Client Goal: Introduce Courage & Conviction American Single Malt to whisky aficionados nationwide
Virginia Distillery Company, the largest producer of American Single Malt whisky in the U.S., launched its award-winning flagship American Single Malt whisky, Courage & Conviction, in April 2020. To support the launch – and with a bit of our own courage and conviction – Hodges developed a PR campaign designed to raise awareness about the new expression and the distillery’s dedication to the American Single Malt category.
Our focus was precise. We targeted pitching and sampling strategy on securing media placements in prominent local, trade and national outlets – publications that would showcase Courage & Conviction to important audiences. In addition to key messages – including the promotion of batch.info, a website the distillery created to highlight the production process of the whisky – we provided background information on the distillery and more details about the special nature of Courage & Conviction.
- Sent samples of Courage & Conviction to 164 media contacts
- Hosted seven virtual tastings, which 35 key journalists attended
- Secured 78 media placements with a total potential reach of more than 63 million impressions in such outlets as Maxim, Golf Magazine, Whisky Advocate, Robb Report, Uproxx, InsideHook, Virginia Living, Beverage Media and The Nelson County Times
Why’d it work?
From years of working with the distillery – our relationship goes all the way back to 2015 – Hodges built an extensive media list of local, national and trade targets, while establishing relationships with media contacts as well as engendering strong brand awareness for the distillery.
Our outreach aligned well with Hodges’ overall communications strategy, and the launch of Courage & Conviction was another opportunity to engage those relationships and create new ones, earning Virginia Distillery Co. placements in both print and digital outlets as well as mentions from important industry social media influencers. We were even able to connect with celebrity and whisky fan LeVar Burton, who commented on the whisky’s quality and character on Twitter and joined the distillery’s CEO for a private virtual tasting.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Hodges planned to host a national press trip on-site at the distillery for select media contacts, but we pivoted to offering virtual whisky tastings over Zoom, which allowed us to connect personally with key media contacts, ultimately getting the whisky in the hands of important spirits writers. We extended the virtual tastings to consumer whisky groups in markets across the U.S., resulting in new customers and fans of Virginia Distillery Company.
Since the launch, the Hodges team has worked with the distillery to roll out additional batches and finishes in the Courage & Conviction product line.