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Food & Wine,PR Advice,Wine,Winery

From the “Get a Clue” department on Bad PR form

Get a clue, PR people…You’re giving all of us a really bad name, when you do something like the following story, but before I go there…

I once read how this one writer hates PR reps. I didn’t get “why,” because PR people try to bring joy to writers, so they have a good story. We wouldn’t work for someone who’s not worthy, right? When I just read the following on Facebook, I was horrified.

From one of my wine writing friends…

SO ladies what do you do if: A PR rep invites you to a wine dinner, which you assume is a media dinner. Upon arrival and introductions it seems to be a public dinner. The restaurant asks if you want to “revisit” any of the wines (he sees you taking notes and pictures of bottles). At the end of the meal you’re presented with a bill the size of a week’s groceries, and the local sales rep insists you need to get HIS PR rep to call him to prove you shouldn’t pick up the check. Thoughts?

I’m going to withhold the name of the winery and agency pending resolution. I did email the agency and got an OMG response (yes, I was supposed to be comped) and they are checking out what went wrong on their end. But this is why I rarely attend open to the public events upon invitation by a PR rep. If I pay to attend then I rarely write about it unless it’s Fabulous or Horrendous.

I wrote to her:

This PR person isn’t worth his/her salt. NEVER, in my 32 years of practicing PR have I ever done such a thing. N-E-V-E-R This person isn’t going to last long. The agency is going DOWN.

I think the PR folks just assume the sales folks ‘get it.’ And the winery should have moved past OMG into “what was your bill?” Jeeze… Ruining the profession.

She wrote:

I think it’s more the sales guy is new and doesn’t understand /appreciate social media. Figured I was “just some blogger trying to get a free meal.” And I had cc’d the agency reps boss who apologized profusely. The sales guy did end up paying… But I had to argue with him. It seems to be always a local issue. The local reps just don’t seem to appreciate the local bloggers. Anyone else find that?

The thread went on and on, justifiably so.

How easily this gives PR people a bad name. What is wrong with these neophytes, besides having missed PR 101?

I, too, get invitations to wineries events… as an “invite.” “You’re cordially invited…” I’ve never taken anyone up on the offer, because there’s a “register here” aspect, which involves a credit card, most of the time. That’s a dead giveaway that you’ve been blended into the consumer database and maybe you’ll write about this event pre-the-event to help them sell tickets?

Get your databases in order, if this is the case. As in sales, “Know your audience.”

I have no reason to go to someone’s event, so I can pay for it and then be expected to write about it. But, the entire new breed of wine bloggers, who are writing about wine, are unfamiliar with established protocol. They then experience the shock of being “presented a bill the size of a week’s groceries.”

Do these wine reps even get that writers don’t make a bundle of money? Yeah, that’s right/write.

Secondly, if you invite a writer and there’s food involved, do you honestly think that that writer then owes you anything, if you’ve made him or her pay for the meal, after an INVITE?

No one is paying a blogger to write anything; so if you engage a writer, think of it like an engagement ring… When you give an engagement ring to someone, would you even consider presenting that person with a bill?

That’s the clue!

2 Responses to “From the “Get a Clue” department on Bad PR form”

  1. Maybe I’m just too old to understand new ways of handling business relationships, but I find this inconceivable. If a rep invites you to a dinner, of course they should pay for it. It has never occurred to me (until I read this article) that not everyone thinks that way. I don’t write a lot about wine, but importers, distributors, and wineries have sent me wine especially for my wine club. I have never been asked to pay for it, or even pay for myself to attend a wine dinner that I promote with my club. Oh, well, I best be on guard now.

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Larry, it seems, the times they area a changin’ … I just don’t take invitations, unless it’s very clear what is expected. A whole new group of wine writers (bloggers) aren’t as familiar with the rules as we are. Hard lessons are being learned.

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