Wine, Mind Share and the Media—A Potent Combo Still
In 1990 I went to work for a wine-oriented PR firm in Santa Rosa, California. I was fresh off the college boat, had never worked in public relations and the only insight I had into how the media works was that I saw newspapers and magazines arrived at my home with relative regularity. I didn’t know any journalists or writers. I read a lot, but the idea of speaking with writers and suggesting topics for them to write about held my interest in about the same way that considering telling soda pop makers how to improve their product. I just consumed the stuff.
On my first day at my new job in Wine PR, I was handed a couple of clients and a printout of a list of names. Those names had phone numbers and fax numbers next to them, identified which publications the names wrote for and had a line for their mailing address. The list was about 300 people long. It was the authoritative list of people that wrote about wine in America that had been created, edited and honed over the course of a decade by my employer. It was, as she told me, “your new bible.”
Thirty years later that bible has been edited, kept up to date, seen names removed and added, and is now kept on a computer. It remains for me the foundation of the media relations (commonly called “PR) work I do for clients.
Interestingly, over the past decade or so, public and media relations has fallen somewhat out of favor in the wine industry, though certainly not entirely. The reason for this is the rise of other tools that help wine-related companies can use to reach an audience Social Media in particular is seen by many as a panacea for marketing. Social Media marketing is also a practice that seems to be an easier lift and doesn’t require as many special skills and courage as media relations require. For these and other reasons, wine-related PR is still practiced, but it isn’t viewed as the essential tool it once was. But it should be.
Below are five of the top reasons media relations should be an ongoing part of the wine world’s marketing arsenal:
1. No one is going to visit a winery’s website and buy wine unless they first know the winery.
2. Third-party endorsements (or at least recognition) remains one of the best ways to draw attention to your products and services
3. The opportunities for coverage of your product and service are myriad, unlike years ago when editorial outlets were relatively few.
4. Media outreach is a relatively inexpensive form of marketing
5. Consistent media mention of and reference to your brand, product or service is the key to staying top-of-mind among gatekeepers and giving consumers comfort engaging with your brand.
There are of course many reasons beyond these five to look to media relations as a marketing tool. Why any venture would employ a strategy of reaching out to the media is varied. In the end, however, barring any need to overcome negative perceptions, the best reason for engaging with the media, telling them your story and mission, offering samples, inviting them to learn more, providing commentary on key issues or acting as a source is that by doing so the resulting coverage of your brand broadcasts your product and service’s significance and utility. These are the prerequisite for attracting the attention of those with whom any wine-related company does anything.
Today my media bible could easily reach more than 750 names of folks who legitimately write about wine regularly or semi-regularly or who will write about wine when it touches their beat or interest. It’s a different world where marketing wine is concerned. But the wine company that doesn’t keep the media relations tool in their marketing box is likely leaving share of mind on the table.