I was recently hired to handle marketing and communications at Seven of Hearts / Luminous Hills, but I don’t have a mentor at the moment, so I have decided to conduct a series of informational interviews with various people involved with Oregon wine and the media. I’d like some perspectives and tips before I plunge into the world of marketing and the Oregon wine industry.
Here is a brief summary of what I learned from the first person who was kind enough to speak with me, Nadene LeCheminant. She is Director of Media Relations for Linfield College, is quite “plugged in” with the community, has done various collaborations with the wine industry and research on wine.
What do you see as the most compelling thing about the Oregon wine industry in particular?
- Oregon is unique. California has wines that are seen as mass-produced, lower-end wines. They have become “average.” Oregon wine is hand-crafted made in small batches, and consumers believe they get more value for their money when buying Oregon wine.
- Oregon is on the cusp of being discovered.
- All around the world, wineries guard their secrets jealously. However, in Oregon, the entire industry is a collaboration of efforts. We can market the “friendly wine country” feeling, not snooty
- Oregon is the first nation to pioneer sustainability standards in winemaking. Salmon-free, plus a couple other distinctions.
- Wineries can sell a picturesque, local, family owned feeling, or an experience
How can we distinguish our winery in particular from the numerous other wineries in the area?
- Wine contests
- Be active in the community in other ways
- Have other interests. Write a book
- Make more connections, meet as many people in the industry, community, etc. that you can. You will gain more understanding of the whole culture, and be more efficient in marketing as a result
- Be quirky and sophisticated, but not snobby.
- Ex. “Wine thief relay” in Carlton Crush, no one in France is doing that. IPNC does a good job of sophistication, high-class, but not snooty.
- Pictures! Pictures are half the sell
- We are in the heart of where IPNC is held. Connect ourselves to the place. Carlton also has the most wineries per block in Oregon/Carlton Crush/IPNC. Tie ourselves to the big boys and advertise accordingly
- Market our wine as an experience. Ex. B&B nearby, places to eat. Partner with other associations, not necessarily other wineries, but give customers an experience.
Do you have any additional tips?
- Press releases should be composed of simple sentences designed for readability. Short, concise sentences with an informal tone will reach more demographics.
- Always include a boiler plate at the end of a story, giving the reader a general overview of the company, without giving any qualitative promises.
- Embed links instead of pictures in press releases, and never attach a press release, always send it as text within an email.
- NO ATTACHMENTS. Most journalists send emails with attachments straight to spam or junk. If you want pictures, say “photo link below” and include a link to a webpage (preferably on the website) to stock photos of the company that can go with the story.
- You need to contact travel magazines a year in advance, or at least six months. Google Oregon Travel magazines.
- Papers won’t cover one winery’s story. They would cover numerous wineries, however, if you can write a story including all of Carlton, or the Carlton Crush. Put a link to our website and a quote from Byron to get our name in there.
- Promote ourselves as part of the big picture. Be present at Carlton Crush, IPNC, etc.
- It’s tough to gain traction with the name “Seven of Hearts / Luminous Hills.” Eight syllables, confuses many people.
- Read everything!
- Study the websites, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts of other wineries and imitate them. Search the common tags, such as #ORwine, #Oregonwine, #OregonPinot, #Carlton, etc. See what others are doing. Post pictures! Pictures increase the open rate on Twitter.