This is not something I ever thought I would cover in my weekly column but I felt compelled to when I read a winemaker lament about wine lovers posing as bloggers to get free tickets to events.
Apparently this winemaker was also tasked with the job of helping a non-profit wine event sort through the applications for press passes. When he asked writers to produce something as simple as a link to their website, or the news source they were on assignment from, some writers, albeit they may have indeed been ones without credentials, scoffed at his request.
This winemaker went on to talk about pseudo writers at events that made telltale faux pas such as failing to pronounce the names of wine varietals correctly or wore a wine yoke to hold their wine glass for them around their neck.
That last comment about the yoke, well, that finally ruffled my feathers a bit. He had me up until that point. Now, let me explain a couple of things about wine writer etiquette, how your own SCV Wine Conduit has grown along with the growth of Eve’s Wine 101.
When I first began writing about wine for the local newspaper I was also doing book reviews. No one ever sent me a book to review but wine dinners, winemaker interviews and wines were extended to me for gratis.
The problem as I see it are the rules governing “for gratis.” Again, when I got started there was no one telling me anything. My gut told me heck, if I’m invited as press I need to produce an article. If I receive a bottle of wine to review, I should review it. No brainer. I’d write up my copy, send it in to my editor and then follow up with the person that extended the invite or wine by sending them a link or clipping.
This has morphed a great deal over the last 7 years. I now run press releases for the events one of us at Eve’s Wine 101 is attending, and I run press releases for events we’re not attending that we think our readers might be interested in. So our source is getting coverage even before the event. Every writer at Eve’s Wine 101 knows, in advance, that if they are to use our name/brand to gain access to an event as press that they must produce a article.
From there, every article that is run on our own site, the Beacon, Elite magazine, or others are all social networked via Facebook (in three places) Twitter and Tumblr. And we’re not done there, each is included with a link in our weekly Dear Wine Friend e-newsletter.
We now receive more invitations than ever and believe, wholeheartedly, that we have built the Eve’s Wine 101 brand from being the SCV Wine Conduit to a much broader audience. And no one told us how to do it!
So not only are we really doing our jobs (and I believe we are doing them well), but I’m pretty confident that the time and effort we put into our work far exceeds what it would cost if we just bought a ticket!
At times I might bring a guest to an event if I’m attending as what’s referred to as “press plus one.” And my “wingman” is usually my husband acting as my photographer or another writer. Such was the case not too long ago when my wingman and I attended an exclusive wine pairing dinner. During the Champagne toast and appetizers, and when our guest speaker gave us a brief lesson, my wingman and I both took notes on our phones, and continued all through the meal. When we had an opportunity to meet other press in attendance I boldly asked, “How is it no one is taking any notes? There is so much information,” and one person answered that it was impossible.
So, bold as I am, I held up my phone towards the group and scrolled down for them to see my notes. It was a lot of scrolling and no one said a thing.
And, dear winemaker, about my yoke: I am juggling a pen, pad and cell phone so that I can make sure I get your name, your winery and maybe a photo, if I chose to wear a yoke, trust me, it’s necessary.
And, I don’t mind giving you my press affiliations. If I am truly offended I either fail to attend your event (while still running your press release) or ask that you Google me to learn more about what we have done.
Branding Causes Growth
After some time establishing our credibility wine, and some non-wine based businesses, began asking us for marketing assistance. Working along with my Contributing Editor and now Vice President Michael Perlis, we began lending our advice and our marketing to several local businesses. Over the years we have co-hosted and/or marketed the WiSH Education Foundation library event 2013, College of the Canyons Foundation – Institute for Culinary Education campaign 2013, and the Circle of Hope Vine 2 Wine Classic 2011-2013. We also marketed our own events including Pour Into Haiti, 2010, benefit to support Three Angels Children’s Relief Fund; Relief for Japan 2011, benefit for tsunami relief; Pour Into Sandy 2012, benefit for hurricane survivors.
Lastly, when for-profit businesses began seeking our advice Perlis and I formed Eve’s Wine 101 Consulting. We strongly feel that our work over the years has spoken for itself when we were hired to consult for Joel Fisher, SCV Wine Fest; Reyes Winery; Sierra Pelona Vintners Association, Agua Dulce Winery; Judy Cox, Mystic Hills Vineyard; Steve Lemley, Pulchella Winery; and DiMaggio Washington, Wine Educator. Other client also include these non-wine-based businesses: Heidi Anderson, CareCredit; Kim Rosen, DDS; Steven Gilbertson, DDS; and David Tanner, DDS.
We continue to write about wine and events, with special care to non-profits. We can usually help market several non-profit wine events a year for gratis, and once or twice a year we lend our name to one event and take more of an active role. If you have attended an Eve’s Wine 101 event, such as Pour into Haiti, Pour into Sandy or the WiSH event you know that we like to do things a little different. We strongly feel that if we plan think-out-of-the-box events, we gain your support and interest. And we, in turn, thank the residents of the Santa Clarita Valley and beyond for their support.
This year we plan to help a new non-profit with their first local event. Stay tuned for news on that, which should be easy as you will see it on Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler and our weekly newsletter! And if you see me wearing a wine yoke, say hello!