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How to PR Wine Without the Headache

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by Lydia Richards

Consumer interest in wine is growing in the US with no signs of stopping and therefore, is becoming an increasingly saturated market. As such, wine brands have a tough job standing out on the shelf. This is where PR companies like ours come in.

Working with a wide range of wine brands, from supermarket favorites to the ultra-premium segment, our biggest challenge is that there is still a huge lack of understanding of wine amongst consumers – meaning our job is to continuously find a balance between creating inspiring and captivating content, and making it relatable to our client’s target audience.

Whether you are starting your wine career or a PR veteran looking to transition to the industry, here are a few tips I’ve learned about navigating the intricate world of wine PR.

Know Your Wine 101
First rule of PR: you must have knowledge of what you’re promoting. The world of wine is incredibly vast and complex, and it can seem like an intimidating topic to tackle. Having a general understanding will give you more confidence in your overall day-to-day work and networking skills, as well as helping you avoid any potential mishaps and misinformation with clients, consumers and journalists. It’s also critical to follow industry news, new products and trends, as these will provide inspiration for your own pitching efforts, events and digital content creation.

Taste, Taste, Taste
What makes a Burgundian Pinot Noir different than an Oregon Pinot Noir? Yes, textbooks and tasting notes can easily answer this question but there’s a lot to be said about drinking wine and exploring the differences with your palate. AND you can call this “research!”

Speak To Your Target Audience
Vinification, vintage reports, production methods, maturation length and tasting profiles are all fantastic resources to have and share with journalists and consumers, but ask yourself two questions: Who is my target (e.g. wine-focused writers, lifestyle influencers)? Will sharing this information produce the desired impact or result (feature story, product mention, brand awareness, etc.)?

Despite the US becoming a nation of avid wine drinkers, most people will happily admit to having little or no knowledge of what makes up their favorite bottle of wine. Lifestyle journalists are not too dissimilar, and they will find nothing appealing about a pitch listing the benefits of ‘malolactic fermentation’ for creating a wine’s buttery and nutty flavors.

A few words of advice: copy/pasting a technical sheet is lazy, cut the wine-heavy jargon if you don’t need it, and think like your target audience.

Push The Boundaries
Millennials are market leaders now and with that, gone are the days of wine being tied up in tradition. There’s no harm in pushing the boundaries in order to capture consumer interest. There has been a historical tendency to steer clear of bold or quirky campaigns for fear that they will undermine a wine’s quality credentials.

That being said, this can be a double-edge sword, and there is always a risk that you can push too far. Remember, the most important thing is that your client’s core messaging remains intact and consistently delivered throughout all PR activations and campaigns.

It’s All About Relationships
This can be said about PR across all industries. However, wine is one area where the industry press has an enormous role to play – not just in wine-focused consumer and trade publications, but also in the most widely read national supplements. Weekly wine columns are the go-to guide for many overwhelmed consumers, and the influence of those who write them is not to be ignored. Build strong relationships with these media and be meticulous when pitching to them.

These five tips should help you get started and gain cut through in one of the most crowded markets. Enjoy the ride and don’t forget to “research.”

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