Message in a Bottle

Client: Rock Bottom Brewery

Tactics: Media Relations

Strategy: Created a press kit as unique and iconic as Rock Bottom’s popular craft brews

Outcomes: Media coverage resulting in more than 6 million impressions

Rock Bottom Brewery – a national icon in the restaurant/brewery industry – targeted Richmond, Va. to open a new location in 2014. Selecting Richmond, based on its reputation as one of the fastest-growing craft beer markets in the country, RBB needed a media relations program and accompanying press materials that were as unique as its beer and brand.

A research program, followed by strategic planning, became the foundation for a press kit that would leave reporters literally “wanting more.” Envision a message in a bottle: a press release rolled up inside of a Rock Bottom Brewery growler, presented alongside additional media materials.

Primary research was gathered through meetings with Rock Bottom Brewery’s leadership and PR and marketing departments. This helped us determine what had worked with other market openings, as well as the company’s value message that needed to be communicated.

Secondary research was conducted in the beer market in Richmond via Internet searches. We focused on how other craft breweries in Richmond got their news to the media. We found that a sample of the beer being brewed was often the best way to get the media’s attention. Research also revealed how much the local breweries used social media as a marketing tactic.

Armed with the goal of using media relations to generate as much publicity and attention of Rock Bottom’s opening as possible, we utilized the strategy of creating a press kit as unique and iconic as the company’s craft beer and brand. The result was a press kit that included a signature Rock Bottom beer growler, signed by brewmaster Becky Hammond, with the press release rolled up and placed in the top, creating the “message in a bottle” theme. Rock Bottom also supplied us with marketing folders to hold coupons, informational materials, menus and business cards of Rock Bottom’s general manager and brewmaster. We were challenged with the issue of where to place the cap for the growler. The solution was to tape the cap to a piece of paper inscribed with a unique custom-created, beer-related poem, and place it in the press kit folder.

We strategically split the media distribution sites by location and familiarity with the news staff. We traveled to hand deliver 30 press kits/growlers to reporters so we could see their reaction and answer questions. This resulted in a positive first impression of the brewery by the media and added incentive for the reporters to visit and taste the food, fill their growlers, and cover the opening.

We saw an immediate reaction from some of the media via their social media networks. Reporters from around the area posted pictures of the growlers on their desks and wrote about how excited they were to try Rock Bottom. More than 20 placements were generated, resulting in more than 6 million impressions. Emails revealed that the restaurant recorded Rock Bottom’s busiest opening ever and that media relations played a big part in driving that traffic.