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Happier Times = Less Wine? (Will A Better Economy Mean Fewer Wine Blogs?) | 1 Wine Dude

Happier Times = Less Wine? (Will A Better Economy Mean Fewer Wine Blogs?)

Vinted on March 16, 2010 under commentary, wine blogging
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I have a theory.

And it’s one that I hope will be proven totally false.

My theory is that the economy will get better, and it will rebound to more solid ground relatively soon-ish (within two years).

That’s not the part that I hope is proven false, by the way.  I’m getting to that.  So let me finish, okay?  Geez!  You always do that!

Anyway, the part that I hope is proven false is that the economic turnaround will result in fewer people blogging about wine.

Why?

Because I think that the steady stream of wine samples being sent to many bloggers will, once the economic picture gains a decidedly more rosy tint, dry up.

Not all bloggers will see the sample pool evaporate, but many of them will.

Like I said – I hope I’m wrong.  But I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… an elusive, vague and chilling notion… the Spider-Sense is definitely tingling over this possibility

The fact of the matter is that the wine blog-o-sphere has two things going against it when it comes to receiving samples:

  1. Not enough winery personnel, marketing folks, or PR agencies have figured out how to deal with wine blogging as a publication platform, and are expecting instant ROI on blog coverage for their wines (even though measuring ROI on print, radio, and TV media is just as complex); in other words, they are using the wrong ROI measures and will make poor decisions based on them.
  2. The down economy has meant an upswing in the number of wine samples being sent to bloggers and other non-traditional media publishers, and in many cases it’s a matter of desperately throwing shit against the wall in the hopes that something, anything, will stick during these unsteady financial times.

The result is that too many bloggers are getting samples that aren’t based on any real relationship between PR-folk and writer-folk, little analysis is getting done by PR folks on the bloggers to whom they are sending product samples, and often when the results are measured they’re being measured incorrectly.

This is a recipe for some serious disillusionment, followed by backlash.  A dissillusilash.  New term, coined here for the first time – you’re witnessing history here, people!!!

I can hear the marketers now:

I thought wine blog so-and-so.com was popular, so why aren’t these wines flying off the shelves?

or

The wine is selling now, f-ck the bloggers, we don’t need to send them samples now and we can’t prove they helped sell any wine anyways…

I’m not terribly worried about 1WineDude.com, I’m swimming in too many samples as it is and I’m probably gonna write about wine no matter the frequency of UPS or FedEx trips to my doorstep (though I fear for my dog, who might miss those frequent opportunities to scare the bejeezus out of the delivery people, if they visit less often).  But I do fear that wine blogger numbers might decline as a result of a dissillusilash.  Mainly because many wine blogs would cease to exist without samples, because those bloggers cannot afford to review wines and publish with any frequency without having samples.

That scenario really worries me, because it erodes the collective influence of wine blogs.  It also perpetuates the misunderstanding of how social media influence should be measured.

At this point, you might be thinking “So what, I hope some of those wine blogs go away, they shouldn’t be getting samples anyway, only the best wine blogs should be getting samples.”

To which I would respond: it’s not that most of those blogs shouldn’t get any samples, it’s that they should be getting the right samples that will most appeal to their individual audiences, based on real discussion happening between those bloggers and PR people about potential media samples.  In other words, it’s about the right samples getting to the right bloggers at the right time so that the blog readers and the wine brands get the largest mutual benefit out of the relationship that they can.  Maximize the quality, and not the quantity, of the collective experience.

Hopefully I am way wrong about all of this.  But I don’t think it would hurt for PR folks to do a little (and in some cases, a lot) more digging into blog readership before packing those samples into shipping boxes, and for wine bloggers to think long and hard about the samples that they should accept and how covering those wines will most benefit the readers who are giving them a precious commodity – their time, passion, trust and energy.

Cheers!

(images: uni.edu, s9y.org)

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