The Wine Industry’s Critical Tool: The Press Release

Press ReleasesA company issuing new information into the vast expanse that is today’s “information flow” can seem like a near futile project, particularly if the goal is to clarify or convince. This leaves the idea of a”press release” seemingly wanting for today’s businesses, including wine related businesses. But I want today to make the case for the Press Release, an animal that is too often incorrectly derided as “propaganda” or worse: fluff.

First, let’s take a whack at defining the “press release”:

The issuance and delivery to a defined media set that communicates and announces the issuers position on an issue connected in some way to the business or concern of the issuer of the release.

That’s a broad definition, but it does the trick and covers the bases.

More important than the definition is understanding exactly what a press release can actually accomplish:

1. Speedily and easily share information with a large number of people

2. Allows the issuer of the press release to define themselves and their concerns, rather than allowing others to do the defining

3. Assure that information about a business’ services, products and initiatives is correctly and authoritatively identified.

Anyone in business today, particularly given the free-for-all that is social media, that doesn’t think these things are useful and mandatory probably has no business being in business. So given the critical utility of the press release, the real question is how to properly and efficiently deploy it.

In my view, nothing matters more where press releases are concerned than making sure it gets into the right hands. Where the wine business is concerned, this means the to the members of the media that have a primary interest in reporting on wine. I know. That sounds obvious. But it points to something else that is of a primary concern to those that wish to use the press release to accomplish any or all of the three points laid out above: you must possess or have access to a current list of wine media. Furthermore, it is important that you have an very good understanding of how each person on that list is most likely to use the information in a press release.

The biggest mistake many in the wine business and outside the wine business make when thinking about releasing information is believing their information will be reported. The vast majority of members of the media that receive your press release will not report it. So why send a press release on your new winemaker or new wine or new winery or anything else?

The reason you still send a press release to the media despite the fact that the vast majority will not report its contents to their readers is because you should be understanding the purpose of a press release as one that helps build a body of fact and impressions around your brand and company with the media.

Imagine the impact of the same wine writer getting the following press releases from the same winery over the course of a year.

Release #1: “XYZ Winery Expands Vineyard Holdings in Death Valley

Release #2: “XYZ Winery Joins Effort to Establish Official Death Valley Appellation

Release #3: “XYZ Winery Appoints Goober McDoodle to Winemaker Position

Release #4: “XYZ Winery Releases First Ever Late Harvest Riesling and Pinot Noir From Death Valley Vineyards”

Wine wine writer that receives these four press releases over the course of 12 months may not write about any of it. They may not have space in their outlet to write about it. They may not thin their readers are interested in any of this. They may not think any of it at all newsworthy. but XYZ winery knows something. They know that this wine writer will at some point write about dessert wine. They know that at some point they will write about Pinot Noir. They know at some point the will write about appellations and terroir. They know at some point they will writer about the role of the federal government and appellations and regulations.

In other words, in addition to defining their brand and concerns and to communicating the details and facts about their business, they are building the groundwork to one day BE the focus of or be included in this writer’s work by virtue of being the communicators that provided good background connected to all these issues. In other words, the press release is a terrific way to easily and efficiently and inexpensively put your companies best foot forward and lay the ground work for having that foot put on display by a member of the media that has readers who have an interest in that details of that foot.

When understood in this way, we see that the press release is much more than an announcement of what’s happening now and what is meaningful to the wine company now. It is an investment in the future equity of the wine brand.

Consider carefully what information will be issued in your press release. Don’t release uninteresting or useless information. But don’t dismiss the press release as useless propaganda or fluff either. I can promise you that when deployed properly and for the right reasons and with the right expectation, the press release remains a very powerful too.



6 Responses

  1. Pete Danko - January 7, 2013

    Good stuff, Tom — particularly valuable, I think, to marketers and winery owners, many of whom seem to see the press release as a tool to instantly get their winery in newspapers or magazines. (Ironically, if that’s what a winery is after, direct, exclusive communication can often be more effective.) I might disagree with you on one point, however. At the end of your piece you touch on the importance of having something interesting or valuable to say; I’d elevate this point. Too often wineries end up wasting money, peoples’ time and their own credibility by putting out press releases that contain no news.

  2. Blake Gray - January 7, 2013

    Blast you Tom, you just quadrupled my junk mail. That’s four times as many emails I have to delete without ever opening.

  3. Blake Gray - January 7, 2013

    Although that said, if there’s a Death Valley appellation, I’m all over that story.

  4. Fred - January 8, 2013

    Well put, Tom.

    When you say “It [the press release] is an investment in the future equity of the wine brand.” you could just as easily be speaking about any marketing activity. A wine brand is the sum of the good news / reviews and the bad, the flying winemaker and the boots-on-the-ground tasting room manager. It all adds up. Or at least, it should.

    If wineries could take the same long-view they have toward growing grapes and apply it to marketing, they would be well served.

  5. Fredric Koeppel - January 10, 2013

    Press releases would not be regarded as fluff if they were well-written, intelligently crafted and organized, stuck to the narrative and did not indulge in overkill selling points.

  6. Steve Heimoff - January 11, 2013

    You’re right, most press releases go straight into the recycling bin! Which is why more and more wineries issue electronic press releases through email. Doesn’t cost a thing. You’re also right that a constant stream of press releases does bring a winery to the writer’s consciousness and may just result in a mention. Incidentally, can you get me in touch with Goober McDoogle? I’m working on a story about Death Valley dessert wines.

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