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Successful Public Relations for Wineries: Part 1

Ah, the wine sounds so romantic. Beautiful, intelligent, highly-evolved men and women, living in paradise, sipping Albari?o and noshing on amuse bouche eagerly prepared by three-star chefs. Truth is, the wine business is tougher than road kill and more confusing than the third Matrix movie.

Gone are the days when Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine and Dr. Howard could plant 10 acres of whatever-the-nursery-gave-them on the family spread, make a few hundred cases of "winemakers reserve" and have restaurants, retailers and rabid collectors lining up for allocations. Nowadays, the competition for the consumer's short attention span is as intense as an over-extracted, old vine, Petite Sirah from a low yielding, mountain vineyard. Wineries are screaming "Look at me! Look at me!" Customers are rolling their eyes and stifling yawns. They're also patting their heads and rubbing their stomachs, but that's another story.

So how's a winery supposed to succeed in today's globally warmed business climate. Making great wines is a good start. A fistful of 94's from the top wine publications puts a little giddy up in everybody's hitch. But even high scores are no guarantee for success if a winery doesn't have a solid public relations strategy to spread the word among gatekeepers and consumers.

What are the keys to a successful public relations strategy you ask? Good messaging and good communications. To thrive nowadays wineries must develop persuasive messaging that rings true with gatekeepers and consumers and effective communications programs to deliver that messaging to the various target audiences. One false step and you're back in Michigan picking up balls at the driving range.

So how does a winery go about developing their messaging and communications? Here are my Top 11 Requisites for a Successful PR Campaign:

1. Set Clear Goals

2. Identify Key Messaging Points

3. Create Support Materials that reflect Key Messaging Points

4. Write Storylines and Pitch Letter

5. Develop Media Database

6. Establish Samples Program

7. Monitor Editorial Calendars

8. Schedule Media Presentations & Tours

9. Disseminate Articles and Mentions to Trade and Consumers

10. Continually Develop New Hooks and Storylines

11. Be Different

Over the next few months we will explore each of these bullet points in a way that they have never been explored before. When finished you will know everything there is to know about designing and implementing a successful PR campaign for your winery.

About the Author

Mike Lynch is a founding partner of Big Bang Communications, a PR/marketing company devoted to the wine industry. His articles and short stories have appeared in Wine & Spirits, Wine Enthusiast, and Wine Spectator. Mike also co-authored the LynchBob cartoons with famed illustrator/designer Bob Johnson. He can be reached at

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