There has been some conversation lately on twitter between some of my friends and I about wine blogging, wine pr, and where it is going. Michael and Lisa both posted two interesting blogs about some of the topics that came up during this ongoing discussion.
Personally for me watching the wine niche evolve is extremely interesting. It isn’t an established niche as much as tech, entertainment, politics, and other topics are. Sure there are a few established and respected blogs but everything still seems really fractured and disorganized. Frankly the niche is really behind in a lot of facets but that isn’t a bad thing. Watching this topic develop is fascinating. Here are some of the observations I have made while doing some work for a client.
Wineries are adapting to social media- This has been going on for awhile, it isn’t a new development. But wineries are blogging more, getting on twitter, participating in podcasts and even producing videos. It is great to see that they understand the potential in social media and are trying to establish a foothold there. The problem is a lot are creating but not engaging or creating with no strategy behind it.
Bloggers are starting to understand the power of their voice- There has some backlash by bloggers/writers in this niche about how they are being pitched by PR companies (sound familiar?). Along with that though there is a call for a lot of bloggers to actually get some attention and get samples, press passes, and be invited to events. While tech and other industries have embraced the blogger wine hasn’t necessarily. Or I should say a lot who have haven’t done it well.
The community is friendly- While other industries fight for scoops and have a lot of underlying competition the wine bloggers don’t have that tension from my perspective. The community on twitter is pretty strong with a lot of great conversations occurring and a lot of innovative use of the medium. There also seems to be an increased interaction between the bloggers compared to other niches, which is great.
What wine bloggers can do to improve?
During the discussion on twitter I got the feeling that a lot of bloggers weren’t being respected or included by wineries or PR people. They felt slighted, a little angry. The thing is after looking at some of their blogs I can see why they are being passed over. Here are a few tips on how they can improve:
-Spend a few dollars and get a domain- It is much more professional and people will take you a little more seriously. You can still be hosted on blogger or wordpress.
-Pay attention to your design- In reviewing blogs for a client I saw way too many blogs with a black background and white writing in this niche. So many sites were just horrible to read because of the color choices and just looked awful. (Remember some sort of presentation matters in people’s opinion of a site.) Spend some time reading about design or have a friend help you out. Heck drop me an e-mail and I will even give you a few tips.
-Make your contact information available- If you want samples or want to be invited to events, wineries or PR firms need to be able to contact you. I have a list of 300 wine bloggers for a client and there are 50 that don’t have ANY contact information. Create a contact page with a contact form or your e-mail address as well as the city or area you live, list what you are interested in or how you want to be pitched.
I am going to keep watching and participating in this niche as it grows and shapes. It is exciting to see where this is all going but there are going to be a lot of growing pains and discussions along the way.