In Defense of the Wine Press Release
"I personally do not like reading a rewritten press release just as much
as I dislike reading them as is."
The disdain most people express for the press release is only slightly less than the expression of disdain many people offer for the "PR Flack" or "hired gun" or, as I like to call them, "Communication Professionals".
Believe it or not, the wine industry does not rely on nearly as many PR Flacks as other industries do. The entertainment, high tech, fashion and political industries rely on them in far greater number. But the fact remains that the "Press Release" continues as a standard tool in any wine marketers tool box.
I'm here to suggest that wine communications, be it journalism, criticism, blogging or publishing, would be thrown back on its heels and practically dismantled were the press release to go away.
First, a defense of the press release as a vital business and community service tool.
As a tool for wine businesses, the press release remains vital for communicating the happenings at a company. Sure, there is Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN as tools for communicating. But who is to say that these communities include the people that a wine company wants to communicate with. A press release tends usually to be targeted to journalists, writers and news sources that have a readership that is MOST LIKELY to want or need the kind of news in a press release. Until someone can show me a more effective tool for getting a piece of information out to these folks, I'm sticking with the traditional press release.
Second, though folks may not like reading press releases, it is a fact that vital information these discriminating readers need would likely never get to them were there no press releases. Though some journalists and writers and bloggers training an eye on wine might regularly dig for information by making calls and inquiries, these folks are few and far between. And do you know why? Because it's hard God damned work to be constantly ferreting out information on what companies are doing what, who is hiring who, who has implemented new green technologies, who has revamped their product line, who has gotten involved in supporting which industries, who has adopted which form of competing new technologies, who has bought which other company, who has finished a study on consumer habits.
The press release doesn't supplant the work of digging, but rather they act as road signs for writers, helping them determine which path to take as they seek to inform their readers of what's happening in a particular field or industry.
Now, I'll grant that the press release tends to be somewhat dry in its content. But isn't that what is wanted. I approach every press release I write as a news story, using the inverted pyramid style as my model. Everything I want my readers to see is in the lead. Everything after that is explanatory. I try not to dress it up with flowery or superfluous language, yet I also know that this is a business/promotional communication that sheds the best light on the client and their business. And most PR Flacks I know do the same thing. So, if folks don't like to read press releases, I have to assume they don't because they tend to be somewhat bland, straightforward and event dry. And for the most part, this is how they should be.
The fact of the matter is that consumers of wine information, wine writers, wine journalists, critics of wine and wine bloggers ought to get down on their knees and thank Bacchus for the continued existence of press releases sent out by PR Flacks like me as Marketing Directors at wine companies. Without them it would be extraordinarily difficult to educate themselves on the regular churnings, changes and evolutions inside the wine industry.
Finally, I'm not going to suggest that the press release and its distribution is always carried out with care and perfectly executed. And the fact that they are not is entirely the fault of those who issue press releases. And I could spend another 10 paragraphs outlining the various ways by which the press release is misused, abused, poorly distributed, poorly written and generally a mockery of good business practices.
But I'm not going to because this is a defense of the press release, not an indictment.
One more thing. Gary V., God Love him and his, is wrong.