The relationship between wine bloggers and wineries is complicated. Bloggers often write about a winery or its wines. Sometimes this is done without ever alerting the winery and other times it is done with some help – information, a quote, a free tasting, a visit, a dinner, or perhaps an event at the Wine Bloggers Conference.
We have delved into the ethics of this relationship at past conferences and will do so again this year with a planned session on Wine Samples provided by wineries to bloggers.
But in this post we wanted to present you with one comment, by a winery PR pro, that we thought nicely summed up the relationship between wineries and bloggers. The comment below (edited for brevity), by Sao Anash of Muse Management, was posted in 2014 as a comment to a piece on the Drink What YOU Like wine blog, authored by Frank Morgan, about the recently-completed WBC14 in Santa Barbara County.
I was having lunch with Chris and Dayna Hammell out at Bien Nacido Vineyard the other day. We work together a lot on hosting visiting media, and we all agreed that we found the visiting bloggers, most of whom we had never met, to be enthusiastic, cordial, curious, polite and grateful to be in Santa Barbara County! You can hardly ask for more as a host.
There is a lot of chatter about what blogs actually mean and if they’re worth our trouble…and by “our” I mean, the supplier, in trade-speak.
Blogs are here to stay, I believe. My criteria, as a publicist, for a blogger that is worth taking the time and resources (for they are high) to host is not necessarily how big their readership is (everyone has to start somewhere) or how deep their knowledge of wine is (again, we all start somewhere).
I just ask that they be serious about their craft, respectful of the time of others, and truly curious about their new found vocation. Are they willing to open their minds to new experiences? They don’t have to like everything they taste, but are they willing to come into a situation with their own set of editorial and professional standards in place, and give a visit its proper due? I believe there are many bloggers out there that meet this criteria. And, it was reaffirming to meet a number of them at this year’s WBC.
In our opinion, her view crystallizes how wineries might think about wine bloggers and how wine bloggers might act while dealing with wineries. Wineries should not expect massive results from working with any one blogger. Instead, working with wine bloggers is about establishing relationships with influencers who, over time, can have a meaningful impact, especially in concert with other bloggers. And bloggers should realize wineries often spend significant resources on them (be it sending out bottles, answering emails, or investing in the Wine Bloggers Conference) and act professionally in return, both during the interaction and by following up with posts on blogs and social media.
We are very pleased to hear Sao was happy with her winery clients’ investment in the 2014 conference and are looking forward to the same in Lodi!
Do you have a story similar to Sao or Frank? We would love to hear from writers and wineries alike on thoughts related to what makes a successful wine/wine writer partnership.
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Raquel Estelle Coronado says
Hi Alina! Very great points made here. Where are you based out of? Would love to connect with you! Feel free to email me at email@example.com
joseph machado says
Wine bloggers may be generous critics or real wine enthusiast with passion for wines we have to value their blogs n views they have invested time n money they travel a lot from country to country n they up market present you wines suggesting all the pissibilities of wines quality regions n elaborate all details thanks all bloggets keep ou in yor good books & we love you for branding n giving us business cheers
I very much agree that there should be a mutual respect and you don’t have to have an amazing following to make a difference.
As someone who has a very good relationship with a small-ish (less than 10k cases produced), high-end Walla Walla winery, I have to agree with everything Sao said. It doesn’t really matter what your readership is in order to develop a relationship with a winery. If you dedicate yourself to exposing even one person to their wines, then your mission as a blogger is done.
What has made my partnership with this winery successful? Well, it started with sarcastic wit. Don’t ask. Haha. It’s a great story that’s grown into a really good friendship that I’m eternally grateful for. Beyond my smart mouth, this winery knows they can rely on me to help them out when needed, whether it be a social media share, a post, or a shout out to draw people to their booth at a tasting event. Most of the time, I do this without even being asked. The sales manager knows I can sling his wine with the best of ’em, and has had (more like challenged) me do it.
I also have very good relationships with most of my local wineries, for completely different reasons. They know that I’m willing to speaking highly of them until I’m blue in the face, whether it be through posts, social media, or telling our county commissioners that they’re full of male bovine excrement when it comes to the wine industry. Will I do the same thing that I do for the Walla Walla winery that I partner with for them? OF COURSE! There’s no reason for me *not* to.
No matter what the case, I think the biggest reassurance a winery needs from a blogger is that the blogger is going to be their advocate, cheerleader, and is going to, in our own special way, make the general public aware that they exist.
This also goes beyond wineries, as well. If there’s a local wine bar or bottle shop that a blogger has developed a relationship with, why shouldn’t they make a commitment to stand behind that business like they have a winery? This entire industry is about supporting each other.
Tracy Iglesias says
I am a Lifestyle Blogger – http://www.ascendingbutterfly.com – Oenophile, and avid travel lover, I love media familiarization visits – I think it’s super helpful for both sides to have a ‘goal’ in mind for the visit and outline it clearly so there are no disappointments on either side. Outlining the Editorial Theme, Time Posting Deadlines etc.
I have also had the pleasure of hosting a moderated tweet chat where both brands and bloggers could have an open discussion on all things ‘partnership’ be it with a brand directly or their PR team. I have wanted to make that a regular twitter series, it’s always illuminating and both sides always appreciate clearing up some of the misconceptions that exist.
Tracy @ Ascending Butterfly
Carl Giavanti says
Surprising isn’t it, given the time and cost? Let whoever it is know they need a qualified publicist 😉
Great point, Carl. I am a blogger myself (www.eatdrinkboulder.com) and I can’t tell you how many pitches I get for products, services, or restaurants located outside Boulder County, even though that is all we cover.
Carl Giavanti says
Timeless PR consulting advice Allan. Wineries that have vision and patience will understand the investment in relationships with new and aspiring writers. I would add that vetting writers for story interest, palate preference, quality of writing and frequency, social engagement and tracking the trending of their readership numbers is also important in recommending samples and even onsite visits.
Thanks for starting this important conversation!