By all accounts, the Digital Wine Communicators Conference that took place recently in Montreaux, Switzerland left its wine blogger and wine writer attendees with a great number of interesting and provocative ideas for to consider. Among the most thought-provoking idea I came across was this one, reported in Harpers and delivered by public relations professional Louise Hurren during a panel on the Future of Wine Blogging :
“[To succeed wine bloggers must] understand and recognize their place in the wine industry and ask themselves what value are you offering and not just what you can get out of it”
The communicators who heard this message most likely understood quickly and intuitively that there is only one answer to the question, what value are they offering the wine industry? But before I repeat that answer it is important to put Ms. Hurren’s advice in context. Additionally, she wanted to explain to the wine bloggers in the room the size of the investment that marketing and promotional sectors of the wine industry make in wine communicators. She discussed, for example, the cost of taking a blogger on a press trip as well as the expectations the marketers reasonably had when they spent the thousands of dollars on trips for wine communicators.
The takeaway of Ms. Hurren’s talk was that understanding how the wine trade works is an essential element in a blogger becoming more professional, which is a requirement for success as a blogger.
This is all excellent advice. But what I did not read in the coverage of her talk in Montreaux was the one and only possible answer to the question, “what value are you offering the wine trade through your blog”.
The answer is The Size of Your Audience.
In fact this is also the answer to the question, what value do commercial wine publications offer to the wine industry. The fact is, it does not matter how professional a wine blogger is. It does not matte how well a wine blogger understands the wine trade. It does not matter how interesting their ideas or observations are. To the wine trade the real value of any wine blogger is the size of their audience.
The more eyeballs that see what the blogger writes, the more valuable that blogger is to the wine industry that has one goal in mind: expose as many potential customers to their brand as they possible can. This is a somewhat cold, cut and dry way of understanding the work of the wine blogger or professional wine writer or commercial wine media outlet. But there is no other way to calculate the value of a wine media publication. If the most brilliant, the smartest and the most prolific wine blogger on the planet reaches 50 readers a day, their value to the wine industry is very, very small. Meanwhile, if the most incompetent wine blogger on the planet reaches 10,000 readers a day, then the wine industry will see great value in their swill that they produce.
If, then, it is the goal of a wine blogger to be of value to the wine industry, the advice I would have given the attendees at the recently Digital Wine Communicators Conference would be this: BLOGGERS: WORK ON INCREASING THE SIZE OF YOUR READERSHIP…IT’S THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS.