I am so very proud of my team. Together for our family of clients, we ended 2014 with a strong increase in press coverage -- over 600 articles, blogs, radio interviews and even some television across a wide variety of media. Check out our annual report.
What's the "secret?" Pretty much the same as how you make great wine, cider or extra virgin olive oil: start with good "ingredients" (talented, dedicated people -- clients and my team in the case of PR); prepare and plan; invest in technology; operate with integrity and the desire to continuously improve; welcome the "harvest" season while remembering it's not a permanent state; always thank your customers (media and; and be sure to add a healthy dose of patience.
And now, we are setting out to beat our best results. To do so, we are going to focus on the following:
1. Strong Relationships. Continue using a personal, warm and professional approach. Focus on building new ones. Spend more quality time in person via our portfolio events, desk-side chats, office tastings and client events. Join some new organizations in and out of our industry. Seek mentorship. Live the golden rule.
2. Create Compelling Content. Enhance the tell of the great story with the show of visuals. Bring broader educational pieces and thought leadership to the market. Connect as many dots and people as possible.
3. Work our Technology Hard. Use our new systemized approach to finding opportunities in our paid subscription database. Continue recording all contact, conversations and email details in our CRM tool to build our agency memory.
4. Listen. PR people love to talk. We also need to listen. Be comfortable with conversation pauses. Learn from those who aren't as quick to respond.
5. Shut Down. PR people are also constantly "on." It's not healthy. And it doesn't support the above four focus areas. I've already started putting my phone in the entryway vase and leaving it there at night. It was really hard -- I first read about Volkswagen doing this THREE years ago and have just started doing it. I've cheated a couple of times. But wow can I tell a difference when I do.
How will you beat your best in 2015?
If you would like to generate more recognition and demand in 2015, be sure to prioritize your public relations strategy. Effectively serving the media to build your brand starts with developing and an action plan and associated budget.
Why plan for and invest in media relations?
In our November newsletter, we propose a toast of thanks to our clients and share several tips to getting a jump start to your 2015 planning. Click here to read more.
This summer, we hosted two portfolio media lunches. In-person meetings are one of the most effective methods for producing press results because they allow for a meaningful dialogue and help build longer term relationships.
We held our first lunch in July in Seattle at RN74, welcoming four media and a member of the Washington State Wine Commission. During our September lunch at Andina in Portland, we hosted six media, and a number of clients, which emphasized the family theme among our portfolio.
We plan to host a media lunch each quarter with a different theme. For example, our first event of 2015 will focus on the growers of the Pacific Northwest. For a detailed look at our Andina lunch, see this article by Barb Randall of The Lake Oswego Review.
-Erin Stutesman, Account Manager
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.
"So if you want to hire outside resources to help you solve a business problem... get them in the boat with you so that you’re all accountable for creating value."
Today Janel forwarded me a Forbes.com piece, "Why Consultants Should be Accountable for Results, Not Recommendations." It reminded me of many of the lessons I've learned over the years -- most importantly, that clients hire us and most importantly, re-hire us for results.
As outside service providers, we are often in a position of giving marketing and public relations advice, but ultimately, our recommendations don't alone create tangible benefits. The results side of the equation comes from our process and our ability to form close client relationships and a wide media network. This includes the plans we develop, the ideas and pitches we create and at the end of the day, our ability to connect with media to provide angles of interest.
Our results-based process starts with the end result in mind before we're even hired. We ask potential clients about the results they'd like to see, and assess whether or not we can serve them based on their vision, quality, and reach (i.e., distribution). And we try to make absolutely sure that the client is committed and ready to be communicative because ultimately, we can not serve a client who is not "in the boat" with us.
If we proceed with a proposal and are hired, we focus on blending creative pitching with results -- measured by performance to plan goals in the form of monthly report metrics including pitches, samples sent and articles generated. PR can be a gray area and there is more to our value-add than numbers, but at the end of the day, the ultimate measure is... Did sales increase?
We are thrilled to welcome our new client, ¡Salud!, a program through Tuality Healthcare that provides healthcare services for seasonal vineyard workers and their families. As the majority of workers move from crop to crop throughout the year, they are usually ineligible for health coverage. ¡Salud! strives to bridge the gap and ensure that all workers have access to healthcare.
The ¡Salud! fundraising event season is just beginning. The second annual Summertime ¡Salud! – The Big Dinner, will be held on Thursday, July 24 at Stoller Family Estate in Dayton, Oregon. And this year’s November 14-15 weekend auction festivities will now be held entirely in the Willamette Valley given a new partnership with The Allison Inn & Spa of Newberg, which is hosting the Saturday events and offering a limited number of weekend event packages.
As the new location for Saturday's Dinner and Auction Gala, The Allison Inn & Spa is closing its doors to the general public and making its rooms available only to ¡Salud! guests November 14 – 15. There are now also a limited number of weekend packages for sale, which include two nights deluxe lodging, transportation and two tickets to the ¡Salud! Cuvée Tasting & Auction at Domaine Drouhin Oregon, and two tickets to the Dinner and Auction Gala, plus breakfast Saturday morning. To purchase a weekend package, which starts at $1,500 per couple, call ¡Salud! at (503) 681-1850 or The Allison Inn & Spa at (877) 294-2525. Tickets to the ¡Salud! Friday and Saturday events are available online at https://tualityhealth.ejoinme.org/salud2014.
We are very proud to be representing ¡Salud!. Our team will focus on crafting unique media angles in order to expand regional and national coverage of key events and, ideally, increase donations for this excellent cause.
If you would like to discuss how our public relations services might help stimulate demand for your brand or organization, please contact us.
-Erin Stutesman, Account Coordinator
In the grand puzzle of brand magnetism, your online presence is only a slice of the pie.
Brand magnetism is a combination of forces that a company produces to attract customers. It draws customers to you and the products or services you provide. This effort is not limited to having a “Sales” or “Distribution” plan – it’s a series of objectives used to increase your brand awareness.
Many of these objectives can be identified under the Trellis Growth Partners’ Brand Magnetism model such as: internal team commitment or management’s vision and strategy, the consumer experience or online presence. Each force has to work cohesively for maximum effectiveness.
A streamlined, organized website can be an effective avenue to introduce customers to your brand story and the products that you offer.
Bombing Range Red, before
Bombing Range Red, after
Bombing Range White
Last year, one of our long-time clients, McKinley Springs Winery, hired us to redesign their Bombing Range wine labels. The Bombing Range wines are inspired by the colorful history of this estate vineyard and were created as a tribute to U.S. military troops. (During WWII, the 2,000-acre estate vineyard in Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills AVA was used as a training site for fighter pilots. To this day, shell casings are still found among McKinley Springs’ 2000 acres of vines.)
Our main goal in this project was elevate the wine’s packaging and create stronger sales demand. Our first step was discuss the goals of the project with McKinley Springs. Next, we surveyed the winery’s distributor network to gain feedback before undergoing the design process. (In our experience, failing to consider ideas from the very people charged with selling the wines is an avoidable mistake.) Then, we created a request for proposal and distributed it to a selection of designers whose process and price range was a fit given the project’s identified goals.
Chris Noud, owner of Now Design in Salem, Oregon, won the project and designed the new Bombing Range labels. Whereas the former label depicted a pilot with a glass of wine in a cartoon style, the new labels use actual historical photos from WWII. We are very pleased with the results of Chris’ work, and especially like how the striking imagery of the new labels better speaks to the quality of the wines.
After the label design was completed, the next step was to launch the new packaging. First, we created a trade press release, which was published by Wine Business Monthly. We are now in the process of pitching the wines to writers in states within McKinley Springs’ distribution market with the hopes of gaining third party endorsement to stimulate demand for and sales of the wines.
You might be wondering why clients would hire a marketing communications company for design projects. After all, we do not offer graphic design services in-house. Our role in these projects serves to provide the overall marketing direction and a proven process so that broader goals of sell through are achieved.
If you are interested in discussing how Trellis Growth Partners can elevate your brand image, please contact us.
-Erin Stutesman, Account Coordinator
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