Building Long-term and Meaningful Media Relationships

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Leon Adams, author of the iconic tome, Wines of America passed many years ago, but as a new director of a fledgling organization, I had the great honor of having lunch with him one lovely afternoon in Cleveland.

Valuable and sage bits of advice he shared: Get to know and develop relationships with key media because without them, word of the greatest wines will not ever be known.

With the advent of self-directed media, perhaps some think that traditional media relations are not quite as critical, but third party validation by respected journalists MUST still a core component of any successful wine marketing program.

So a couple of suggestions from that amazing lunch:

Get to know the media/jounralists as a people. Be genuinely interested in the things for which they have a passion.

Become a reliable source for good information, even if it is beyond your typical area of expertise [I once had a food writer ask for a source for heritage tomatoes. I had no lead to share, but promised to do the research and get back to her. It worked and over the years, she often called for insights and sometimes even off-the record opinions.]

Be truthful and transparent. Nothing will kill your credibility than providing wrong or misleading information.

Unless you have a very personal, longstanding relationship, do NOT ask for information to be 'off the record.' It puts them in an untenable position.

If you promise a 'scoop' be sure to fulfill the expectation.

Know and respect their deadlines.

Don't ask for too many favors and both wear out your welcome and undermine the sincere relationships you are trying to build.

Spend money, when your budget allows, first with those publications which have been good to your business.

Be sure to say thanks when something appears. It amazes me when writers indicate they seldom hear from the folks' stories they told in print, on the air or via electronic sources.

Media, from print and electronic to influencers and what ever platform emerges in the coming years, will be critically important to your business' success. Respect them and they will respect you.

About the author:

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Donniella Winchell, Executive Director of the Ohio Wine Producers Association...

Donniella Winchell