Conversation among wine industryprofessionals, marketing strategists and wine bloggers this week includes talking about some kind of Wine Blogger Certification, or a standard that ends up with a Seal of Approval in order to quickly and easily provide bloggers access to events, wineries, industry programming and so on. I can see why some business people might seek such a …label, but I wonder about a simplified structure and I have many questions about how, why, wherefore.
The very counter-culture nature of blogging defies this kind of labeling and classification. The bloggoshpere is the untamed frontier and an exciting place to find opinions, stories and recommendations. I have certainly heard people post that “some bloggers just want free (stuff) wine”. But as I have spent some time reading wine blogs and actually spent time with the wine bloggers themselves, it is not an easy (usually unpaid) job to wine blog. Any level of credibility or readership is hard earned and maintained by a level of quality, personality and humor.
I have been a regular advocate for blogger access to the wine industry in the same way we grant access to traditional media and press. Wine bloggers have an outreach that can potentially go deeper and beyond traditional print media…at least in the wine industry. Just recently Hahn Estates hosted the first Bloggers Tasting Forum and ZAP will have a sponsored Bloggers Lounge offering bloggers free access to the 2 day event. So far, these beginnings have suggested tremendous success in blogger/wine industry relationship building. The expectation is that this access will directly benefit not just bloggers and wineries, but the consumers. With greater access to information, recommendations and outreach, we aim to convert more people into wine lovers everywhere.
So, how would you classify bloggers? They are a complex and various group of wineophiles from all over the world. The current count is over 1,000 wine blogs and growing. How would you define which ones get credentials for the wine events and which ones don’t?
- By Readership?
- Quality of writing?
- Their own level of wine education?
And what if the wine blogger…a really great one…isn’t interested in the credential? Most of the wine bloggers I have met are stunningly smart and busy with day jobs, families, hobbies and fully packed lives. And as I have said before, they do their wine blog strictly for the passion of it. The Wine Bloggosphere is better off because of them. I would hate to see them squeezed out by beaucracy or obstacles that have less to do with a passion for wine and more to do with sorting that helps marketers achieve ROI.
What are your thoughts?
Graphic courtesy of Google Images.