10 Ways to welcome bloggers to your wine event or…
Why should I write about your event?
A recent article in Wine Business.com asked the question, do wine bloggers impact your brand? They discovered that they do, but especially if the brand is not well-known or in an up and coming region. I believe Washington is one of those regions that remains undiscovered by many wine drinkers so getting your brand out in the public eye is even more important if you want your business to grow and survive these tough economic times.
In the past couple of weeks, I received several emails to attend some winery release events or other wine event such as the Auction of Washington Wines. If my schedule is free, I really enjoy going to these events. But if you’re a PR firm or marketing person inviting me in hopes of getting some publicity on my blog or on Twitter, then you better make it worth my time to be there. For me, if I’m going to write about a wine event, then it better be worthwhile. What can you, as a PR or marketing person, do to make bloggers like me feel more welcome and get us to write about you? Here are 10 suggestions to improve my experience:
- Let me know well ahead of time – Don’t wait until a week before your event is scheduled to send me an email and expect me to attend, especially if it’s a weekend event or during Spring release. In the summer, between family obligations and wine events, my weekends are usually booked out a month in advance. Send me reminders if I haven’t responded. I try to reply to all invitations. Your email may have ended up in my junk folder and deleted before I had a chance to even see it.
- Don’t make it difficult to attend – most bloggers have day jobs. Scheduling your event for mid-afternoon in the middle of the week will almost guarantee lower attendance by bloggers. Evening and weekends work much better for me even though I’m not working full-time.
- Don’t make me pay to come to your event – Of course you’re not going to charge me to attend; this should go without saying. After all, you’re getting free publicity. But there are other expenses involved such as gas and parking. Downtown events are nice and centrally located, but parking is costly and sometimes difficult to find. Validated parking for downtown events is even better. Remember, this is unpaid work for me. I’m not making ANY money by attending your event; don’t assume I’ll want to pay $10 in parking just to sample your latest releases. If I have to pay for anything, I should get something in return, even if it’s just a meal. Consider it the cost of marketing.
- Use name tags – Don’t assume I know people. I know quite a few people in the industry and see lots of familiar faces at these events, but you may have the upper hand on us bloggers since you’ve probably seen photos of us on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere on the web. Just because you recognize me doesn’t mean I know you or anybody else in the room. Unless I’ve met you before, I won’t always be able to put a name to a face and I don’t want to offend you if I guess wrong. Help me save face by giving people name tags or at least wear one yourself.
- Introduce yourself to me – you’ve gone to the trouble of inviting me to your event. At least make the effort to introduce yourself to me if you see me wandering aimlessly around the room. Don’t forget the “social” part of social media. Wouldn’t you feel a little put out if you were invited to a party and the host never spoke with you the whole night? Not only is it rude, but it will almost guarantee I won’t write or tweet about your event.
- Help me with my story – tell me something I can’t simply read from your web site or a glossy brochure. Better yet, let me interview you or the winemaker on video. Regardless of the medium, I want to present my readers with interesting content to read or view. It makes my job that much easier and the writing that much better if I have something to start with.
- Use proper stemware – I shouldn’t even have to mention this: invest in some good stemware with ample-sized bowls to swirl and get my nose into. I’m not bringing my good Riedels with me, so you better have something comparable. This isn’t some wine snob thing either. Stemware does affect the perception of the wine. I’ve been to too many wineries, restaurants and events that use tiny little glasses that are barely even adequate for their white wines, much less their red wines. If you want to show off your wine, using the proper stemware will help.
- Don’t be stingy with the wine – I don’t care if you pour a half-ounce for the general public. If you want me to evaluate your wine, I’m going to need a minimum of a couple of ounces to make a fair assessment of it, even if I do dump most of it. I’m always amazed at how little some wineries pour and expect you to write about their wines.
- Let me form my own opinion – please, please please, don’t tell me what aromas or flavors I’m supposed to smell or taste. Let me come to my own conclusions first before you offer your opinion and influence my own perceptions. Teach your staff in your tasting rooms not to share their opinion unless asked for.
- Provide us with paper cups to dump wine – it’s not a statement about your wine if I decide to spit. I may have other events to attend later or a long drive home, so I can’t always drink the wine. Give me an easier and less conspicuous way to spit than hovering over the dump bucket right next to where you’re pouring wine for other people. Yuck.
I think that’s enough for now. I have some other suggestions but if I go on, it starts to sound rather trite. Wineries and PR firms: don’t disrespect us and make the mistake of thinking that bloggers are there just to get free wine and swag. We may not have the audience that eBob has, but some of us are dedicated to our readers and are serious about our blogs. If you’re a blogger and you have other suggestions, feel free to leave a comment.