Wine PR? What Exactly Do You Do?

ConstJob For nearly 20 years, when I tell people "I work in wine PR", I often get the same response: "So what exactly do you do?"

Sometimes this questions sets me back on my heels because from day-to-day my responsibilities to my clients change, the things I'm asked to do change, and I'm not always sure, on any given day, exactly what I'll be doing. In other words, while there are some vague boundaries to the realm of "PR", it's not always so well defined.

For this reason, I thought I'd point readers to at least one view of what Wine PR is all about. In this case it's a job description for a "Director of Public Relations" now open with Constellation Wines U.S. The job listing is over at and is a pretty thorough, top-down explanation of what is expected from a PR pro working for a large firm. What's interesting about the job description (which does not list salary possibilities) is that if you scan it with a small winery's needs in mind it actually translates. That is, what Constellation expects of the person filling their Director of PR position is what would generally be expected of the person doing PR for a small or medium sized winery.

Now, while I have worked with large wine organizations over the years, it has not been my preferred sort of client. Things tend to move a bit more slowly than with small and medium-sized wineries and the layers of bureaucracy tend to be more imposing. Still, this kind of position doesn't open up that often. We are looking at one of the most influential, powerful and vibrant wine companies in the world seeking out a PR pro for the position that sits just below their VP of Public Relations.I would suspect they will receive MANY resumes.

One thing very interesting about the Constellation job posting is that there is no mention of Social Media. Among the Constellation-owned brands is Robert Mondavi Winery. They have a Facebook page. It possesses 2 fans. Perhaps the area of Social Media is part of the job postings note that candidates responsibilities would include: "Execute focused public relations and communications plans, ideas and
programs that support the strategic messages of each estate for
multiple wine brands."

Either way, for those of you who have asked, "What do you do", this job posting is a good start toward an answer.

11 Responses

  1. Michael Grisley - June 4, 2009

    Tom, I feel your pain. My father and I have a small wine importing company based out of……………Salt Lake City, Utah. We STILL get asked if it legal to drink in Utah, so it’s always fun explaining to people what we do, how we do it, and yes- it is legal to drink here in the Beehive State.

  2. Paolo B - June 4, 2009

    2 fans? … interesting…
    What’s their name Tim and Michael?

  3. Steve Heimoff - June 4, 2009

    Tom, your post reminds me of when the SF Chronicle ran a story about 5 years ago on “What would the Sex and the City girls do if they lived in San Francisco?” They had Samantha doing wine PR! Which explains why you’re so hot ; >

  4. Rebecca Hopkins - June 4, 2009

    Dear Tom,
    Thanks for the free plug and I look forward to being inundated with great applicants for the role. You raise a couple of good points that I wanted to address as it relates to the social media inclusion (or lack thereof) in the position description we posted to
    I take your point as it relates to the absence of references to social media in the JD, but I assure you this media arena is very much in our sights and a vital discussion topic as we consider the skill sets and attributes of potential candidates.
    We believe the role of the varying and growing aspects of social media must be in line with the overall brand strategy. While for certain brands social media is a core element of the communication strategy, not every brand has a social media program as part of the brand objectives.
    100% of the sites referencing Robert Mondavi were all established by consumers and in fact “I Love Black Box Wines” with 222 fans was established by a small group of loyal consumers without any input from us!
    Conversely, social media programming is at the core for certain brands such as Toasted Head with 3390 fans and Kim Crawford with 295 fans and 700 followers on Twitter; arguably not huge numbers within the arena of consumer brands, but we certainly find our fans are active, engaged and often the best barometer for trends, opinions and honest feedback and dialogue!
    In the immediate time, I look forward to staying in touch and introducing you to the newest member of our team (once we find them) and continuing the discussion on this constantly evolving topic.
    Kind regards
    Rebecca Hopkins
    VP Public Relations
    Constellation Wines US

  5. Thomas Pellechia - June 5, 2009

    Might I respectfully state that your response, with its lengthy bureaucratic sound, illustrates beautifully Tom’s reference to, “…layers of bureaucracy tend to be more imposing.”
    Can’t PR people just say what they want to say without the scrim?

  6. Rusty Eddy - June 5, 2009

    Thank you. My daughters still ask me what I REALLY do (I wonder what they tell their high school friends…?). Your comment about no mention of social media is telling. I’ll bet you could look back at a 10-year old job description from a big wine company and it would say pretty much the same thing as the Constellation JD from three days ago. But PR has changed dramatically in even the last five years, and if we can’t keep up and innovate after awhile we won’t need job descriptions at all.

  7. Morton Leslie - June 5, 2009

    That job posting is a hoot. It is interesting not from a PR standpoint but a statement about an organization. The reason there is no mention of social networking is because this company appears to be a bloated centralized bureaucracy living in the middle of the last century.
    The unfortunate person who wins this position will spend their time working thru a maze of corporate complexity and mine fields. They will spend their time developing “communication plans to internal and external stakeholders”, crafting slick press kits (that everyone tosses in the nearest receptacle), working with “teams of spokespeople to refine their message”, and dealing with “brand priorities” that apparently can be out of sync with business requirements.
    I’m sure after everyone gets in on the act from the Corporate V.P. of Public Relations, Brand Managers, Sales Managers, a Creative Services department and external PR agencies they will have a generic PR product completely devoid of any interest or personality.

  8. Burgundy Wine - June 6, 2009

    nice blog… very interesting!!! thanks for publish in this blog!!!

  9. Dylan - June 7, 2009

    Tom, you seemed to relate to everything mentioned in the Job Posting. Could you enlighten us on the physical requirements of being able to lift approximately 30 lbs? Is this something you run into often and how so?

  10. Thomas Pellechia - June 8, 2009

    Close to the weight of two cases of wine 😉

  11. Chris Schmidt - June 9, 2009

    I totally agree with your position on social media. I’m in another industry where Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, and community forum outreach are becoming crucial for any PR campaign. Traditional methods like press releases and phone pitching will always be around, but it’s super important to directly reach out to the “end user” using any means at your disposal.
    Short form publishing tools, I think, especially could be a great utility for wine PR. How cool would a “virtual tasting” be on Twitter if you sent a bottle to press in advance? 🙂

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