Thursday, April 23, 2009

As requested, a comment about Wine Spectator

Yesterday WineWonkette added this comment on my post Have you met me?:

Rob: Have any comments on this? found on twitter

Here is my response:
Thanks for putting this link up here Wonkette!

This is a well thought out statement that Tom Matthews sent, which shows a lot of great work by him and his PR staff (everyone has a PR staff) because he obviously expected the letter to be posted online for the world to see.

I can only speak to my experience with James Molesworth, who covers Chile (the country I represent).

The give and take between wine writers and PR/marketing people such as myself is one that strikes a careful balance, one that I believe is truly necessary.

For instance, everything that Tom Matthews wrote in that letter I find to be accurate in terms of how the magazine reviews wines and how they conduct themselves in relating to the worldwide wine industry (2.5 million readers seems high me, but he would have the numbers in front of him). I have what I consider to be a good relationship with James Molesworth. He travels to Chile roughly once a year to speak with winemakers, check in on new plantings, see what new regions are showing promise and which ones need more time, and to generally cover the news coming out of Chile. Every year I offer any services I can provide that would make his trip easier. If he would let me, I would happily buy his plane ticket, set up the visits for him, set up his hotel arrangements, the works. However, every year he says thanks but no thanks and coordinates the entire trip himself. I would not be doing my job if I did not offer my services, especially for such an influential publication in the wine industry. His publication has enough financial security to allow him to travel to Chile on their dollar; therefore he uses his right to do so.

Consider this however; does every wine writer have that luxury, especially in this economy? Would you as bloggers have as much information about Chile available if Wines of Chile was not here? And this expands into all other country programs, be they Germany, Spain, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Australia, etc.

I could digress to many tangents here but I want to stay on the subject of Wine Spectator. There is one thing that James does come to me for, information that he would not have access to such as overall industry statistics. I have provided him with the facts that Chile is growing in the U.S., more land in Chile is being put under vine every year, and that the hot varieties are Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carmenere (with Pinot Noir and Syrah showing healthy gains in the market).

For all other publications, from the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times to Wine Enthusiast and Wine & Spirits we abide by their requests and policies. Each has earned their audiences’ trust, and I think with good reason.

I relate to bloggers in much the same way as I relate to other journalists. Everyone has a right to information and I do my best to distribute the information, giving everyone full access.

I would be interested to hear what you think about the back and forth between PR people such as myself and the universe of media, both print and online. If you have something to say leave a comment below.
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