Some wineries with internal marketing departments say bringing in outside marketing and public relations firms to help promote their brands can be valuable in the right situation.
“There are occasions when an outsider’s perspective is incredibly beneficial. Like all industries, those of us in wine can get tunnel vision or fall into the trap of ‘that’s how it’s always been done,’” said Lindsey Morse, vice president of marketing for Stoller Wine Group in Dayton, Oregon. “I like to bring in agency support when I know we need to think outside the box and be challenged to find solutions in a new way.”
Morse said there were times that using an outside firm simply made sense.
“I look for partners who understand wine and beverage but have significant experience outside wine in areas like outdoors and fashion. I think it’s important to learn best practices from other industries. That’s how you keep things fresh.”
At William Chris Wine Company, Chief Marketing Officer Leah Derton said having a PR company that understands the wine industry had given them a boost with media coverage.
“Giant Noise has been a huge advocate for not only our company but also for the Texas wine industry,” Derton said. “We’re thankful to have had them in our corner for years now.
“From a more practical standpoint, obviously they’ve got an incredible network of both media and industry contacts, which helps us create PR momentum much more quickly than we could on our own.”
Willamette Valley Vineyards founder and CEO Jim Bernau said a combination of internal and contracted external expertise had worked best for them because the PR professionals often have close ties with news outlets where earned media can be generated.
He also cautioned against jettisoning your PR firm too abruptly when shifting over to in-house operations
“A lesson we recently learned again is the value of outsourcing. It was a mistake for the company to assume our new marketing hire would be an adequate substitute for our long time contractor,” he said. “It wasn’t just the loss of the media relationships but also the knowledge of what worked as news hooks relevant to those contacts that could lead to earned media coverage.”
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