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10.10.2010

How to Send Wine Samples to a Blogger

OK, all you marketing and PR folks, listen up. This article is for you. Specifically for those of you that haven't quite figured out how to deal with us wine bloggers yet when it comes to wine samples. And there are clearly a lot of you.

I wouldn't ordinarily have thought to write such an article, but it appears that

a) a set of reasonable guidelines doesn't seem to be readily available out there

b) there is such incredible variability in my own experience working with you folks in the wine business around this specific domain, that everyone might benefit from this getting out in the open.

As with everything on Vinography, this is just my opinion, seasoned with an above average dose of dogma. This isn't an article written out of frustration, but you can expect me to express some in the process, as I continually see an awful lot of bizarre expectations out there when it comes to interacting with bloggers.

If you have to ask...
Perhaps the most common question I get with regards to wine bloggers and wine samples I am not going to address now or ever, because it's the most important question of all, and answering it is sort of like doing your job for you.

I'm not going to tell you which wine bloggers you should send samples to. Go figure it out and then come back here and read what I think you should do next.

Great. Welcome back. Now that you have a list of wine bloggers you want to send samples to, don't. That is, don't just send samples.

Do they even want your samples?
The first thing to do is to reach out to the blogger via e-mail and ask them if they'd like to receive wine samples from you. Not once, but every time you'd like to ship them. Don't waste your money and wine sending samples to bloggers that don't review samples or don't want your samples, or who are drowning in samples and would rather not have yours added to the stack right at the moment.

Make sure before you do this that you've actually bothered to poke around the blogger's web site to see if they publish some sort of policy about wine samples that can save you (and them) some time if you actually read it first. Such content is often available on some sort of "About this blog" page and/or from some link in the footer of the page.

What should you send?
Provided that you haven't learned the answer by reading the aforementioned content on their site, here's the questions you want to ask the blogger in your e-mail:

1. Would they be interested in receiving any of the following samples from you?:

Wine name
Wine name
Wine name

Tell them what you're hoping to send them and let them decline some if they don't want them.

2. Presuming they would like samples, ask them if they would like you to include any marketing materials about the wines or the winery with the shipment. If they say no, don't ship them any brochures.

I personally prefer to save trees, carbon, and the winery's money by having no such materials included whenever anyone ships me wine, as 98% of the time I just recycle the stuff. However, I don't presume the same is true for all bloggers.

What I DO strongly recommend is that every bottle have a sticker affixed to it with the following information written or printed on it:

- Your name, e-mail address, and telephone number with a sentence encouraging contact for more information.

- The case production of the wine (if it's not on the bottle) and suggested retail price

- The URL of the winery

3. Ask them what address they would like the wine shipped to and if there are any special shipping instructions you should provide the carrier.

What carrier to use?
It used to not matter very much which shipping company you used, but now it really does, in my opinion. FedEx has gotten militant about their shipping of alcohol, and using them increases the likelihood that your shipment will get sent back to you. Most of the time you'll be shipping your wine to the blogger's home. And unless they've got someone there during the day to receive packages, chances are the delivery will be made when they're not around. UPS and other carriers will leave packages out of view on a porch, or with a neighbor if there is a note on the door, but FedEx will not. This has personally meant wine being sent back to wineries several times this year, which is a pain in everyone's rear, not to mention costly.

How to pack your wine samples
Styrofoam is the work of the Devil. 'nuff said. There are a million better ways to pack your wine than with styrofoam. Don't use it. If your excuse is that you're worried about heat, then that means you shouldn't be shipping wine at all that time of year.

What to do after you've sent the wine?
Nothing. Except maybe read the blog every day to see if the blogger reviews your wine. If you're lazy, set up a Google Alert for your wine's name so that you'll get an e-mail when the blogger publishes their review.

But most definitely, do not do any of the following:

- e-mail or call to find out if the blogger has received the wine. That's what tracking numbers are for.

- e-mail or call to find out "if the blogger has tasted the wine and what the blogger thought of it"

- e-mail or call to find out "if the blogger will be publishing a review" or "if they need any more information for their review."

Such practices are annoying and childish. Either you trust the professionalism of the blogger to review it if they liked it, or you shouldn't have sent them the wine in the first place. Assume they know what they're doing and spend your energy on something else more productive than following up with them.

Evil practices that you PR people just need to stop
Apart from the styrofoam thing above, which is more the domain of the winery or shipping company than you PR folks, please listen carefully to this request. Do not "get creative" and dream up fun little packages to send to bloggers along with the wine. No yo-yos, bits of film, books, wine glasses, wooden wine crates, viewmaster toys, whistles, vials of soil, picnic baskets, bandanas, corkscrews, squishy toys, matchboxes, microwave popcorn, pieces of art, cheese, or any other crap that you mistakenly believe will somehow positively influence the reception that your wine gets when it is opened by the recipient.

I have received every single one of the above, and I can tell you without exception, and without a moments hesitation, they have all gone into the trash, accompanied by an amount of swearing under my breath proportionate to how messy, difficult, or otherwise annoying your little package made it to pull the wine out of the box and put it in the stack next to the other press samples.

Such efforts are a phenomenal waste of your or your clients' money and for the good of everyone involved, they cannot die a quick enough death as far as I am concerned.

And as long as we're on the subject of evil practices, let's make another thing clear, just because you got a business card from someone that doesn't mean they gave you permission to add them to your mailing list. This isn't particular to bloggers or journalists, it's true for everyone. Call it 21st century ethics, as well as, incidentally, federal law.

Finally, about that web site of yours...
Remember that URL you were supposed to put on the bottles? Make sure there's actually something there for the blogger to look at. More to the point, and this is Alder wearing his customer experience day job hat as well, your web site should have the following things on it at a minimum:

- HTML or PDF downloadable tech sheets for every wine you just sent as a sample
- downloadable images of every wine, preferably bottle silhouettes on a white backdrop
- downloadable logo image(s) for the winery
- the name of your marketing or PR firm (if you have one) and the appropriate contact there

But of course, you also want all sorts of beautifully written content and images telling your story for the world to read, as well. Keep it all up to date, which means making changes when your winemaker changes, your PR firm changes, when you release new wines, etc.

Questions?
Fire away. I'm happy to justify (or defend) any of the above opinions, as well as comment on anything you think I've missed.

Comments (43)

Benito wrote:
10.10.10 at 11:58 PM

I've considered a similar rant, but with a second half about what bloggers can do to make life easier for PR folks. "Don't beg, don't be a jerk, and remember that the person on the other end of that e-mail is getting paid to do this, and is taking a calculated gamble with wine blogs. Being professional pays off." Etc.

On the collateral material: I don't mind the odds and ends (I think tolerance here is mostly a matter of volume, and I like giving away all the corkscrews I get). But seriously, NO WINE GLASSES. I've never received one that has actually arrived in one piece, and it's dangerous to dig through all the shards of glass in search of the wines or paperwork.

And my personal pet peeve: I don't care if you put a sticker on the back or bottom of the bottle--in fact, it often helps to have the price and contact info, especially when you've got a lot of samples. But don't slap it across the front of the bottle--it makes it difficult to appreciate the design work and makes it hard to take your own photos of the wine.

Matt wrote:
10.11.10 at 2:01 AM

Spot on, Alder.

Pamela wrote:
10.11.10 at 7:07 AM

Halleluiah. I'd really appreciate it if perfumed things were kept out of the box too. And could we also eliminate the press releases that list the RP & WS scores? I mean seriously, does the WS get sheets telling them what RP scored it and vice versa?

1WineDude wrote:
10.11.10 at 8:46 AM

WOW!

Alder, your take on this (and Benito's in the comment above) are for the most part spot-on and echo my own trials/tribulations/peeves.

Especially Styrofoam. F--KING Styrofoam. GOD-DAMNED SYROFOAM!!!

I should note, however, one MAJOR difference between our preferences when it comes to receiving samples, which is that I encourage the inclusion of squishy toys because my daughter loves them. So, if any PR people are reading this comment, PLEASE SEND DINOSAUR SQUISHY TOYS WITH YOUR WINE SAMPLE SHIPMENTS!

;-)

Cheers!

Alder Yarrow wrote:
10.11.10 at 11:17 AM

Oddly, some people are reading this post as some sort of bitchy invective against PR people. So let me dispell that sort of mis-reading right away. I've got nothing against PR or marketing folks, nor do I dismiss the value they provide to wineries.

I do, however, think that many of them haven't figured out how to effectively, efficiently, and stragically work with bloggers. Which is why I wrote this post.

I normally provide all this information privately to the PR professionals that contact me asking if they can send me samples, and thought that it might be useful to share it publicly.

This most certainly is not me dealing with some pent up frustration about my relationship with PR folks publicly on my web site.

Alder

Alexander wrote:
10.11.10 at 12:31 PM

Informative article... you offer a huge smattering of articles/conversations that set your site apart from many bloggers out there. No wonder you are bombarded with offers to try samples. Should I be excited about my first offer... when it comes? Certainly, I will be prepared to handle it.

Thanks,

Alexander

Doug Wilder wrote:
10.11.10 at 12:36 PM

Alder, This is very appropriate reading now. We are in one of our busiest cycles for samples. Luckily we see very little styrofoam anymore but that is certainly something all of us could request they not use! On the subject of information, even small wineries are doing a better job now having most of the stats and images on their websites. It is nice when there is one piece of paper v. a full-blown press kit. We ask for production numbers and SRP, pretty much anything else is on their site. We discourage samples being sent without our knowledge or approval and to that end don't provide a shipping address until such time as we say yes. Stating clearly in a policy that submission of a wine does not assure a review essentially cuts followup calls to zero. As far as marketing ideas that left me swearing, the only one I remember is the bottle filled with air I received in pretty elaborate packaging. What a waste and it made me more sensitive to the next gimmick from this producer (which didn't take long) It is still sitting on a chair in my office, unopened!
On the subject of shipping, there is a company called Golden State Overnight that delivers within California. They only represent about 10% of the deliveries we get, but may be a good alternative to FEDEX, if that causes problems.

Mia Malm wrote:
10.11.10 at 1:11 PM

Dude - dinosaur squishy toys duly noted! ;-)

Alfonso wrote:
10.11.10 at 2:11 PM

"Styrofoam is the work of the Devil."
Your counter-culture parents will be so proud of you ;)

I will add that Flash is also the work of the Devil, especially if one tries to access a Flash-based web site from a Blackberry.

But you could speak to that topic as well

10.11.10 at 5:03 PM

Alder, this is a timely and highly useful set of guidelines that should apply not only to bloggers but also to every journalist and critic who writes for news Web sites or print publications. I have dealt with all these issues as a weekly wine columnist for eight years for MSNBC.com and now as a wine blogger and as a columnist for Reuters. Some PR people really do get it, while others don't have a clue. One of my concerns is that some bloggers who have not been journalists are unduly influenced by PR charm campaigns that have absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the wines they are being asked to write about. PR will often look for the path of least reistance, and it is important for wine writers of all persuasions to separate what's in the bottle from what's not.

Ed Deitch

Jenny wrote:
10.11.10 at 5:35 PM

As an annoying marketing person I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate the tidbits on how to best work with bloggers. If we don't hear it how will we know it?

10.11.10 at 8:10 PM

Alder
100% per cent with you on the Styrofoam Part and Printed Matter.
The most annoying thing I encountered so far was someone telling me that his wine was shipped but never receiving anything.
I think samples are nice when you go to trade tastings and cannot get around to sample everything you wanted to.
Add to that the fact that many wines benefit from being sampled with food at a leisurely pace.
From my personal experience, book publishers and food companies are a bit easier to deal with.
Serge
'The French Guy from New Jersey'

doug molitor wrote:
10.11.10 at 10:21 PM

Too bad, taking a good idea “How to Send ..” and then adding a barn-load of horseshit. Obviously “The Wine World's Brightest Cyberstar" is one of those traditional wine guys, that dislikes plastic corks, buying yeast from Davis and is unrelated to the need earn a living. Asking a winery not to “e-mail or call to find out” about a shipment is dumb. The shipment, “did it arrive okay” is proper concern, plus the material and labor cost of this the process is somewhere in the $150 arena, maybe 3X that, if an agency is involved. There is probably some merit in the request, “Do not "get creative" and dream up fun little packages to send.” Grinch, put those little gifts in a box with the hotel soaps & shampoos – then give to a homeless family shelter. His ultimate insult against business practice 101 is, “If you're lazy, set up a Google Alert for your wine's name so that you'll get an e-mail when the blogger publishes their review.” Even if one is not lazy, that is only prudent business. Obviously lost his “Thank you” lesson during home schooling.

Alder Yarrow wrote:
10.11.10 at 10:31 PM

Doug,

Thanks very much for your comments, however snide. You clearly are a new reader here and have no idea what I'm about.

Used a UPS tracking number lately? No need to ask whether your recipient has actually received the package.

And I think you'd be surprised how many people in the wine business are astonished to learn about the existence of google alerts. Might be prudent business for you and me, but much of the wine industry is quite behind the times.

Oh, and yes, plastic corks do suck. Screwcaps are way better.

doug molitor wrote:
10.12.10 at 10:15 AM

Re: UPS tracking: If I’m spending $150 each to deliver 100 bottles of wine. I would want to know if my money was well spent.
1/ did he receive it
2/ any comment about tasting
Yours is the same argument often voiced by print journalists in the old days of mailed copies of press releases. Simply one of the tensions in the relationship. Big city newspapers went to a policy of “No More Free Tickets Accepted” to reduce the pressure and perception of being bought for arts reporters. You may need to do that at some point.

Only a few years in wine country and I am still astounded by the wine industry’s lack of savvy. I might forgive the wine people, who are in it for the love of wine. But those that want to sell their wine and are prideful of their ignorance, “I leave the computer stuff to my daughter, grandkids, marketing hacks …,” because it takes time away from the wine, are simply naive.
- doug

Wineguider wrote:
10.12.10 at 11:05 AM

I am just shaking my head after reading this post and the cheers from other wine bloggers. How does something like this get generated? What has happened to people in our country? The messages may be valid, but the attitude? Really?

My strong reaction is to want to apologize to all wineries and marketing folks on behalf of wine bloggers who act like this. I am actually, truly, sorry. You don't deserve this.

The comment, "Obviously lost his 'Thank you' lesson during home schooling" made me laugh. Or maybe more accurately, private school.

Good luck to you, in all of your endeavors.
Wineguider

1winedude wrote:
10.12.10 at 11:08 AM

Maybe I'm crazy, but I read this primarily as good fun - yes, a lot of this stuff is annoying but I never felt for one second that Alder was actually pissed-off or carping. In fact, I've been WAY more carping in various tweets on twitter about how something in wine-related sample shipments pissed me off!

I definitely do NOT think it's too much to ask winery marketing staff, winemakers, PR folks, or ANYONE who wants to send ANY samples for possible review to ANY outlet to read that site's About page. But maybe I am crazy :-).

10.12.10 at 11:56 AM

Too many samples, like Marlo says in Season 3 of the Wire: "that sounds like one of them good problems."

SEND THEM MY WAY!!!!

Alder Yarrow wrote:
10.12.10 at 1:05 PM

Thanks for the comments. I'm more than happy for a few of you folks to disagree with me, or offer alternative viewpoints, but taking personal swipes at me and my "educational background" is rude and offensive. You don't know what the hell you're talking about.

Interesting you mention the apology to wineries and marketing folks, as I'm getting many tweets and e-mails thanking me for offering these guidelines from just those kinds of folks. In particular, I'm struck by how many of the PR folks that really "get it" are telling me they're sending it to all the other PR folks they know.

Vinos Ambiz wrote:
10.12.10 at 2:58 PM

Seems like sensible advice to me. I've only ever sent samples 4 times in the past: one to Florida (USA) and it never got there - just disappeared off the face of the earth; one to Norway, 5 out of 6 bottles broke and the 6th was sent back to me; one to London and one to Barcelona that both arrived OK. The tracking code thing is OK by me, but what if time passes after you know your wine has arrived and no review appears? In that case, I don't see anything wrong with politely enquiring via email, DM or whatever. Also, perhaps the blogger/reviewer could inform the winery if s/he's decided not to review the wine, for whatever reason.
Also, there are bloggers and bloggers! ie, über-bloggers with thousands of readers (tiny minority) and normal bloggers with much much fewer readers (vast majority). I would assume that the latter group wouldn't be in a position to complain about recieving emails or promotional stuff along with the wine!!! whereas an uber-blogger who recieves many samples would understanably get annoyed and would like everything to be just so! Anyway, thanks for the guidelines, and i've cut-n-pasted yr post for when i start sending samples big time :)

Kimberly wrote:
10.12.10 at 7:15 PM

Good stuff. I would add, when the PR person e-mails you to ask if you'd like to receive samples, they themselves know something about the wine they'll be sending. Right -- you'd think they would, wouldn't you? Just last week I got an e-mail from someone telling me how "people don't usually like blends as much as they do single varietal wines, but we represent some great red blends from Chile." Really, this is your pitch? I worked in PR years ago, and my boss would have given me a serious reprimand for a meatless pitch like that!
That said, the 20-something who sent me the e-mail was a freshly minted PR person, all eager and enthusiastic, as it turns out, and we've all been there, so I felt empathy for the learning curve she has ahead. Which makes this blog post a must read for wine-sample-sending PR folk!

Scott wrote:
10.12.10 at 10:22 PM

Wow. I'm sure glad I'm not a wine blogger. I'd have to kick my own ass.

David Graves wrote:
10.14.10 at 5:31 PM

I don't think this is a rude entry at all. A similar entry could be made advising wine blogger on what NOT to do when requesting samples.

As usual, good stuff, even if this is my first comment here.

Alder Yarrow wrote:
10.14.10 at 6:05 PM

David,

Thanks for the comments. On the whole I don't think wine bloggers should request samples.

Alder

Fred Swan wrote:
10.14.10 at 10:11 PM

Whether or not Alder's suggestions are seen as being delivered out of helpfulness or grumpy frustration, they are well thought out and completely valid. I differ on a couple of points, primarily follow up and mailing lists. Since I also list events and news, press releases and emails have value to me. Alder doesn't do those things, has been blogging longer than I and has a broader scope (the entire world vs. just Northern California). I suspect that responding to follow up and deleting promotional emails could be a full time job for him. Since blogging itself is only part-time for him, and most bloggers, all that busy work can be a real drain.

There are also a couple of points he made that I'd like to amplify:
1. Styrofoam is not only an ecological concern and a source of annoying squeaky noises, it completely fills bloggers' trash/recycling bins. We're not working in industrial parks with big dumpsters. We've got nowhere to put the stuff.

2. Contact info affixed to the back of the bottle is important because bottles and collateral, including business cards, get separated. Since we typically have a large number of bottles on hand this can be a real problem.

Fred

Matt wrote:
10.17.10 at 4:40 AM

I am surprised at the number of people who consider this post to be a rant or to be rude in any way: Alder has written an excellent piece pulling together ideas from his own experiences dealing with winemakers and PR people.

Just one point regarding winemakers and PRs chasing up samples for review: I appreciate there is money at stake in the samples and personally I don't see the harm in sending a quick 2-line email to confirm that samples have been received and will be reviewed shortly (or not, depending on your policy). Having said that, we only receive a handful of samples each week: if we were getting fifty each day then we may have to re-think the practicality of courtesy email vs lost tasting-time.

But, at the risk of stating the obvious, surely a little communication and the establishment of ground-rules on each side is the way to go, to avoid any confusion about what can or cannot be expected in terms of reviews?

For example, some bloggers only review wines they have enjoyed. So if you send wine to these folks and they're not reviewed, you'll know why: you don't need to follow it up. And if you do, and if they have to spell it out to you, then you can't be indignant about the reply.

Others are happy to receive samples but do not guarantee to review them: it's your choice whether you send them wine, but in this case (as in the previous one) you can't claim to be annoyed if your wine isn't reviewed.

Our own policy is to guarantee to review ALL samples: we cannot guarantee WHEN the review will be posted, but we do our best to review them in "a timely fashion". The downside for some winemakers is that, whilst we are grateful for samples, we're not your PR company and we won't BS our readers - if your wine's crap we'll say so. And once again, you can't be upset if your precious baby girl doesn't win the beauty contest: however much you may love her, others may think she looks like a pig in a dress.

I think it's all down to communication and establishing the rules of the game.

10.18.10 at 10:38 AM

I don't think Alder is being rude at all, it's his opinion. The number one thing a wine blogger does is voice their opinion about the wine. This is true whether purchased with their own money or received as a sample.
Spot on with the label on the back, not all do this so I do it myself.
I've never received all the other promo pieces, would probably think they were fun at first and eventually put in the Goodwill bin.

Mephistopheles wrote:
10.18.10 at 11:55 PM

So sorry to have started the flood. In hindsight I couldn't have broken more rules. Thanks for your unerring consideration. I will figure out a new way to drive you mad.

Francois wrote:
10.19.10 at 3:06 AM

I actually like this article Alder, and personal attacks are pathetic. However to bloggers who request appointments at Domaines/Chateau's in France.
-Please arrive on time and not two hours late (Its rude). I have had blogger's make appointments, and never turn up.
-Don't come during harvest time (when your writing, would you want someone in your face?).It happens all the time in France.
-Dont score wines that are still in barrel, it's not a finished product. I know you think it's sets you apart if you score the latest wine in barrel highly. It doesn't! It can sometimes be misleading for the consumer.
-Dont write tasting notes, for wines you haven't tasted. You know it happens. Not Mr. Alder, but others have been caught out.
-Don't write about Domaines owners/cellars/dog like you know them, when you haven't even visited.
-Lastly dont follow trends like organic/biodynamic/natural and treat these guys like hero's when most have no certification etc.
It is desperate times for the wine industry (worldwide). People are trying anything to make a living.
Im French so sorry if my English isn't perfect.

Kitty Oliver wrote:
10.19.10 at 5:03 AM

Speaking from the PR side of things, this is very helpful. I appreciate the perspective from the blogger's side and anything titled "How to Send Wine Samples to a Blogger" is a good read for me. I have really enjoyed working with wine bloggers over the years - I admire the tenacity. Always a fresh voice, vivid conversation and enthusiastic attitude - recognizable passion. It tends to be a young(er) generation too. It takes a lot to seriously critique wine while you have a two year old running around.

Although I've sent sample to wine bloggers, I've not sent "additional items." Keep it simple: wine, tech sheets, info on the winery. Really, people are stuffing bandanas in with wine? Popcorn? I think that practicing common sense tactics is the way to go, we're working together. I'm the middle man - not here to annoy, but am here to help, facilitate. Great post, thanks for sharing, even though it is a little depressing that some PR folks are still shipping with styrofoam! Although, that may keep the viewmaster safer during the shipping process.

Paul Gregutt wrote:
10.19.10 at 12:51 PM

I pretty much agree with everything you've said, Alder. And let me add some things to your list of "freebies received" – a tree, a vial of TCA, and a myriad of ridiculous wine gizmos including a $300 "wand" and several "electric" wine openers. As for the styro, I've been asking shippers to avoid it since 2001. Most comply except for wines coming from the East Coast. For some reason, they seem to love Styrofoam. And one more thing – "biodegradable" popcorn is NOT a good alternative. I've wasted up to 20 minutes at the sink just bio-degrading one box'es worth of that crap.

Alder Yarrow wrote:
10.19.10 at 7:02 PM

Francois (if that is your real name),

Thanks very much for your comments. You've hit on a truth that is very much part and parcel of the new media reality. Once upon a time, wineries and PR folks knew without thinking who they should give the time of day to. There were only about 20 choices of "real" wine writers that made a difference in this country, and only about five real critical outlets whose opinion could affect the sales of a wine.

Now there are literally thousands of potential journalists out there, none of them with the clout of the main critics, but collectively with much more influence on what people find when they type the name of your wine into Google.

Wineries and PR folks now have a pretty tough job ahead of them, trying to figure out who to pay attention to, who to send samples to, who to invest the time, energy and even money with. There are definitely some bloggers out there who have no sense of professional ethics (though in my conversations with PR folks I know well, it's clear that the problem is in no way restricted to bloggers, and there are a number of very prominent bad actors among the relatively well known "traditional" wine writing community).

Everything you complain about is justified, though I might suggest that your second point might be moderated to suggest "don't expect us to spend a lot of time with you at harvest time." Not everyone has complete control over when they can travel, and if given the choice of visiting Champagne during harvest time or not going at all, I'm going at harvest.

But this is a quibble. People in the industry and journalists have the right to expect each other to act professionally, and those who don't shouldn't be tolerated.

Christopher wrote:
10.20.10 at 4:15 PM

Came across this blog for the first time this eve...very interesting forums about relationships in the wine biz, whether customer / somm in a resto, or media & blogger / sell side. Thanks for generating such active conversations!

My honest and simple question here on this post, as a professional on the importing / wholesale side for 5 years, restos for a while before that, is who bothers to send bloggers wine samples? This is not meant disrespectfully, I'm just curious. I don't see the percentage in it, when you could be showing those samples to decision makers / buyers. Do you frequently receive samples? (obviously there are some established print reviewers who have ppl lined up to give them samples...am thinking through where the diminishing returns kicks in.) Keep up the good work, Alder.

Alder Yarrow wrote:
10.20.10 at 8:02 PM

Christopher,

Well, you'd probably be floored who sends samples to wine bloggers, and just how much is going on. I'm going to try to address your question without sounding like I'm flogging for wine bloggers or trying to encourage more sampling, which I would never do, but in this day and age, it makes a lot of sense to try to get your wine reviewed by a blogger. Why? Because most people when they want to know anything, go to google and type in the name of the thing they're wondering about. This goes for consumers, as well as wine buyers.

And the crazy thing about wine bloggers, tip-tapping their little reviews off in their obscure corner of cyberspace, is that to google they matter a hell of a lot more than just about anyone else. If you type "prisoner wine review" into Google, because you heard of/tasted/wanted to know more about Orin Swift's The Prisoner, depending on where you are in the country, and what your history of searches is on Google, it's quite likely that my review will be your first result.

Now that wine has been reviewed by the Wine Advocate, the Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Wine & Spirits, and probably Decanter as well. But because of how those sites publish content, and because most of them wall off their reviews to all but paying customers, the most authoritative reviews of the wine, and hence the ones that more people see every day, week, month, and year is mine (or one of several other blogs that have reviewed it). Multiply that by thousands of wine blogs, each posting a few times a week, and you have a far greater audience and reach than any single wine publication in existence, and moreover, far more relevance and visibility in Google than all of the traditional wine rags combined.

Hopefully that answers your question.

Fred Swan wrote:
10.20.10 at 8:14 PM

To put it another way, consumers are the ultimate decision maker. Bloggers, in aggregate, are one of the most efficient ways of creating consumer interest in a product. Sending out blogger samples is cheaper than advertising. And, unlike restaurant or store buyers who, quite rightly, may be limited in their ability to purchase a particular wine due to cost, inventory, sell-through or focus, bloggers can and do write about pretty much any wine they like. This eventually drives sales through whichever channels a given wine is made available. Very few blogs drive immediate, high-volume sales of a wine, but very few ads do that either.

Thea Dwelle wrote:
10.21.10 at 11:05 AM

My thoughts exactly.
TARGET your audience. I am drowning in samples that I didn't ask for or wasn't asked about. They are on the bottom of my To Drink list. The things that filter out to the top are those that communicated with me prior to shipping, and explained exactly what I would be shipped.

I don't view that as lacking in "thank you etiquette" as someone pointed out; it's simply good business. What is the point in getting samples sent from wineries / pr firms if a) we're never going to review them and b) we don't want them?
For blogs that focus on specific regions / ideologies, sending a gallon of Carlo Rossi is not a particularly effective marketing technique. It's simple marketing 101: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.
If you send me an email with "Dear Blogger / Editor / Sir (especially because I'm a Ms.) your email is going directly in the delete box, regardless of the stimulating content.

As a PR/Marketing person, it's up to YOU to do due diligence and actually formulate an intelligent list of sample recipients. As a blogger, it's up to ME to clearly state my sample policy, and what I really want to review. Yes it's an extra step, but a little up front research in to the thousands of blogs will save you effort, money, and time - and likely generate more revenue in the long run by allowing us to review and potentially post a thoughtful review of something that interests us.

The majority of GOOD agencies have caught on to this and pre qualify bloggers by sending a "hey heads up I'd like to ship these to you. Please confirm your desire & / or shipping details". You can mail merge this en masse - it's not like you have to write 300 letters (and wait, isnt' that what underpaid interns are for?).

PS @1winedude - Mini Dudette can have all my squishy toys, but I enjoy Pez and Yo-yos. :-D

odila wrote:
10.25.10 at 6:57 AM

Alder,
Thanks for the very useful information! As a PR person for many years now, I feel that I am getting some of this right--maybe not all of it--but some of it....however, any and all comments, details and help on how to best work with you and all wine bloggers/writers, is greatly appreciated and will always be helpful.
PS: Winedude: no rubber duckies yet--sorry!

10.28.10 at 12:54 AM

Gotta love it, folks complaining about getting free wine because it doesn't arrive exactly how they'd like it to. Victims of their own success, I suppose. Seems like looking a gift horse in the mouth to me, though. Blogs that get lots of samples got there largely by being sources of positive PR. Receiving many free samples in turn enabled more content, the lifeblood of any blog.

OK, you get some you don't want or need. But seems like a small price to pay for having a never ending supply of content--not to mention wine. As long as you are clear about your policy (tastes everything, chugs it all Friday night, tosses it in the dumpster, whatever), the PR folks are free to do as they please.

10.22.14 at 12:30 AM

Je suis ?ressé de lire lee prochain article

rousse sexy wrote:
10.22.14 at 11:36 AM

C'?st uun ?rai plaisir de lire ce poste

10.22.14 at 12:01 PM

J? comptais justement écrire un peetit poste
identique à celui-ci

10.22.14 at 11:21 PM

Je finirai de liee tout ela d?ns la jo?rnée

10.23.14 at 12:09 AM

?e vais terminer de regarder ça plus tard

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