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Rule #1: Never, under any circumstance, do you – as a vintner – want to tell one writer what another writer has favorably said about your wine.
There are lots and lots of rules for PR, and I never get to this one in initial discussions with a client. The first order of business is to get a client’s wines reviewed. There’s a lot to discuss initially, here. Once the reviews come in, there’s a new layer of what to do… and nine times out of 10, people are so pleased that they want to shout it from the roof tops, but you need to know what to do with this info, and it’s NOT go tell it to other writers.
I don’t blame anyone for not knowing this rule. There was a time when I didn’t know about it, either. Once I learned it, though, it changed everything about how I message information to my wine writer colleagues.
I’ll never forget telling one vintner, who called me when he got a really great mention in Wine Enthusiast. He was insisting that I write a press release to Wine Spectator, and tell everyone at the magazine that he just got a great write up.
I said, “Sorry, but I don’t do that. It’s the kiss of death… not only for you, but also for me as a publicist. Every single writer has his or her own belief that what s/he’s said is done so with an authoritative voice. If I say someone else said this, then there’s no more reason for him/her to write about you, now is there? Writers want to discover you on their own, not follow the pack. I can’t do that for you.”
He told me he was ordering me to write it. I thought, “You may be doctor, but me not nurse.” From that point forward I decided to call him by his first name, because I was his equal in professionalism, and actually understood the wine business a bit better than he did. I’d never tell him how to do his job, and he wasn’t going to tell me how to do mine. I tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear, and it’s meant losing a client from time to time, but that’s better than losing my integrity.
I’m in a process right now of interviewing Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyards, for instance. I know he’s the bomb, but I haven’t read what others have copiously written about him. I’m just very familiar that he’s an amazing man, never mind a great vintner. To have read everyone else’s interviews with him would mean that my questions would just mirror everything else that’s already written. Nothing original would come from my interview… There’s good reason that Randall hasn’t directed me to anyone else, too. He’s been around long enough to know the unwritten rules.
There’s no discovery, People, when there’s already been full disclosure.
So, please, print this blog posting, and put it into your PR book of Dos and Don’ts. It’s a biggie for you.