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Event,PR Advice,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Making,Wine Writer,Winemaker,Winery

PR is a gift, not a given ~ and I can’t say that enough

When you want publicity, put your best foot forward, do the best you can – always, and someone, somewhere will get it.

Don’t expect everyone to get it, though, and don’t take it personally when you can’t inspire a writer. It’s not about you; it’s about him or her. Some writers just “get it,” and become inspired enough to tell your story. It will just pour out of that person. On the other hand, another writer is just not inspired enough at the time to head to his or her computer and write something interesting.

I’m writing this in relation to a company sending out a press release for a client, and then thinking that that single act was going to instantly be drawing oodles of writers to his doorstep. This is not one of my clients, but I know of the story. And, as I heard it, I was once again reminded… PR is a gift, not a given.

A PR campaign needs to be ongoing and filled with interesting information about how the business is growing and in which ways. Perhaps at some point in that process of communicating with writers on a consistent basis, someone feels like retelling part of that story. With about 60,000 wine companies in the world, there’s more than enough stories to write; so, think about what makes your story so unique that someone’s going to instantly “get it,” because that’s what will make all the difference in the world.

“PR is a gift, not a given” is something that I wrote a long time ago, and put into my Email footer, because I feel it’s imperative for my clients to know this from the very beginning.

Never, under any circumstance does any writer ever, under any conditions, owe my clients anything. And, this is regardless of the efforts and finances that may have been given by my clients to anyone to enrich a writer’s  experience of their products.

There… It’s been said in long hand.

Short hand: PR is a gift, not a given.

Once upon a time

I hired a luxury train for two weeks. It cost $35,000 for each week. I managed to sell six berths on the sleeping cars at $6,000 per each to wine companies, and off we went across the wide and mighty plains of America. Concannon Vineyard underwrote this  Blue Tooth Tour for PS I Love You, so they took care of all other expenses, including Diaz Communications‘ time to set the trip up (my PR company). Concannon has always felt that they want to play a lead role in the advocacy of Petite Sirah, because Jim Concannon was the first to label Petite Sirah in 1964 with a 1961 vintage. I was working with Lynn Kirimli at the time, and she had a “no holds barred” way of thinking.

Tasting on a Luxury Train Trip #1, West Coast:

  • San Francisco for the “home” tasting.
  • Seattle – flew in to begin the journey, tasted at Union Station.
  • Portland – traveled down to Portland, tasted at Union Station, then traveled through the Sierras to…
  • Emeryville, CA, where we had to off load. There had been a mud slide on the tracks just outside of LA.
  • Pure Luxury Transportation was hired to get the vintners to LA event.
  • LA – We had a media reception and winemaker dinner on a train at Union Station. We flew in writers from the Bay Area on a private airplane, hooking up with other LA media.

Tasting on a Luxury Train Trip #2, Heartland:

  • Flew to Fort Worth, Texas, to enjoy our first tasting on the train.
  • From there, we headed north to St. Louis, Missouri. I couldn’t help but say, “Meet me in St. Louie, Louie,” to Lou Foppiano, with a wink.
  • After a fun tasting there, we continued north to Chicago, Illinois. Again, the tasting was held within the train at Union Station.

All of these Union Station locations are amazing, and the entire trip for all of us was the chance of a life time… save one person. We had a writer with us on the first trip from Seattle to Los Angeles. Unfortunately for him, we gave him nothing to write about… Not the scenery, not the camaraderie, not the wines, not the wining and dining in each city, and not the vintners. A train that cost $35,000 for a five day trip did absolutely nothing for him.

This link takes you to Patrick Henry’s luxury train Creative Charters Website, in case you, too, want to hire a sleeper and a dome/observation fine dining car. Yes, we had our own gourmet chef and two porters on board, attending to our every need.

When I asked the writer about two months later how the story from our adventure was going, he said, “Jo, I know you’re not going to like this, but I didn’t find anything to write about.” I was shocked, to say the least. We had paid him money for being on this trip with us as our embedded writer; and, he had a magazine that was holding a spot for his rendition. The magazine was also going to be paying him for that story. But… he found nothing to write about.

The image above of Dan Teldeschi (F. Teldeschi Winery) and Jim Concannon are enough to inspire me… New guard talking to old guard Petite Sirah, traveling the rail to talk about and pour their soul’s passion out for others who are similarly interested. I have trade and media people still talking to me about that great adventure, but not this one guy. He just didn’t get it.

Had I known this he was just not going to write this story, I would have written it myself in those two months of waiting. I’ve also written for this magazine, so I would have had a shot at filling those two waiting pages, but the story was given to him to write. Two months later was too late, as the story was now old news.

He got nothing from it, and we all had to just let it go. It was a sad day, considering the immense investment in time and energy, but it was all lost on this writer’s inability to put into words that week of his life.

Meanwhile, on our second leg of this journey, we had Richard Paul Hinkle on board as a writer. [I’ve borrowed this picture of him from his Website.] To this day, Rich continues to write about and reflect on what he saw as the chance of a life time. While in Saint Louis, he and Lou Foppiano headed off to a Cardinals game, because in real life, Rich not only loves baseball, but he also plays it in a  league of his own… on all levels. He loves life and seizes the moments in all things he does, and his stories reflect his passion and pizazz.

One of his stories, Of Blue Teeth and Texas, is five pages long, and was published in North Bay Biz Magazine in August 2005. In 2007, Rich wrote, The Blue Tooth Tour: A Case Study in PR, in Wines & Vines magazine. This was two years later, and he was still “getting it.”

How can one writer simply dismiss this kind of trip, and another see it as one of life’s little bonuses?

Simple… PR is a gift, not a given.

You can’t buy interest, you can’t buy enthusiasm, and you can’t buy inspiration… But you must keep trying, because those occasional PR gifts do come along.

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4 Responses to “PR is a gift, not a given ~ and I can’t say that enough”

  1. Lorrie S. LeBeaux says:

    PR is a tricky thing; you don’t know what a writers response will be. I’ve been pretty lucky that wines and products that I’ve agreed to review have been worth reviewing. When given wine or products to review, and they are not up to par, I just don’t write about them! The honesty of a writer should not be compromised because of a sample!

    Lorrie S. LeBeaux

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Lorrie has given her comment to me to post, because she’s having commenting issues. My Jose/webmaster should solve for her shortly.

  3. I remember you telling me this story before; I find it so hard to believe that a writer didn’t/couldn’t find plenty to write about during and after a trip like that!

    I just wish that I could have had 2-3 days while in Portugal to whole up and write while the wine, food, air was still coursing through my blood and before all the pulls of home invaded my time!

  4. Jo Diaz says:

    He obviously didn’t really want to do the job, but just didn’t know how to say “no” going into it… It was just sad for all of us, in the end, as regards all of our hopes and dreams.

    Not all stories have a happy ending.

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