We at Zephyr Conferences run media conferences in the wine, beer, and food industries. There are distinct differences between the three groups, one of which is how well non-professional media promote themselves and, ultimately, monetize their efforts. Non-professional food media (bloggers and influencers) do this exceptionally well, in large part because of their effort to create personal brands that resonate with consumers.
As a simple example, a wine blogger might create a site focused on a certain subject, such as Pinot Noir wines or Central California Coast wines. The site title, home page photo, and description are about the subject matter. A food blogger is much more likely to create a blog and social media centered around his or her own personality. And it works.
It is because of this we are thrilled to have Sarah Tracey, influencer at The Lush Life, speaking on Personal Branding at the 2021 Wine Media Conference. Sarah is a wine blogger and influencer taking the personal branding route. We caught up with Sarah to ask her a few questions:
Interview with Sarah Tracey of The Lush Life
What does “personal branding” mean in the world of wine media?
A personal brand is how you promote yourself, your values, and what you stand for. Today’s media consumers are craving an emotional connection to content creators and your personal brand is the promise you make of the experience you deliver. How do people feel when they see your name on a byline, your newsletter in their inbox, or your photo in their social feeds? Your personal brand is what makes you unique: your perspective on the world and the way you communicate it like no one else can. It is your calling card and the most authentic expression of you.
What have you specifically done to grow your personal brand?
The number one thing for me was a conscious decision to make myself visible and not hide behind my keyboard or camera lens. I encourage everyone to show themselves, and interact with your audience! Whether that means attending more local events in your community to forge in-person relationships, or simply posting a selfie on your social feed with some fun facts about you your followers may not know– these things build connection, and putting yourself out there is crucial. Trust me, it gets easier as you go!
Do you believe the wine world is behind other industries such as lifestyle, food, and travel in terms of personal branding?
So far, wine hasn’t become mainstream on television the way food, lifestyle, and travel are: so it’s true we don’t have a Bourdain or an Emeril or a Martha with a universally recognizable brand. But on a smaller scale, there are definitely wine personalities that have done an excellent job at communicating their perspective and purpose: if I mention James Suckling, Alice Feiring, Marissa Ross– those names evoke an image and a feeling. You know exactly what they’re about. I think defining a brand for yourself is only going to become more and more important– the days of the faceless, anonymous wine critic dispensing wisdom from an ivory tower are behind us.
Do you consider yourself a wine blogger?
I do! While I don’t review wines, I do blog about the intersection of wine, food, and lifestyle. It’s my journey and it’s much more personal than the articles I write for other media outlets, much more in my own voice. I feel like my blog readers are old friends by now. No matter what other projects I take on, I always go back to my blog as home base.
About Sarah Tracey
Sarah Tracey is a sommelier, speaker, wine educator and lifestyle expert based in New York City. A veteran of some of the city’s top restaurants, her career has spanned from spit-bucket-emptier to Michelin-starred Wine Director. When not vineyard-hopping, you can find her sharing wine, travel, and lifestyle content for millennial women on her site The Lush Life. An accomplished wine writer and content creator, she is currently the go-to wine authority for Martha Stewart Living, writing their online wine column since 2015. She is widely cited as an industry expert in the media, sharing expertise with outlets like ‘O’ The Oprah Magazine, Food & Wine, The Food Network, Town & Country, Refinery 29, Forbes, Elle, Brides, and CheddarTV. Named one of the Top 20 Wine Influencers in the US, Sarah holds a certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers and is known for her fun and relatable style.