism and, pursuant to that, the perceived death of journalism. It's at the meaty intersection of those debates where I believe TheStreet's beer stories matter. I could have picked many other areas, but beer is on my mind.

Part of this discussion laments the use of lists and slideshows as "click bait." More than once BuzzFeed, Huffington Post or Business Insider has likely disappointed you with a must-click headline followed, sadly, by a story that doesn't deliver on the hype. There's little content of value beyond the overstated title of the article. That's a problem. And I'm not merely pointing fingers because, there's no doubt, we have, at one time or another, been guilty of the same thing.

However, by and large, I stand by the stories we do in this regard. In fact, I think, as we continue to get better and more consistent, we're raising the bar.

There's no better example than Notte's beer coverage. Notte writes the type of articles you can go back to, read more than once and, most important, learn something at the same time as being entertained. He opens you -- or speaking for myself, me -- up to worlds within beer I never knew existed. I no longer drink just to get drunk. (That's a joke ... sort of).

10 Pumpkin Beers You're Seeing Before Labor Day and Why

6 Good, Bad and Ugly Beer Partnerships

The 10 Beer-Drinkingest States in America

That's a three-story preview of the best beer coverage as well as a tutorial on expert implementation of the list-style article that Notte delivers day-after-day on TheStreet!

And it's important because his work and lots of the other things you're seeing from TheStreet come at a time where several actors from Business Insider to the resurgent CNN are redefining the definition of what is news and information.

To me, it means treating your audience the way you want to be treated. Like a living, breathing, thinking, intelligent human. That means delivering on the reason why you come to us in the first place (business and finance) and giving you incentive to stick around a little bit longer and come back more often. It also means striking the difficult balance between provocative, outrageous and/or engaging and useful, informative and/or being relevant.

How do you do one or more from each category with every story you publish? Every journalist should pin that to the top of their vanity mirror.

There are lots of media outlets that, quite obviously, do not think about this type of stuff quite so theoretically. They're just throwing stuff against the wall to see if it sticks. That's why I think our "beer" stories matter. I know how they -- and everything else we do at TheStreet -- comes about. I'm speaking out of turn here (as in nobody at the company knows I am writing this), but, coming up on a year as a full-time employee, I think it needs to said.

We're raising the bar across the spectrum, from stories covering areas such as banking, housing and biotech to the stuff we know you're talking about around the water -- or beer -- cooler. I'm proud to be part of this organization, chock full of engaging and creative journalists, each with their own unique strengths and abilities to contribute to an increasingly exciting whole.

About six months ago, TheStreet's founder Jim Cramer gave the entire staff a talk I will never forget. I can't divulge details (I've already said enough!), but I can tell you this, he inspired me like I have never been inspired before. And, when I'm feeling as good about something as I am about TheStreet, I like to use the platform I am lucky enough to have to tell the world about it.

You can do the same with me, via email, or at my Twitter account accessible below.

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.
Rocco Pendola is a columnist and TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola makes frequent appearances on national television networks such as CNN and CNBC as well as TheStreet TV. Whenever possible, Pendola uses hockey, Springsteen or Southern California references in his work. He lives in Santa Monica.

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