This year, we were thrilled to once again represent the Horse Heaven Hills Winegrowers Association of Prosser, WA. As part of the contract, we again organized a press trip to the AVA for a select group of media. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the region, the Horse Heaven Hills is home to 25% of Washington's vineyard acreage. The region is coveted for its excellent growing conditions, which include ample sunshine and wind for even ripening and disease prevention, respectively. The growers who tend the grapes are a tight-knit group of farmers, and over the last decade they’ve produced four wines rated 100 points by Wine Spectator.
So far, this trip has resulted in five press hits for the organization: JamesonFink.com, Palate Press, Tasting Pour, and Vindulge (x2). For advice on how to host a press trip, see Account Manager Janel Lubanski's blog, Organizing Successful Media Trips is a Marathon, Not a Sprint.
The second part of our engagement with the Horse Heaven Hills Winegrowers is a fall media mailer. We won't give away our theme, but we will tell you that it is imperative to craft a creative pitch that provides multiple angles when sending samples to media. For example, this particular mailer will feature wines from a few different producers in the area around an upcoming celebration for the AVA.
-Erin Stutesman, Account Manager
We have had the pleasure of serving the Knudsen family since summer of 2012 when we were hired to help launch Knudsen Vineyards. The project was immediately interesting to me given the family's deep roots in the Willamette Valley -- the family's patriarch, Cal Knudsen and his wife, Julia Lee, were early winegrowing pioneers. Over the last two years, we've provided the Knudsens guidance ranging from messaging and brand visuals to online marketing, sales allocation and media relations. And much more in between.
We just launched this September and I'm proud to say have already generated strong media coverage. Below are four factors in addition to serving excellent wine made with a passion at the proper price (which is simply the price of entry into our crowded market):
1. The family's willingness to participate in media events and host journalists at their property. This of course requires a commitment of time and resources, but as one of my wine PR mentors, Ed Schwartz, used to say: "There are three ways to get press -- a meeting with a PR person, a meeting with an owner or winemaker, or a meeting at the property." Not being regularly available to host and regularly meet with media on their turf drastically reduces your chances of achieving recognition.
2. The family's willingness to tell their story more broadly. For example, during the property lunch we served two vintage Argyle sparkling wines and a 1987 Knudsen Erath Pinot Noir in addition to the wine the family was releasing, 2012 Knudsen Pinot Noir. Page spoke about the property's history and links to other great wineries in the area more than the one wine currently available for sale. It's just not as interesting to journalists to taste one wine or hear one angle during what is for them a large commitment of time. I learned this skill on a very large level working with the Symington Family of Portugal for five years -- they created a multi-city Vintage Port Tour bringing together their own competition to tell their region's story.
3. The family's investment in marketing to ensure that their brand presence underscores the quality of their wine. It is very difficult for us to speak with media about how special a brand or property is when the company's online presence is lacking. A winery's website simply must use intriguing imagery and contain the simple tools that help media do their job -- a well told story, wine details and contact information.
4. Good old fashioned thank you notes. We all like to hear please and thank you, and not making time to thank journalists for attending and covering events is a big no-no. Page personally thanked every person who attended her media lunch and is quick to write notes each time coverage appears. We do this as a matter of course for our clients, but it's always nice to have a note come from an owner or winemaker.
5. Making wine available for media samples. This conversation began when we were discussing allocations as it's important that new brands both account for media and library samples. Promoting a wine without offering members of the media the opportunity to taste it is like asking a restaurant critic to rate an establishment without giving him access to the food.
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