Wine PR Rule #1: Giv’em What They Want

The wine PR business has really changed. It is much harder to garner good press for your wine today than it was 15 years ago for one simple reason: There are a whole lot more excellent wines on the market and just as many new, compelling stories that need to be told. A good wine marketer or publicist better know what they are doing.

This is the first in a series of looks inside the wine PR business. Or, better put, the first in a series
of how the wine business demands a particular approach to public relations in an industry where each bit of ink is hard fought.

RULE  NUMBER ONE: Give them what they want.

While a wine publicist does a lot of things, one of the primary jobs they perform is getting the wineries unique story in front of the media. In part, being successful at this is merely showing up. While some of the wine media receives tons of info from wineries, PR firms, importers and wine distributors, the majority of wineries, particularly the small and medium sized ones, simply don’t engage the media in any meaningful way.  So, doing so is a good first step.

However, taking this first step often leads to a slip   because what get delivered to the wine media is not what they want. In fact, it just makes more work for them.

For example, is it really news that a winery has released a new vintage of its Chardonnay? I mean, is it really? The number of press releases that get sent to wine writers that say, simply, “we have released a new vintage of Chardonnay” are too many and too useless. When was the last time you saw a story anywhere about the release of a new wine?

Another way wineries reach out the wine media is by sending “Press Samples” for them to try and hopefully review. Yet all too often the winery will call the target of their mailing on the phone to ask, “Did you received the sample?” Well, the FED EX tracking software tells you they did. Of course they did. Who wants to take time out of their day to answer a stupid question?  Why not ask what you are really thinking: “Did you taste it and did you like it?” You don’t’ ask that question because it pushes someone into a corner. No one likes to be in a corner. No one likes to be pressured.

Here’s the deal, and it applies to contacting media on any subject matter at all: contact them when you have something compelling to offer them. Know what they tend to cover. Find out what kind of angles they hang their stories on. Then, and only then, contact them, make sure it’s a good time to talk, or write them, and give them your compelling story.

This takes work.

But if you are asking a member of the media to, essentially, work on your behalf, why wouldn’t’t you put in the work first yourself?

5 Responses

  1. Winesmith - June 15, 2006

    Looking forward to reading more in this series. On the subject of PR, I was wondering if you have a comment on the press release put out hip-hopper Jay-Z responding to reports that Louis Roderer Cristal calls hip-hop mentions of Cristal champagne “unwanted attention.” Is Cristal being too protective of its brand? Or are they smart in trying to distance themselves from hip-hop?

  2. Mark Fisher - June 15, 2006

    Tom: As a jouralist often on the other end of everything you’ve written about here, all I can add is: Amen.

  3. Mark Fisher - June 15, 2006

    Make that “journalist” (and one obviously in need of a copyeditor!)

  4. tom - June 15, 2006

    What an interesting question. I’d first want to know what has happened to Cristal sales since the hip hop crowd adopted it. Has the attention been good for sales? On the other hand, are sales in white table cloth restaurants down as a result?
    The Champagne game is ALL about brand image at the level that Roederer plays at. So, being protetive of one’s image is vitally important. On the other hand, they are protective of that image because image is wht affects the bottom line.
    Tough question without all the facts.

  5. Winesmith - June 16, 2006

    Tom: Thanks for the thoughtful response. It’s certainly good to see the sales figures. We’ll never see them, so I turned to Googlefight for an answer.
    More at:

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