October 27,2016, San Antonio, TX: The people behind Tequila Aficionado Media have strategically aligned to unfurl the next phase in agave spirits publicity, branding, marketing and social media–Tequila PR & Marketing—delivering agency level services exclusively to the craft agave spirits segment.
“You can’t market spirits the same way you market peanut butter,” says Lisa Pietsch, co-founder of Tequila PR & Marketing and CMO of Tequila Aficionado Media.
“And you can’t market agave spirits the same way you market vodka, whisky, scotch or rum,” adds Mike Morales, co-founder of Tequila PR & Marketing and CEO of Tequila Aficionado Media.
“So why would you go to a marketing and PR agency that generalizes?” reasons Pietsch.
With over 40 years of traditional and digital marketing experience between them, the partner’s individual businesses and staffs have merged to deploy agency level services and customized programs for craft agave spirits brands with Tequila PR & Marketing.
Holding a finger on the pulse beat of agave spirits for over 20 years, Mike Morales has provided consulting, branding, public relations, sales assistance and training to the burgeoning craft agave spirits sector.
Lisa Pietsch has furnished targeted marketing strategies and social media management services to a variety of individuals and businesses for over 15 years. Since joining Tequila Aficionado Media, her expertise has expanded to include craft agave spirits.
The pros at Tequila PR & Marketing believe that small or large, your craft agave spirit brand deserves personal attention that’s in keeping with your image and pedigree.
“Is that expensive photographer your over-priced agency hired still taking photos of babes in bikinis holding red Solo cups?” asks Morales. “Would you trust your brand’s story—your voice–to a company where the staff in charge is still shooting mixtos?”
“We know what every generation and demographic is looking for in an agave spirit, and how they want to be approached by your brand,” declares Pietsch.
“Moreover, we tirelessly keep up with all the changes in search engine and social media algorithms, implement the most effective new tools and networks to ensure that you get the most out of your marketing dollar.”
“At Tequila PR & Marketing, we specialize in just agave spirits,” pledges Morales. “We know agave spirits inside and out, and we prove it on a daily basis.”
“Nobody understands agave spirits consumers, the industry, and the laws that govern its marketing like we do,” explains Pietsch.
Adds Morales, “We understand what makes your customers reach for your bottle instead of theirs.”
“We also know this is a tough industry in which to stay competitive,” concludes Pietsch. “So, when you partner with Tequila PR & Marketing, we become your edge.”
For YOUR edge, click here. Tequila PR & Marketing offers individual and one-time services, as well as marketing management packages to fit every need for your agave spirit brand.
In my experience, something inevitably goes awry with these sorts of “listicles,” and it usually starts with the editor.
Contrary to the galloping propaganda disseminated by some press releases, there were no additional USA Today editors involved in accumulating the original list of twenty craft tequilas. Only the recruited “experts” were involved.
This time around, I blame the curator of these lists whose job it is to engage USA Today’s readership, which in turn leads to its increased ad revenue.
Now that the excitement has died down, it’s time to assess the damage done by deliberately withheld facts, and to clear the air of unbridled misinformation.
The Top 20 Reasons Why USA Today’s Top 10 Craft Tequila List
[Caution: Rants Ahead]
1.Lack of Respect.
When someone asks you to accrue a list on your area of expertise, you, as the curator, must assume that that person takes this task very seriously, especially since you’ve taken the time to background check the expert who is going to help you get PAID.
2.Lack of Communication.
When this expert communicates questions to you via email or phone, be aware that this person expects a timely answer, especially when YOU have asked him for his list by a certain deadline.
3.Lack of Trust.
When you deliberately avoid answering questions about who else is involved in
accruing a list for you, you immediately raise suspicion.
As with most “industry experts,” we tend to know one another. In this instance, we could have worked in tandem to come up with a more complete list.
4.Lack of Respect for Relationships.
You must also assume that the expert not only admires those items on his list, but personally knows each producer of those items and has forged lasting relationships with them over the years.
5.More Lack of Respect for Relationships.
Because of these relationships, you must assume the expert is also highly regarded by those craft producers that he has included on his list.
By virtue of being craft distillers, you must understand that they are not made of money like the Big Boys. These guys literally live by their shoestrings.
7. Lack of Transparency.
Total and complete transparency when communicating with your experts is vital. Explaining what opportunities and hidden fees await the winners is of utmost importance as that intelligence could alter the final list.
8. Lack of Vergüenza (shame).
Where the HELL do you get off asking the winners for money for the licensing rights to use your seals, medals and trophies?
Do you see that this lack of transparency on your part on behalf of USA Today could possibly put the expert’s friendships and reputation at risk?
11. Lack of Realistic Expectations.
Do you really believe that these craft brands will fork over money for a meaningless popularity contest–for bragging rights?
12. Underestimating the Brands.
How stupid do you think they (or we, the judges) are?
13. Concealment of True Intentions.
Do you get that we understand that these contests you curate for USA Today are only to generate reader engagement which in turn determines your pricing to advertisers?
Double dip, much?
15. Conscious Collateral Damage.
Do you catch on that the winning and losing brands on this list probably now believe that the experts knew about the additional costs to the winners but chose not to divulge this information to them?
16.Lack of Good Faith.
Most all professionally held beer, wine and spirits competitions openly inform participants of additional licensing costs to the winners. YOU deliberately chose to keep this information from your experts.
17. Elimination Due to Perceived Lack of Relevance.
Was it fair for you to eliminate those craft tequila brands because they had little or no social media presence?
18. Lack of Foresight on Your Part.
Bet you didn’t see that one coming, huh?
19. Naïveté On My Part.
I only reluctantly became involved to help promote these deserving craft tequila brands.
Mike Morales & Rick Levy taste and discuss Tequila 512 Anejo on this episode of Sipping off the Cuff.
SCOTT WILLIS WENT TO JALISCO IN SEARCH OF THE PERFECT ANYTIME TEQUILA.
HE RETURNED WITH 512.
In Austin, tequila isn’t saved for special occasions. It’s a standard go-to. It’s one of the many things Scott loves about the town he calls home, and why he set out to create a tequila that could be enjoyed anytime.
In Jalisco he found Luis Trejo, master distiller at La Cofradia. Batch by batch, they made their way to the earthy, spicy yet surprisingly smooth tequila we bottle today. The magic moment came when Scott decided to add a third distillation, making the good juice they’d created together just a bit smoother.
Scott’s friends back in Austin loved the results. So did the judges at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, who awarded Tequila 512 Double Gold and Best In Show.
To this day, Scott returns to Jalisco to taste every new batch, ensuring each is as good as the last. Because when it comes to great tequila, taste is the only test that matters.
[From September 11 to October 2, 2016, Tequila Aficionado Media, sponsored by 34 expressions representing 21 brands, embarked on a monumental RV road show dubbed, The Heartland Tour. In these next passages, we recount the historic–and epic–highlights. Felipe’s Mexican Restaurant provided us with no payment, but the food was well worth it!]
Back To Felipe’s
Tequila Aficionado’s Heartland Tour started off with a bang from the get-go.
We had visited Felipe’s Mexican Restaurant in 2014, and fell in love with the food, the owners–the Lujano family–and their history as stalwart members of the Wichita business community for almost fifty years.
Once again, for the third year in a row, they have been voted Wichita’s Favorite Mexican restaurant by the Wichita Eagle newspaper.
This time around, we made a special whistle-stop at Felipe’s to meet with Adam Clary, Craft Spirits Specialist for Standard Beverage Corporation, and several selected staff members.
Standard Beverage Corporation, one of the more well respected distributors in Kansas, has a firm reputation of forging solid relationships with the customers they serve, including Felipe’s.
Felipe’s is known for their innovation in Mexican cuisine, and for a keen feeling for what will keep their customers coming back for more.
The Lujano family also has a deep love and affinity for all things agave, especially craft tequilas and mezcals that aren’t available in their home state.
Kansas: A Hotbed For Agave Spirits
Our timing through Kansas during the Heartland Tour had the makings of an Agave Perfect Storm.
We simply wheeled in our stash of agave goodness to share between Felipe’s lunch and dinner hours, and let everyone go to town.
Almost immediately, there were oohs and ahhs from both camps.
The Lujano family and the Standard Beverage staff acted like catadores who had just spent the entire day blind judging tequilas for a serious competition, and then cut loose on their favorites during the after party.
Knowing that Adam had a great appreciation for craft spirits in general, I still anticipated that I would need to translate some of the nuances of agave to some of the attendees.
I expected that most would gravitate to the aged expressions that we had laid out for them, especially considering we were touring through a part of the country that is heavily influenced by darker spirits, namely bourbon and whisky.
Such was not the case.
In an astonishing move, the group made a beeline for every unaged expression belonging to our sponsoring brands.
On a personal note, whenever I participate in tastings or demonstrations, I search for specific clues from the audience to alert me to whether I’m dealing with a well-informed crowd or a roomful of newbies.
Usually, it’s a cross section of both.
Unlike public tastings and dinner events we’ve conducted in the past, or staff training at restaurants or distributors, no instruction was necessary for the chosen and invited staff of Standard Beverage.
Any tequilero or mezcalero worth his or her worm salt will tell you that the character and integrity of their brand can be measured by the quality of their unaged expression. Most will never shy away from a chance to pit just their blanco tequila or joven mezcal against any other competing brand.
Without exception, each staff member followed Adam Clary’s lead in sampling the unaged versions of our sponsoring brands, first. Only when they were satisfied with what they were experiencing from each tequila or mezcal did they proceed in sampling the rest of the lines.
The effort it takes to understand agave spirits, especially in a region where it is not the average go-to sip, is a quality sorely missing from small-to-medium distribution houses these days.
It’s a testament to the training received by the staff and management of Standard Beverage, and to the courage and enthusiasm displayed by the Lujano family by asking for and acquiring more and better agave spirits.
It was such a joy, and a relief, to simply share stellar agave spirits as one would do with family and friends.
Muchote Reposado Premium Tequila, is made by Feliciano Vivanco y Asociados, in Los Altos, Arandas, Jalisco, Mexico. The Vivanco family have been agaveros, growing agave for five generations. The Vivanco 800 acre Los Altos farms are known for rich red clay soil that produce a softer/sweeter tequila. This Reposado Tequila is a single estate tequila, made from 100% Weber Blue tequilana agave. The agave piñas are harvested and placed in brick adobe ovens (hornitos) where they are steamed for 24 hours then left to cool for 24 hours. Double distilled for smoothness, fresh agave flavor yet keeping the natural spice. Our traditional, handcrafted and careful process ensures a natural, smooth, and savory tequila. Muchote Tequila is a hand crafted small batch artisan tequila aged in American white oak seasoned whiskey barrels for seven months.
[The spirits that traveled with us were paid sponsors of the Tequila Aficionado Heartland Tour and paid a nominal fee to be mentioned here and on our networks as we saw fit. Felipe’s Restaurant provided us with no payment but the food was well worth it. We were hungry.]
It was a great way to spend a Wednesday afternoon!
We knew the Lujano’s were aficionados from way back, but we were completely impressed with the way the ladies and gents from Standard Beverage took their time and really appreciated the diverse and outstanding selection of tequilas, mezcals and agave spirits we brought them.
This little story with pictures & music sums it up:
When it was all said and done, Adam Clary, Standard Beverage’s Craft Spirits Specialist, wanted an introduction to each brand’s owner so he could add all of them to his portfolio (and growing territories) – including all three of the ready-to-drink JLP Craft Margaritas.
This was truly one of the high points of this year’s Tequila Aficionado Heartland Tour.
We love tasting, reviewing, and writing about tequilas but it gives us such joy to make connections for brands of promise that help them to expand their market share and ultimately succeed and thrive in an industry that so often eats its young.
Congratulations to all the brands that came along!
PS: If any of our readers are distributors or bar/restaurant owners west of the Rocky Mountains and would like to arrange a similar tasting or tasting event on our 2017 tour, please fill out the form below:
[From September 11 to October 2, 2016, Tequila Aficionado Media, sponsored by 34 expressions representing 21 brands, embarked on an epic RV road show dubbed, The Heartland Tour. In these next passages, we recount the historic–and epic–highlights.]
From watching the campy Batman TV series, or seeing Michael Keaton’s classic Batman movie at least 8 times when it premiered back in 1989, or devouring vintage Dracula movies with Bela Lugosi, I’ve always been captivated by bats.
Despite my fascination with them, I’d only seen bats in captivity at zoos, or in film documentaries. I’ve never actually seen them in the wild until our visit to Bracken Cave on the first leg of Tequila Aficionado’s 2016 Heartland Tour.
Bracken Cave, Texas
Also known as the Devil’s Sinkhole, it’s a mere 20 miles from San Antonio and houses the largest bat maternity colony in the world. More than 15 million Mexican free-tail bats call Bracken Cave their summer home.
This enormous vertical cavern is considered to be the largest single-chamber cavern in Texas. The opening is a shaft approximately 50 feet wide that drops 140 feet into the cavern. The shaft then balloons to a diameter of over 320 feet and reaches a total depth of over 350 feet.
Braken Cave: The Largest Mammal Nursery on Earth
Every square foot of Bracken Cave is jam packed with gestating or nursing female bats (almost 500 per!) that return every March and April after wintering in Mexico, to give birth to their pups.
While it is the nectar feeding bats that service our beloved agaves, specifically the lesser long-nosed bat that the “Batman of Mexico,” Rodrigo Medellin, has so tirelessly championed, along with the Tequila Interchange Project’s “bat friendly” tequila and mezcal certification program, the Mexican free-tail variety also plays an important role in agriculture.
In fact, the estimated 100 million free-tail bats living in Central Texas caves eat approximately 1000 tons of insects and agricultural pests nightly at altitudes of anywhere from 1000 to 10,000 feet feeding primarily on the cotton boll-worm moth (a.k.a. corn ear worm moth) that alone costs American farmers up to a billion dollars annually.
Known as WNS, it is a cold-loving white fungus found on the wings and faces of infected bats. It causes bats to awaken too often during hibernation and to use up stored fat reserves while flying in winter. These creatures usually freeze or starve to death.
First detected in 2006 in a cave in New York, it is still a mystery as to how this disease has spread so quickly (7 bat species, 26 states and 5 Canadian provinces, and counting). The national park system, however, is doing its part to cut down on the spread of this epidemic.
Later on in our Heartland Tour at Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, also a home to bats, hikers were asked to walk onto a soap soaked carpet for several feet after a shortened cave tour. It is believed that tourists who visit national parks could be inadvertently spreading WNS via footwear.
Witnessing the appearance of 4 million bats from a true bat cave is a sight like no other.
The first sign that alerts onlookers are the groups of Peregrine falcons that prey on the Mexican free-tails. These birds instinctively know when the first nightly pilgrims dare to ascend.
Let’s just say that not every bat makes it out of Bracken Cave alive.
No flash photography is allowed so as not to upset the bats during their nightly emergence, and once photography is no longer possible, it’s time to just enjoy the phenomenon of the “bat-nado,” the counterclockwise vortex that the bats create when leaving the cave on their quest for food.
We stood wide eyed in quiet reverence as literally millions of bats flew overhead gathering speed and altitude to feed on the moths and insects that attack corn and cotton farms outside the city of San Antonio, and well beyond.
The fluttering of millions of pairs of wings sounded like rain lightly tapping on a tin roof. The breeze created by their flight cooled the muggy air around us.
Just close your eyes and smile.
Open your eyes and smile.
By the light of the half moon, the waves of bats disappeared like clouds of smoke over the tree tops of Bracken Cave reserve.
Download the 2015 Dia de los Muertos Tour Magazine
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