Wine PR Sinks to a New Low

For some time now, and rather increasingly I might add, I have been the recipient of useless, mindless, self serving PR pitches and public relations agency press releases. These come from all manner of competitive wine and liquor brands, and also from some of the supposedly top public relations agencies in the country. What a joke. 

Not only does it reveal a fundamental flaw in the public relations efforts of most wine/beverage alcohol companies, it also points to Click photo to enlarge!the impersonal and lazy effort that so many PR people put forth today. People just don't do their homework anymore.

Case in point, I do not review wines. I am not a legitimate wine writer. And, I am most certainly not someone you need to brown nose or get to know because I am influential.

Hell, my name isn't even Wilma! I am merely a winery owner/wine marketer/second generation family business member trying to give a glimpse into the inner workings of a lifetime spent in the wine industry. Yet somehow, I've mysteriously become a targeted blogger in the coveted, almighty wine media database. Ha, I guess I've arrived!

The nice thing about this, of course, is I am learning all kinds of things about my competition, the industry, and other beverage alcohol industries. I am also learning how frustrating and downright irritating it can be for legitimate wine writers, media folks, bloggers, etc. to continually receive pitch after pitch. If you're one of these people out there doing the pitching, here are some pointers:

  1. Using my name in the subject line or first sentence of a PR pitch is a dead giveaway that you're trying to pitch me. Having said that, it's a trick that works nearly every time, even though I know better.

  2. Seasonal story ideas or pitches with a holiday tie-in, such as "The Perfect Sangria for America's Favorite Holiday" are a good reminder of the time of year it is, but not much else; at least not for me.

  3. Recipes get my attention. Fun or unusual wine and food combos and/or a new twist on an old favorite also get the creative juices flowing. Having said that, I have never once been compelled to write about or recreate any of the recipes I've been sent. Now... something like "Sake and Hot Dogs" might just be repulsive enough to actually do the trick.

  4. There's a crap load of competition out there. No wonder it's so difficult to get ink for a brand!  

  5. Wine writers, editors, etc. actually do need help generating material. But the most effective way to get their attention is through a genuine, personalized story idea that would really serve their readers. Do your homework. As an example, if someone was truly pitching me and they had done their homework on this blog, they would know I'm interested in information/statistics on the health of family wineries, comical anecdotes from other winery families, stories that debunk the silly notions people have about being in the wine industry, and just about anything wine related that raises an eyebrow, makes me chuckle, or is contrary to popular belief.

There you have it.

Now I think I'll just sit back and wait for those ideas to come rolling in... it would sure make my life easier if I didn't have to think of this stuff myself!

| | Comments (3)


casacaudill said:
November 17, 2010 5:52 PM

As a PR person and a wine lover I apologize on behalf of my colleagues. Unfortunately, there are A LOT of really bad PR people and even more unfortunate, they give the lot of us a very bad name. Posts like yours are far too common across every industry and you'd think with the regularity of posts about how terrible PR people are saying exactly the same thing - regardless of the industry - that a whole lot of someones would get a clue.

Sadly, I can tell you from an insider's perspective that a lot of times you've got people who are incredibly junior and don't do a lot of reading putting together "press lists" based on databases and flimsy research, they then pass along those press lists to more junior employees (maybe 1-2 years of experience at this point) who, against the wishes of their bosses, send out a generic pitch to every single person on the list without stopping to actually figure out if the press list has the right people on it, and then once that's been vetted, take the information and put together something that is tailored for each individual person.

While a lot of this can be chalked up to laziness, some of it is also the client's fault - you see, they will know that your team has been pitching the press for the past hour and they expect immediate results, interviews, tweets, blog posts, etc. They don't care that it takes time to develop relationships and get the right information to the right people in the right way at the right time - they want results and they want it NOW. It's an ugly, vicious cycle and one that PR people who have been in the game for any length of time really want to see put to pasture, but we know it never will.

Anyhow, I'm a big fan of Dry Creek and I'm a long time reader (if not commenter) so I just wanted to share in the hopes that maybe you wouldn't hate all PR people. :-)

Kim (aka Wilma) Author Profile Page said:
November 18, 2010 11:04 PM

Hi CasaCaudill,
I absolutely do NOT hate PR people; on the contrary, I consider most of them my colleagues and brethren. However, my experience as a blogger has definitely given me new insights. First and foremost (and you hit the nail on the head with this one) is the importance of forming relationships. If someone takes time to actually acquaint themselves with me (or someone far more influential than me, like a real wine writer) they have a much better chance of capturing my attention with one of their story ideas, providing that it is actually an interesting story idea that fits into my particular writing niche. But that's the key. Find the writer's niche. Then, figure out how your client, product, etc. can be of interest to them. Gone are the days of mass press releases that are one size fits all. Today's writers, whether they are tradional journalists, casual bloggers, or influential wine media, are all trying to carve out a niche. Hence, everything they write about must also fit into that niche.

pigeonofdoom Author Profile Page said:
November 19, 2010 3:43 AM

Hi Wilma, top notch again!

the main problem in my humble opinion with the whole forming relationships thing nowadays is the changing demands of the public and i'm afraid to say my generation (20-35 year olds). i'm not of course saying that every single one falls into this but we don't have patience any more. we demand instant results and on the spot updates! and we want them half an hour ago! i'm a wine merchant in the UK and some of my best customers are people i meet up with on a fairly regular basis. they are people i have taken the time to get to know! and they are far more rewarding to sell to than the people of my generation who only deal with instants. i honestly believe its a generational thing, and i hope the next lot coming up rediscover the personal touch as thats where the reward lies! keep up the good work!

Bryn in the UK

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Kim published on November 17, 2010 4:34 PM.

The Wacko Harvest of 2010 was the previous entry in this blog.

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