The 2010 American Wine Writer Survey

Useful The demographics, work habits, publishing habits, and concerns of the American wine media have changed drastically since I first started observing the wine writing fraternity more than 20 years ago. This is all confirmed in the newly released, 2010 American Wine Writer Survey.

But among the more interesting findings of this new survey is that wine writers remain unimpressed by the work habits of people like me: publicists and marketers who attempt to gain the attention of writers for the purposes of helping promote the products and services of their employers and clients.

Fully 81% of respondents to the survey found the work of publicists and marketers only "somewhat" or "rarely" useful. That's pathetic. Furthermore, only 3% of respondents said our work is "extremely" useful.

There is a key, I think, to making the work of publicists more relevent to writers: Give them what they want and don't be a nudge!

This is PR 101, but it needs to be said: know what a writer writes about before pitching them a story and if you send them a press release, don't call them asking if they received the released.

This lack of respect for publicists by writers has been a constant theme in the Wine Writer Survey's I've conducted in 1995, 2004 and again in 2010. In addition to some of the poor habits that I and my brethren employ where media relations is concerned, I suspect that part of our reputation problem has to do with bulk information that is sent to wine writers and the velocity with which it is sent. Wine marketing probably relies on public relations and media relations as much as any industry. So wine writers are inundated with information from publicists and marketers and it can get a bit overwhelming.

Over the past three years or so, I, as a result of this blog, have also been the object of the work of publicists hoping to convince me to write about their clients or employers. I'm sure I take a more benign view of the contacts since I probably sympathize with publicists more than professional wine writers (I am a publicist—afterall)

Still, every time I've looked at the survey results, beginning in 1995, I get a little down on myself and my profession.

The 2010 American Wine Writer Survey has much more in it than just the view of wine writers that publicists and marketers can do a better job. I urge you to look it over:



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3 Responses

  1. Frank Haddad - November 22, 2010

    Interesting study. I wonder how the writers would get information without the publicists? The wine companies obviously see a need for publicists. I wonder how the disconnect between the writers and the PR people has come about?

  2. Joe Czerwinski - November 22, 2010

    As usual, there is some interesting information here. One bone I would pick with you are the repeated comparisons to previous iterations. The report makes the point that the 2010 version expands the definition of wine writer to include bloggers, but then proceeds to contrast 2010 stats with 2004 stats. I confess I don’t find those comparisons particularly illuminating because of the change in who received the surveys.
    For example, I don’t believe the conclusions drawn in following passage are substantiated by the data presented:
    “Interestingly, five years ago only eleven percent of respondents to this survey said they had been writing for 5 years or less, while thirty-six percent said they had been writing for 20 years or longer. What’s happening is that older writers are getting out of the game and are being replaced by younger, less experienced writers who are finding their audience in the digital media.”
    It could just as easily be that the increased proportion of inexperienced wine writers compared to 2004 reflects the changed pool of respondents, and that these less experienced writers are simply augmenting the overall numbers, not replacing anyone.
    To draw firm conclusions along the lines of those presented in the above passage from the report, it would be necessary to know how the increased number of wine writers in the 2010 survey (representing the bloggers) correlates with the number of wine writers in the 2010 survey who’ve been writing about wine for 5 years or less and how the number of experienced wine writers (not just the proportion) has changed from 2004 to 2010.

  3. Tom Wark - November 22, 2010

    How are you?
    You are correct that the changes reflect a change in those asked to respond to the survey. And this reflects my view of the “wine writing Universe”.
    In 2004 it was impossible to identify many wine bloggers who reported and wrote on a regular basis. They were few and far between. Of course, today things are different. Much different. Today, hundreds of bloggers could have been asked to respond. However, I instead invited those bloggers who, from my perspective, were making an active and regular contribution to the genre.
    It was my determination that to not include these writers in the survey would have been to distort the make up of the wine writing fraternity.
    Thanks much for the comment….

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