The message is the same, the medium has changed.
We’re slowly moving from print to digital media, and online writers aka ‘bloggers’ are driving this trend. My journalist and media consultant friend Alan Goldfarb (a modern-day McLuhan) advises that quality wine writing is what matters, whether online or traditional print media. Quality wine writers should be treated the same regardless of the medium. I measure this by evaluating their investigative and analytic skills, writing ability, and frequency of articles.
It is my belief that small production wineries should target wine bloggers to build mindshare, exposure to their brand stories, generate interest in sampling their wines. And do so in the hope of connecting with them and the potential for reviews, mentions, and feature articles. This is no different than wine industry PR/media relations strategies and applies equally to blogger relations. This seems practical as many smaller wineries don’t hire PR firms and must attempt to publicize their brands in a cost-effective way.
Although wine blog subscription bases are smaller (1,000-10,000+ readers) than their print publication competitors (whose magazines and newsletters are only distributed by hand to a few friends and acquaintances), blog posts are shared, tweeted and disseminated via the Internet bringing more potential reach, and therefore greater actual viewership than can be documented.
Wine Bloggers Conference 2012, otherwise known as WBC12 or #WBC12 in Twitter parlance, is coming soon to Portland, Oregon (otherwise known as #PDX). The big question for me is not whether quality wine writing and reviews will result. I am quite confident that they will, having followed the tweets and blog posts of the top 100 wine writers attending. My pressing issue is will the genre survive and continue to influence the wine industry? How will these talented writers monetize their craft? How will they coalesce and collaborate to become a meaningful collective? Which writers will still be plying their trade by next year’s conference in Canada, and with whom to follow and invest energy and mindshare?
And what does all this mean for wineries as they re-position themselves in this fast, ever-changing mediasphere?