I often see presentations at marketing seminars on ‘how to deal with wine bloggers’ or some such, as if we were wild animals to be approached with extreme caution. While there may be some truth to this, here’s my take.
I’ll use a message that hit the inbox last weekend as a jumping off point for the discussion. It reads as follows:
Subject: Web link
We are a twelve year old winery with the following web site: [redacted]. What is required to have a link from your web site to our web site?
Before talking about how to approach bloggers and discussing some of the specifics of this message, let’s start with some basics. If you are a winery representative approaching a wine blogger about your winery, consider the message a professional interaction and write the content accordingly. You’re looking for some type of outcome – most likely coverage of your winery. Think about what you can do to make that outcome as likely as possible. Here are some suggestions, using this message as a guide.
Putting something in the subject line that attracts the interest of the reader and has some information on what the message itself is about helps. In the message sent to me, the ‘Web link’ is not particularly informative. In fact it sounds almost spam-esque. I expected the content to be something like: ‘LMAO! You’ve got to see this!’
While in some cases a salutation simply shows a proficiency or lack thereof with mail merges (Dear Sean:), it can also provide a more personal touch and show that someone has taken the time to find out who you are. Personally, I don’t pay much attention to messages that are not addressed specifically to me as they tend to be mass mailings and my name is easily found on my site.
The message should be concise and to the point. We all receive about a 100 times more e-mail messages than we’d like, so time is of the essence. You are writing with some goal in mind. State what that goal is. It also helps to show that you have done some research/have some background on the person you are corresponding with. This is where this message falls (considerably) short.
The person writing does state their objective – having me link to their website. But this message shows that the person hasn’t really done their homework about who I am or what my site is about. I don't link to sites. I write about wineries and review wines, and a quick review of my site would hopefully show this. But here is what really shows that the person hasn’t done their homework. It is from a winery in…
I wish I could say that this is the first time that this has happened. Read a recent post by friend and fellow blogger Paul Gregutt here about the frequent confusion regarding Washington State and Washington, D.C.
Determining how to interact with wine bloggers and whom to interact with is indeed one of the challenges that has arisen for wineries over the last few years given the proliferation of bloggers out there. But if you are considering contacting a blogger about your winery, the best thing is to do some research. Does the person seem reputable? Do you like their style of writing? Do you understand how they might write about your winery? If you have questions, ask around to your peers. What are their experiences? Again, figure out what the outcome is that you’re looking for and how to make that outcome as likely as possible.
The message here is clearly from someone who wants something – a link to their site - but hasn’t put in the effort to figure out how to go about making this happen, so it’s unlikely to be successful. Make sure to do your research. Know something about the person you are communicating with, what their site is about, and how this ties in to what you're looking for.
Here’s a quick draft of how this message could have been written to be more likely to get a positive response – assuming of course that it was from a winery in the Pacific Northwest!
Subject: Introducing you to [winery name]
I recently came across your site, Washington Wine Report, and wanted to write and introduce myself. My name is [insert name here] and I work for [insert winery name here]. We are located in [region] and focus on [what].
Looking at your site I noticed that you have not reviewed our wines previously, so I wanted to invite you to come visit the winery to tell you more about us. Alternately, I could send you samples and we could arrange a time to talk about the winery on the phone. If you are interested in either, please email me or contact me at the number below.
I look forward to hearing from you.