Since causing a minor sh*t-storm on Facebook a week ago when I lamented publicly about bad wine PR folks wanting me to “guarantee” reviews of their clients’ wine samples (with responses ranging from “cut them some slack, they have a difficult job” to “screw ‘em, they’re all idiots), I’ve gotten to thinking about the whole delicate relationship balance between media and PR, and have come to the following conclusion.
I have two words for 90% of all the winery and wine-brand PR folks with whom I deal on a fairly regular basis: THANK YOU.
Seriously. Thank you. You deserve my thanks because most of you are totally awesome. You are totally awesome because you’ve actually read the long-policy that I have regarding samples, press trips, and the like, you are true professionals in the best senses of the word, and some of you I actually now count among my friends, as in people I’d have a glass of vino with even if you weren’t trying to sell me on your brands. You are awesome because you cultivate a real, honest-to-goodness relationship with me, trying to get me samples that fit what 1WD is really all about and respecting the fact that after the samples are sent there can be no promises of coverage or even of any follow-up on the wines if they’re not reviewed. I know that you’re looking to get your clients’ products in front of eyeballs, you know I am looking fro great content for these virtual pages, and we try to meet in the middle without overstepping each others’ professional boundaries. So… thank you for that!
For the other 10% of the wine PR folks out there – the ones who want me to promise coverage before they will deign to send me a samples (of wines that they’ve already deigned to SPAM me about in press release emails asking me if I want a sample in the first place) – well, I also have two words for you, only those two words rhyme with “Duck Poo” and I don’t want to print them here…
That may seem harsh to some of you reading it, but the latter 10% of that group are either unaware of the policies of the people to whom their pitching their clients’ products for review (in which case they’re under-prepared, or lazy – or both), or simply do not care about the policies of the people to whom their pitching their clients’ products for review (in which case they’re unprofessional, lacking in scruples, or lazy – or all three). Most people with any semblance of professionalism themselves do not want to deal with people similar to those described above in any setting, whether free stuff is involved or not. I’ve no doubt that there are many people in wine media who act like unprofessional douchebags and make unrealistic demands on PR folks – I wouldn’t want to spend much time with any of those folks, either.
Now, before you flame me for seemingly bitching about receiving free wine, hear me out a bit. We’re not talking about caseloads of great wine sent over so that I can throw the most bitching-est party ever conceived on the Eastern Seaboard (though I’ve been tempted, believe me); we are talking about product samples that I treat as other people’s property, examples of product that could, to some extent, help or hinder brand recognition and sales for the real, live people who help to make them. I might take myself fairly lightly, but don’t take any of the business end of it lightly (and the business end includes samples).
There’s a delicate balance-beam of trust that PR folks have to walk in this scenario, and many of them do it deftly and with a real sense of genuineness – consider this my love-letter to them (look, I know it’s not much, but trust me, from me this is a real tear-jerking gusher of a love-letter!). If you’re among that group, the 90%, I hope many years from now we are still walking that delicate balance-beam together.
As for the other 10% percent… don’t email me, I’ll email you, okay?