The images in this blog post are from yesterday’s walk in my yard, as I took a few moments to realign our current reality. They’ll ultimately make sense, once you’ve read through this public service message.

These times aren’t just trying, they’re perilous. For the last three years, I’ve been counting the experiences of crisis going on just in my neighborhood. You know the saying “everything happens in threes?”

In the past three years, I’ve been through Sonoma County Fires within a few miles of home. And, through the Russian River eating way at our one-way-in/one-way-out road, to our home within just a few feet of the river bank. Dry grass brings angst (fires), the Russian River brings angst (flooding). And the third thing has been eluding me… until now; add a pandemic to it. My life – like yours – has been more-than-a-bit upended.

So, when I get this message, as a consumer, I’m immediately turned off.

As a PR pro, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. Right now, if you’re selling anything, you’ll win if you use empathy.  This was today’s email to me… the consumer: The Road to A Successful Staycation Is Paved with Great Wine.

What’s right with it: this winery is attempting to the adjustment of conversion for wine sales to staying alive. What rubbed me the wrong way is the use of the word “staycation.” While having a “staycation” assumes you can get a room at the Ritz. Most of us can’t.

Do you know anyone who’s reveling in this down time? The out-of-control kids in Florida just got their reality check. We’re seriously all on lock down. I had to get something into the mail yesterday; if my postal worker had had permission to kill me on the spot, she would have.

Here’s what I wanted to send to this winery, but decided to use it as a teachable moment here, instead, for all of us to consider.

Sharpening Our Empathy Skills

Dear (Winery Owner),

This isn’t easy to tell you folks, but I feel the need, because I like you guys and am willing to help you put your best foot forward, during these extremely treacherous times. (We’re all a bit oversensitive, given the pandemic.)

Advertising is a necessity, I know. We help our clients who are also trying so hard to figure out “what needs to appear normal,” in anything-but-normal times. We have to strike that balance.

Also, trying to have a positive message is difficult to craft, I understand. It’s not easy.

As a consumer, not a PR pro, the word “staycation” – Trying to be delicate, but I don’t know how. Let’s see… Right now for many of us it’s anything but. Imagine if you have customers with cancer, pneumonia, etc., and they get your message. That’s what you have to think about, before it even leaves your winery.

What if you’d use the word “uncertain times?” Because they really are. Use a word with empathy and understanding. Ask yourself, “what are our customers feeling today?” It’s really hard to loaf around, when a plague is at your door step. We’re all really troubled; and, sometimes levity can be added, but it has to be the absolute best and most delicate.”

What’s easy and non-offensive is to offer hope. Had I received the following, I would have been pretty appreciative, and considered the offer. Here’s how I would have crafted this message for a client:

As you meander through your yard, while engaged in distancing, imagine listening to the birds and watching the bees, with a glass of our (name the wine and one of your varieties), in your hand. We’re here to help make that special moment a reality. We’re at your service to ship and help lighten your day.”

Corny? Maybe. Offensive? To whom? I just spent yesterday with a sample of wine in my hand, walking in my garden, doing just this. I came in so refreshed, and now I’ll never forget the walk, nor the Chilean La Pincoya Red Blend, quite honestly. This is how memories are made and healing takes shape. It wasn’t a joyous staycation; it was a real life stress release. Something we all need right now, and that can ALSO be delivered with your case of wine.

Wine is part of it, and I’m hoping it’s your wine, dear winery owner, marketer, sales folks. This 2018 vintage became mine.

And, I should add, I just love the La Pincoya label (Mother earth), it just fits. What could have been better?

Thanks to Wine Industry Insight for publishing this article.

Thanks to Wine Business for publishing this article.