Top 5 PR Tips for Small Wineries

Why is Winery PR so difficult?

It’s difficult, because it’s about relationships. And reading. Yes, lots of reading. And research, planning, tracking, analysis and follow-up. The fun stuff, right? And things change. Just when you think you have good contacts, well planned schedules and best known methods, things change – people retire and writers move on, wine columns are canceled, writers get hired to work for savvy wineries that understand the importance of professional writing and content development – and I’m just talking about my job as a winery publicist!

What about the small family-run wineries that face the challenges of growing, producing, wholesaling and DTC marketing their wines, and with limited resources? Incorporate these five focus areas to ensure successful media outreach campaigns, and keep your brand top of consumer’s minds.

  • Planning – create a target media list, content and communications calendars, and a samples calendar. Track your accolades as they come in and use them in your content marketing. Please establish a budget for samples, shipping, shows, market trips, writing, PR consulting, etc.
  • Targeting – identify your brand POD (Points of Difference) and key messages. Align these with writer story interests & palate preferences, and their readership’s interests; Determine writing frequency, outlets, and best contact methods. Categories of writers should include wine, beverage, food & wine, travel & leisure, business and the trades.
  • Sampling – Wine Scores & Wine Competitions are still important. I once heard a writer say “I can’t review their wines if they don’t send them to me”. Same thing for the rating publications, competitions, online reviews, etc. Get your wines out there. The impact of receiving strong ratings is huge and will drive traffic to your online store and tasting room.
  • Pitching – it’s about relationships – following, commenting, sharing and obtaining their editorial calendars. Pivot your story pitch to align with their upcoming stories and interests. Give the writers what they want and need. Make it easy for them to do their jobs. Provide Media Kits, Tech Sheets (not tasting notes) with your samples; Include website and photo gallery links (with attribution) in all your communications.
  • Tracking – Interviews, samples (to publications, writers and competitions), and pitches must be followed up. Writers are too busy and circling back helps them keep you top of mind. Use your website analytics to determine the result of media hits – within close proximity to the article or wine rating being published – did it drive traffic to my tasting room, website, social sites, and email subscriptions. Was there any form of engagement, commenting, sharing that took place. How about sales? How did those new visitors hear about you? Are the results quantifiable?

Wrap up – in summary, its lots of work but must be done because the days of being “discovered” by the media are long gone. We have too much competition for the attention of wine savvy consumers. When you do receive an accolade (feature article, mention, wine review, scores, ratings, and medals of note), are you using that “Earned Media” effectively in your Content Marketing? 3rd party endorsements are hard to come by, so don’t waste that precious resource, and do let the world know that experts like what you are doing and so should they.

CARL GIAVANTI is Winery Publicist with a DTC Marketing background. He’s going on his 11th year of winery consulting. Carl has been involved in business marketing and public relations for over 25-years; originally in technology, digital marketing and project management, and now as a winery media relations consultant.  Clients are or have been in Napa Valley, Willamette Valley, and the Columbia Gorge.  (www.CarlGiavantiConsulting.com/Media).

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