In his Fermentation blog this week, Tom Wark write about the power of well-executed media relations and the importance of doing it right. It’s good stuff, and well worth the read.
Wark, a long-time wine industry publicist and one of the deans of American wine blogging, clearly knows what he’s talking about, and his comments are excellent reminders / reinforcements of traditional PR tactics in a time when everyone in the wine business seems to be going all social media, all the time.
Wark cites a 2012 Nielsen survey to hammer home the power of third-party validation that comes with editorial coverage, particularly when compared to advertising. While word of mouth remains the strongest driver of consumer buying behavior, wineries that ignore traditional media relations do so at their own peril.
Wark’s central point: “Anyone who has determined that bounding on to the social media train alone or devotes substantial funds primarily to advertising and in the process ignores media relations is foolish.” He then goes on to offer a list of guidelines that will benefit any winery’s DIY public relations efforts. I’d add three additional comments to amplify Wark’s list:
Think broad spectrum: Most reporters won’t do single-source stories that focus solely on your business. With that in mind, figure out to be part of a larger story. For example, one of the hottest stories in Washington wine these days is the growth of vineyards and fruit sourced in the Rocks area of the Walla Walla Valley.
If you’re part of what’s going on there, don’t pitch something that’s all about you and your winery. Identify the trend, talk about the history of the Rocks area and point out what other wineries are doing. Super-size the idea, and it will be much more appealing to a journalist.
Put yourself in the reporters/ editors shoes: Be a resource in addition to a source. Anticipate and answer their likely questions. Do your best to put the story and all the supporting material in a tidy little package that you can virtually hand to a reporter.
Be a resource in addition to a source. Anticipate and answer their likely questions.
Again, using the Rocks as an example, you probably would be asked for the names of other wineries, winemakers and vineyards in the area. You’d be asked your opinions on who’s doing what, who’s doing interesting things and who else should be interviewed. Arm yourself with facts, figures and anecdotes that support the story, even if they don’t relate directly to you. Be prepared to point them at other sources, such as the Washington State Wine Commission or in the case of the Rocks, the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, so they can provide a state or regional perspective.
Does your story idea pass the ‘who gives a #&%@ test?’: Any self-respecting reporter or editor is going to ask themselves if their readers want this kind of story. If the answer is no, they aren’t going to go to the trouble of reporting and writing it. So run your story idea through the ‘who gives a &@$’ litmus test before you pitch it.
And remember, what sounds interesting, unique and newsy to you probably isn’t going to be interesting to a reporter that’s receiving 20 or so similar pitches a day. Get familiar with media outlet and reporter by reading what they’ve done in the past. With that as context, step outside of your own persona and think about how to frame your story in a way that will be interesting to your target media.
DIY media relations isn’t easy. It takes time, energy and commitment. But it can pay huge dividends when integrated into an overall marketing campaign for your winery.