Event,PR 101,PR Advice,Wine

PR 101 – The Art and Costs of Being on “The List”

Who’s on “The List” at any wine event?

First, it’s the primary influencers. They’re invited and the hosts are happy to have them. They’ll attend, and today’s social media responses don’t even have to wait for a paper to be printed (dinosaur), or a blog story to be written (so yesterday). Today, it’s Instagram and the onus is on you, the observing world, to write the dialogue. And so, the following evolved among people related to wine.

The Art of Being on “The List”

Gwendolyn Lawrence Alley (winepredator.com): I live 60 or so miles (1-3 hour drive) from downtown LA. I am on a number of lists and get invited to events, trade and consumer alike. Tomorrow I was invited to one, a really cool Rhone wine event with seminars and more, and then I learned about another. I figured it was worth trying to do both: one trade and one consumer. A friend in the trade who helps me with food and notes for my blog is going with me to the Rhone event, and they are excited to have us. At the other event, they will admit me 90 minutes into the consumer tasting and my colleague would pay full price or I could leave her on the street while I go to the event. Am I out of line with my response? (Yes I sent it already…)

Sarah May Grunwald (Taste Georgia) I don’t know the nature of the invite, but honestly don’t know why you would think your friend is entitled to something she is not invited to. As a business owner in wine/food travel, I get media requests all the time from people who want to come to Georgia. It is expensive to organise events, let alone travel. When I did some wine tastings in the states last year, I invited a few people (some from this group) to the tastings, and then the requests came in to allow partners, friends, etc. I am just mentioning it because it is not just one person who is asking for some sort of favor, it is usually many. If they organized the event to be a consumer event and organized it in a specific way I don’t really understand why you would think that you’d get special treatment just because you traveled. See clarification from Sarah at the end of this stream, for her thinking. It’s worth it.

Gwendolyn Lawrence Alley: I think you make a good point Sarah, and I don’t usually ask for a plus one because usually no one can go. And when I have asked for a plus one, it’s never been a big deal. But in this case, the two of us were already going to be in LA a few miles away. I wasn’t going to ditch her –leave her on the street or in a bar somewhere — to go their event.

Sarah May Grunwald: It is totally understandable, I just wanted to give you my perspective from the other side.

Jo Diaz: When I put on events, I always allow a partner to attend. It’s good PR… But then, that’s my first job, and holding events is my second. Bringing someone with me to someone else’s event also allows for a designated driver. Can you afford to have a DUI professionally? I can’t. Steve Heimoff taught me that a long time ago, and I’m glad he did. I’ve always loved having you at events. I will even arrange for childcare, or send a car for someone special.

The Cost of Being on “The List”

Here’s the one thing missing from most organizers’ understanding, if they aren’t a writer:

  • Journalists
    • Paid to travel
    • Paid to write.
    • They have benefits: health care, food costs, mileage, etc.
  • Bloggers (As a publicist, I’m paid over $100/hour, so when I go to an event that’s in San Francisco, for instance, here’s what I begin to lose, with none of the journalist benefits
    • 3 hours of travel time = $450
    • Gas and mileage on my car = $30
    • Bridge toll = $7
    • Dinner = $40 (very modest, right, in SF?)
      • This is $527, so far.
    • 3 hours of the event = $450. So, before I even begin to write my blog story, it’s rounded to $1,000.
    • Then I spend 5 hours writing the story… Yes, I takes me that long to write over 1,000 words that have been researched, photos processed, story developed, links provided.
      • That’s $750.
      • Total, rounded = $1,750.

The organizers get a value of $1,750 from me. If they can’t give me a second ticket, I can’t afford to take a day off.

Clarification from Sarah May Grunwald

Sarah May Grunwald: There is also the other side. When people are posting blogs like “How to travel and eat for free” etc.

It is one thing to invite, and keep those things in mind. But I literally get at least 5 emails a day from “bloggers” asking for free trips. These aren’t people who I have heard of half the time, and they just happen to want to come to Georgia (the country). So they think their 1200 followers on Instagram merits me spending $3000 on them.

And, this one is yet another story on “Who has the nerve to asks for trips?”


13 Responses to “PR 101 – The Art and Costs of Being on “The List””

  1. You have learned well, young Jedi warrior-princess!

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Ha! You’re always going to be the “best,” Sir Steve!

  3. Thanks Jo for spelling out what it “costs” in time and travel etc and for taking the time to try to help people understand what goes into it. (And what did we do? On a blogger’s recommendation, we ended up having dinner at the hotel restaurant, then my friend hung out in the lobby while I ran in for an hour or so. She got pretty bored, and I felt bad and distracted. I posted a number of images about the event on twitter that evening during the event and also the next day, particularly engaging a few key winemakers I met.)

  4. Thank you, Jo, this is so apropos right now!
    We’ve had a number of PR guests (most with prior notice) in recent months and though we are rarely asked what, exactly, we can offer in addition to wine and food (obvious), we are fully aware of their efforts on our behalf to blog and post about us. It is a partnership and all need to recognize it as such. Both sides can win as long as there is respect, n’est pas?

  5. I can fully appreciate the DD reasoning, but from an event planner’s perspective… many times event sites have firm numbers on the number of people who can be in a building for an event. This is especially true for events held in wineries, which not only have occupancy limits for their spaces but also have county permit restrictions on the # of people that can attend various types of events. In cases like this if spouses/significant others/DDs are allowed it can seriously restrict the number of actual media or trade that can be allowed to attend. In order to make each event cost- and time-effective for the wineries the +1 can’t always be allowed. There are also food costs if the event is serving food with the wine (which they should be unless it’s a really short event, to ensure that attendees aren’t tasting on empty stomachs)and every +1 can really add to the event costs.

  6. Jo Diaz says:

    Good points, Valerie.

  7. Jo Diaz says:

    Right, Susanne… That’s why I listed what it costs me to attend an event.

  8. Jo Diaz says:

    Good follow-up, Gwendolyn. By being so distracted, it’s impossible to give it your best. It sounds like you found a way, but not the best circumstances for joie de vivre…

  9. Thanks, as usual/yet again, for an excellent post.

  10. Thank you for posting both sides of the equation. What I have learned is that you get what you pay for in pretty much everything. As a business owner, I obviously want publicity, but since we are a small business with three employees, it has to be worth my while. I want to make sure my investment is far reaching, and I am willing to spend the money on good content. As a wine writer, I can attest to the amount of time it takes to write a decent article, and so I now only accept invites from sponsors that are well organized.

  11. PS. I wish we could hire you for PR!!

  12. Jo Diaz says:

    LOL, Sarah May.

  13. Jo Diaz says:

    I agree with what is worth accepting, Sarah May.

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