Harvesting harvest

It’s that time of year. All along the highways and byways and cross roads grapes are ripening. Trucks are rumbling. Crews are assembling. Harvest is starting!

Hats off to the St. Helena Star for tracking the news week by week, appellation by appellation: here’s the first installment.

Image result for napa valley harvest image

We’ve shared some pointers about how to turn harvest into PR “gold” in the past, but here are a few quick reminders.

  • Images. Snapshots. Video glimpses. However you can capture this very exciting and very visual time of year, do so!
  • Tell the world. Everyone’s interested, whether your tasting room guests or club members or distributors in Dubuque or website readers or Facebook friends or Instagram pals.
  • What’s different? Yes, everyone is harvesting, so find out what’s unique about what you and your crew do. What time in the night are you harvesting? Traditional harvest meals or snacks? Sprinkling the first load of grapes with a sparkling wine? What happens to all that pomace?
  • Push away from your desk and spend some time following your winemaker or vineyard manager around. How do you cut off a cluster of grapes the best way? What happens to those berries as they travel to the crush pad? Get familiar with the Brix numbers. Whole berry fermentation? What kind of yeast and why? This is a chance to learn about the science of winemaking.
  • Mother nature. Here’s a chance to put some details around how green you are, how important the birds and the bees are to creating great wine. Maybe there’s a bear in the neighborhood? What kind of birds like your Merlot grapes?
  • People stories. Who’s picking? What are their stories of favorite years, things that have gone right or so wrong? Harvest is a momentous time where the team is working together for long hours. There have to be some Stories.
  • This is your moment to reach out to that writer you’ve been thinking about contacting. Assemble some stats and go for it. Even if the journalist doesn’t bite, he or she will be appreciative that you thought of her, so you’ve built a bit more of a relationship with that writer.

Harvest is probably the most newsworthy time of the year. Make the most of it!

Julie Ann’s Wine PR Award—Shhhhh, Don’t Tell Her

vwmcovertitleFor those of you who know my partner in SWIG, Julie Ann Kodmur, you know she’s overly modest. I know, unusual for a PR type. Still, she is a modest one. So modest is she that she was going leave unsaid on this blog that she was JUST AWARDED BEST PUBLIC RELATIONS AGENCY/PROVIDER by Vineyard and Winery Management Magazine.

Shhhhh….Don’t tell her about this post. She’d blush.

In general it is the job of a PR professional NOT to get noticed. Rather, it is the job of the PR professional to get their clients noticed. So, when notice is taken of us in some formal manner, we are at once surprised and truly gratified because it just doesn’t happen much.

Here’s what Vineyard & Winery Management noticed about Julie Ann Kodmur:

“Julie Ann Kodmur founded her marketing and publicity consulting service in 1997. Based in St. Helena, Calif., she’s created multiple successful campaigns for wineries large and small. Clients appreciate her “attention to detail, reasonable pricing and incredible results,” “strong industry knowledge, innovation and excellent, timely service” as well as the fact she’s “connected,” “gets it done,” “knows the realities of our business” and “always has great and fresh ideas and goes above and beyond.”

You can read the entire list of award winners here.

The winners are picked by a vote of Vineyard and Winery Management readers. As you can imagine, although Julie Ann knew she had been nominated, she told no one, lobbied no one for votes, nor even mentioned her nomination to her partner in blogging crime. Shame on her. I would have lobbied for her!

That said, her recognition is one for the little guys in our profession, those little one-person consultancies who toil alone and without a large staff, but rather with a network of colleagues and contacts that keep us sane.

So again…DON’T TELL JULIE ANN ABOUT THIS POST!!! The recognition might embarrass her. However, do raise a glass to one of the best PR practitioners in the biz.

 

From Wine Communicator to Wine GM

Opus OneBack in the day it was titled “Public Relations.” Then, somewhere along the line, folks started to call the position “Marketing Communications.” Today, it merely boils down to communicating and the iconic Napa Valley winery Opus One has termed the position, simply, “Communications Manager.”

Opus One is looking to file the position of “Communications Manager” and by the look of the job description it’s a position that, if filled correctly, then executed upon with gusto and commitment, could easily produce a person who might readily be on the GM track.

Consider the responsibilities built into this position:

• In collaboration with the Vice President of Communications, develop and execute a global Social Media Communications plan.
• Generate and manage all content (images, video, music and written copy). Working with designers, marketing and sales, external influencers and industry experts, produce relevant content that is consistent with the Opus One story and vision, and reflects our core values in social media spaces.
• Collaborate with sales and marketing to ensure consistency of message, and visual harmony across all social media.
• Monitor, listen and respond to users on all social platforms with passion, enthusiasm and decorum.
• Establish effective benchmarks (best practices) for measuring the impact of our social media strategy. Report monthly on effectiveness of campaigns and provide insights for refinement.
• Monitor and stay abreast of trends in global Social Media platforms, SEO, tools, applications, channels, design and strategy.
• Serve as a digital educator and champion for the social community.
• Understand complex CRM systems/data and effectively translate this knowledge into solutions that automate processes and increase our ability to dynamically personalize customer communications and on-site reception.
• Champion the expanded use of CRM. Continually build and maintain the relationship with all partners and stakeholders in the CRM functional area to ensure CRM is at the forefront of everyone’s agenda and solidly defined/interwoven into their planning and daily work routines.
• Identify opportunities and build relationships with prominent influencers and thought leaders in the luxury wine space (trade, distributors and collectors) and with other luxury product producers.
• Work with guest relations and direct marketing to maintain a customer-focused attitude with a focus on activities that create lifetime customers.
• Actively monitor daily newsfeeds for critical trends or breaking news regarding the wine industry or Opus One. Share, comment, or reply as appropriate either directly or through social media channels as appropriate.
• Working with the Vice President of Communications, draft and release press announcements.
• Effectively manage charitable donation requests based on established goals and criteria.
• Develop, coordinate and execute major auction donations as needed.
• Maintain, update, and expand knowledge of viticulture, enology and the Winery by participating in educational trainings offered by Opus One and outside sources.
• Speak knowledgeably about Opus One vintages, representatives, distributors, and retailers to better assist customers in the social community.
• Conduct tours of the winery as necessary and appropriate.

The things that are really missing from this position that a future GM would need to master is finance and personnel management. You also might want someone versed in industry compliance and legal matters, but, frankly, that’s easy enough to learn.

Finally, take note of the fact that this “communications” position does not include media outreach in its description. No doubt Opus One does in fact engage in serious media communications, perhaps even outsourcing it. However, it’s ironic that today, “communications” does not explicitly include media relations. Does this mean that social media outreach and media outreach are two entirely different things. You bet it does. The latter scares most people, while the former is often seen as an entirely different skill.

The beauty of this type of “communications” position is that it puts you in touch with and forces collaboration with members of an organization’s team located in all departments. The reason for this is that industry and consumer expectations are such that each level of a company must in some way be accessible. Additionally, the expertise lodged within each department of a company like Opus One has to be understood and viewed as a public asset; as a potential and likely spokesperson that can help the company communicate with and reach out to various sectors of the industry and public.

The Opus One Communications Manager job is an absolutely plum position for anyone thinking they want a long-term career in the wine industry. And the reach of Opus One into the three-tier channel, the DTC channel and into the web of the Napa Valley wine industry community gives the successful candidate remarkable exposures throughout the industry.

If I were 5-10 years into a career in marketing in the industry and wanted more of the same, I’d throw everything I had at obtaining this position.

Tequila Shots and the Rules of Wine Public Relations

TshotsI find myself in a relatively unique position. For many years, like my blogging partner Julie Ann Kodmur, I’ve made a living working in wine public and media relations. Part of that job is reaching out to journalists and “pitching” stories that represent the interests and backgrounds of the clients that pay me. We both are pretty good at this.

However, for over a decade now I’ve also been blogging, usually at Fermentation, and I’ve been pretty successful at that too. As a result I get stories pitched to me by other PR professionals who want me to write about their clients. A turning of the tables if you will.

So, here is the pitch I got from one PR company today. This is real:

“Question: are you ready for the end of the summer? Probably not. Do you have a plan? Maybe. Would you accept suggestions? Definitely! Labor Day weekend is around the corner and what better way to say good bye to the hot summer days than with tequila shots!

So I stared at that awhile. Re-read it a couple of times. Then I tried to imagine the story I might be writing if in fact downing tequila shots was a central element in that story. I tried to figure out how I could write a story that centered around the virtue of doing tequila shots. Of course, I know what the virtues are of doing tequila shots. I’m just having a hard time figuring out the virtue of writing about those particular virtues.

While I’m thinking about what those virtues might be, I do have some solid recommendations for wine PR and marketing folks that relate to this particular story pitch I received:

• Try to pitch stories to writers who have at least a slight interest in what you are pitching.

• Try to pitch stories that go beyond the somewhat comical, “Wanna tell your readers how to get shit faced”?
• Never, ever, hit the send button after writing the first thing that popped into your head and not leaving time to edit what is likely a very bad idea.

 

Killing the Wine & Arsenic Story – Before It’s Too Late

Killing the Wine & Arsenic Story — Before It’s Too Late

By Tom Wark

Cross posted from Fermentation – The Daily Wine Blog

“Boy, who knew about the arsenic in wine. I’m a beer drinker.”

“Great, now there’s another way I can die…Just drink wine.”

These are two comments that were directed at me this weekend. Both were unsolicited and both in response to me being asked what I do for a living and responding that I work in the wine business.

IF YOU DON’T THINK THE ARSENIC STORY IS A BIG DEAL, YOU BETTER THINK AGAIN.

Here’s what I can guarantee: sales of wine will decline over at least the next two months, if not further, due to the report that some wines have elevated levels of arsenic in them.

It does not matter that the report is bogus.

It does not matter that those reporting it are extortionists.

It does not matter that you’d have to drink yourself dead to be harmed by the arsenic in wine.

What matters is the perception and the impression.

If you’ve ever wondered why you pay dues to your state winery association or to your regional/appellation association, the reason is for moments like this. If your state or regional trade association is not on the phone with reporters of a national or local perspective, then you better get on the phone with them and absolutely demand they start making calls, setting reporters straight, telling the real story and doing everything they can to discredit the people who are spreading the story that wine is dangerous.

So, as a winery, retailer or member of any other sector of the wine industry, what should you do?

1. Contact your regional and state-based trade association just to remind them that you hope they are addressing the arsenic controversy.

2. Put a statement on your website discrediting the controversy and explaining why there is no danger of arsenic poisoning from drinking your wine.

3. Create a short and sweet fact sheet about the controversy that you can send to customers or trade that ask about the issue.

4. Use social media to direct your followers and friends to the best discrediting of the report that you’ve seen. Here is a good one from the California Wine Institute.

You’ve got to kill these kind of damaging disreputable claims in their crib and you’ve got to do it with hurricane force because if bogus claims like this are left to metastasize it can grow into a cancer on the industry that will be hard to overcome.