“I haven’t been able to taste (Your Winery Client’s Names Here) but would be happy to if they are willing to send samples.”
So came those magic words from a prominent blogger who I had been cultivating for a couple of years; and he asked me “If they are willing to send samples.” (Underlining is me). However, using the verb “cultivating” is not the right word – it suggests disingenuousness, doesn’t it? Admittedly I was engaging in the watering, feeding, and stroking of a member of the wine media, who I was trying to get to write something about my clients.
But I’m aware that the preceding paragraph is fraught with opening the sausage factory door and allowing a peek inside baseball (excuse the mixed metaphor), but the care and engaging with the wine press is nothing more than relationship-building. It is no more than a tool which a PR flack has to have in their quiver if one is to even have a chance to get a client’s wines in front of the media. But there are ways to do put your name and face and those of your client’s in front of a writer.
The only strategy – and this is imperative – is to do it with genuine, real, and honest engagement. Otherwise, frivolous attempts to flatter will be regarded as just that, bullshit. Writers and journalists know when they’re being being hoodwinked; it’s what they’re trained to do. Their radar – among the better ones (and those are the ones who have any gravitas that will mean anything to your client’s brand) – is as keen as a NSA wonk’s.
Fortunately, I come to PR as a journalist and so I know what is a real story, and I know when I’m being massaged for a message. Thus, you’ve gotta have a real winery story, a genuinely different story, and the pudding has got to be in the bottle. Otherwise, don’t bother.
One way to forge a relationship with a media member is to comment on a piece they’ve just written or posted to their site. But you’ve got to do it with sincerity and with a substantive statement that moves the conversation forward.
Or send a personal email praising the article, perhaps even making suggestions regarding tangential information, or even telling the writer that you don’t agree with what she or he wrote. If done in a respectful, genuous manner, it’ll connect.
But remember, and this is key: Never, ever ask for anything in any of these missives. Writers are always – and I mean always – getting hit upon to write about this wine and that. It will almost never get you anywhere.
The request from above (no, not that above) to receive samples from my client came unexpectedly – or serendipitously, if you will. Of course, it was a wonderful “get” from out of the blue. It’s also no guarantee that said writer will like the wines and therefore, not write about them. That’s OK. At least the winery and you are on that blogger’s radar.