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Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

The wine community has stepped up and assembled a program for bloggers to join the 2nd annual Wine Bloggers Conference in the USA this July with a fund to support bloggers who couldn’t otherwise get there on their own.  Who cares?  I’m thinking anyone who has a forward looking glance.  Anyone who is interested in an alternative, progressive, supportive wine industry.  Anyone who likes the democratic, grassroots, widespread distrubution of influence when it comes to wine, wine knowledge and wine information.    

If you are a qualified (wine) blogger and  interested in applying for a bloggership, click here.

Generally, there is a community of us that believes that we are all better served when the best of us are contributing to the industry.  We have met many a wine, food and lifestyle blogger that writes, learns and contributes value to the wine bloggosphere and can’t afford to attend the WBC this year.  Whether it is  the economy or the naiscent atmosphere of the blogging industry, we cannot let this diverse, pervasive and exciting medium die under our watch.  

Have you already donated?  If not, why?  Click here.  

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Hahn Estates is donating to support blogger attendance, and so is St. Supery.  There are many other wineries and wine industry companies in tow.  If you have not heard about or attended the WBC, or listened to the conversation on the Open Wine Consortium or attended W.I.T.S or heard about the wave of Social Networking, there is some catching up to do.

Panelists for the Fund include:

Thea Dwelle @winebratsf – wine blogger and social media champion

Megan Riley Kenney @sonadora – wine blogger

Liza Swift @brixchick_liza – wine blogger

Joel Vincent @joelvincent – wine industry professional and Wine Blogger Conference Organizer

Catie McIntyre Walker@catie – wine retailer and wine blogger

Ward Kadel @drxeno – wine blogger West Coast Ambassador, WineLog.net

Find out more.  Donate or apply.  Then tell your friends.  You’ll be glad you did.

Cheers!

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“There are journalists and there are bloggers.  There are doctors and there are faith healers.”  So said Jeff Cox moderating at the first Green Wine Summit yesterday in Santa Rosa, California during one of the breakout sessions.  Here’s my disclosure:  I’m not a doctor, a faith healer or a journalist.  But I am fascinated by the current debate and passion stirred up between the old media, aka traditional journalists and bloggers.  Wine bloggers in particular are wrestling with sorting their own guidelines, policy and formula we hope in an effort to uphold integrity in their writing.  And while some do work to maintain high journalistic standards in their blogs, many are passionate wineophiles, novice-experts, who offer their posts for whom ever is interested without claims of journalistic superiority nor breach of integrity.  They’re just writing stories, opinions, and reviews connecting with people who enjoy a similar interest.

newspaper1Is there a threat to old media journalists that provokes them to sneer or denigrate bloggers?  If you are measuring readership, perhaps so.  I’m not sure how you qualify as a “real journalist”.  Is it required to have a journalism degree?  From which college or university?  What if you never used that degree, became a teacher and now you blog?  Are you a “real journalist” then?  What if you don’t have the degree but have been working for a newspaper or magazine all your life, writing or editing?  Are you a “real journalist” then?

Most (wine) bloggers don’t suggest they are journalists.  We, their readers, hope and expect that they will aim for accuracy, honesty, integrity and full disclosure.  But even “real journalists” have fallen short on more than one occasion.   We also hope they will inform or entertain, lead us to great wine or make us laugh.  Perhaps their value comes from the variety of material available from the blogs;  but also from getting to know that voice, their tone and tendencies, their preferences and passions.  The likes of classic, computer1extraordinary journalists like Walter Cronkite and Andy Rooney have captured their audiences in no small part by revealing much of themselves in their reporting and writing.  Who they are came through along with the information they were sharing.  That makes me think even more that blogging is about connecting;  connecting with people you share something with that maybe you don’t even know.  With so many differences that separate and divide us, I find it a treat to connect with smart, passionate, talented bloggers who offer their experiences in wry or poignant, frank or even silly on-line content in their blog.

There is a great deal more debate to have regarding the sorting, classifying and clarifying of bloggers policies, integrity, qualifications, etc.  The massive quantity of content on-line requires that users become better filters.  Bloggers will have to take it upon themselves to produce quality content with full disclosure and integrity with whatever voice, interpretation, independence or style they choose..  There is no certification process or Hippocratic oath for bloggers (oh wait, I don’t think there is one for journalists either).  Access to the internet has become a great equalizer giving many a voice, and readers, they never had before.  And ultimately readership may determine the success of any (wine) blog.  But, there are many who would write their blog even if no one were reading them.  This may beg the question, “Why?”.  Because they can.

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I’ve made some assumptions lately about this space: the blogosphere, the “internets” and social networks.  Those assumptions were that if you are here, you inherently “get” something about their value, their longevity and their impact on the paradigm shift that information, socializing and all media are currently going through right now.  I was wrong.  There are people in this space who are clearly confused, dabbling or deconstructing the value system we in this space are creating.

Social Media/Networks as applied to the wine industry have been my focus for nearly 18 months.  Essential facts and stats to base your pursuit of online presence for the wine industry (blogging, marketing or any other industry you enjoy) follow here:

There are over 200,000,000 blogs.  According to Time Magazine (Oct 13, 2007, yeah, that printed news source), social networking sites are officially more popular than porn sites.  And according to Brian Solis, Social Media “is only going to become more pervasive and as such become a critical factor in the success or failure of any business.” from The Social Media Manifesto.

Traditional Advertising and Media are enduring either a long slow death or an increasingly short, quick one.  They have been for awhile.  If you don’t already know this, you are stuck in the 20th century and haven’t been introduced to TiVo, PayPal, or facebook. Either way, traditional advertising is going the way of the dodo bird.  Whatever takes its place will be…different.

ascii-blogger-portraitsThe Blogosphere:  Blogs are becoming (and replacing) a significant portion, though not all, of our favorite printed materials including magazines, periodicals, tabloids, pamphlets, catalogs, fliers, books, letters, etc.  As such, they also have a similar range in scope, authorship, quality, purpose and audience.  Tom Wark offers an insightful statement about the status of blogging, “What once was legitimately considered a fringe endeavor should really be understood as mainstream today.”  Likewise, Steve Heimoff agrees: “But I do believe that WineDiverGirl is on to something when she says “wine bloggers are here to stay” and wineries need to engage them.”

Word of Mouth (aka WOM):  “‘Word-of-mouth’ the most powerful selling tool…78% of consumers say they trust the recommendation of other consumers.” - Nielsen, Trust in Advertising, 2007 Global Consumer Survey Report. Bloggers are part of the WOM chain online who like to talk about what they learn, what they like and what they love.

The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow. ” Bill Gates

Lenn Thompson offers a spark of insight here with “…just remember that every blogger blogs for a different reason. That’s their choice.” (from the comments section here.)  I don’t expect that there will be a guidebook of rules for (wine) bloggers, nor do I believe there needs to be.  The debate and conversation is healthy for our new and quickly growing industry.  And I am sure that bloggers who offer content of value (intellectual, entertainment, information or otherwise) will find readership if they choose.

I write this blog from my own independent perspective.  I currently work at a wine sales and marketing company.  I am not, however, paid or influenced in any way in regards to the content of this blog or to write this blog.  I like wine, beer, vodka and an occasional Pimm’s cup.  I am female, a mom, caucasian and have a whole slew of other influences from the Doors to Keith Olberman.  You can find out more about those influencecs here.

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We (as in bloggers and whom ever wishes to join us), are hosting conversations.  Some of those topics include wine preferences, wine making practices, sustainability, sales & marketing, industry trends, Web 2.0 wine start-ups, …you get the idea.  The scope of topics and writers run far and wide. The blogs I’ve read are pretty clear who they are, what they are about and where they are coming from.  I appreciate transparency.  For example, I work for Hahn Family Wines as the New Media Marketing Director.  And this blog is NOT part of that purview.  Is there overlap, yes.  But ultimately, I say exactly what I think, believe and know to be true from my perspective to engage and have a conversation.  The purpose of this conversation is to connect bloggers, wineries and consumers in new, beneficial ways for all wine lovers.  (ok, fine, I live in my own little wine-soaked utopia, cheers.)

2daysperbottleI love this blog: 2 Days Per Bottle.  Just the wooden man, pics, review policy and music make me smile.  But my favorite is his recommendation for Thanksgiving wine: “ Step One- DRINK WHAT YOU LIKE AND STOP MAKING SUCH A BIG DEAL ABOUT IT!!! FOR PETE’S SAKE, IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!!!”  Yup.  So you know when people start getting too serious about this stuff they either need to take a step back or find a good shag.  Honestly, it’s wine.

So what?  So I’m interested in bring new ideas, engaging experiments and thoughtful progress to the conversation.  Currently I think most of the printed establishment on wine is stilted, overly serious and pompous.  Let’s put it this way: Most Wine Bloggers are not press or journalists (let’s go with in the traditional sense).  Wine bloggers journal their OWN perspective.  There’s nothing objective about it.  Ok, some try to offer objectivity, but you’ll have to figure out what that means to each individual blogger, IF that’s important to you. Some have clearly defined policies or ethics guidelines.  Great, it is always valuable to know where people are coming from and what they’re about when you engage them in the conversation.  There are some great winery blogs as well.  So SOME bloggers are press/journalists from before the era of blogging.  Some bloggers consider themselves journalists online and adhere to the same ethics as traditional print/TV journalists, and some bloggers are “*other*” as 1WineDude says.

winesherpaSo my point is that there is no one point.  Bloggers, wine-bloggers are basically wineophile anarchist writers.  They have passion, brains, joie de vivre, and a direction if not a calling to talk to people about this passion via their blog, but they are not a homogenized bunch.  And they don’t have to do anything they don’t want to.  That independence is a beautiful thing.  Applause for the wild, forward thinking, experimental, wine loving population and all their drive to journal, blog and post about it.  They add value to the conversation, the wine world, and to wine consumers savvy enough to find their unique voices.

Not all of my ideas are great, but idea generating is essential.  I’m going out on a limb and agreeing with Seth Godin on this one.   Ideas=fuel for the conversation.  Glad to have you all part of it.  Particularly if you can add something.

Wooden Men image courtesy of 2 Days Per Bottle

Wine Sherpa image courtesy of The Winehiker: Russ Beebe

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Winery Proprietor, Blogger, 21st Century Wine Man

Jeff Stai: Winery Proprietor, Blogger, 21st Century Wine Man

Are you a winery for bloggers? That means you support, acknowledge and encourage bloggers to engage with your winery.  How many blogs do you subscribe to? Talk about? Do you know any bloggers by name? Face?  I think I’m starting a new campaign, a regular post about Wineries for Bloggers.  Wineries that acknowledge and support the work of wine bloggers will also be recognized and appreciated for their forward thinking, progressive business acumen and twenty-first century-ness.  Wineries that put Social Media to use are leaders in the wine industry and will be noted.

I’ve been polling bloggers about what they want from wineries for the wine industry.  It was an informal poll via e-mail, twitter, conversations, and blogs. (I’m no Nate Silver www.fivethirtyeight.com, hence, informal poll) While I currently work for Hahn Family Wines, I publish this blog separately, outside of my work there.  (in essence, I sometimes feel like I straddle both worlds, the wine marketer and the DIY blogger.)

Bloggers’ requests are pretty obvious and seem so simple considering their influence, passion and dedication to their work.  Which brings me to another point:  So many wine bloggers do it for love.  Blogging likely doesn’t qualify even as a second job and most are lucky if their costs are covered by ads or supplemental support.  There is a LOT of discussion going on about credibility in their industry, thanks to the first ever North American Wine Bloggers Conference, and that conversation will continue I’m sure.  Rest assured, bloggers are not “bought” and are careful to reflect honestly their tastes, interests and values.  They are a fun, educated, decent bunch of people we should all be so lucky to call friends.

Back to the question at hand:  How can wineries contribute to the wine blogging part of our industry?

Here’s what bloggers said: 2996275573_806732a3cb

Wine Bloggers want acknowledgement, appreciation, respect.  Frankly, many wine bloggers are as influential as any press, newspaper or print media when it comes to wine.  They should have similar access, special blogger tasting forums, events, passes, discounts and wineries that are proactive in reaching out to them.  But that means you have to know them.  This is wine marketing and social media at its finest.  Twentieth century marketing as Marta Kagen put it was “The old communication model…a monologue.”  Social Networking is the new communication model which is, she says, “…a dialogue.”  The numbers that back up this assertion are ridiculous, as in overwhelming, in support of a new model.  (see What the F**K is Social Media)  By all means, approach bloggers to come join you, but get to know who they are and what their blog is about.  And if bloggers are coming to you, wineries, they are passionate about the industry and what you do, say yes!  Can you spare your winemaker for 5 or 10 minutes? Or maybe the Vineyard Manager?  Say “yes!” Anyone who is invested in the story, the vineyards and the juice.  Welcome the wine bloggers.  Understand that most wine bloggers will likely know more than your average tasting room employee.  Maybe not about your brand, but about a diverse cross section of the wine world in general.

Look, even if they don’t LOVE your wine, they’ll appreciate your courtesy, customer service and other merits.  Wine is such a personal and varied product.  And wine bloggers are here to stay.  The most recent count has the number of wine blogs near 1,000 world wide.  I believe audiences will sort the quality, humor and content for themselves.  Bloggers that aren’t meeting standards just won’t last.  The internet is an ultimate democracy;  yes, access is fairly easy, but those with influence have something valuable to say, to contribute and possibly they have a good editor.

My recommendation to wineries is to start reading wine blogs.  Subscribe, engage, connect.  “In 2008, if you’re not on a social networking site, you’re not on the internet.” (from What the F**K is Social Media)  You’ll have to catch up someday.  Wineries that don’t know any better will learn the hard way.  Wine brings people together and so does social networking.  There is a perfect convergence of populations here;  One where wineries, bloggers and wine consumers win.

Are you a winery that supports the blogging industry?

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Thanks to the following bloggers/twitterati for contributing to the conversation: @winebratsf, @juicecowboy, @sonadora, @winequester, @jugshop, @alexlewis, @scaldron, and many others across the bloggosphere.  Thank you for your contribution to the wine world.

And special thanks to Ward Kadel and Megan Kenney for sharing their Wine Blogger Conference photos.

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Winemakers and Vineyard Managers are the artists and magicians in our industry.  Yes, they call on science a great deal too.  And their alchemy yields a precious libation revered and exulted in rituals both daily and sacred; from the family meal to religious rites.

We honor their time in the vineyard, the cellar and the lab and always want more of them.  Their unique perspective, experience and connection to the vine practically makes them our only and best channel into the mysteries of our wine experiences.  Coming together and sharing is already a precious gift of presence;  add wine to the experience and there is an immediate physical in-the-moment awareness that heightens the sharing.  Simply and truly connecting.

Social networking is that experience, increasing your opportunity for connecting in meaningful and substantial ways.  There are many examples in business online, but look to no other proof than that of Barak Obama’s campaign.  While engaging Americans with all the traditional campaign tools, “It super-charged those traditional methods with the best online strategy ever employed in a national campaign…”  (see TechPresident). The online experience is the channel primed for growth, value, contribution and community in the wine industry.  A direct interface both massive and intimate for communicating story, images, video, events, and the science and artistry of making wine to the people all over the world who love wine.

It comes down to relationships.  Marketing and Social Networking have the tenants of relationships, community, connecting, engaging (and user generated content), thanks to Web 2.0 that make it successful.  By now, many SMO folks are tired to those terms, but they hold true.  The technology allows people to connect on platforms and groups like LinkedIn, the Open Wine Consortium and facebook.  And the in-person connection that these social groups afford may be accelerated and made meaningful in a world where corporate giants are depersonalizing more of our consuming experiences.  Finding restaurants, bookstores, wine shops and grocery stores where you meet the owner, know the manager and connect with the sales person are all but gone.  And it was those connections cultivated over time that made the experience rewarding, serving not just our purchasing needs, but our extended human interaction needs across our community.

Enter social networking.  Across vast populations all pressed for demands on their time, money and energy, we can find ways to connect with like-minded individuals and groups.  We may also share information, stories, reviews, experiences, events and eventually, in person, a bottle of wine.  Wineries (their winemakers, vineyard managers, owners) have an opportunity to connect with the online wine world, including consumers, wine bloggers and a variety of Web 2.0 wine companies, all of whom are crazy-passionate about wine and wine people.  Wineries have the opportunity to contribute to the community, add value and participate in the most effective means of growing business: giving more, delivering more, leading more, where becoming an industry leader means building a model in our industry for business relationships across the world of wine consumers.  And connecting even for a few precious minutes a day or each week with the artists/scientists of the vine, the winemakers and vineyard managers would be an amazing gift of a relationship that wineries may share.

It is an exciting time in the wine world.

pouringwine

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