Pajamas and the Status of Wine Bloggers
1. All but a few wine bloggers have the tiniest of readerships.
2. Those wine blogs that do appear to have more than a few readers rarely if ever validate their readership claims with reputable third party traffic measurement services
3. Determining on which blogs to advertise a client's product or service is made very difficult by almost never having access to demographic information of the wine blog's readership.
4. The trouble of placing an ad on most wine blogs is too much given the payoff.
5. It's easier and more reliable to buy ad space on a professional wine website like WineSpectator.com or the food and wine pages of an on-line newspaper
On the whole, all these claims about wine blogs are true. But what wine bloggers should be aware of is that nearly the identical claims about wine blogs can be made by publicists who may not be looking for where to place ads for clients, but are be looking for ways to expose their clients' service or product to an audience through media coverage.
I'm both a wine publicist and a wine blogger. So, I have a certain kind of concern about the place of wine blogs in the world of wine publishing/media. One particular indication of the place of wine blogs within the larger world of wine publishing is the extent to which wine blogs are exposed to publicists through their traditional tools.
Every publicist uses one kind of media database or another. Each of us uses our own proprietary database of media that includes the basic information on a writer or media outlet. That database also includes notes on interactions with a particular writer, their proclivities with regard to subject matter they tend to cover in their writing and the type and size of the audience they serve.
Beyond my own proprietary wine media directory, also subscribe to the VOCUS Media Database. This online directly costs a few thousand dollars a year to subscrbe to and gives me access to many thousands of writers and media outlets across the country. It is a remarkable tool. For example, if I call up the Wine Spectator listing in the VOCUS database, I immediately discover their address, main phone, social media outlets, their editorial calender for the year, a list of all the writers and editors with their individual emails and phone numbers, along with detailed information about what topics the writers cover and how they prefer to be contacted. I can also learn the specific paid cirulation of the Wine Spectator.
Via this database, I have the same information for nearly every media outlet and writer in America. If I want, I can very quickly pull up a list of writers who live in the Houston area, who write for a publication with a circulation of more than 25,000, who write about the oil and gas industry and who prefer to be contacted by telephone rather than email.
I can create a similar list for bloggers, rather than writers or editors tied to a particular media outlet.
There are are a grand total of 46 real Wine Bloggers listed in the VOCUS media database, one of the largest and heaviest used media databases among publicists in the U.S. Of those, only 4 have a "readership" number attached to the entry, and all four are inaccurate representations of the monthly visitors to the blog.
Now, I know there are more than 46 wine bloggers in the U.S. I know that there are more than 4 that have a decent readership. What this lack of bloggers in the VOCUS Media Database tells me and what the inaccuracy of the readership numbers for those blogs tells me is this: PROFESSIONAL PUBLICISTS CARE VERY LITTLE ABOUT THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF WINE BLOGGERS AND THEIR AUDIENCE.
WHY IS THIS TRUE?
1. Few wine bloggers care seriously about building a substantial audience.
2. Few bloggers do build a serious audience.
3. The world of wine blogs is still viewed by most as the province of amateurs with Internet access and a nice pair of pajamas.
These conclusions don't boil down to a judgement against wine bloggers or the wine blogging world. It is not an indication that wine bloggers are poor reporters or writers or educators. It's not an indictment against the wine blogging category.
In my view, it is an indication that no set of circumstances have arisen that motivate a good number of wine bloggers to step up their publishing and business game. When the VOCUS database, which services people most concerned with quality publishing outlets, begins to take seriously the wine blogging world by including more wine bloggers with more substantial information for publicists to work with, we will have an indication that publicists and advertisers see an up-step in the wine blogging world's game.