Understanding the Paradigm Shift in Wine Writing

Paradigm shiftIt seems like the traditional, legacy media is dropping its coverage of wine at a pretty swift pace whether it be a pull back from wine coverage in Chicago, St. Louis or San Francisco. It points to a circumstance that every wine publicist and every wine marketer must accept and embrace: YOU ARE THE DISTRIBUTOR OF WINE JOURNALISM, WHILE THE JOURNALISTS ARE THE CONTENT CREATORS.

This, of course, never used to be the case. All the major media had good wine coverage and good circulation and distribution, assuring that if you or your client were covered, word would be spread by the folks who created the content.

Today, with the legacy media reducing their coverage and its circulation being gobbled up and cut up, there does remain a vibrant independent and largely new wine media that is exploring the subject on blogs, podcasts, online media and elsewhere outside what were the normal information distribution channels. However, few have much reach or circulation.

What this means is that the subject of the coverage (the winery, the importer, the distributor, the retailer, etc) must do the distribution.

That subject as information distributor model has a variety of tools at its disposal:

Your Email List
Your list of trade/accounts contacts
Your tasting room or Retail Store

If any of the many wine writers and commentators endorse your project, it must be you who gets that word out to those you hope will see it and take it to heart.

This is such a profound and certain and cemented shift in the way companies and concerns use third-party media endorsements that it qualifies as a paradigm shift.

Yes, there remain various media that, when they give you an endorsement, their distribution of that endorsement will get the job done and get their word out. But that list is shrinking on a daily basis. Perhaps this will change. Perhaps media companies with large circulations will return to serious coverage of the most important and refined and culturally significant beverage the world has ever seen. But don’t count on it. For now, you are on your own. Either be the distributor of the content created by the media or don’t count on good coverage having any impact at all on your brand and product.

12 thoughts on “Understanding the Paradigm Shift in Wine Writing

  1. Tom: Of course, you are so right, which means that our media databases are constantly liquid (pun intended); as one has to stay flexible and liquid at the same time.

    An example: Just yesterday I was searching for wine writers in Denver. Not a large wine media base to begin with, but nonetheless. The Post, which used to have wine coverage, was rife with cannibis coverage as one might expect (no cirticism there), and scant but visible coverage of beer/spirits.

    Which only proves wine continues to be a baffling subject to most — even as they drink more wine — and that writers and their audience — who drink more beer/whiskey — are really not interested in its seeming arcanary and esoterica.

  2. Tom, thank you for pointing this out. I tag wineries mentioned in my posts and social media platforms, but rarely see those posts re-distributed by the wineries themselves even though that simple step would obviously increase exposure of the brand. Strange?

  3. Kathy,

    Thank you. The thing is, it also helps publicize the people and websites and publications writing about wine!


  4. It is getting both easier and more difficult for wineries/publicists to promote their products. There are a lot more voices, but everyone is still on their own…

    Alan, why are you looking for wine writers in Denver? I know one…

  5. As a features writer for a large media company with digital and print outlets I am amazed at how few wineries have or maintain Twitter accounts. I write about wine on a regular basis, and I try to tag the ones I write about. It’s surprising how many have no or little interest in social media. Everyone – journalists, wineries, reps – must think of themselves as marketing agents. It’s part of all our jobs.

  6. Hi Marc…

    The thing about social media and wineries is this: the overwhelming number of wineries are actually quite small, with very few people doing numerous jobs. So, they ask themselves, which tasks deliver the most ROI and for many, social media just doesn’t come close to achieving the kind of ROI, particularly when you look at it from both a time and revenue perspective.

    That said, I can’t imagine why a winery wouldn’t at least HAVE a twitter/facebook account.


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