Guest Article by Beverage Trade Network
Creating a public image is something that is managed and maintained by public relations. Here are answers to your why and what PR Agencies can offer upcoming wine brands.
The image of a company accounts for more than 50% of the value of many companies today. Public Relations is all about strategic communication planning, used to build a beneficial relationship between the company and its customers.
Running a wines and spirits business requires a solid marketing and communications plan. Incorporating public relations is an effective way of reaching the right audience and sharing appropriate information with your customers. Several companies are spending a huge chunk of revenue on marketing, using public relations to grow their market.
The main aim of any PR agency is to inform the right consumer about their product and keep them updated. If done correctly, public relations offer several benefits to the company. Partnering with a PR agency can be a smart move for a business at any given point, as it is the best way to communicate and connect your brand with your targeted audience.
Public Relations is one of the most effective tools a company can have for marketing and communications. A PR in the wine industry requires extensive knowledge of the industry and some experience and skills. PR can be a promotional method that falls under the marketing umbrella and is responsible for marketing the product and services. If something goes wrong and things are not aligning, PR is a tool to get the company in the right direction. In the article below, we talked to the leaders of the top PR Agencies who work closely with the wine brands.
Carl Giavanti, Owner & Consultant at Carl Giavanti Consulting
Image source: Carl Giavanti
Carl Giavanti has been a winery consultant for more than 14 years and holds more than 25 years of experience in public relations and business marketing. He is a winery publicist with a background and experience in DTC marketing. He is the owner of Carl Giavanti Consulting and is focused on communications and marketing to sell wine, Direct-To-Consumer, and he specializes in providing services to small to medium size wineries.
Gino Colangelo, Owner of Colangelo & Partners PR.
Image source: Gino Colangelo
Gino Colangelo president of Colangelo & Partners has worked in global communications for more than a decade. He has experience running his own retail business for 10 years and entered into the PR business with the experience he has in the business. Colangelo & Partner has built a strong and prestigious client base over the years and provides services in the US and other countries.
Jeremy Benson, President, Benson Marketing Group
Image source: Jeremy Benson
Jeremy Benson, the president of Benson Marketing Group is a leader in the marketing space of wine and spirit around the world. Founded in 2000, Jeremy has an experience of more than 20 years of work in marketing and aims to be the preeminent wine and spirits marketing agency. They are located in Napa Valley, New York, and Paris. They were listed as the top 10 Power List of US wine and spirits marketing agencies and were listed in top PR agencies in 2021.
Why and how is Public Relations important in the wine industry, and what changes can be expected by partnering with a PR Agency?
Gino: Wine is aspirational yet a little intimidating. Wine lovers and aspiring wine aficionados look for experts — educators, critics, journalists –to help guide their wine choices and make them feel confident and secure in the wines they drink. The wine trade also relies on industry publications to guide their wine choices. PR is about advocacy and shaping opinions, traditionally through the press but now through other opinion leaders (influencers, educators, etc.). Whether handling PR internally or with an agency, having a proactive, consistent, and strategic PR program is fundamental for a wine company (especially in the case of fine wine).
There are many benefits in hiring an agency: expanded reach and relationships through an experienced agency team, being focused (the agency’s job is clear, and the agency team shouldn’t be distracted by tangential assignments, which often happens to internal PR staff), creativity and experience. Of course, that all comes with a cost. Agency fees need to be measured against expected ROI. a piece of advice: Measure ROI over the long term (at least the first three years), not the short-term. PR is not like direct response advertising; in most cases, you can’t measure the benefit immediately.
Carl: There are about 10,000 wineries registered in the U.S.A. today. When I started my PR Agency almost 15 years ago, there were half that number and many more distributors willing to represent supplier brands. Today, most small producers rely on Direct-to-Consumer sales to move inventory, and it’s very competitive in that space. The role of a PR agency is to create and build name recognition and keep the winery client top of mind with consumers. We do that by pitching the winery story and their wines in hopes of getting media placements. If we’re successful in getting the winery name out there, we can build a level of trust that supports consumer visits to both the tasting room and website, which eventually leads to sales.
Jeremy: PR is a critical marketing function because it is a relatively low-cost means of generating brand credibility and awareness in a very, very crowded market. A PR agency partner can help your winery reach influential trade and consumer media more cost-effectively than hiring in-house. A PR agency team can utilize its whole press network to expand your reach quickly.
What will be the future of the beverage industry, and how, according to you, is PR an essential tool for marketing?
Gino: This is an exciting time for the wine business, especially for new and emerging brands. There is a convergence of media and selling platforms, allowing wine companies to build their brands and sell their products simultaneously. PR is essentially storytelling and platforms like wine.com, Vivino and leading retailers allow (even encourage) you to tell your story on their platforms, which facilitates the sales process. Press are happy to include ‘where to buy’, links in their articles. Instagram allows swipe-ups that connect directly to sales. PR is getting closer and closer to the ‘point of sale’, making it even more fundamental to wine marketing strategy.
Carl: The future of wine will be more competition, from within the US and internationally. The vast majority of wineries are grower-producers who lack the economies of scale and price flexibility to compete with country-sponsored import programs. The future of wine marketing is building loyalty, brand equity, and recurring revenue through repeat purchases. PR supports marketing goals and provides credible third-party expert endorsements that drive attention, trust, and purchase commitment.
Jeremy: As long as wine and spirits marketers are innovating, as long as consumers are experimenting, and as long as new communications platforms are blossoming, suppliers will benefit from talented PR pros who can tell their story through these networks directly to consumers.
What message would you like to give to the companies that are not associated with PR companies?
Gino:Companies need to evaluate their marketing plans, budgets, and own internal resources. Hiring a PR agency is a big commitment; it requires long-term planning, time spent by management/ownership to make the program work, and a sufficient budget to make the investment pay off. Having an agency isn’t for everybody but, by and large, almost all successful fine wine brands have active PR, whether internal or through an agency.
Jeremy: If you think you don’t have the budget for PR, talk to a few agencies and solo practitioners about their rates and how to focus their attention on what you need most. You’ll likely have a receptive ear.
A wine company or brand can build a base for its marketing using effective PR. Working with PR can also help in gaining the trust of the customers and in building a positive brand image. With the addition of the right media assets, PR can be an ultimate marketing tool for your company.
Durvank Naik, Content Writer, Beverage Trade Network