In an era of ever-increasing competition and consumer sophistication, craft alcohol brands face a unique challenge: how to stand out in a crowded market and capture the attention of discerning customers. While quality products and word-of-mouth recommendations play an essential role, the importance of effective public relations (PR) cannot be overstated. Public relations, with its ability to shape brand perception, build credibility, and generate buzz, has emerged as a powerful tool for craft alcohol makers seeking to grow their businesses.
Craft alcohol brands, whether breweries, distilleries, or wineries, often operate in a niche market, catering to consumers with a penchant for artisanal, locally sourced, and authentic experiences. While these characteristics offer a strong foundation, the challenge lies in effectively communicating the brand’s story and values to a wider audience. This is where PR steps in, providing a strategic approach to storytelling, reputation management, and media relations that can elevate a craft alcohol brand from obscurity to recognition.
In the article below, we will delve deeper into the strategies and tactics that craft alcohol brands can employ to harness the power of public relations.
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Today, to help with that, we’re sharing an article our founder, Suzanne, originally wrote for Distillers Magazine’s fall 2019 issue. Let’s dive in!
Leverage PR to Grow Your Brand
Originally published in Distiller Magazine, October 2019.
As a craft distiller, you’re likely familiar with public relations — or PR — as a marketing tactic but, as with all marketing tactics, it can often be confusing to know where it fits in the puzzle. I often hear comments like, “We know we should do this at some point, but when? Why? What do they actually do? How do I think about ROI? Are there different kinds of publicists?” While there’s no one easy answer here, you should have a high-level understanding of PR so that you are better equipped to employ it as one of the many marketing weapons in the battle to grow your brand.
Public relations is how companies and brands communicate with the public and media. A PR specialist, or publicist, communicates with your target audience directly through influencers or indirectly through media to create and maintain a positive brand reputation and a strong relationship with the public, particularly the brand’s target consumers.
Why Hire a Publicist?
So why should you even consider hiring a publicist? Why not just reach out to influencers and media yourself as the scrappy entrepreneur that you are?
First, at some point, you just can’t do it all yourself. And PR is one of those particularly tricky marketing areas of expertise that looks simple from the outside but wastes so much time for subpar results when you actually try to do it yourself. It can be done, of course, but it takes some real time, training, discipline and effort to get good at it. Why is that? Well, that’s our second reason for considering to hire a publicist.
Good publicists already have an existing relationship with the media. And if you’re considering them as your publicist, then they have a relationship with alcohol, food and travel-related media in particular. They know who to talk to, how to best get through to them and have established trusting relationships. You know what that means? That media contact is much more likely to open their email about your brand, which is the first thing that needs to happen if your news is ever going to get published!
Third, publicists have objective market knowledge. They know the path to success when it comes to getting news picked up. They also know what your competitors are doing, which means over time they can help you decide when to push which topics to drive the best results. Because of their objectivity, they can also help you gauge what is truly newsworthy, how to make items more newsworthy and who in the media will think it’s most newsworthy. That is hugely valuable and can save you from wasting time researching and sending hundreds of press releases when you could have gotten the same results sending 30 to different people a week later. Tactics only work if there’s good strategy behind them.
Lastly, publicists help you pull your head out of that copper still long enough to ensure the timing of your brand, launch, promotion or other news is appropriate. The best time to pitch a news story is not usually right when it’s about to happen. Yet, being the busy entrepreneur you are, that is usually the first time craft makers start to think about marketing. Right as the news is about to happen!
Your publicist, on the other hand, can look at your product and promotion plan for the year and match that up with trends, holidays, seasons and more to make sure you’re promoting topics at the right time to increase the likelihood of publication. They figure out if it should be a local or national press release, how many product samples to send, how often and when to follow up, how to deal with unexpected news or crises and more. Which means you can spend a lot more of your time making the news that is your incredible booze happen, while they worry about sharing the news at a time when it will most benefit your brand.