Wine PR rules the Brand Amp way
Recently I dusted off a ‘how to wine PR’ article I had written about seven years ago for http://wbmonline.com.au. However, even with the emergence of new media channels via Twitter and Facebook, the rules for quality communication with the wine media remain unchanged.
Sure, not everyone reads the wine media. There are a lot of folks who enjoy a wine at the end of the day who haven’t heard of Halliday, Hooke, Campbell, Thomson or Burzynska . In fact I’d bet my years of experience that the majority of wine drinkers have never heard of them and even if they had they wouldn’t be interested in their opinion! But plenty of people do care what wine writers have to say – and these people can influence sales.
These people are the ‘gate keepers’ or the influencers. For these people – usually wine buyers, retailers, hoteliers, restaurateurs, and focused dedicated wine lovers the opinion of these wine writers is very important. And for that reason it is very important for every producer. The opinion of key wine writers will “influence” these people to try and buy, list or sell your wines.
Now that the benefit of this work is clear, here are a few basic rules:
- Own the relationship. Don’t give a Public Relations agency your relationship with wine media, build the relationship for yourself. If time is precious and you don’t have time to write a media release, send a tasting note (ensuring you add retail pricing, availability and your contact details) with the sample. If you want to use an agency to write the release, give your name as the contact for further information. Wine writers want to speak to the person who made the wine, they want the inside story from the person who sweated over the style and the winemaking techniques.
- Deliver on promises. If you say I’ll send you a bottle image today, do it! If you’re on a tractor in the vineyard when you make the promise, get someone at home to send it for you – or don’t make a promised you can’t keep. Journalists work to tight deadlines and they rely upon you keeping your promise to deliver. If you don’t they may drop your wine from the story and they may never come back to you again.
- Get your samples out. Wine writers are always looking for something different to write up, there’s only so many times they can write up chardonnay under $10 – just like there’s only so many times we want to read about it! If you don’t have time to send samples out regularly send them out twice a year and remember a media release isn’t necessary, a tasting note with vital information such as pricing and availability will do. All the wine journalists I know respect the samples they receive and have regular tastings; they don’t use samples to build their cellar.
- Cover off the basics. I mean BASICS. Make sure the spelling is correct on anything you send out. ALWAYS include; recommended retail price, availability (e.g. nationally or just through Cellar Door) and contact details.
- Do not use gimmicks. You might think you are getting flash or that you will cut through the multitude of samples which arrive at a wine writer’s door each week by including an i-pod or a similar present with your sample. However, wine writers are focused on the quality of what’s inside the bottle and gimmicks like free gifts are not welcomed.
- Don’t editoralise. Don’t use terms like the “finest” release, or the “best”, it is up to media to make their assessment on the wine. Don’t tell them what to think, use neutral, un-emotive language.
- Don’t expect a review. Just sending a sample doesn’t guarantee a review. All the wine media I know are disciplined about regular tastings of samples. But it is impossible for them to review everything and often many good wines will miss out on a review because of a lack of space or need to present a mix of different styles.
- Accept criticism. If a wine writer says something you don’t like, don’t bail them up, stop sending samples or boycott them for life. Remember taste is subjective and everyone is different.
- The wine media are not your own personal tasting panel. Don’t ask the media to send you back their thoughts on your wine, that’s not their job! Their role is to independently assess a wide range of wines and make recommendations which appeal to their readers.
If you have don’t have time to manage all this, Brand Amp, is here to help. If you’re all over it, you may want to check out our earlier blog on Amplifying Awards.