Pappy’s Gone Missing! Film at 11.

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Buffalo Trace Distillery recently discovered that several cases of the premium Pappy Van Winkle bourbon had been…err… winkled.

So to the fine folks at Buffalo Trace: One of your bourbon brands just made it into the news in a (relatively) neutral story. How do you capitalize on the moment and turn it into a positive PR opportunity? Let’s find out.

Pappy is already a hard-to-get, bragging-rights-acquired, top-shelf bourbon with lots of fans among the bourbon cognoscenti, now exposed to a much wider audience because of the theft of a few cases.

“Wow, this stuff is so good, someone heisted it from the warehouse!”

“How much is a bottle?!?”

“It must be wicked awesome!”

“I must have some!”

Instant buzz. But there’s no problem peddling Pappy. People line up around the block to get at this liquid gold when a few bottles become available. But Buffalo Trace distills other bourbons. And they’re special too.

Get some reporters down to the distillery. Look for reporters who enjoy a cocktail or two. This shouldn’t be hard.

When you make the pitch to visit, talk about the bourbon culture in Kentucky that’s now expanding worldwide. Talk about Kentucky’s bourbon mystique. Talk about how there are more barrels of bourbon in Kentucky than people. And send ‘em some pictures…scenes that’ll make good video. Think in terms of visual interest and what might capture a viewer/reader’s attention.

Once the reporters arrive, show them what makes Pappy special. And talk about your OTHER brands, too. About how the same care and quality that make Pappy so beloved goes into ALL your brands. Make sure you have lots of bottles set out. And glasses. Don’t be afraid to think big–This doesn’t have to be just a local/regional story.  This thing has national appeal.

Get those master distillers talking about the 20-year-long process that goes into a bottle of Pappy’s. And the artisanal process for your other brands. Say artisanal…a lot.  People on the coasts love artisanal. Reference mint juleps, the national media loves those. Mention how Celebrity Chef and Bon Vivant Anthony Bourdain considers Pappy’s the bee’s knees. A little name-dropping never hurts. And don’t forget to  deploy social media to take advantage of all this attention; it can be a great force multiplier, getting you attention in many different spheres.

So that’s how to turn a little light-fingered larceny into a big win for Buffalo Trace. But what if you’re another distillery and want to get some of that limelight? Reach out to the media and talk about your new security upgrades in light of the recent high-end bourbon thefts. How you’re protecting your own specialty bourbon that’s purloin-worthy. And what makes it so darn special. Find ways your brand fits into the story. No matter what your industry is, be aware that a little news nugget can be turned into a gold rush. And when you find yourself getting your 15 minutes, be prepared to take advantage. I’ll drink to that!

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