Champagne bottles

Leap into Spring with PR

A PR proposal

I frequently present PR proposals for drink brands to support their sales and marketing objectives. This is done by raising awareness of their products and services in the media to increase revenue.

Spring into PR

The power of PR should not be overlooked as it has a positive impact commercially and should be an essential part of any business plan.

Does your business have a strategy for PR? Is it time for a new approach?

If you need to convince the senior leadership team (or your boss) of the benefits of PR then consider these top tips to guarantee a “yes” to your proposal.

How to get your PR proposal approved

  • Identify a channel you are looking to grow. This could be direct sales through your website or the cellar door, third-party sales via a retailer or within the on-trade – bars, restaurants and hotels.
  • Depending on the channel you are looking to grow, the PR strategy can easily be aligned with the audience you wish to target.
  • Produce a simple analysis outlining where your competitors are being featured in the press to raise awareness of their business and products.
  • Think about the stories you have to tell in 2024. Is it the release of a new wine or spirit to the UK market? Are you now offering onsite tours and tastings? Do you have a new winemaker or distiller to introduce to the drinks media?
  • Explain that a third-party, unpaid, editorial endorsement – be that product placement, a news story or a feature – is the most trusted form of awareness building as this influences behaviour. Remember, PR is not what you say about yourselves, through social media for example, but what others are saying about you. That’s what makes PR so powerful.
  • Engage a specialist PR consultant with experience and expertise in your field as they will have the best media contacts.

The marrying of an ambitious brand, great products and the right PR is the recipe for a long and successful partnership.

Cellars in Champagne

The commercial impact of PR

What will PR do for your brand and products commercially?

I’m always mindful of the commercial importance of PR because, at the end of the day, everyone wants to sell more booze to make more money.

PR supports a business’s sales and marketing objectives to generate sales. I work with brands looking to grow their distribution in the UK market in all channels – retail, on-trade, off-trade – who use PR to raise awareness of their products through the media to reach people who work in the trade and to consumers.

Trade PR v Consumer PR

Trade PR helps get people, brands and products noticed among buyers in all sectors – retail, on-trade and off-trade. News articles, features and product placement in publications like The Drinks Business, Harpers, The Buyer and Decanter will be seen by buyers; be that those working for premium retailers like Harrods, Fortnum & Mason or Hedonism or specialists merchants like The Whisky Exchange and Master of Malt. Not forgetting the sommeliers and others who buy wine and spirits for the hospitality industry.

Therefore PR supports the objective of generating more listings to increase sales. Trade PR will also raise awareness of products among industry experts, critics, competition judges and enthusiasts.

Consumer PR is targeted at customers who will buy your product either directly through the website, via a retailer – or in a bar, restaurant, or hotel. It’s important to note here that there is no point in working on consumer PR if your product is not currently available to buy. The writers are unlikely to feature it and the last thing you want is a consumer ready to purchase but has nowhere to purchase from.

Depending on the circumstances, it’s often best to start with a focus on the trade media and then move on to consumer publications.

PR Top Tip: Make sure your PR strategy is in line with the audience you are trying to target.

Not even my family understand what I do for a job!

My Niece has just turned 16; a young, bright and beautiful girl thinking about what career path she might take as her GCSEs loom on the horizon.

At a family lunch the other day she asked me for the 100th time what I actually ‘do’ for a job. I explained to her again, using some visual examples, but this didn’t hit the spot as she subsequently asked my Dad (her Grandad) the same question the following week.

It got me thinking that perhaps Public Relations (PR) is a bit tricky for people to get their head around, especially for a generation glued to their phones who would never contemplate reading a newspaper or magazine. The ever-changing media landscape in our digital age is an interesting topic, but one that warrants its own space.

So, back to what is PR.

In my experience, most clients are looking to grow their distribution in the UK market in all channels including retail, on-trade and off-trade. PR is a way to support their sales and marketing objectives to generate sales.

How? By raising awareness of products (drinks in my case) through the media to those who work in the trade and to consumers.

The power of PR

A third-party, unpaid, editorial endorsement is the most trusted form of awareness building. Product placement, news stories and features influence opinion and behaviour. PR is not what you say about your brand on Instagram but what others say about you – which makes PR so powerful! My job is to entice journalists to write about my clients’ wine or spirit and they, in turn, convince consumers reading their columns to become customers.

Product placement is a key element of what I ‘do’ but I like to think of myself as more of a storyteller. Not like the bedtime stories I used to read my Niece when she was a little girl, but creating a narrative around a product and brand so it is seen as more than just a drink.

So when you are flicking through a newspaper and come across an article about the best red wines to go with beef, that’s PR. When you are online reading about the new CEO of one of the UK’s top English wine producers, that’s PR. Or when you are contemplating what to serve for lunch on Mother’s Day and you come across an article about the best drinks to ensure your Mum has a great day, that’s PR.

PR is essentially a trusted recommendation from an expert in their field. Much like my Niece’s friend sharing a link to a new wonder moisturiser prompting her to go online and buy it…or ask my sister to buy it for her!

PR Top Tip: Engage a PR consultant or agency with specific experience and expertise in your field as they will have the best media contacts.

Cognac…paradis discovered

What do you think you know about Cognac? A highly regarded fine spirit with timeless sophistication? A brandy to be sipped after dinner in large balloon-shaped glasses? A drink popular with rappers who drop brand names into their lyrics; so trendy in fact several including JAY Z now own their own brand of Cognac.

Well, this is all correct but there is so much more to Cognac as I recently discovered.

The regulatory body for Cognac – Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) – is on a crusade to position Cognac as a versatile spirit to be enjoyed in cocktails and matched with food; so they asked me to take a group of journalists to the appellation to discover more and raise awareness further of this innovative region.

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Ad campaigns are necessary for competition. But good PR educates people; that's all it is. - Steve Jobs., Invest in PR

Looking to invest in PR?

If you are looking to invest and hire a PR consultant this year but are yet to be convinced, read these quotes from a handful of successful businessmen.

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freelance pr, major pr

Christmas is actually in July…who knew?

Christmas is in July. Everyone knows this is the answer; that is if you work in the consumer PR sector or are indeed a lifestyle journalist.

Lead times of glossy magazines are arguably getting shorter but they still work to a three month (ish) deadline. The Christmas coverage starts in October therefore you need to showcase your festive offering in July.

Sourcing a Christmas tree in July is no mean feat I can assure you, and standing around it with a warming glass of sherry and mince pie in sweltering heat isn’t as enjoyable as when you are wearing your Christmas jumper on 25th December!

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freelance pr, major pr

How to pitch a story to the media

Pitching a story should take as much time and consideration as writing a press release if you want the best chance of getting your story covered in the media.

You might believe your story has news value but it’s the journalists and editors you need to convince of that too.

When I was a journalist I remember endless calls to the newsroom from people who believed they had a story, when often they didn’t, which meant when someone did call in with something worth writing about I could be more dismissive than I should have been.

It must be newsworthy and relevant for you to pique someone’s interest. Don’t let your sales director tell you their new product should hit the headlines if there isn’t a story. PR isn’t a free advert.

Top Tips

1) Make sure you have a newsworthy story

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tips on how to write a press release

How to write a press release

If you can’t afford the services of a PR expert either by employing someone to work in-house with you or on a freelance basis then why not have a go at doing it yourself?

This week I will be sharing top tips on how to write a press release and next week I will tell you how to pitch it right to have the best chance of ‎ getting your story published.

‎So the basic rules of how to write a press release are really very simple. These are what I call the fives Ws.

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