Getting Your Wine Product and Service Covered By the Media: Four Words

There are a number of types of compliments that professional publicists appreciate most. Among them is the one I received the other day from a wine writer: “That was just about the best story pitch I’ve received in years.”

I showed that one around.

There were a few reasons the pitch was good. It had little to do with the story I was pitching nor with the quality of the client. It had to do with the way the story was pitched.

I have a note taped to my desktop computer. I stare at it every day. It’s the same note that has been taped to my desktop going back 15 years. It’s not in good shape. But I keep tranfering it to the next computer because it has a very important reminder on it:

STORY
WRITER
READ
CONCISE

It reminds me of the four rules of pitching a story to the media.

1-PITCH A STORY, NOT YOUR COMPANY
Very few journalists, reporters or bloggers write happy stories about how great your wine or wine-related service is. What they are looking for is a story or story idea that hasn’t been written to death, that’s relevant to current issues within the industry or ideas in the culture/wine world and to know how your product or service fits in. So, know what this story idea is and how it relates to you and what you do or make or provide before you do anything else.

2-FIND THE CORRECT WRITER FOR THE STORY
Odds are Jim Laube at the Wine Spectator isn’t going to write a story about a new service that matches importers with distributors. He writes about CA and Napa wines in particular. Odds are Alice Feiring isn’t going to write about the launch of a new California AVA wine produced to be sold at grocery stores in the $9.99 range, no matter how delightful. She writes about Natural wine and sustainably grown wines. It’s crucial you not waste time pitching a story to someone who isn’t going to write the story.

3-READ WHAT THE WRITER WROTE
If you know what they’ve written about, then you know if they’ve written the story you are pitching. And that’s important, particularly if you’ve followed rule #2. Additionally when you eventually talk to the writer about your pitch, you can do so intelligently with an eye toward what has interested them in the past.

4-CRAFT A CONCISE STORY PITCH THAT YOU CAN DELIVERY SWIFTLY
Whether you are reaching out to the writer via email or phone, be able to quickly and concisely communicate your story idea, what you can contribute to the telling of the story and how it fits with their audience and history of stories. The more concise the pitch, the better it will be since honing down gets you to its compelling essence.

I work as a publicist in the wine industry. But these simple rules really apply to media relatiions in any industry. Additionally, there are more elements that go into garnering interest in your product or company. But when it comes to finally reaching out to the media and pitching a story, these four rules will go a long way toward successfully gaining the interest of the medai.

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7 Responses

  1. Don Prial - February 2, 2018

    Based on my 40+ years in the PR/PA trade, I could not have phrased Tom’s advice any better. Highly recommend taping his words to the top drawer in your desk (not the computer!). Also remember that effective media relations means playing the long game; writers are not simply targets of opportunity. They need to know who you are and whether they can trust you as a source. Well done.

    • Tom Wark - February 2, 2018

      Don…I don’t have a drawer on my desk!

      Thanks for the kind words. And you are right. It is a “long game”…though I prefer to call it a relationship. And it’s a satisfying relationship too. My experience after 20+ years doing wine media relatiions is that committed wine writers are among the most interesting and informed folks working in the industry. Interaction with these kinds of people is satisfying.

  2. Colin MacPhail - February 2, 2018

    BBC
    Nailed it Tom! I was a radio producer in Scotland. It’s a deluge – we tossed most of what we got. Less is more – we’d call if it had possibilities Had to fit the program content or it was useless. We liked a bold headline ‘NEW WAY TO MAKE WINE’ that gave you a sense of the thrust of the story, at a glance. “The Hook.” Also liked to easily identify who would deliver the story. A phone and e-mail very visible and easy to locate on the release was a surprising stumbling block for many.

  3. Chris Cook - February 5, 2018

    Great reminder, Tom. Reading this on a Monday morning has given me a boost of energy for a fun and productive week ahead!

  4. Carl Giavanti - February 5, 2018

    Great story hook Tom. Thanks!

  5. Cathy Huyghe - February 6, 2018

    Word.

  6. Cindy Lowe Rynning - March 7, 2018

    Nailed it, Tom.


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